The Berkeley Rep's scene shop burned down in a three-alarm fire last night--our best hope and wishes to Tony, Susie and the whole gang that they land on their feet like the cats they are.
This will have to be a short missive--I'm really exhausted, bone tired, and I have a lot of packing to do. At least Mr. Tynes has been able to implement a change that Blogger made, and now the blog is formatting correctly--I was growing weary of apologizing for it.
INVINCIBLE SUMMER went extremely well last night--my thanks to so many friends, supporters and fans who came out to hear it told for the first time. It was a wonderful way to end our run at ACT, who have been wonderful hosts, intelligent producers and damn fine makers of theater--I hope we work together soon.
We leave Seattle tomorrow afternoon. Now I must begin the Sacred Gathering of our Assorted Crap.
Tom Cruise for the Xbox:
Cory Dotorow on today's Supreme Court decision:
“Rip, Mix, Burn”—more than an Apple marketing campaign, it was a rallying cry that meant “Take control of your music!” Well, today the Supreme Court killed Rip, Mix, Burn, or at least the innovative spirit behind it.
Read it here.
Pittsburgh's Safar Centre for Resuscitation Research has developed a technique in which subject's veins are drained of blood and filled with an ice-cold salt solution.
The animals are considered scientifically dead, as they stop breathing and have no heartbeat or brain activity.
But three hours later, their blood is replaced and the zombie dogs are brought back to life with an electric shock.
Read it all here.
The show last night went extremely well--largest standing ovation of a run, and a very invested house with a lot of energy. Bill Gates came to the show last night, which added a certain frisson, I have to admit: given the form of my monologues, it is strange to think that I had two hours of the richest man in the world's undivided attention, but that's exactly what happened last night. Life is a funny thing.
Today we're having brunch, followed by the final performance--I'm looking forward to both.
A lot of air conditioners.
Also of interest--Bibleman. I've laughed at this character in the past, but did you know the composition of Bibleman's new villains? They are all suspiciously, ahem, Jew-y:
The Fibbler - A Jewish Gene Wilder / Burgess Meredith kind of villain who clouds the minds of young people and gets them started down the path of evil secular humanism by encouraging white lies and equivocation.
You have to read this to get it all.
Tonight is the penultimate performance of THE UGLY AMERICAN at ACT. It's been a very good run, and the show has coalesced here and found its mature footing--while it continues to change and shift, I think it really came out into its own over the last three weeks.
We close here, but it's hardly the end--THE UGLY AMERICAN next hits Berkeley Rep on July 23rd, and this Tuesday a new monologue, INVINCIBLE SUMMER, receives its debut in a one-night-only performance. I'm filling up with it now, and looking forward to letting it loose.
Ah, the Mermaid Parade is tomorrow at Coney Island--ah, if only I could be in two places at once. If you're in NYC, drop by and catch a load of the loveliness.
Musicals in the NYC Fringe Festival this year:
# Billionaires for Bush — The Musical
# Byzantium: A New Musical
# FLEET WEEK: The Musical
# SILENCE! the Musical
# SUV: The Musical!
# The Banger's Flopera - A Musical Perversion
# The Great Official Subway Musical
# Treaty 321! A Musical
# WARFIELD, USA: The Musical
# You Again, a musical about cloning
And, of course, the obligatory long-titled shows:
# Animal Farm project I - Version White: Funny Pigs
# Edna St. Vincent Millay Speaks to the Committee on Immortality
# Professor Dilexi Presents Dramatis Personae of the Apocryphal Menagerie
# Sex with Jake Gyllenhaal and Other Fables of the Northeast Corridor
# The Last Two Minutes of The Complete Works of Henrik Ibsen
# Uncle Sam's Satiric Spectacular: On Democracy and Other Fictions Featuring Patriotism Acts and Blue Songs from a Red State
# UNSPEAKABLE: Richard Pryor Live & Uncensored, a dramatic fantasia
Fantastic--the National Theatre in Great Britain's experiment with low ticket prices is making headway in the US, starting Off-Broadway:
Bucking a Trend: Theater for $15.
