14/48 The World's Quickest Theatre Festival Seattle ACT Theatre 10-11 January 2014
Now I'm a quadruple threat... first came performing (i lost count at nine times), then came writing (my favorite so far), then directing (once), and now I'm going to be in THE BAND! It's a dream come true.
Waiting for Godot Aisle 9 Death of Brian Seattle Seattle Fringe Festival 18 - 22 September 2013
I performed at the very first Seattle Fringe Festival, somewhere around 1989, when it was one night at the Backstage in Ballard. I was in Kings' Elephant Theater at the time. Then when it took off in the late nineties, I participated as a director of John Kaufman's Third Day's Child and emceed many events in those heyday years. Last year the Seattle Fringe Festival was resurrected after many years. This year it hits the ground running with some fantastic shows and as it happens, I'm all over it -- directed a show, wrote another show, and will be performing in yet another show. Come see all three, I command it.
MID/POST FACTUM 9OCT13 3:30PMIn the three weeks that led up to the seattle festival I was working so hard getting Godot back on it's feet after twenty three years. By working hard I mean memorizing the cryptic monologue, exercising my drool and leg muscles, and watching the boys do the heavy lifting for many hours of rehearsal every single day. Also, I hit a couple Death of Brian rehearsals. It was apparent Ricky was at the top of his game and the show was in really fantastic shape -- and a great show it is! It'd been a couple months since dipping my hands in that pie. Pleasantly reminded how good the writing is and how vibrant his performance. The last play on my docket: Aisle 9. This show excited me the most in many ways, but as the days up to the festival went by, I wasn't playing ball in this court. We'd already written the darn thing weeks ago and made alterations and rewrites. They were rehearsing and didn't need me for more rewrites or feedback or nothing. (Can't speak for the other two writers.) Playwriting can be an isolating experience. In this case I was fine with that. Went to one rehearsal a few days before tech and was pleased. It was baking nicely. My scene was quite different from how I'd imagined, but it was working well, so whatever. I'd envisioned it much more still and intensely focused and they'd made it looser with more travel around the stage. But it was working, so whatever. It took me seeing Aisle 9 twice at the festival to figure out why the play works; three scenes spanning a couple's life, pieced together by telling movement transitions. The action of the play happens off stage, between the scenes. The scenes themselves are ephemeral moments in-between the juicy stuff. So then why am I, and the entire audience, crying by the end? Why are we bought into this story? Is it the sheer power of the stellar performances? I've seen that before: a poorly written show made brilliant by the acting. I don't think this was that. At the closing performance I finally figured it out. By the time we get to Wayne's scene at the end, we have gotten to know these two through the other, albeit brief, windows into their lives. But the power at the end lies in a hope. Not a hope the two will get together, but a hope the two will validate each other. A hope that their time spent together will have left a vital impression on each other. This is the universality of Aisle 9, and the absolutely unique climax of this play. We all have had passionate relationships, relationships that have gone on for too many years, relationships we've given our mind, body, and soul to, and then for any of millions of reasons the relationship ends. We're left with scraps of memories stuffed into shoddy luggage and packed away as best we can and put under our beds. Wouldn't it be satisfying if when we got older those people from our past said, "You meant something to me. You helped make me who I am, and I have no regrets for it. Thank you." That's something we all want so bad, right? And that's the experience on stage that Aisle 9 gives us. Nicely done, you kluge of a show, you. On festival terms, by that point, Aisle 9 was doing well with substantial audiences, and Godot was selling out like gangbusters. Life of Brian had small but energetic houses. The rest of the festival was up and down in terms of sales. Most local shows did well, but the out of towners were hurting. This is common in large city fringe festivals that don't have a strong publicity built into the festival itself. The companies are left to their own devices. Locals have a support system, but the rest are left hoping there's a base of festival goers. This base will continue to be sparse until the fest is strong again. It will be. Oh, it will be. The closing night celebration at the Hugo House was fun. I got a "Triple Threat" award for being hard working, and Godot took the audience favorite. I got into a good debate with Grant Knutson about what defines a fringe show. We both agree it's a boot-strap minimalist show. We disagree on it's length: he says the show has to be under an hour so that theater goers have more opportunity to see more stuff in a night, and a festival can get more artists involved; I say show length never used to be a limitation and has arisen so the venues and festivals can make more money from either ticket sales or artist fees. I've always been a bit of a conspiracy theorist though. As for the Seattle Fringe... Do I have any suggestions as they continue to expand this resurrection? Well, yes, I do. First and foremost, I think the festival needs a director. The committee as it stands is made up of incredibly talented, knowledgeable, and driven individuals who run other theater companies. Their time is too split-focus. The fest needs an anchor, a person who can focus entirely on the festival. (Not me, thank you very much! It needs to be someone young and good looking and charismatic with impeccable taste in vests who wears a quirky hat once every two weeks. Ideally.) Perhaps if there's this locus individual to delegate, the schedule might get put out in a timely fashion, the web site might be up and running sooner than a week before the festival, and the posters might be up before three days before the festival. Next suggestion: hold an opening night party to bring the out of town and in town artists together, create a community, get the support networks in place, start the conversations, etc. Next suggestion, a big one: get payment to the artists quicker. Right after the festival would be nice. Especially the out of town artists. They're depending on this money. A month delay in receiving ticket sales makes me wonder if our unfortunate history might repeat itself. Is the ticket sales money going into a separate bank account? It better. This must occur, for symbolic reasons if nothing else. The fact there's a delay makes me think otherwise. If there is a separate bank account, there's no reason not to pay artists in the time it takes to run the numbers and write the checks. Next suggestion: more publicity. Plaster the town with big posters, flyers, bus ads, stranger sponsorship, etc. The city should be inundated with visuals. If Arts Crush can do it, so can Seattle Fringe. This dream media will naturally occur as as the years go on and growth occurs. Next: get a physical (printed) program with a well-designed, easy to navigate schedule. The digital world was just an excuse this year. Embrace technology by creating an app. But we still need something in our hands to make notes on, flip through on the fly as we're wandering around seeing shows. Otherwise, we can't tell what's playing when and where and we go home. As the festival grows, I look forward to a fringe hub, perhaps an artist lounge, and perhaps an open mic or cabaret for artists. I hope this isn't harsh. I'm really thankful to those who put elbow grease into raising this essential theater icon from the grave. Nice work, ya'll. It's two years on. Here's to many, many more!
DANGER DANGER HIGH VOLTAGE!! We're bringing this laugh riot to Edmonton, Canada, for North America's biggest theater festival. No. Really. Have you ever been to Edmonton for the Fringe? Well, you should go. It's amazing. Click on the link above to get more skinny on the show. Don't make me tell you twice.
MID/POST FACTUM 30AUG13 2:00PM i'm sitting here with jeffe, and by sitting i mean he's on his computer and i on mine. we talk occasionally, mostly instigated by me. the fringe has been a fringe. there's the high time, and the low time, we're in the middling. the rules for success in bringing a show here stand true. there was no magic dream of sellouts and critical success, just pounding the pavement flyering, and discomfort performing on the raw dirt in a tent. don't get me wrong, some shows were meant to be there, but not our middle-aged comedy. so, what are my rules for a successful fringe?
1- do a re-mount or do the circuit. good press behind the show is essential.
2- a rehearsed solid show, not thrown together at the last minute, or workshopped on the fringe.
3- a good venue near the hub.
4- a show with a clear marketing hook -- in the title, in the reputation of touring for years, etc.
