Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Music Industry

Would this man have stood a chance of getting his videos played on MTV (if he were just starting out and not a bona-fide legend being produced by Trent Reznor)???

Just wondering...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wander Lust

Ooooh, I'm in love with travelling again but I was never out of love with travelling but I am often out-of-pocket which is a discreet way of saying: I'm a pauper and travelling is for rich folk or very crafty aid-workers or diplomat types. I grew up travelling so it's in the blood, kid. But, then again, who doesn't have the yen to blow this Taco Stand for places unfamiliar (though, uh, I've mainly been to Western Europe lately so that hardly qualifies as "exotic" or "foreign" even).

I've promised myself that the next trip I pay for (and, luckily, eventhough I've travelled a decent amount these past few years they've mainly been for theater gigs which means: me no pay) Besides, I want to get out of the Western Europe travel vortex. I'm talking whole other continents, people! And to that end, I am putting it in print and on the web in order to make it, somehow, more real and to make myself accountable to my own travel...lust(!).

And so, in no particular order, the top 3:

Vietnam and Cambodia (Does that count as 2?)

Chalk it up to watching "Apocolypse Now, Redux" one too many times... Not really, I have friends who have gone and say that it is astoundingly beautiful and that the people are, surprisingly, warm given that fact that we dropped Napalm on their children only thirty years ago. Oh, being an American is fun, isn't it? I think I am just generally fascinated by countries that have, for better or worse, been irreversably changed by colonialism and the former Indochine certainly falls into that category. Plus, I know this might be lame but...I love vietnamese food! The most delicate and piquant of all asian cooking (mint? lemongrass? vietnamese coffee?!). Plus, a communist/buddhist country with capitalist leanings is worth a visit, no?


I am itching to go back to South America though Peru just sufferred a terrible earthquake...but I want to see Machu Pichu before the acid rain washes away the last remnants of the once great Inca empire. Plus (here we go with the food again): cerviche? potatoes with cheese? arroz con pollo? Itchy sweaters and hats with ear flaps? Plus, it's relatively cheap and after spending a month in Europe I need to visit countries where the dollar is still king (or just not almost worthless).


Truth and Reconciliation Committee! Nelson Mandela! Home to the next World Cup! Plus, I met a very cool South African in Edinburgh who made his country sound pretty incredible - joyous, beautiful. Again, I've heard it on good authority that it's the kind of place you don't want to leave and the political transformation of South Africa is fascinating. Plus, I've never eaten the food so that alone merits a visit.

Now, I just have to steadily amass a fortune which between temping and acting gigs should be doable in about 30 some-odd years after I give up my apartment and go live with my parents. But I can DREAM and thus make this happen.

Travel or Shrivel!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I saw 24 Plays last Month or some thoughts on Theater (cue the Snoring).

I saw 24 plays last month or 24 shows or or whatever you want to call them. Some of them were performance "experiences" I guess, but the majority of them were plays. And, dear me, I came away with the thought, that I often have, which goes something like "making a good play is so hard" and "theater is so subjective"... Actually, in a fit of pretension one night I even likened it to proving the existence of God (I was getting all St. Thomas Aquinos on their asses). But...here are a few things I came away with in terms of "what I want to see in when I am sitting in the dark" (ahem).

So without further ado -- Here in, ahhh yes, the always trusty, always reliable, numerical list format

1. A Story

I'm a sucker for a good beginning, middle and end. I am going to throw out all the usual cliches like when I see a play "I want you take me with you" and "bring me on a journey" blah, blah, etc. etc. Serioulsy though, maybe the time for non-linear, deliberately obtuse to the point of incoherence theater/storytelling is over (thank god). I don't want to be spoonfed by any means but from where I am sitting clairty is king. Now, that doesn't mean everything needs to be a clean point A) to point B) but if you want a mess on stage - let me, the audience member, know why. I can't care about your characters or their actions or the world artificially being created in front of me if I don't understand what the f!@#$ is going on and I don't mean in that ambigious Harold Pinter kind of way.

2. Cultural Authenticity

Hmmmmm, this is a tough one and I hestiate to put it out there but..the worst thing I saw at the Fringe was a British play set in the heart of white trash Americana (though they wouldn't have described it that way). Man oh man, was it phoney in the worst possible way - finger wagging, self-righteous which means it was also smug and humorless! Think Lars van Trier movie but not nearly as good (he's never been to the United States either but writes/makes those great DOGMA film allegories about the injustices of the Fat American Empire). For the record, Dancer in the Dark is one of my favorite things...when the dog bites, when the bee stings... But, really, I am not sure I would want to see an American do a play about the chav's who roam the British housing tenements. It's hard enought to write a play that doesn't reduce your own county members to two-dimensional cariactures but it's nearly impossible not to do it when writing about the "other" (especially ones as ubiqioutious and, at times, offensive as Americans). I am not sure what the solution is... Is it to keep theater local just like produce? I dunno but if you are going to take on another country's culture (especially the weakestmembers among them) make sure you do it with a wide embrace.

3. Writing RULES!

A beautiful play, a visually beautiful play, a feast for the eyes, a sumptious sensory experience unless it's a William Forsythe ballet or Charles Bukowski stories done with puppets (which I didn't see but I heard on very good authority was muthf@!#g amazing) is nothing if the writing is shit. It's just becomes so much window dressing - momentary distractions and utterly forgettable.

4. Actors shouldn't be critics

Yikes, I have a lot of opinions which, like a true actor, I am very good at running at the mouth and talking about after I've seen a show...within, of course, the correct amount of politcally safe walking distance of said show. However, I will say, with great sincerity, this is an art-form I love, even if the culture couldn't give a shit and most of our audience are going the way of the Dodo bird, so I wish I had fallen in love with more of the 24 shows that I sat through (in true Bogart fashion - leaning forward, arms uncrossed)...

But, theater, like faith, can't be willed - you're either a believer or your not.

Monday, September 03, 2007

And so the Nostalgia sets in...(a few thoughts on being "abroad").

Of course, when it was all over and even in the midst of being there and doing performance # 24, I kept on having the same thought, the same reoccurring thought, which went something like "jesus christ, we really pulled this off, we are in Scotland, we are back in Edinburgh, I can see the Castle from my window and I am doing my castmate's dishes, we're back, Baby, we're back." When we were selling Shoni's t.v. and my hardback copy of "Kafka on the Shore" and Kim's juicer/hotpants/Nina Simone record/DVD of Napoleon Dynamite during our ghetto-fabulous stoop sale on Bedford Avenue in the middle of June I wasn't so sure we were going to pull it off. But, oh boy, we did and we did it, if I do say so myself, with aplomb! Plus, the cliche is true: the harder you work, the sweeter the rewards or maybe you can chalk that up to being brought up with the whole American "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" ethos.

The Fringe Festival in Edinburgh a magical experience, a kind of delicious bubble (think College) where the only thing that matters for a whole month is doing the best show that you can do, drinking the best beer you can after you do said best show, then seeing the other "best shows" that other people are doing in the Festival, and drinking more of that best beer, and then having the best hook-ups (it's a town full of actors - perfect for superficial intimacy and built-in endings!!!) and getting up the next day and doing it all over again.

And, what makes it all so wonderful is that it's this finite month so you are constantly aware that time is running away from you - you are forced to Carpe Diem whether you want to or not.