Sigh. My blog format is still screwed. When will Blogger fix this?
In the meantime, check out Tom Cruise kills Oprah.
The CHAC, the Capitol Hill Arts Center, receives a balanced write-up in Newsday. This for-profit center is bucking the non-profit trends, and has been helping to revitalize the fringe theater scene in Seattle over the last two years. I've met their director, Matthew, and seen the space--it's quite impressive, and they're doing some really great work.
Someone likes puns at the NYTimes:
Bah. Blogger has changed their rules, and now my page is all fucked up--and on top of that, i deleted like 10 entries while trying to see what I had done to screw everything up. We can only hope they change it back soon, or we'll have to go looking for a work-around. For now, apologies for the huge white space.
A sculpture of an enormous chair and table. Details.
In Antarctica, when it is 60 below zero Fahrenheit, boiling water actually evaporates before hitting the ground, as some folks at a base have demonstrated in this video clip.
Small but appreciative house last night, but a rough second act--someone simply could not stop coughing, which I have sympathy for, but act two is so quiet that it actually starts puncturing the mood if it doesn't stop, and this person really could not stop coughing. This would pass without incident if it were not for the cell phone going off at the climax as well--long night.
On the other hand, one of the strengths of the monologue is its adaptability--since I control the variables, I was able to pace myself so that the coughing had less effect, and when the terrible "La Cucaracha" cell phone rang, take a half-beat to let it vanish before moving on, and it worked as well as it could.
I'm hearing wonderful things about Me and You and Everyone We Know from friends, strangers--everyone, really. I'm excited to see it. Miranda July is a very interesting performer, and I'm delighted to hear she's having such an impact.
My brother on Moxie:A great time was had last night at the ReBar, where we held ALL STORIES ARE FICTION for a one-night engagement. It was a rough theater experience through and through--the lights fluttered strangely, it was hot and dim, but through it all the story really came through--I think it may have been one of my favorite ASAFs ever, wrestling with issues of identity, free speech and the American theater system. Also, there were midgets having oral sex--it was an evening that covered a lot of ground. Thanks to everyone who attended, and to SketchFest for putting on a fantastic night.
Moxie: The soda that tastes like root beer and dead fish, mixed with love and dirt.
Once again, they tilt at the windmill: a flag-burning amendment passes the House. It's pathetic that so many brave and loyal Americans could so completely misunderstand their own freedoms to the extent that they would actually think this is a good idea.
(Note: I told a story about midgets having oral sex on stage. That did not happen at the performance itself.)
I'm quoted today in this article, listed alongside a lot of other author's talking about what it's like to write a book. I wish I could remember when I gave that quote, but I can't deny it--it sounds like something I would say, through and through.
The best autoresponder of the day:
I'm on vacation in Canada tracking bears, kayaking and eating 5 regularly scheduled and provided meals a day.
Good article on being a target girl for a world-reknown knife thrower.
The first few shows, I was nervous, and I was like, "Don't miss!" But it was kind of a rush. Now I've gotten used to it. Actually, you can explain the whole thing from a mathematical and physics point of view, and it's a very, very small chance to actually be stabbed.
Hello, TCG Folks:
A lot of you are in Seattle, and so I'm just going to drop this at the top of my website for the conference. THE UGLY AMERICAN, my monologue of sex, violence and the dark underbelly of theater is playing at ACT Theatre, located at 700 Union Street in Seattle. Contact me through the email link if you're interested in tickets, or just say hello at the conference.
Some relevant links:
ACT Theatre's homepage
The Ugly American at ACT
Seattle Weekly review
The Stranger review
Charleston City Paper review
Charleston City Paper preview
A hilarious, strange year abroad...with a ferocious vocabulary and a great raconteur's voice that can soar from a confidential whisper to a gored-bull bellow, Daisey gives anyone who's ever acted in anything a lot to chortle heartily at in "The Ugly American."
You can’t make up these stories . . . sincerely poignant, side-splitting.
Charleston Post and Courier
Mike Daisey brings new life to a neglected 19th-century literary trope: the tale of the naive American trying to survive among sophisticated Europeans.