5- a simple marketing image. (not as important)
we knew these rules. we broke not one, but all these rules. and we're doing fine comparatively. audiences range from embarrassingly small to substantial. we're deserving and lucky for the latter. we are cursed, however, i believe because jeffe pointed out that i put my hat on my bed and that's bad luck. i don't believe in such things, no one believes in such things, but when an uncanny turd falls on every show, you've got to suspect foul celestial influence. from the AC unit going out, to the power going out, to a student protest outside the tent, to a helicopter hovering directly above the tent, every show was shat upon by the gods. It was insane and funny.
we arrived on tuesday, august 13, after a marvelous two days of traveling. (we stayed at a resort with a water park the night before, and took the afternoon to soak in the healing waters of radium hot springs mid-day. lovely) we hit the ground running -- postering and flyering. the amazing liz, assistant to the festival director and person whom i was billieted with jeffe, found us a couch right off the bat. we spent wednesday roaming the thrift stores in town for the remainder of set and props. exhausting, but successful. we had dinner at our favorite restaurant, the pourhouse and plotted the takeover of the fringe. problem was, the fringe had changed. hundreds of bring your own venues made my eyes blur, the number of shows to wade through, and all over town. and now all tickets were purchased online, making the central box office obsolete. where would i flyer? the lines were still the best bet, but it wasn't easy to find which shows were sold out. nuts. welcome to the edinburgh of north america. a monster that ripped out my gut and devoured it right in front of my face. but my heart and soul were in tact. . . the most wonderful change to the fest since my day was the passwords. any artist could see pretty much any show for free. gone were the days of haggling for a ticket, or spending all your profit (or loss) on tickets. i was in heaven seeing three or four shows a day. it took a while to find the good stuff; the star system and reviews were inaccurate, pathetic. but around mid-way through the festival rumor was solid. word of good shows was spreading like wild fire. the best in my opinion were Countries Shaped Like Stars, Legend of White Woman Creek, You Killed Hamlet, and of course Jakes Gift. Just marvelous. but back to logistics: liz let me borrow her bike, so i had transport, and the ride through the park every morning and night, sometimes a bit drunkenly, was lovely. kiera knew everyone, so i was getting introduced to her old pals. and i made some new pals as well. on our first night we hit the billeting party, where i was told i couldn't have a beer because i wasn't on the billeted list. that didn't stop me. i ran the course of introducing myself to everyone in sight -- the eighteen twitching cheerleaders girls from toronto became fast tour friends. love those gals. met several folks from portland and a group from seattle i'd never heard of. that always happens. good folk. the next day genna joined kiera and terri and i at a restaurant. a lovely gal who turns out i met ten years ago when she was stage managing the weird sisters while i was touring my solo work. small world. oh, i could go on and on, such grand theater people. creators and performers, these are my true blood. another highlight of the tour was the escapes from theater. jeff invited me to perform at "turkey shoot", sort of a mystery science theater 3000 meets rocky horror thing at this old art deco movie theater. octopussy, the single worst bond movie ever, was the fodder. despite years away from improv, i had some good moments. jeff and his compatriot, a knowledgeable brit whose name escapes me, held the floor and made me look good. the second non-fringe thing i did was attend nerd night. awesome. presentations on space weather (i saw my first northern lights on this trip!), monsters in the media throughout history, and the psychology of magic. but the fringe was the locus experience -- the crowds, the daily intake of indian samosas from the stand outside our venue, the beer tent, running into zany-hiped terri and keira acting drunk in their birthday candle glasses, dressing in the sweltering back tent on the dirt, drinking with fringe artists in the dive bar, steel wheels. . .
LaRae Lobdell Photography Exhibit ACT Theatre
Last year I had the honor of being shot by this bloody phenomenal photographer as part of her project to document theater artists in Seattle. She's showing all the work form this endeavor at ACT Theater right now. There's some really lovely stuff. Check it out.
The Coffee Table Web Series Scotto Moore
A new sci-fi comedy web series: fifteen short episodes with a premise that is very much Doctor Who meets The Greatest American Hero. A family discovers that their new coffee table is actually an ancient alien artifact, and they inadvertently activate it, sending their entire house hurtling through the void -- with them inside it, of course. The show centers on their struggle to get home with no understanding of how the artifact actually works, while defending themselves from various aliens who ring the doorbell looking to take the coffee table off their hands.
The ninth installment of this wildly popular live show recorded for podcast. One night only! New audio plays by Scot Augustson, Paul Mullin, Vincent Delaney, and Wayne Rawley. Plus music by Jose Gonzales, classic and new poetry, and more. I'm so satisfied to be voicing again, can't believe it's been two years since the last time.
14/48 Kamikaze Seattle, WA Erickson Theatre 21 - 22 June 2013
The luck of the draw will determine my fate: a writer or a director or an actor or a musician! Guess which scares me the most?
POST FACTUM 24JUN13 2:00PM I'm not one for nostalgia, though it's bound to creep in with age. That's a notch on the life card, right? Scouring the 14/48 web site program archives to find out when I last acted in one of these theater-crack weekends . . . Nine years. The festival at that time was located in its original venue, Consolidated Works. My oldest daughter, Bronte, was acting as well with Shawn and Jena's daughter Zoe, the first and only time as far as I know they let kids be in the fest. Zoe this year graduated from university and drew writing at Kamikaze! Her plays were wonderful -- poetic and funny, solid characters and arcs and deep heart. In fact all the plays were wonderful, surprise surprise. A solid evening of entertainment, challenge, and camaraderie. I heard rumor last year's Kamikaze was less cohesive, less supportive of the virgins who were being thrown into the volcano. I don't know if that's true, I wasn't there. But I do know this year it definitely was not the case. Three virgin playwrights, four virgin musicians in the band, two virgin designers. Let me tell you, they were phenomenal! Oh, and the rest of us old whores did okay too. For my part, The week before the festival was pretty calm. Steady nerves and calm mind. Slept well. And then about two hours before the Thursday night meeting when my fate would be pulled random from the cone of destiny, suddenly a shock surged through the veins. It was like a good friend was about to punch me. The committee ran a good ramp-up meeting that night. We watched the freshly pressed documentary on the festival by Anthony Winkler. We sat around in a huge circle on stage and Shawn and PDO'C and Meghan led us through a "best thing about" and "worst thing about" the disciplines to get us all in the mode, and wrapping us into the group mind. And then the draw... Tense. Release. Tense. Release. The virgins got huge applause. The non-virgins, not so much. (But I think there was an unconscious satisfaction to know the stalwarts were present to anchor the disciplines.) Oh, and I got acting, in case you didn't guess. So I had a beer. The next morning, I had coffee and a donut. My name was the FIRST pulled! (The first time that's happened.) I was to be in a show by virgin writer Ashely Bagwell, Horten's Last Leg, directed by virgin director Lyam White. It was a really wonderful piece with zany hysterics and a sincerely touching ending. I played a dog having a stroke, taken to a vet, and put to sleep. It was lovely spending the day being carried and cared for by three generous, dynamic actors. Colleen Robertson, my caring slob of a master; Tim Moore, the stoner neighbor-helper with brain/mouth issues; and Allison Strickland, the rasta-hippy, esoteric, sniffing and singing veterinarian. Nice way to spend the day, making each other laugh like crazy. (Except for all the rug burns on my wrists and knuckles and ankles from dragging myself along the floor with one paw.) At the end of the eight o'clock show, the audience's sobs and awes as the euthinzation shot was given, led into clapping with the band as the dog rose to heaven. I, as said dog, joined the clapping and canine-danced up on the table. That makes four dogs I've played in 14/48. The first shih tzu. Next day was very interesting. Again