Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sorry, this one is kind of emo.

I don't understand this habit I have of INTENTIONALLY keeping people in my life who long ago should have been allowed to drift away naturally. In part, I blame the internet for convincing me that because, for example, I am facebook friends with someone or they are on my IM list, I still have a reason to talk to them. Even if you block someone on facebook, facebook still gives you the totally open option of unblocking them, which I can't see as logical.

Mostly, however, as is characteristic of me, I blame myself. Why I would want to keep some of these people in my life is beyond my comprehension. It probably has a lot to do with my constantly thinking that I am stronger than I actually am, and being so tough on myself as to expect that I can relate to a person almost immediately as if they never hurt me, or embarrassed me, or disappointed me. I end up hating them because they continually deny me and deny me again and again and again. But I let them do it. I call them immature and crazy and all manner of things ...... but really, what does that make me? Someone who frequently ends up hating herself. Which is too bad, because I am pretty awesome.

So I am making a vow to quit making it easy for people to hurt me in the same way over and over again. I will takes hints better. I will read situations better. I will walk away from anything less than naturally spectacular more quickly. If someone really wants to get my attention, it can be 20% more difficult for them. Whatever. I'm done.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Geoffrey Rush, Jeremy, and the City.

I went to New York on Sunday and saw 'Exit the King' with Jeremy. Although I saw it at my lowest energy point in a 14 hour trip, I was still captivated by what it did, overall. Although there were some inconsistencies, I thought the translation (co-authored by Geoffrey Rush and the director) was wonderful and timeless, in the sense that although it felt written for a modern ear, it wasn't the kind of Terrence McNally modern that talks about danishes and car phones -- it was simply elegant and to the point, and in a pacing that we are accustomed to. It was such a fully realized world that created dramatic tension but also made larger comments situationally at the same time. There was also a real sense of design synthesis, probably because this production has been workshopped and produced and workshopped and produced a million times, here and in Australia. Susan Sarandon was a little oddly-cast and reticent to make big choices in her "normal one" mold in the middle of all the absurdity. Geoffrey Rush was frigging amazing to watch. I could watch him go through that play 2 or 3 more times. It was like his body was made of liquid, and his voice was right up there with Alan Rickman! I briefly considered stage-dooring Lauren Ambrose, but I think I may save it for Allison Janney.

Seeing Jeremy was nothing short of fabulous, despite his frequent assertions that he automatically injects any situation with a prescribed dose of nebbishness. First of all, it was amazing to realize that I had met Anne and Jeremy at Berkshire Theatre Festival not one, but TWO years earlier, and it seems like no time has passed at all, even though we barely ever see each other. It sounds corny, but I think that is what is meant by 'kindred spirits'. I had a great time walking up and down and around 9th Ave. with Jeremy, talking dramaturgy, comparing notes on our jobs, and what not. It reminded me that I can actually have a great time, and an intellectually fulfilling time, just TALKING to someone smart about theatre. I really needed that reminder, as Saturday was a tough day for me, having lost out on two directing gigs and wondering, once again, where exactly in theatre I belonged. I am starting to feel more secure now.

I am reading Jon Krakauer's 'Into the Wild'. It is beyond fascinating .... the only time I've been able to put it down in the last 24 hours has been to write this, sleep .... oh, and wait, to watch 2 hours of 'Sex and the City' episodes that I have already seen. Oh well. Everyone needs a hobby.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Holy Carp.

Somehow, the Brown/Trinity MFA in directing consortium decided it would be a fabulous idea to allow prospective students to read the resumes in full of the current MFA class. I don't think I can wait 10 years to go to grad school, and I'm pretty sure no one would hire me for the 35 professional directing gigs that these people somehow weaseled their way into. Also I'm not sure if there's time to be the Artistic Assistant at Steppenwolf and become a Suzuki expert and member of SSDA and AGMA.

I have really just gotten to a point where I want to go back to school. So it's probably time to start studying up for the GREs and hoping that my midling GPA does not keep me out of anyplace worth going to.

I had a chat with myself the other day about sticking with dramaturgy, as that seems to be what fate wants me to do and what most people will pay me a decent wage to do. It also makes my brain a lot less insane and my eyes a lot less baggy ... but am I "passionate" about it? Some aspects, yes, but I haven't been a student of it for long enough to be able to know if an intense study of say, Brecht, it worth it for the sake of said intense study, or only for the purpose of improving my own small attempts at producing him.