Great storytelling that makes you laugh and think—who could ask for more?...Daisey eschews intense characterization in favor of good old-fashioned, pure storytelling, and it’s refreshing. It makes his tale the focal point, and it makes his stories more honest and human. That’s American, and it ain’t ugly.
Charleston City Paper
The College Bakery, one of my favorite places to get baked goods in my neighborhood, has cracked down on copyright images:
Some excellent commentary on why this is ultimately a load of horseshit can be found here. An excerpt:
How cool would it be to do a drawing with your kid and have it show up as a cake the next day? Well forget it. What College Bakery is saying with that sign is "The risk of being sued is so high that we'll give up on helping paying customers create their own cakes." Creativity, in this world, is for Trained Professionals, whose work is owned by BigCos. Loss of amateur creativity is a small price to pay for protecting commercial IP holders. Finally, and perhaps most revealingly, the industries fighting for encumbrance of digital IP have often raised the 'restoring analog balance' argument, which is, roughly: "The natural difficulty and generational loss in analog copying made cassette tapes and VCRs bearable. We just want to bring those checks to digital copying." And yet this case -- printing a digital image on a cake -- has exactly those checks, _since the image is designed to be eaten by children within hours of its creation_. No risk of unlimited copies. No longevity issues. No easy transition to other media. And what happens? The same grab for total control, and the same weak regard for side-effects on non-commercial creativity. The 'analog balance' argument is, of course, a lie. Those industries have fought for total control wherever they have been able to, questioning the very existence of core public rights such as fair use or limited copyright terms, and the magic-markered sign at College Bakery is yet another example.
A delightful piece on film festivals at Slate. Here's the hook that made me chuckle:
A film festival sounds vaguely intellectual, an oasis of cinematic contemplation in the midst of the crass commercial marketplace. But a film festival is an aberration; people don't need further encouragement to go to the movies. When the most misguided Hollywood remake of a half-remembered TV show can make $10 million in its opening weekend, it could even be argued that people go to the movies too much. There are few good reasons for film festivals to exist, and yet they proliferate like cancer clusters across the country.
The author has really suffered for his film festival, and does a wonderful job sketching the agonies that he endures to make it possible.
A rave review from the Seattle Weekly for THE UGLY AMERICAN.
The recollection is leavened only by the humor and humanity of Daisey's delivery; it's to his credit that he can at once find the horror and the hidden attraction of such an uncomfortable situation. Working in the confessional mode, he treats his most intimate experiences with a candor that brings to mind the late, great Spalding Gray, an artist who regularly turned himself inside out for the sake of a story. And, like Gray, Daisey works with nothing but a table and glass of water as props, relying solely on the honesty of his subject matter to engage the audience's fascination. He's a natural born storyteller, with an exquisite sense of rhythm and an instinct for the ways in which his delivery should rise and dip according to the psychological peaks and valleys of his narrative.
He's found the perfect collaborator in director Jean-Michele Gregory. Just as filmmaker Jonathan Demme did for the movie adaptation of Gray's Swimming to Cambodia, Gregory uses only the subtlest variations in lighting to punctuate Daisey's story. As the performer digs into the darker regions of his tale, she allows the stage to grow imperceptibly dark, only to brighten it suddenly as Daisey segues into a new chapter of his telling. While the final light falls, Daisey intones, "You must remember this, you must remember this," as a kind of incantation for teller and audience alike to hold onto the past. It's unlikely either will forget this memory.
I'm delighted with the review--of all the ones in Seattle so far, this one seems to actually understand the format and what we're trying to do, and I love the fact that Jean-Michele got recognized, because so often she gets short shrift when she's really at the heart of these pieces. Read the full review here.
Good article by Jacob Weisberg about how Michael Jackson never fit the traditional models for child molestation. Interesting reading.
And there really is a minigame inside of GTA: San Andreas where you can get a higher score by doing great sex moves.
It's the directions and the "Excitement" bar that really put it over the top and into the realm of camp.
Three good people on their move away from email correspondence:
Maybe I'm sensing a move ahead for myself...