I was to be in the first show of the night. (There's always one uncanny consistent in the festival -- same director both nights, same playwright, same co-actor, this time same order in the evening.) Today would prove to be one of those jarring 'what the hell experiences' with a huge payoff. Dawson Nichols'. . . play, An Unquiet Mind, with Susanna Burney directing. By play, I mean, outline. Very solid and specific outline, but an outline none the less. Dialogue only for the protagonist, a man in the midst of an existential dilemma. All the objects and humans surrounding him are demandingly vociferous, often acerbic, and psychologically damaging. (Beat.) As actors, we have certain expectations. Things we can psychologically prepare for. When those aren't met, there's a level of, well, mutiny that can occur. So here we are, the actors, getting this outline of a script, knowing that we're going to be improvising all day, playing a dozen characters, do physical stage pictures, without the solid base of normally expect dialogue . . . and we kind of freaked. Not angry, not a true mutiny, but definitely negative. Now, Dawson is a genius in my opinion. I've followed his solo work, his writing at 14/48 and out, his career in general, a huge fan even before getting to know him earlier this year and plotting collaboration in the near future. So I was trusting, we all were, to a certain extent. but there were large grumblings. He is after all experimental to a fault. And that's scary when you're exhausted and full of expectations of normality. Thanks to Susanna's positive and gently forceful guidance -- honestly, if it weren't for her, and I mean her specifically, we'd have submerged into frothy panic -- by noon we were swimming along, having a blast, cracking each other up, and feeling the inkling of a question of a possibility that we may have a pretty nice piece on our hands. For me, my perception of the show and of the day was the most off-kilter ever. I had no idea what was going on, how the show looked, how I was doing, etc. Perfect example of this out-of-body nature of the day... our first run of the show felt like two minutes long. We all came out of it saying to each other, shit we need to fill in this baby, it's like... two minutes long! Well, it was actually over nine minutes long! I guess that really sums up day to for me: Felt like two. Was in fact nine. It was a staggering shock, the flood of post show congratulations. They always happen (well, most of the time), but this was a glow in folks' eyes and emails, not just Facebooks, but emails! Takes an extra step to get those compliments. So thanks, Dawson and Susanna, you experimental bastards you, for giving big and not going home. Awesome photos courtesy of Dangerpants Photography.
I'm directing the bizarre little play that packs a punch I Am The Girl With The Spun Gold Hair by Jennifer Lane, with Raymond Williams and Allie Pratt.
MID FACTUM 8JUN13 12:00PM (Spoiler Warning) Right as we rolled into tech week I wondered to myself if my process as a director might be counterproductive to actors. In other words, I thought I might have made a shitty choice as to how to approach this play. When we first began rehearsing, after table work and loose blocking, and examining the rhythms of the dialog, I had Raymond and Allie do runs of the play with different qualities -- do it like you hate each other, do it like she wants to kill him, do it like you're robots without emotion, etc. Then I'd have them do runs where I'd give them secrets about each other, like he knows she's the girl with the spun gold hair, and he's pretending not to know in order to punish her for that time when she lost hope. Stuff like that. These were really fun rehearsals, really fun runs, and there were a lot of juicy moments discovered. But then came time to shuffle all those juicy moments into the whole... and... it sort of fell into a melodramatic morass with a plodding pace, and most of those juicy discoveries either didn't work or felt forced. Then tech week hit us. We strove to create a veneer of endearment and hope on top, and at times I'm sure Allie and Ray were thinking, why did we go through all that, now I'm just back to playing my first instinct, the thing I was playing right off the bat? We drilled the rhythms. It's a play with beats of tight dialogue interrupted by open spans of sustained pregnant pauses. We drilled and drilled. We went back to overarching motivations, back to basics. And then, right at the last dress, the magic happened. It all came together. (As it does, I guess.) It was glorious! Allie and Raymond have created characters that have a deep, established love that is hate that is love that is hate that is love. They tenderly care while at the same time have a deep desire to run away. It's deep and complex and funny and not funny at all. The last two pages are a challenge. Tails has an urgent download of information and memory when she plugs into Tock. It's a beautiful shock to witness. (People were welling up with tears in the audience opening night!) The moment right after this flood is active and evocative, but then things start to re-set to the pattern. It's a looping play. It ends at the beginning, an endless cycle forever in the apocalypse. So, here we are with a page and a half to go, and things start to kind of ramp down into the realization of the pattern. Or it could cycle down, but the thing about hope is, it's hope. Right? It's gotta be there. The possibility that things could get better. And then Tock says "Love." And that's the word. That's the word that hasn't been spoken for as long as either of them can remember. (At least that's my take on it.) And suddenly they have a reason to propel them onward in the search for power. Of course, Tock throws her cord at her in frustration and dispels the moment, but it's too late to ruin hope by that point. Beautifully complex. Allie and Raymond are stellar. Boy, it's just hysterical and heartbreaking. I love this twilight zone, sci-fi play. Thank you Jenny Lane. I wish you could see it. I think you'd be satisfied.
SURPRISE! It's Janine's Birthday and her friend Mallory throws a surprise party where none of the guests show up. Laugh out loud three hander from Seattle's favorite funny people Keira McDonald, K .Brian Neel and Terri Wegeant. Canadian playwright Jayson McDonald's breakout hit. This fast-paced, punch line laden play tells the story of two friends. It's Janine's 41st birthday and her friend Mallory throws a surprise party for her where none of the guests show up except for an officer of the law (wink,wink). . . Hilarity ensues. . . DANGER: This play contains high octane punch, A sex pinata and some dance moves that may be inappropriate for chickens.
POST FACTUM 1JUN13 10:00AM Portland is the most lovely city. It's a daintier Seattle that didn't tear down all its cool old buildings, and has been helmed over the years by city planners with a vision instead of developers with a checkbook. Seattle is the stiff-shirted, cheaply overdressed cousin of this laid back, underdog city. Portland is populated with the most heartfelt and hearty folk. Everyone is so friendly and mellow. Sure, the stereotypes are somewhat true, but they know that and laugh right with us. Post Five theater was a most generous and dynamic host. (Thank you Ty, Cassandra, Ithaca, Chris, Winston, Phillip, James, Sarah, Eleanor, Mariel, and everyone.) We felt right at home in the theater which was located in a block-square arts lofts complex, at our disposal all weekend. We arrived, set up, rehearsed, ate, rehearsed, performed, partied, slept, ate, slept, rehearsed, performed again, karaoked, slept, ate, and drove home. Whew! The show was all we expected -- highlarious! The weekend was about feeling out the laugh beats in front of a live audience. We learned what needs to be answered, and affirmed that our chemistry is combustable -- like cinnamon and napalm. Kiera and Terri have a statistically high -- off the chart, really -- percentage of laugh to text ratio, fully optimizing Jayson's one-laugh-per-millisecond script. It's unnatural, really. Can't wait to don Officer Stetson's rip-away pants again in the fall, when we do a full run in this stiff-shirted, cheaply overdressed town. When that happens, I'm gonna shave my legs again. It's the male stripper thing to do, even though Kiera says hairy legs would be funnier.
Let me nip this misunderstanding in the bud: the title does not reference me. Different Brian. Character named Brian. Zombie character named Brian. Got it? Coo. I'm directing this Epic One-Man Zombie Show scribed and performed by Ricky Coates. "After an accident, Brian S. awakens with a taste for flesh and a high tolerance for pain. His normal life in shambles, he struggles for survival in a quest to reunite with his wife. Ricky Coates sticks dark humor, grotesque puppets, and lots of blood in the blender, wondering what it means to be human." No insult to Ricky's great talent and dynamic script, but the real star of the show is the incredible soundscape (music, scoring, voice-overs galore) by Dan Yost. Very Romero.