And as for teaching ... well ... who the fuck knows if I would be any good at that? I certainly have no desire to teach "kids" under 18, and the teachers that most inspired me -- well, I can't really put them into perspective -- it was like they were my servants of learning or something, particularly in early college and high school. I didn't really care what they did outside of the classroom, as long as they facilitated a rewarding learning experience for me. Because I do like learning. So that's convenient at least, when thinking about school, right?

Friday, May 8, 2009

You Food.

Apparently this has become my self-righteous food sociology blog. I know, can it get more riveting? ;)

I've already ranted enough about the orders I heard in Dunkin' Donuts this morning, so I won't repeat them here.

OK, I will.

Who can possibly drink an extra large iced coffee extra light with five sugars without barfing? It's revolting. What have we done to our stomach lining so that it can tolerate such disgusting abuse? And it's iced too, so they're in there drinking it down in record time.


I've also noticed something about healthy fast food chains of late. Their particular brand of marketing is really tricky; the claim upon which they hinge being that everything, EVERYTHING in their restaurant is healthy for you, so you don't have to think when eating. What a load of crap. Sure, a thirty year old male body-builder in peak physical condition probably doesn't have to think too hard when ordering, as they are right that they use only lean meats, low fat cheese, and whole wheat wraps. However, he is not trying to lose weight, only to put healthy things in his body. However, that's how they get the dieting 20 and 30-something women to slavishly consume their food day after day. These women think that everything in there will help them lose weight; they really do. I have met them. But, the nutrition facts for U-Food, which are hard to find on their website and nowhere to be seen in their stores, will clearly tell you that the Chicken Parm and Chicken Meatball marinara wraps contain upwards of 800 calories -- only about 100 fewer than a Qdoba burrito minus cheese and sour cream. Sure, it has less saturated fat, but that only induces side orders of "unfries", which, while better than fried fries, clock one's meal in at about 1100 calories. For lunch.

I mean, whatever. I have an odd shaped body and will probably never be "skinny" in the conventional sense. But why do healthy fast food chains have to go making us fatter than ever?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thought for Food

Recently, I have the developed a healthy obsession (no pun intended) with reading books on why the way we eat food now is terrible for us and the environment. I'll be the first to admit that I approach my reading with somewhat of a evangelical zeal, having lacked a religious upbringing, it's always nice to have something you believe in that (you feel) actually affects the fate of humans. I am now a convert in the truest sense; I can no longer stomach 100 calorie packs (100 chemical packs), cheetos made by other brands than 365, or anything out of a can that didn't grow on a tree. I actually understand the term "Whole Foods", and why a handful of almonds (which is one. whole. food.) is a better choice that just makes more sense than a small part of a food combined with 16-18 chemicals which twist the whole food around in order to make it taste like something else. As a result, my cravings for things bad for me have actually gone way down, which is a refreshing change. I'm still not good with portion control (at all), but I guess when you get right down to it, I'm not exactly trying to lose 20 pounds. Cake is great. Pizza, great. FOOD IS GREAT. But not the fast food kind, and not the processed kind!

As for the vegetarianism, it is coming along, slowly but surely. I haven't eaten chicken now in almost a month, but that's not the first time I've made it this far. I think it might stick this time, and I've even spoken to my parents about how I'd like their help with this, as opposed to their constant offer of a roast chicken.

It's fascinating to consider the trajectory of food culture in America. So much of what we eat has been forced on us by big business, who have worked tirelessly to convince us that we need expensive meat to be healthy, and that processed corn syrup tastes the best (because it's the cheapest to produce). I've really tried to keep an eye out for the size of my coffee, too. If it doesn't seem like they'd be seen on the street with it in Europe, I try not to drink it. This is definitely an adjustment.

Anyway, the point of this post is not to self-righteously label myself as "cured". I just urge you to take a look at books by Michael Pollan (not a vegetarian), Mark Bittinger (not a vegetarian), Peter Singer, "Fast Food Nation" and "The End of Food". I'm not saying "Change the way you eat, now' because that takes time and, like weight loss, it's something you have to find in yourself. But at least take a look at a variety of opinions on the subject -- after all, we get the opposing view shoved down our throats every day, along with pictures of unreasonably shiny sandwiches.