I was on KUOW's The Beat today, speaking about monologues, The Ugly American and the tyranny of crushed velvet Renaissance Faire garb--you can catch the audio here if you were busy watching the Michael Jackson verdict.
Blast from the past: 2 million CueCats are up for sale at a liquidator, for $0.30 apiece.
Hmmm. $600,000 in CueCats--what a fantastic business opportunity!
Apparently, even public discourse between our elected leaders is becoming impossible. Bad signs, bad times.
It's a lovely Sunday morning here in Seattle, and I'm getting ready for my first matinee. Matinees are notoriously difficult for my style of performance--it's so audience and energy specific that having to perform midday can cause the shows to deflate, so they become so meditative that they lack the punch that really makes them sing. On the other hand, the matinee we had at Spoleto went very well indeed--one of our best shows--and I did eventually learn to make 21 Dog Years work at matinees, so anything could happen, really. Just to add spice we have a reviewer at this show, who somehow missed opening and is only showing up now. Adventure!
It's also the last show of the theatrical week, which means we are 1/3 of the way through the run already. I'm excited about my Monday off, which I intend to use to catch up on all the other parts of my life which have been sliding around, unsettled, on my plate--that will be a real treat indeed.
A wonderful selection of nouns-made-verbs. I hadn't heard "efforting" yet--blech.
BTW, I'll be appearing tonight on the Stay Up Late Show at the Capitol Hill Arts Center--I'll be getting there right after my show, and I'm excited to be on. It's the brainchild of Basil Harris, a close friend of many years, and I'm just thrilled that I'll get to be on the show. The guests in addition to Yours Truly include kick-ass cartoonist Ellen Forney and indie pop press princesses 3 Imaginary Girls.
a taste of ms. forney's work
The show starts at 10pm, tickets are just ten little dollars and the CHAC is located at the corner of 12th and E. Pine on lovely Capitol Hill.
Soviet-era gas mask for officers.
Courtesy of Ray, check out these real posters that have appeared on the MARC trains between Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Sadly, this isn't a joke or parody:
Fantastic house last night--wonderful and warm, and the show flowed marvelously--it might have been my favorite performance of the show so far, though that's always like picking your favorite child. Afterward we went drinking up at the Satellite and worked our way down to the venerable Rosebud, after which we ran into our stage manager on the street and had a lovely curbside conversation before making our way down the hill to the hotel--just a really lovely evening all around.
Reviews have started to come in from Seattle papers--the Seattle Times has weighed in first-
A hilarious, strange year abroad...with a ferocious vocabulary and a great raconteur's voice that can soar from a confidential whisper to a gored-bull bellow, Daisey gives anyone who's ever acted in anything a lot to chortle heartily at in "The Ugly American."
The same reviewer also called me, "a blond dumpling of a man." In the past, she's called me "owl-shaped." Mind you, I'm not complaining, but sometimes I feel like I'm collecting a library of bizarre descriptions...maybe someday we'll make a section of the site with all of those pieces laid out next to one another. Owl-shaped dumpling, here I come!
When military recruiting goes down, the strong-arm tactics go up:
Next thing Axel knew, the same sergeant and another recruiter showed up at the LaConner Brewing Co., the restaurant where Axel works. And before Axel, an older cousin and other co-workers knew or understood what was happening, Axel was whisked away in a car.
"They said we were going somewhere but I didn't know we were going all the way to Seattle," Axel said.
Just a few tests. And so many free opportunities, the recruiters told him.
He could pursue his love of chemistry. He could serve anywhere he chose and leave any time he wanted on an "apathy discharge" if he didn't like it. And he wouldn't have to go to Iraq if he didn't want to.
At about 3:30 in the morning, Alex was awakened in the motel and fed a little something. Twelve hours later, without further sleep or food, he had taken a battery of tests and signed a lot of papers he hadn't gotten a chance to read. "Just formalities," he was told. "Sign here. And here. Nothing to worry about."