This once a year vanity blowout is back for a second run. Two ukuleles. Two voices. (And audience chorus!) Two amps! History continues. Bring your own beer or water turned into wine. We DO know how to love him -- Sanna Sanna Ho Sanna Hey Superstar! (Details: the entire score of Jesus Christ Superstar performed on Ukulele! This year it'll be an intimate house concert at the Beehive in Seattle's Phinnywood neighborhood. Free.)
POST FACTUM 22 APR 13 10:30AM From Facebook PostPost: I'm still reeling from the imprinted memories of last night -- the mellifluous audience choruses, especially the somber Judas chorals (thanks Joe Zavadil for consulting on the hymnal books); Meghan Arnette's jaw-dropping version of I Don't Know How To Love Him accompanied by me on David Gassner's banjolele; and Scotto Moore's searing Judas rant has started a tradition. The Beehive was filled to the gills. NEXT YEAR will be even more glorious..
Mime Shop Central Washington University Seattle Mime Theater 1 April 2013
POST FACTUM 3APR13 1:30AM Great audience this time around, and Rick was in good form. The improv had something to do with a fisherman who bore a striking vocal resemblance to Bluebottle from the Goon Show, and ended with a stripper pole.
Young Playwrights Festival Seattle ACT Theatre 7-9 Mar 2012
POST FACTUM 10APR13 12:00PM In the flurry of activity last winter and fall I forgot to report on my playwriting classes this year. I taught at Lakeside again and for the first time at Ballard High School. Believe me, I do not take for granted Lakeside. It's a dream place to teach. The students are bright and driven and insightful. Though the entire cadre of plays written this year would make a fine anthology, the work selected this year was as follows: Stripes by Clara Scudder-Davis, produced by Seattle Playwrights Collective; Project DAC001 by Isabella Gutierrez, produced by ACT; A Workless Progress by Langston Guettinger, produced by Dukesbay Productions; We Are Young by Sophia Wood, produced by Seattle Playwrights Collective. Bainbridge High was a slow burner, but rose to the occasion by the end. It was a very large class, I met with them once a week, and it was populated by a diversely-interested population. It was hard to gage how they were taking to the exercises, but by the time we'd dived into the final plays, they were in like flynn, and some very strong work came out of it. Final selections as follows: Under the Apple Tree by Jonathan Catterfeld, produced by Annex Theatre; Destinations by Rowan Lanning , produced by ACT. Insert proud smile here!
I'm spear-heading (directing) this new-timey variety show, which will gather talent and material both historical and contemporary.
FROM THE DIRECTOR'S NOTES: If you lived in America in the early 1900s and were looking to be entertained, chances are you'd slide into a Vaudeville show. Unless you had the inklings and money to see legitimate Broadway or opera, or were drawn to the more risque and ribald burlesque, you'd make your way to one of the thousands of theatrical palaces every city and town in this country built solely for variety. It was entertainment pure and simple. Over the course of two hours the bill of nine to fourteen unrelated acts would consist of comedians and dancers, lecturers and baseball stars, magicians and blackface performers, short plays and excerpts from Shakespeare, acrobats and dog n' pony acts... anything and everything under the moon that could be packaged into eight-minutes.
The Marx Brothers got their start in Vaudeville. So did Charlie Chaplin. So did Bob Hope (early on he danced with conjoined twins). Buster Keaton began in vaude when he was just two years old being literally thrown around the stage by his father in their family act. W. C. Fields, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Ed Sullivan... the list goes on.
And then there were the less-remembered performers: There was "Sober Sue -- you can't make her laugh". There was "Hadji Ali -- The great regurgitator." There were "The Bowser Sisters -- Fresh Flowers" (They'd pose as flowers and make wind and bird sounds). This list goes on and on.
For a vaudeville artist, life was on the road. Performing in New York one week, then riding the rails up and down the east coast for fifteen weeks on the Keith and Orpheum circuit. Then perhaps hitting the Lowes circuit across the midwest, playing two shows per town per night for twenty weeks. Then down the west coast on the Pantagous circuit, that would be 30 weeks. Performers had a lot of time to perfect their schtick, and most kept the same act for years on end.
Seattle around the 1920s ranked second only to New York in terms of number of Vaudeville theaters, and number of big-time, big-pay acts on the bill. At its peak, there were upwards of thirty theaters running in this town: The Crystal Palace at the corner of Second and Seneca, The Orpheum at 5th and Stewart, another Orpeheum at 3rd and Madison, The Pantages at 3rd and University, The Empress at 2nd and Spring, The Palace Hip (Hippodrome) also at 2nd and Spring, and more. Some structures still survive -- the 5th Avenue, The Moore, The Paramount, The Coliseum (now a Bananna Republic), and the Nippon Kan -- but most have been razed to the ground to make way for, well, in some cases, parking lots.
What happened to this golden age of variety? Why don't we see more of this kind of performance around today, and hear more about it's history? Because it's entertainment. It's ephemeral. It is needed only in the moment, and for the artists and producers it is survival of the entertainment fittest. Vaudeville became movies and radio, then television, and now YouTube (the most Vaudeville of them all!).
But this ain't no cold dead screen...
This is another Seattle theater treasure of yore (and not-so-yore): North Star Vaud. It's not on any Vaudeville circuit you'll find on any map, but the acts here are no applesauce. Who knows what's on the bill? (Who knows if the theater will even be standing by the end of the show?) No matter what happens, we promise you the best in clean(ish) boffo variety entertainment. This ain't no borscht belt, ladies and gentlemen. Get ready for the terp teams, the tab show, the hoofers, the patters, and the stooges. Unbutton your collars, uncuff your hands, get ready to make hand to hand music. We're gonna knock you bowlegged!
The Listener Vancouver, BC Magic Circle Mime 10 February 2013
I'm just learning this show. Hopefully, I'll be performing in it soon. These are shots of the Orpheum Theatre, the Vancouver Symphony venue, and Doug and Maggie, the artistic directors of the company.
Mime Shop Central Washington University Seattle Mime Theater 7 - 8 January 2013
POST FACTUM 05 JAN 13 10:30AM In the improvs I got a really great massage from the student movement chorus on the first night, I mean, they really went to town. The second night I played a tentacled sea creature the becomes a beach starlet.
I received an Outstanding Acting award, along with Aimée Bruneau, for our work in 99 Layoffs. The show also received playwriting and producing awards!
Vaud Rats Seattle Stage One Theater Jan 4, 2013
Cecil B. DeUkulele is on the boards again for another wow finish!
POST FACTUM 05 JAN 13 10:30AM What a wonderful evening! My new pants and braces (suspenders) kept messing with my hand hold of the uke, but otherwise a very popping performance, imho. Reid and Mert in particular were bright, maybe the best they've ever been, imho. Wonderful theater with great acoustics and sight lines. Great to see so many familiar faces in the audience (V.R.'s cult following of repeat offenders), and so many new rats, all giving a great energy. Thanks much, y'all. Highlights for me: sitting in the audience before Madame Flora, and pulling booze out of the trash can. Those are keepers.
