CategoryDrama

“It’s actually Jacobean rather than Shakespearean.”

Ian and I are a bit obsessed with Brian Cox, and I was very happy to notice that the AV Club had done a Random Roles bit with him (an excellent interview schema, which takes the annoying bolded reporter-voice almost entirely out of it and just leaves the meat of the subject rambling about cool stuff). I was not disappointed. You might say I was reappointed. I mean, read this stunningly clear and concise evaluation of American film versus British theatre, prompted by a little question about his career arc post-Rob Roy:

If you grow up in these islands—especially where I grew up in these islands—the theatre is very powerful, very potent. It’s a part of our heritage. Our culture is really a theatrical culture, not a cinematic culture. Feudal societies don’t create great cinema; we have great theatre. The egalitarian societies create great cinema. The Americans, the French. Because equality is sort of what the cinema deals with. It deals with stories which don’t fall into ‘Everybody in their place and who’s who,’ and all that. But the theatre’s full of that. Especially in Shakespeare. So in a way, it behooves you as a British actor to try and master the classics and become a classical player. I got caught up in it. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but I was too late.

“You see, the free cinema, the cinema of Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole, Alan Bates, Tom Courtenay… That all ended by the time I came along. So I went to work in the Royal Court, because they weren’t going to be making any more of those movies.”

I saw the Neo-Futurists doing their show Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind last Saturday night, courtesy of Unstoppable David Clark. I am going to see them again next weekend, at the 2:30 matinee on either Saturday or Sunday. Tickets are $25-$28 and you, you personally, had damn well better come with me. We can get a 10% discount if we scrape together ten people.

The Neo-Futurists are fucking amazing.

You can find all this out by going to their website, but because other humans are apparently lazy about clicking, here’s what happens: there are five performers and thirty (original) plays. They do, or try to do, all thirty plays in sixty minutes. They’re microplays. You understand why I am smitten.

The thirty plays may happen in any order, because they’re numbered and the troupe will do whatever number they hear the audience yell out as soon as the previous play is over. They also swap out 1d6 plays every night and replace them from a larger pool, so by this Saturday it might be a completely different show from what I saw.

As if this wasn’t enough, there is a seven-item checklist that I personally keep for determining whether or not any given show qualifies as performance art. The list is as follows:

  • A person under a black cloth hood doing something ridiculous
  • Giant diapers
  • Performers dancing in the aisles and trying to get audience members to dance too
  • Large pictures of female genitalia
  • People eating money
  • A man rubbing his nipples with an expression of fiendish glee
  • The throwing of raw meat

And I shit you not, the version of the show I saw included six of those seven items. And it worked, because they were completely self-aware and loved it and laughed at themselves. They made metahumor work on stage. This is a feat akin to picking up litter with the pointy part of the Chrysler Building, and I’d only previously seen it done by the pre-Intel Blue Man Group.

I am completely serious about you coming with me to the show this weekend. Call or email me if you want me to add you to the possible-group roster, and I’ll tell you by Wednesday whether we have enough people. If the show sells out they’ll buy us pizza. I’m serious about that too.

Ian, I wish you could have been there. David Flora, the Neo-Futurists are from Chicago and they do this every week up there, you bastard, why haven’t you seen it yet?

I made myself wait two days to write this up because I didn’t want to rave and gibber and then be embarrassed when the high wore off. I’m raving and gibbering anyway. If you’re in Louisville, you need to come see the show.

Earlier entry explained

Almost my entire extended family on my mom’s side–the Dixons & Company–went to the Ohio Renaissance Festival as a crew of pirates, in full costume and character. There were forty-one of us. Some of the grownups started drinking at nine in the morning. The Dixons don’t actually drink very often, but when we do we are Catholic about it.

They knew we were coming, but I don’t think they were quite prepared.

There was a lot of shouting and ARRing and attempting to sing shanties to which we had managed to learn about one line each. The first of many attempts to break into song came as we crossed under the portcullis to enter the festival proper, and it went like this:

“Well the ship set sail with a lusty crew

ROLL, ME HEARTIES, ROLL

The hmm a grr and rum da dum

ROLL, ME HEARTIES, ROLL

And they all got something mumble barnacles

ROLL, ME HEARTIES, ROLL

ROLL, ME HEARTIES, ROLL

What’s the one about the cabin boy? Let’s sing that one.”

I am not kidding when I say costume and character, either. We all had handmade outfits courtesy of my aunt Lea and my cousin Jerusha, plus jewelry, flintlocks and cutlasses. Sneakers were not permitted. We were the crew and wench-brigade of the Slime Dragon, under command of Cap’n–no, Adm’ral!–Lice. When Queen Elizabeth I made a personal visit that afternoon, she was quite impressed with our display of fealty.

There were vague-but-fervent plots of mutiny and assassination all day, but–just like with real pirates–it’s tough to stay on track with drunk ringleaders. It was like the world’s least-organized LARP. I just tried to keep afresh of the prevailing wind, and I gave some money to the poor stage juggler after he endured a good deal of the crew yelling that wasn’t handling enough blades.

It should be noted that this was not a spontaneous occurrence. In addition to an extraordinary amount of planning and effort by my uncle Jeff’s family, we have a shared pirate-story canon as documented by multiple home movies dating back to the late Sixties. Though those scurvy dogs were also led by a Cap’n Lice, yesterday’s crew was missing several key members and had gained a number of new ones. It also seemed to be rooted in a different time and place. Perhaps this (sea-based) Cap’n Lice was an ancestor of the later lake-based one?