Events I'm missing in NYC: a benefit for the Ann Liv Young dance troupe, who have a provocative invitation--the benefit will be held in a loft, featuring a silent auction, nude dancing and drinks will be served which are "named after each performer, and hand stirred by their naked bodies." This is where I would make some remark about prostitution in the arts, but I'll refrain--after all, it got me to post, so it does seem to work.
Regarding your recent post about the sketch show 13 Points of
Articulation, I immeidately thought of my discovery at the Lucasfilm
Archives exhibit at Star Wars Celebration III in Indianapolis. As you
can see from the attached photo, the actual model used in the filming of
distant Landspeeder shots consisted of a robed Steve Austin action
figure partnered with a Luke that looks suspiciously like David Letterman...
And we're open.
A very good opening, I thought--solid house, though the odd contingent of DeVry students lent a strange energy to the proceedings, including them spontaneously booing at the mention of my name in the preshow announcement. On the upside, they did have energy--it was just a matter of harnessing it, and I was able to knit together the disparate opening night crowd pretty quickly, and the show really lifted off. I had a great time, and it always feels good to know you delivered what you intended to on opening.
The party afterward was solidly okay--few sexy hijinks, even though Jean-Michele wore her party dress, but with it being a Wednesday night and the small cast you get with a monologue it just wasn't happening. Also, if anyone from ACT reads this, it would be a good idea to insert a note in the program on opening to let people know there is an event afterward--otherwise folks assume that's it and they hit the road. OTOH this might be an effective crowd control tactic--I can't tell.
Good food though, and pleasant company--thanks to everyone who came out to the opening to wish us well; it was wonderful having so many warm and friendly faces in the crowd, and so great to see everyone after the show.
Opening day, here at ACT Theatre. You'd think we'd get tired of these, but I doubt I ever will. Rather, I hope I never will.
Everything is ready. Last preview last night went very well indeed, and we have a work call today to tighten a few light cues. I'm taking most of the day off to ensure that every last part of the outline is sharpened.
And now, apropos of nothing at all and courtesy of Ray, read the horrendous poetry of Michael Madsen, if you dare.
Hope all your opening days are kicking ass and taking names.
Well, we've arrived--we made the New York Sun's society pages for the Spoleto festival. Someone fetch me my martini, luvy.
End of the line.
Well, The Light In The Piazza missed out on the big prizes of Best Musical and Best Direction, but still took home 6 Tonys including Leading Actress in a Musical for Victoria Clark. Here is the breakdown--many congrats to Bart and everyone, and I hope that the well-deserved accolades help fill the seats for a long run.
Last night's preview was quieter, with lower energy and a smaller house. That was good, as it helped us see exactly what needs to be tightened and adjusted, and a lot of today will be spent doing exactly that--sharpening scenes, pouring over notes and getting ready.
Oh, and everyone knows about Jamster, right? And that damn Crazy Frog they put on their ads? Well, he's a #1 hit in the UK--at the top of their charts.
And people said Pac Man Fever would never return. BWAHAHAHHAHAHA!
Here's a show folks in NYC may wish to check out: 13 points of articulation, a reference to the old Six Million Dollar Man action figures. I'm expecting spooky hilarity and wit, as Pace Ebbesen is a droll and charming fellow.
I want one.
This is classic--Scott Adams uses Dilbert to shill for the Business Software Alliance. Remember them? They're the charming folks who cook up fake "piracy" numbers and send cease and desist letters indiscriminately over the net. I've always been disappointed in Adams work--Dilbert could always have been smarter and sharper, and it's steadily become more Garfield-esque over time, but this really takes the cake.
Wonderful first preview! What a relief to have that out of the way. Tech went gloriously, the staff is sharp as always and a very full house--I could scarcely ask for more. I had to feel out the space, which made the first half of Act One a little less focused than I like, but I got the hang of playing the thrust configuration after that, and Act Two was fully under my control. I think that really bodes well for our run.
After the show we did tech notes, then met up with Rob O'Bannon, old UP IN YOUR GRILL veteran and recent expatriate to Japan, where he's been teaching for the last 4 years. We went up the hill to Septieme for some great conversation and catching up--I think the years have been good for Rob, whom I always liked a lot, but now he's seasoned. Okay, that makes him sound like some kind of beef, and it's true that he has lived in Kobe, but that doesn't excuse the bad metaphor.