Circumbendibus Seattle Book-It Repertory Theatre Dec 28-29, 2012
Geek lit on stage: Black Box by Jennifer Egan; Instructions by Neil Gaiman; The Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang; and The Unwritten by Mike Carey. This Book-It Style literary mash-up is adapted/curated by Samara Lerman and David Goldstein; Andy Jensen directs. Book-It is proud to collaborate with musical partner Bushwick Book Club, a group who transforms their favorite books into songs. At the Erickson Theatre on Capitol Hill.
POST FACTUM 03 JAN 13 1:30PM I got to play an artificial intelligence that grows to adolescence, a father with the weight of the world on his shoulders, Captain Ahab, Baron Von Munchausen, and a dancer. Juicy!
Peer Gynt Everett, WA Everett Philharmonic Nov 25, 2012
Sara Mountjoy-Pepka had the idea of a daughter (Sara Starchy) harnessed in one of those leashes, reigned in by her emotionally distant father (Mr. Starchy) on the other end of the leash. So we crafted a mime piece to Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt suite: Movement 1 - "Morning Mood" Sara and Mr. Starchy enjoy the music. Sara gets swept away by the music and tries to hug her father in thanks. He halts her -- it's not appropriate in the concert setting. Sara continues to feel the pull of the music. She conducts. Mr. Starchy stops her. Mr. Starchy eventually falls asleep. Movement 2 - "The Death of Ase" Sara pulls the sleeping Mr. Starchy into a dream sequence of what she wishes their relationship was like -- a lyrical montage of father/daughter activities. Eventually she looses control of her dream father and he shirks her. At the end, they're seated, in the same position as at the top of the scene. Sara notices her baton... Movement 3 - "Anitra's Dance" Sara goes for the baton. She moves forward, but finds herself still attached to Mr. Starchy by the harness. So she pulls him, and his chair, across the stage in order to reach her prize. At the end of the piece, she finally grabs the baton! Movement 4 - "In the Hall of the Mountain King" Mr. Starchy wakes up. A chase between two people attached to each other ensues. Eventually, the baton snaps in half accidentally and Sara is devastated. Mr. Starchy brings Sara in for a hug -- the thing she wanted all along -- she is happy once again.
A Mouse Who Knows Me Seattle Annex Theatre Oct 19 - Nov 17, 2012
A world premiere science fiction musical comedy with book & lyrics by Scotto Moore (Duel of the Linguist Mages), music by Robertson Witmer (of the band "Awesome"), and directed by Kristina Sutherland (artistic director of Macha Monkey Productions). In a genetics lab that is inserting human genes into mice to see what might happen, Dr. Audrey Whitman starts to believe that one of her mice has developed human empathy and intelligence and develops a strange relationship with the mouse she christens Romeo, to the chagrin of her colleagues in the lab. Her mentor secretly plots to use her intelligent mouse to breed a new form of war machine -- but neither realize that the mice in the lab have their own plans for bloody revolution. It's an inter-species West Side Story!
POST FACTUM 03 DEC 12 10:30AMIt's easier to write about small projects than large ones. This show as a year and a half in the making, over two chunky workshops, an extended rehearsal period, two full weeks and weekends of tech, and still it felt like there wasn't enough time to get this mammoth dream-weaving project on its singing and dancing feet. The cast, up til performances, felt estranged from each other. Considering how much time we were spending together, we sure didn't know each other. Second weekend, before the first show Allison Standly was to perform the lead woman's role (Sara was in Chicago performing a new show with the CSO), in the dressing room I turned to her and said, "Who are you? We're about to go on stage together and I don't know a thing about you." She allowed me three questions, but she really couldn't be bothered since she was about to go on stage as lead in a show for the first time. My questions weren't very dynamic, but it was a start. And it was backstage in the dressing rooms that we got to know each other. It's always the case, really. That's the point in any show you find out the real litmus on how fun the weeks are going to be. And it's at the end of the run, when everyone's looking around and sincerely talking about how much we're going to miss each other. That's a good run. Amanda Lee Williams is as hysterically funny backstage as she is on. So is Lissa Bak, in a more acerbic, biting way. Both of them, IMHO, stole the show. Josh Hartvigson is not evil. He's well-intentioned, I swear. Juicy to finally get to be on stage with him after seeing him in so many dynamic shows this past couple years. And good to get to know Leilani Berinobis and Tadd Morgan, the former of whom has more balls than most men, and is afraid of noth...ing! John McKenna, the perpetual stalwart figure in the black easy chair in the corner. Just when you'd let go awareness of his presence, that would be the time he'd blurt out a pithy, super-intelligent insertion into the conversation. All held together by the lovely and stiff stage management hand of Katie McKellar. (Katie, I gotta pee.) Oh, and the puppet. Romeo. Wow. I cannot tell you how interesting it was learning to puppeteer. Honestly, I hated it at first. I did not want to be upstaged by some rag thing on my hand. Paul Velasquez showed me the ropes. Honestly, it was much harder than, well, I didn't really expect anything, but suffice to say it was bloody challenging operating a puppet (it operated me, really). Add to that singing and dancing. Freekin' mind fuck. Paul was inspiring and the best teacher of any kind I've had in a long time. Now, I must say, I really miss Romeo. A part of me is missing. Had enough of my gushing? Okay, then let's get to the substance, the base, the flesh of the show, Scotto Moore and Rob Witmer, book and music folk.... Well, gush, gush, uh, gush gush. Well, you saw the show, so I don't have to tell you. Though some of the reviews said there were too many songs. "You can't have that much music in a musical," they said. To which I respond, "Ever seen Sondheim? Ever seen a three hour musical on Broadway?" Even if the show tested the patience of the audience, the fact there were so many repeat audience members proved there was something done right. I miss singing those songs -- my elvis number, my do-wop number, my crooner, those two songs that were cut after the last workshop. I miss the drum roll on Romeo's entrance, lights going up on me with that sweet sequined cape. I miss saying all the juicy laugh lines that Scotto gave me. I miss being on stage, watching all the mouse songs I wasn't singing. (Honestly.) I miss the eyes of all my fellow actors, those connections made during scenes. It's the soul of the juice on stage. Awash in it, baby. Good times. From this actor's end, it was a nice challenge. I let go of attempts to brashly craft a character, as I'd done in 99 Layoffs. Here, less was so much more. It's a musical, that's the more. So Roland could be relaxed and confident and subtle, Romeo should just be relaxed in a bigger way and fun. I was basically playing myself, which was more of a challenge for me than anyone could know. I'm accustomed to hiding behind the craft. Just sing the songs, let them guide me. I was finally pleased with my singing on the last weekend, by the way. (Why peak early?) Still too much rosy gush-ville for you? Want some bitching? Okay, I got some bitching. I feel like the biggest flaw in the production was communication. There were so many times in rehearsal when I just didn't get the memo on changes to staging, to choreography, to music, to logistics, to whatever. I think it was just such a huge project, everyone was overwhelmed and juggling chainsaws and lint. When a theater is pushing its limits like never before with a project more than twice the size of any in its history, one that would become a box-office smash selling more tickets than any in its history, it's going to feel a little like everyone's stepping on everyone else's feet. At the same time... everyone was stepping on everyone else's feet! Stepping on MY feet! When you're focusing on your job, in the middle of it, it's painful and offensive. I wasn't necessarily aware of others feeling the offense too. In retrospect, I think we're all feeling like mothers having just given birth. It was hell. We did it. Look at that beautiful baby.