I don't know, I feel pretty good these days.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Blackbird, Fly

I think I have found my calling in life, and that is to comment on the Globe reviews of Boston theatre. Haha. No, really. I saw Blackbird last night at Speakeasy. Here is what Louise Kennedy had to say:


The first thing to tell you about "Blackbird" is that I can't tell you much about it.

SpeakEasy Stage Company, which is staging the local premiere of David Harrower's award-winning play, has asked reviewers not to reveal the various twists of the plot. Fair enough; I hate spoilers as much as the next gal. But the problem here is that "Blackbird" is not much but its twists, and specifically the one big twist that's revealed just a few minutes in. Take that away, and what you have is an older man and a younger woman talking about their illicit former relationship.

Mine may be a minority view. Clearly the many regional theaters that have staged the play, to say nothing of the London judges who gave it the 2007 Olivier Award for best new play (over "Frost/Nixon," "The Seafarer," and "Rock 'n' Roll"), have found something in it that I, frankly, just didn't see.

People have praised its poetic language, its brutal frankness, its damaged but riveting characters, and so forth. What I saw was a 100-minute play that aims to be shocking, to assault the audience with raw truths about human nature, but that instead left me feeling emotionally flat, tired, and more than a little annoyed.

Some of the annoyance, I'll grant you, was purely physical. The play takes place in the grimy, trash-strewn break room of an anonymous office building, a setting that Eric Levenson creates in dreary detail, right down - or up - to the giant ceiling panels of fluorescent light. Levenson and lighting designer Jeff Adelberg have aimed these panels directly in the face of the audience, and the lights stay glaringly on throughout the show (except for a brief, "suspenseful" blackout near the end).

No doubt this is a deliberate choice, meant perhaps to heighten our discomfort with the play and its characters. It's less clear whether an intermittent buzzing whine is also a deliberate part of Cameron Willard's sound design, but the combination is certainly as discomfiting as any playwright could desire. The question, though, is whether a dull, constant headache is really likely to sharpen anyone's appreciation of a play.

As for the play - well, as I said, I can't say much. On paper, it sort of looks like poetry, because Harrower has laid it out in short, interrupted lines with little punctuation. On the stage, however, it plays less like poetry than like an acting exercise. The two characters engage in power struggles, interrupt and embellish and contradict each other's stories, and eventually express their conflicting emotions in physical as well as verbal ways.

Bates Wilder and Marianna Bassham execute all these moves with impressive skill. You can see that they have worked very hard on mastering every tic, every hesitation, every interrupted or repeated line with painstaking accuracy. They also enact the play's climaxes and lulls with careful precision; at times they seem to be dancing as much as acting.


There. Is. Nothing. There.

Sorry, I was succumbing to the faux-poetic impulse. Let me put it more directly. "Blackbird" heaves and gasps and thrusts itself into our faces, daring us to declare it repellent because of the nature of the relationship between these two characters. (Still not telling.) But it does not reveal anything essential about them, about ourselves, or about the complicated nature of love. After all the shouting and shaking and stomping have ended, we leave knowing no more than when we began.

And that's really why I can't tell you much about it: Not only because I'm not supposed to, but because there really isn't anything much to tell.


Since her post, many people had commented and claimed unity with her view, stating that the play was boring and cliched, and that if they were writing it, they would have put a new spin on child molestation, etc..... (rolls eyes)

So here is what I said to Louise and to them:


I saw Blackbird last night and was largely unable to breathe during its duration. Not because I had never seen a play about the subject before, or even because I found the ending that shocking, but because of what David Gammons and his design team did to bring the text to such vivid life ... other than saying that their choices were "annoying". ... [note to readers here: eesh, I wouldn't have gotten away with that in the Collegian!!!!]

Rather than picking apart the text of the play as if we all have PhD's in dramaturgy, think about the theatre moments created in the production and what they did to us as audience meembers. Una's monologue, in which she describes what it felt like to be abandoned by Ray after their last night together, was, to say it inarticulately, something else. Whether you think the situation is cliche or not, many of us have been there: Disoriented, afraid of the dark, staring out a dark window, terrified that someone we love may not be coming back. I can't pretend to know what the character might have been feeling in these moments, or whether or not she maybe should have been feeling things less "stereotypical". But you know what? Get over it. Stereotype lives. Cliche lives. They are part of our lives and we have all participated in them. Every possible thing that person could have been feeling, even the vaguely cliched ones, was shown to us so well by Ms. Bassham that I felt it *viscerally*; isn't that the closest we can come to a shared experience, to pathos?