Welcome To Japan, Rob O'Bannon, 2002
The above is the photo Rob took from Kyoto which, for him, captures the essence of Japan--two Coke machines in a manicured garden in the ancient city of Kyoto. While abroad Rob has become an avid photographer--more of his work may be found at his site.
Great WIRED article today on how disobedience during disasters saves lives: if you wait for official word and follow the rules, often, you're dead. From the article, citing the experience of 9-11:
After both buildings were burning, many calls to 911 resulted in advice to stay put and wait for rescue. Also, occupants of the towers had been trained to use the stairs, not the elevators, in case of evacuation.
Fortunately, this advice was mostly ignored. According to the engineers, use of elevators in the early phase of the evacuation, along with the decision to not stay put, saved roughly 2,500 lives. This disobedience had nothing to do with panic. The report documents how evacuees stopped to help the injured and assist the mobility-impaired, even to give emotional comfort. Not panic but what disaster experts call reasoned flight ruled the day.
In fact, the people inside the towers were better informed and far more knowledgeable than emergency operators far from the scene. While walking down the stairs, they answered their cell phones and glanced at their BlackBerries, learning from friends that there had been a terrorist attack and that the Pentagon had also been hit. News of what was happening passed by word of mouth, and fellow workers pressed hesitating colleagues to continue their exit.
This jives very closely with how I believe things function in the real world--microcommunication, unspoken cues and on-the-groud knowledge almost always trumps official sources, especially when things are going batshit all around you.
It's been a marvelous opening day--we ate and did notes at the Continental, one of my favorite restaurants, and now its time for a walk and a gradual build-up to the show. I'm so looking forward to this.
I'm up late, because after our final tech last night we ran over to Open Circle to catch Flaming Box of Stuff's sketch show, It's In The Water.
It's an extremely sharp conceit--integrated sketches that weave together, surrounding the story of employees at a 1970's brewing plant that is shutting down. The sketches flow beautifully, integrating physical gags, fast language, wordplay, puppet work, blacklight--it's very impressive, heartfelt and exemplifies much of what sketch does best--make absurd environments real with economy and grace.
This performance was in preparation for their tour to New York for the New York SketchFest. (I never imagined when I founded SketchFest that one day it would actually be adopted by other cities. Funny world.) Flaming Box of Stuff performs on Friday, June 10th at 9pm--I highly recommend their show, and you can get tickets through the link, and you should do so immediately--I think it's going to be a fantastic show.
Also performing at the festival and worth your time is Hypnogogia (whom I've mentioned here before) on Thursday, and following FBoS on Friday at 11pm is Portland wunderkids The Third Floor, whose work continues to impress and delight.
Catch these shows if you're in NYC, because it'll be worth the trip down to the UCB space. I haven't had such a good time in a theater in a long while as I did last night with It's In The Water, and the short work-in-progress Champagne was also immensely delightful. They made me miss doing sketch, which takes some doing--sketch can be a cruel mistress, but when it all goes right with genius and precision it's absolutely fabulous.
Wow, tech is going so well at ACT--it's marvelous. Rarely have I seen it go so smoothly...what a wonderful group. I'm not jumping up and down over them like a crazy person, but that doesn't mean my enthusiasm is any less sincere.
Preview piece on the show hit in the Seattle Post Intelligencer--you can read the full piece here. I sound a little strident in the piece, I think--I don't remember being so ranty about American imperialism, for example--but the gist is intended, though perhaps i wish it captured a tad more nuance.
Back in Seattle, where another round of tech week begins with a bang--we'll be in the theater all day and night, setting up for the show. Preview press in Seattle is starting to hit, though I don't have any links yet--I'll provide those later.
An era is over--we know who Deep Throat is. I just wish that we'd waited for him to pass away, as this will really screw up some deadpools.
Our first run at Spoleto is over with another sold-out house--a wonderful way to close out our contribution to the festival. Now we sleep, tomorrow we pack and fly back to Seattle.