MID FACTUM 4 OCT 12 5:30PMlong drive to morton, wa, onto elbe, wa, where they were finishing up shooting at the gas station there. had a costume fitting (i like the medium cover all, but they're gonna put me in the large since they already distressed that one); filled out paperwork. now i'm in the hotel room in morton, chilling until dinner at seven. everyone is, of course very nice and welcoming. they've got the system down. i'm looking at my call sheet for tomorrow with bemusement and weighted breath. weighted breath because my call is six am. early. ug. bemusement because i'm really not sure what most of these code numbers and letters mean. i know more than i did last time I saw one of these, but less than everyone here. haven't embarrassed myself just yet. i'm masking my ignorant questions pretty well. sitting the hotel, okay it's a motel, room now. the mountains are gorgeous. the view from the window is a back yard of a house, which makes me feel odd. am i worried? not really. i'm concerned. i know my lines, but from past experience, that doesn't mean much. i've gone blank at times. i hear cary elwes is a very friendly, generous actor and that the director/writer, john fuhrman, is flexible. dinner at seven is at a restaurant a few blocks away. stefan hajek is the actor i'm partnered with through tomorrow. we're going to head down early and walk around town. i got an hour nap on the drive, but i'm still pretty spent. i know i'll not sleep well tonight though, so i must psychologically prepare myself for it. piece of pie. i've done more on worse. now that's psyching myself out!
POST FACTUM 15 OCT 12 5:30PMthe shooting was a week ago. dove right into tech with Mouse, i haven't had a chance to process it all. every time i do a film, i want more. not just the food and kraft services which was stellar as usual. they'd bought out this local all-natural restaurant. describing the meals wouldn't do justice -- bacon wrapped mini quiches, amazing salads and soups, ice cream floats for desert, and on and on. but that's only the cherry on top. i love the subtle precision and accuracy. for a bit of bad luck, the shooting was smooth and friendly and well-oiled. the night before shooting, stefan and i had many questions about the tone of the film and our characters. after dinner we headed to the the bucksnort pub, which soon filled with cast and crew. amazing seattle actor, brandon whitehead, who had already been shooting five days, cast as the drunk, explained that the style was black comedy, which alleviated a lot of tension for me. the script read to me pretty strait drama, but was a little too out there to fly in my opinion. such relief to find they were enjoying stretching the humor but keeping the dark tone. stefan and i loosely plotted some ideas in injecting our scene with subtle physicalization. brandon brought cary over and introduced him to us. cary was great -- jovial, cracking jokes. brendon and he had hit it off really well. cary complimented the seattle actors, saying originally they wanted to cast from L.A., but found such great talent from seattle. they were continually amazed. yeah, us. the next morning, bright and early, we were driven two blocks from the hotel to the garage location, and set right into blocking rehearsal. frankly, it was a blur. there was little discussion. i stood next to stefan and that was it, no trying different positions, just went to town with the first instinct. then breakfast, then costume, then makeup (sitting next to cary, joking and chatting, what a great guy. i have hair envy.) then back to set for the wide shots, the medium shots, the closeups on cary, the closeups on stefan and i. it was bloody cold, by the way. coats went on and off with the action and cuts. then they set up a complex round track shot, that went so magically smooth. the camera panned from behind us to in front as we gave directions and hand signals to cary's character walking off in the distance, then the camera panned around front to show us synchronously waving and dropping our smiles and another character joining the scene. now that i think about it, i'm pretty shocked and amazed we pulled it off in only a few takes. after that i was done filming, but they let me hang out, watch the magic for rest of the day. brontë wanted details on the camera and logistics.
14/48 Festival Seattle Seattle Center 7-8 Sept 2012
The first outdoor version. I'm writing! Let the belly butterflies begin.
POST FACTUM 13 SEP 12 12:00PM Winning the Mazen Award at the festival this weekend was an honor, gave me lots of attention, and cost me fifty bucks. I couldn't get out of rehearsal for the Thursday night meeting, so I wasn't there for the official presentation of the award. (Apparently, there was a hero's standing ovation.) They made everyone promise to say, and also posted on the blog, that Shawn Law "might have gotten the Mazen" to keep it a surprise for me. Frankly, I had other fish to fry, to write a play overnight on the theme of "How did this happen" with four women actors. It had been an intensely sad and busy day, visiting my old friend and alum of Kings' Elephant Theater, Heather Hughes, in hospice and then rehearsing for Mouse all evening. I thought to myself, is there a more incomprehensible situation than watching a young talented mother die of cancer? So I wrote about mass suicide -- White Night -- with the image of Heather in my mind. I found humor in the absurdity, but it rests in a numb and bitter place. At five in the morning, sleeping in fits and starts, I dreamt I received the Mazen, then hazily awoke with the thought "yeah, that'll never happen." So what a surprise to be bestowed with the wood and iron and scotch-laden honor. My speech sucked because I'd gotten three and a half hours of sleep. Jake Groshong, artistic director of Balagan Theater, drew my play, and then drew actors Heather Gautschi, Amy Hill, and Danielle Daggerty. We were in the three-spot in the running order, which I love because you can do anything. It was a challenging piece to do. Jake had some great additions including a stronger ending. That evening the cast didn't back down, seizing the drama and taking their time. Yucking up a serious pieces is easy to do in 14/48 since most of the other plays in any given evening are silly and fun. Heather, Amy, and Danielle had the audience enraptured. One down. I passed out shots of Mazen scotch.
The theme drawn that night was "self help." Yech! I was to write for four men in the opening spot. Pressure on to bring the energy for the evening. Last time I wrote with Paul Shipp for the first show of the evening and we disregarded the responsibility, wrote a great piece called The Courtyard, but I'm convinced we sent the energy of the evening spiraling. I would not let my brothers and sisters down this time. Face Program was the result -- actors playing parts of the face in the control room of a seventeen year old boy going on a date. The style is somewhere between NASA and Woody Allen. Again Jake Groshong was drawn to direct, with the cast Jason Sharp, Mike Dooly, Sam Hagen, and Rob Jones. If you know any of these talented folk, you'll know this was uncannily perfect. I told them to improvise with it and make me laugh. They did. And I did. Everyone did. It was simply awesome! Usually when I see my work performed there are moments when I'm pleasantly surprised and moments when I feel the vision in my head is better than the final product. This was the first time the performance met my vision to a tee and then exceeded it. Mazen scotch all around! (That afternoon I'd bought another bottle of Glenlivet 12 to replenish dwindling supplies.)
Sandbox Radio Seattle Bumbershoot 3 Sept 2012
From the Stranger: "Live radio-drama revival shows are almost universally dorky. I've tried to sit through those California hippies of the Firesign Theater and the Twilight Zone-flavored tales of Imagination Theater on KIXI AM radio (which are so starchy and square, it's almost adorable), but no dice.
Some Seattle theater-makers, however, have magically figured out how to borrow those dangerously dorky radio-drama techniques -- Foley sound effects, actors reading in funny voices from music stands -- and make them work. We have playwright Scot Augustson to thank, in part, since his Sgt. Rigsby and His Amazing Silhouettes project has become a cult favorite over the years for putting shadow puppets, live-radio tropes, and Augustson's filthy intelligence in a blender and mixing up some of Seattle's wittiest, dirtiest theater.
So it makes perfect sense that Augustson is one of the anchor artists of Sandbox Radio Live!, a quarterly series where quality Seattle theater people put on a live radio show in front of an audience to record for a podcast. (To name-check some favorites: Charles Leggett, Leslie Law, Paul Mullin, Annette Toutonghi, Darragh Kennan, Jose Gonzales, Sarah Harlett, and dozens more.)