Bear with me: A few moments later in the play, during a sudden power outage. Ray has gone out to investigate and Una is left alone, in the dark, disoriented, terrified, staring a huge, strange window. What a visual representation of a phobia brought on by the traumatic memory she just shared with us? This is absolute terror; and, better yet, we are THERE with her. Isn't that theatre? Can movies do that for us? Can books? Can witness accounts?

So please, let down your guards against cliche and stereotype for one minute and consider the effect the theatre created made from the text -- or you are missing out. There's a reason this wasn't a staged reading. If you don't, you're really missing out on some major parts of the human condition that Blackbird exemplifies; the power of raw feeling and what we do because of these emotions. It's not about what someone should or would be feeling at this stage in the game. This is not a workshop. This is a production that was produced well; let's give it its due.


Monday, February 23, 2009

For Lack of Better Words

Two poems from my poetry exchange with Terrell that reflect my life a bit:


At the corner of short and long: Walking on the Mass Pike Bridge

It was dusk and was tonight, and so there was a knot
along the ribbon of two roads:
I stopped to stand while walking on them.

Bruise-blue was one road, the urban rooftops rose
like blotches near the skin:
kitchen table, board game box, sighs to heave, short hair, drab kettle.
One breath out for when you come and two breaths out for when you want to go.
A pulsing, gritty, fullness, the underside of a hive:
here all small money can be yours
here your glory is liquid, hot and black and light:
two eyes, a face, some hands, a glass stem in the dark.
Electrifying things.
This is now, This is Now, this is you, you right, and right for just
right now. Short hair is best.
And this is where I live, why I am walking down it.

The other road, down low, two lanes, is tailored taut:
an exacting, smoothed-out overcoat.
With eyes on cars that split through lit-up dusk, to long homes on long streets
and roads I used to sift between my fingers:
Swingset slide and watermelon, fabric pressed, four hearts arranged to keep.
Just staying.
This low one is the road I'd take to get to there -- one road, and three turns -- and now I watch the others
take and take and take ...
But would they like to take me with them? Would they watch me grow my hair out, quiet in their garden?
Would they watch me chew their vegetables, wash myself in dirt to feed their children, go on and
add my heart to what they need to see?
I don't know that I would go.
I know that I am tired in this city dark and want to turn the lights out on the night
so I can breathe.

Bruise-blue is where I live, and why I am walking down it, but
these days, I will tell you:
I have to do everything.
I even cut my own hair with my own bright orange scissors:
sun shears hacking at their wheat, just too much overgrown.
Can you feel it not-there at my back?
My back I feel is empty like my hands;
and can be open to the knot of life, my life:
cat nudge, warm bed, friend rope, and even bright blue question cries.

At my time I should be much past dusk and crossroads.
I don't know why I think that, but I do.
But now the hair I have is in my hands, and looking out is when I see
the starts of all the days and nights and shorts and longs:
here on this uncut ribbon full of roads and roads and roads.
This is what I can tell you: from here is where I have to
-- just have to --
do everything.



I want to know you already;
from the way your soft flanneled leg
curls around the warm arm of our couch,
to the covetous way that I think you'd react to the air
that I give you to breathe.

To know you, I want this already: to comb
with my nail through the nape
of your neck; to pull and pull and pull until
our bodies snap shut, snap shut.
Then my God! The peeking of a head; that muddy, pinkish orb:
a slice of home, red ribbons, blue dances and whoosh!
orange goodbye.
Our dinners go grey, clipped, salient and frozen, frozen over in time.

I want you already: Your face wrecked on through
with the deep-seat of scream. Balding orphan, terror-wrecked with
hard news that rips you through and out out, and out out, and out.
I want to be the one to keep your grimace safe here in my hands
as you put on the shoes to hoist high up the body and then
to step right back onto the train.

Oh, to go on and see these pictures, as if stepping down a hall,
but from our first sight I smell that this is not This, today.
Your face is a cracked bust of life stopped before now,
and you cannot see what I see or could see.

I wanted to know you already:
the time before we met rings as blue
as a violet, held close to my face.
Your hands are two matches with no heads to light
your eyes tiny lamps switched off to travelers at night.
I wanted to know you all ready; all right;
Now I hope (how I hope!)
you forget me.