Anybody who wonders why I became a drama major and a role-playing nerd doesn’t have far to look for an explanation. The same goes for my fervent belief in art as commons and shared creativity. And pirates. My family is amazing.

I would like to see their webmaster’s face when he checks the referral logs

Oh man oh man. Neil Gaiman has discovered Jennifer Brummett.

This may not mean much to you, but it’s pretty glorious for those of us who endured her “reviews” for four years of DramaCentre (aka CentreDrama). Brummett is the Advocate-Messenger’s theatre “critic,” and the depth of research and literary acuity you see in that article was exactly what she applied to our work. I’m not trying to say we were de Sade at Arenton, but the things we did took time and thought and pain. Brummett could be replaced a rubber cup on the end of a stick.

It’s nice to have some validation that the woman has no business putting two words together, whether it has any practical effect or not. Dear Jennifer Brummett: Welcome to the interweb! I hope you like being the message boards’ new darling.

The inspiration was pretzel nuggets

I just had a great idea: if I ever direct a play again, which I won’t, because I’m a bad director, I wouldn’t have my actors warm up by doing exaggerated facial stretches and silly consonant sequences. (If you have a theatrical background you know what I’m talking about; if you don’t, rest assured that this is typically the case.) Instead, I would have them run through lines they hadn’t quite memorized anyway with grapes in their mouths. Or marshmallows, but grapes would be better for their vocal cords. See, it would force them to do all that stretching anyway to get around the grapes, and they’d be working on lines, and it’d be delicious! All at the same time!

Maybe this is one of those ideas that turn out not to be so great later.

Spring of my junior year of college, I played Hastings in our school production of Richard III, a fun role in which I got to chew scenery, wear an enormous bathrobe and get my head cut off. The guy who was supposed to take the mold of my real head for that last one bungled it pretty badly; he bought this fancy molding compound, let it harden before applying it, and ended up having to mold my head with really cheap plaster.

Regardless, it was my severed head, and I really wanted it after the play was over. The drama department denied me this, of course–they already had a longstanding tradition of crushing my dreams by then.

When we went to see Lisa’s show last Friday, I got to see Flora, who showed me his senior-presentation scrapbook. It was really nice work, and he was kind enough to give me a piece of it, something I will now treasure as if it were the real thing:

David and Brendan with Brendan's head.

Yeah, I told you it was a pretty bad mold. There’s a reason they kept it in a bag most of the time.

Hey, I show up in a Google News search! Thanks to those plays we did. I mentioned I was going to help out with some plays a while back, didn’t I? They went well. The audiences were small but nice. I only missed one sound cue in six performances, so I feel okay about that.

We debuted our little improv troupe, too, which also went fairly well. We did have to deal with a horrible performance space and karaoke downstairs (we asked them to, oh, turn it down a bit just from 2300 to 2400 hrs, and they agreed, and then turned it way the hell up), but we did well all the same. Our last show, this past Saturday, was probably our best yet. I was glad that was the one to which most of my friends came. I rode Greg the Terminator to Wal-Mart after drinking twelve tubs of movie butter, and Nicole and Richard were psychic. Evan was so emo it hurt (for that matter, Evan was so emo he got a LiveJournal but won’t tell me his name).

On a completely unrelated topic, I really, really need to draw comics again.

Hey, Street Legal’s famous! (Um, scroll down.)

Tonight, trying to get to rehearsal, in the dark and the cold and the rain, I walked from Bearno’s to Bellarmine. The other side of Bellarmine.

Anyway, if you understand what that means and you’ve got a minute, I could use some chicken soup.

I got to see Yale and Richard in their final improv-class performance / exam tonight. My life is filled with improv!

Speaking of that, Project Improv themselves showed up for the second half of the aforementioned show, to watch the long-form part. Upon seeing me there, they proceeded to literally bend me over a table and soundly roger me in twos and threes. Now, three things:

  1. In case you don’t hail from the world of theater, be advised that being forcibly humped on your bottom in public is just a casual gesture of affection, the way, say, plumbers would smack hands and hug after a long time away.
  2. I was a little surprised by said show of affection, actually. I wasn’t sure most of PI knew who I was. I’m kind of being drawn into this whole Louisville improv / Bellarmine scene now, and being surprised at how many connections there are between people I know for completely different reasons. It’s… kind of like Centre, actually. But I like it.
  3. Back to the subject of having painful things occur where I can’t see them: apparently I just don’t have any finals at all, assuming I get something decent on the Object-Oriented Design test I took today. In that class, an A average right now means you don’t have to take the final, and in my other two classes, Dr. Graham decided to have both final exams this Thursday instead of during the finals period. I guess he just disagrees with the notion of mercy and justice in general, I don’t know, it makes me really unhappy and frustrated to think about it. I’d end up with much better grades in Algorithms and AI if I had any time to prepare–I can’t even spend tomorrow cramming, because I have to work.

So this post started off happy and ended up sad. In further Schrodinger Point form, I’ve noticed that I’m rapidly approaching that magical, effervescent day when I never have to mention anybody without a hyperlink behind his or her name. Unmagically, that day will never come, because some people REFUSE TO GET BLOGS. MARIA. Oh, I meant “cough.”

And just because I can’t stop myself from cramming in one more segue, speaking of Schrodinger Point, I really have to start running again. I’m almost well again, and I know I write better posts than this one when I’ve exercised, and if I don’t break them out again soon, my official Captain Spacedork tights are going to rust.

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