The crew started performing Sandbox Radio in the summer of 2011 and has assembled a "best of SRL" for this year's Bumbershoot: a poem by Augustson read by Richard Ziman, the bump and jump of Sandbox music director Jose Gonzales on piano, the comically dark "Notes from the Workplace" written by Vincent Delaney and starring Todd Jefferson Moore, and a taste of "Markheim" -- a noirish serial by playwright Paul Mullin, inspired by a Robert Louis Stevenson story, about a world-weary angel-detective who has no love for the devil but isn't exactly thrilled with God.
Listening to the Sandbox Radio podcasts is fun and all, but the real juice is at the live shows, where you get to watch seasoned theater pros open the throttle and have some fun with new material and with each other. It's a little more polished and put together than the rattletrap-by-design 14/48 festival, but Sandbox still has that loose, raw energy of slipping around on brand-new one-off material. It feels like artists at play."
As I write this, we've just begun the bulk of rehearsals. There were three script workshops with Vince Delaney, who wrote this piece for Aimée and I. Minor tweaks and nudges and re-orderings of scenes occurred, but nothing substantial. It's an hysterical piece existing in an idiosyncratic world, not quite zany comedy, not quite realism. (Or, perhaps, both -- zany realism?) In the readings, I had trouble grasping the style. Now that we're up on our feet, i'm beginning to find what it is. And it's laughing me out, baby. We can't get through a scene without bringing each other to our knees in hysterics. This is my second time working with the astute and generous director, David Gassner. That man loves theater more than anyone I've ever met. Oh, yeah, by the way, 99 Layoffs is about two serial job seekers in an eternal spiral of employment torture. Produced by Radial Theater Project, which marries playwrights to actors. New work is created. We are the second endeavor of this groundbreaking (to the pacific northwest) organization.
MID FACTUM 20 JUL12 4:00PM Riding high in the sky right now with this show getting so many accolades from press and peers and total strangers. Two raving reviews, one in the Seattle Weekly, the other in the Seattle Times, which included my big ugly mug on the front page! The Week also featured it as a noted show nationally. The last two weekends sold out well in advance, we've added an additional show on Sunday, and there's a marvelous fashion shoot at PhotoSister. This elation comes off a treacherous opening weekend. Aimée ripped her calf muscle from the bone as she entered in scene one at the top of the Saturday show; something supposedly very rare, more common in tennis and basketball players. Hard core. We proceeded to cancel the second weekend of shows for recovery, and re-staged the more acrobatic moments for re-opening week three. Also, there were a couple sour, albeit astute, blog posts from people who liked the show less than most. (Weird how opinions can make or break something.) Audiences are loving it, laughing at the boisterousness, and emiting gutteral, sympathetic sounds at the pathetic hiring tragedies. It's a dynamic script and we're seizing it.
Xperiment In Theater Mount Vernon, WA Lincoln Theatre 13-17 August 2012
A full-day for five days workshop series ending in a performance for ages eight to fourteen. "A collision of acting, character improv, dance, mime and writing. Ridiculous, serious, crazy and thoughtful. Combine and expand your talents and interests with new art forms."
POST FACTUM 20 JUL12 4:00PM Meantime, while the "Toad's Wild Ride" of 99 Layoffs was jostling me about, I headed up to Mount Vernon to dive into experimental theater with an amazing group of seven teen agers...
Re-enactors Seattle Lincoln Theatre 13-16 July 2012
But what about the gay dad? No, the other gay dad. What happened to him?
POST FACTUM 16 JUL12 11:00AM Saw the screening of this mockumentary last night and laughed my behind off. My favorite parts were the ukulele serenade battle and the scenes with the militaristic cook: "You better think about what you're thinking right now because if you say what you're thinking, I think I'm going to make you regret what you're saying." Bloody hysterical! I have a smaller recurring role, with several funny moments. It was a blast being on set, filmproving with a nice group of actors I'd never met before.
The Future Remembered PacNW Book-It Summer 2012
Astronauts and space craft. Royalty and Cold War tension. Science and art. The Kennedys. Religion and sex. Fashion and futurist speculation. The Canadian Tattoo. Freakish weather and Belgian waffles. Elvis and his excitable fans. The 1962 Seattle World's Fair had it all. Book-It has adapted the retrospective photo book, The Future Remembered, that recalls the formal and the funky, the weird and the wonderful event that put Seattle on the national map: the 1962 World's Fair. I play Yuri Gagarin, Elvis, JFK, and so much more. A really fantastic staged reading with multimedia.
A Mouse Who Knows Me Workshop Seattle Richard Hugo House 14 July 2012
There is no love in laboratories. Unless it's between the research facility's youngest postdoc and her super-intellegent mouse creation. This second workshop of Scotto Moore's new science musical is tighter, more fleshed out, and flashier. Some songs cut, some added. It's looking great. "One more day and one more pellet. I gotta big brain and I really gotta sell it."
Live Girls! Theater June 2012
I'm directing this amazing short play called Bang Bang Choo Choo Train by a playwright I bow down to, Elizabeth Heffron. All the work in this evening of brief plays is stellar, and ranges from silly to affecting.
Touring the schools and perhaps Vegas! Biggest selling show in Book-It All-Over's history! The staging is pretty awesome, says the director. (Me.) It's really more acid-trip in dark and cruel characters than you'd think, wrapped in zany dense abstract rhyme. (That's me in the b-cast version, with Sara Mountjoy-Pepka and Terri Weigant.)
MID FACTUM 21JUN12 11:00AM The B-Cast season began with three hefty weeks of gigs, then waned to a handfull here and there. This past month we've had just a show a week or less, and frankly it's hard to get back in the groove. Still, what fun we have still riffing and making each other smile. Sounds like the A-Cast is on a similar realm of play. They're on tour in Eastern Washington right now for two weeks. I hear from Ben and Erin that they're muggin' it up, as they should.
Readings from the YPP Seattle Rain City Projects 13 May 2012
Rain City is producing the workshop of a short play by Lakeside High School senior, Grace Levy. Margins is a playful and insightful piece about a dangerously intelligent trio of teenagers squatting in the upper stacks of a prestigious private school library. Are they students? Or is there something more insidious about their situation? I'll direct. Josh Aaseng, Matthew Aguayo, and Alex Garnett star. Two other plays produced by Live!Girls! Theatre round out the evening, taking place 7pm at Theater Off Jackson.
POST FACTUM 17MAY12 9:00AM 'It's so heartening to see those engaged young playwrights. And it's always fun to hear new work. And what a nice big audience!' So says Becky Bruhn, RCP board member and generally marvelous person. The evening exampled three styles of staged reading -- traditional music stand with narrater, fully staged with no stage directions, and somewhat staged with characters reading their own stage directions. We began with the affecting Theodore by Meredith McCormack-Mager, a bittersweet piece which follows a teddy bear through three scenes of isolation, loneliness, and expectation. Then came our piece. (The offended gasps when the books were defiled at the end was very satisfying for me.) Last was Emma McIntosh's The Great Invasion set in a school bus during the height of Beatle's fandom. The feedback session at the end was affirming and insightful. For our piece, we were very concerned that audiences wouldn't understand the end. But indeed they did.
POST FACTUM 23APR12 12:00PM charger tour 2012 highlights: our night drive down the ohio river -- eery and awe inspiring. row houses right off the street, dark and decrepit. crumbling porches, boarded windows, the occasional kept up, renovated, or just lived in be-columned victorian house. the factories sparkling vast in the night and bristling with swing shift activity, as the road wound around and up and down the hills. much more hilly than I'd expected. watching sara win over the orchestra while conducting dance of the clowns. getting to know the wonderful wild musicians over martinis at a swanky restaurant and over shots at a sports bar. seeing our conductor, andré rafel, riff on our stage-play through the week; especially when i made him laugh so hard during a performance that he couldn't begin conducting country band march. micah's mustache. micah in general. an afternoon spent at the costume and second hand store called stages. being led into the upstairs rooms of that decaying building, a civil war era morgue, in search of fezzes. wandering wheeling with sara. touring with sara in general -- a most talented, intelligent, and compatible tour partner one could only hope for. the impeccably restored vaudeville era metropolitan theater in morgantown. emerging from under the stage for my orange-haired entrance. the barrage of wadded up paper every member of the orchestra threw at me during our last show which caused me to collapse on stage. a strange way to express love, that's my take. the handle-bar mustached roadside construction worker responding to our awesome rental car: "charger!" the elementary school boy responding to our awesome rental car: "nice charger!" all the west virginians responding to our awesome rental car!
Jesus Christ Ukulele Star Seattle House Concert Good Friday 2012 - 8pm
Year one. . . One ukulele. One voice. One broadway score sitting on one music stand. (Maybe a few amps!) History in the making. Say you were there when it all began -- before the other musicians, before the other vocalists, before the costumes, before the spectacle. 2012 Matthew, Mark, Luke and Johns the genesis of this once a year vanity blowout, every Good Friday from now until the rapture. Bring your own beer or water turned into wine. We DO know how to love him, Sanna Sanna Ho Sanna Hey Superstar!
MimeShop Central Washington University Seattle Mime Theatre Apr 2, 2012
POST FACTUM 3APR12 11:00PMBest weather ever on the drive over the mountain. Still snow on the towering craggy cliff tops. The improv tonight was about a scottish cyclops with a winged flying apparatus, and a group of golfers who go clubbing with him. Eventually, after the drunken, debauched night, they wake up to find they've become cyclops themselves.
In its ninth year. This is it, Rain City Project's one-and-only ukulele extravaganza, Ukelooza! It's a Hawaiian-themed party celebrating that instrument we call "a flea" and the release of Vol. 3 of our ever-expanding MANIFESTO SERIES, this volume edited by Naomi Iizuka and featuring an abundance of stellar Pacific Northwest playwrights!. This year, Ukelooza features performances by many* fabulous musicians and artists AND includes our well-documented UNBELIEVABLY GREAT auction items** (always some shocking package deals you'll never get anywhere else!) Plan now for our super-yummy, pineapple-garnished Mai Tais! (Just like summer!)
*Fabulous musicians and artists include: Jose Bold, Terri Weagant, Sgt. Rigsby and His Amazing Silhouettes (aka Scot Auguston), Danielle Radford, and Chrom-a-Matic (which means they'll be creating a painting throughout the show which is then auctioned off!)
** UNBELIEVABLY GREAT auction items include: SIFF Tickets, Teatro ZinZanni tickets, Truman Buffet Photography Package, Stranger Ad Discount, Tarot Card Reading by Tina Rowley, Cake by Pamala Mijatov, Jewelry by Peggy Gannon, Slot on Annex Theatre's Spin The Bottle, Reiki by Cecelia Frye, Coffee from Starbucks, Wine, Champagne, Babysitting from Meghan Arnette and Juliet Waller Pruzan, and tons and tons of tickets including Live Girls!, WET, Theater Schmeater, Printer's Devil, and Northwest Film Forum. And MORE.
POST FACTUM 20MAR12 12:00PMI just finished formatting Nora Germani's play Dinosaur Bones, which I'd directed for the festival. It's just amazing to me that an eighth grader wrote this thing. It's a funny, heartfelt, complexly structured journey of a newly dead young transgender person searching for his/her identity and connection to the one person who supported him/her in life. Here's an email I sent to my cast after opening: "NIce work, everyone. The show was lovely tonight. The tech went very smooth, thanks Cat. Great new moments discovered, like when LaChrista sigh-grunted upon seeing the ghost of Charlie. Great seizing the stage, like every time Heather opened her mouth. Great way to seize and ride the emotions, like Murren in the dual self-chiding scene. And great way to keep things anchored and well-arced, like Carolyn's stalwart mannish acting. Our show had the most depth and levels of the evening, in my opinion. Not that the other plays weren't great, but I'm just saying, we have the most juice to work with. Thanks, Nora."
Beyond the Score Seattle Seattle Symphony 4 March 2012
Sara Mountjoy-Pepka and I are commedia del arte mimes demonstrating Mozart's zany intent during a concert of his Piano Concerto No. 27. POST FACTUM 13JAN12 11:00AMA Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. That's what it's like being a performer in a symphony hall. Like a strange visitation, this performer-person amongst musicians and really awesome union crew. Everyone said I'd be intimidated by the vast expanse of the hall, the large audience and the striking music around me. Well, it was fun. Kept my eye on the ball and chucked it like I know how. Great to have Sara there as an achor -- she knows music. Great prep for the Magic Circle work ahead.
Meow Cabaret Seattle Rendezvous, JewelBox Theater 1 Mar 2012
On the running orders back stage at cabarets, if you perform poetry, you're listed as a poet. If you tell a story, you're a storyteller. If you act a scene or monolgue, you're theater. if you play a musical instrument, you're categorized as music. If you play uke, you are "ukulele." Not music, just "ukulele." It is its own unique category of performance. At first I was insulted. Then I was proud.
That Thing Seattle Coppergate Pussy Room 29 Feb 2012
POST FACTUM 04MAR12 11:00PMLeap day. The most lovely and stimulating cabaret slash open mic evening I've ever been a part of. It's like waking up to a family of your dearest dreams. The talent and the openness and conversations. Strangers who may be dearest friends. And it all happens in the Pussy Room, the back room of the Coppergate pub in Ballard. The last Wednesday of every month, you show up, pay three bucks, write your name on a slip of paper if you want to perform in the first act, seven minutes max. The second act is like an invited guest. This week a bloody uncanny psychic! I don't know how the hell he did. Ask me about it sometime. Uncanny.
Variety Show Seattle Rendezvous, JewelBox Theater 18 Feb 2012
Mean Grown Ups = theater, stand-up and live jazz combo. I'm gonna try to get my new uke horror song cycle called The Well finished for this. And perhaps Janelle Monae's Tightrope. On uke. Obviously.
I have no idea what I've gotten us into, but it's gonna be glorious! This bay area seven piece orchestral indie band is performing 31 shows in 31 days in the Seattle area. After hearing their live in-studio on KEXP I emailed them, offering our house as one of the venues. No, we don't know any of them personally. Yes, they said yes. Their music is great -- listen to it on their web site -- and they seem like grand folks. If you wanna come, email me. We can become one of their "extended family members."
First workshop of this new musical by the best science fiction playwright on earth, Scotto Moore, music by the Gregory Award winning Robertson Witmer. Cast includes Sara Mountjoy Pepka, Pamala Mijatov, Rick Miller, Isaiah Crowson, Brian Kinyon and Laurie Utterback.
MimeShop Central Washington University Seattle Mime Theatre Jan 9-10, 2011
POST FACTUM 13JAN12 11:00AMGreat drive over the pass with Rick, catching up and reminiscing on ole SMT times. Clear weather made for gorgeous mountain vistas and, on the way back, STARS! Got more mime training from the master. First night improv ended on a sweet note of a one-armed chicken gaining flight (the movement chorus of five college student volunteers spontaneously lifting me up high!). Second night improv was the raunchiest on record, a veritable graphic porn mime! I loved my bodacious, ditsy surf stripper.