Drunk, sexy, and mean

Tribe of Fools’ Christmas burlesque

Well, it’s been a while since I posted.

To make up for lost time (but not, necessarily, to promise regular content in the future), I regale you with three short stories about what has developed while I was gone. I think it’s safe to say that the holidays are a bit of a nightmare for everyone. Busy, busy, busy. I went off writing in general for a month and a half. It was good timing, because Art Attack took a hiatus and so, basically, did Philadelphia theater. Not completely true! December is a month of children’s shows and burlesque for Philly. If you’re not into that, then you might as well stay home and spend time with your family. The standout was Pig Iron’s Twelfth Night, which I thought was kind of genius. Made it worth seeing that goddamn play one more time (like, the sixth?).

Visualized information is sexy

Here’s a diagram, for people more visual than verbal

Why children’s shows and burlesque? My theory: children’s shows because they’re lighthearted and the kids are home for the holidays. Burlesque because the rest of us are exhausted, broke, miserable, and don’t want to pay attention to anything longer than ten minutes long. And it’s easier to pay attention when there are garters and nipple tassles. I was working on an article about holiday shows which I thought would go up on Art Attack (got nixed because of the timing of their post-Philly.com-breakup hiatus). The idea was to discover exactly WHY theaters do holiday shows. My real goal was to get at the numbers behind the myth – is it true that theaters make a considerable portion of their budget off of their holiday show? How do they choose holiday shows? Etc. For it, I was interviewing people at a number of venues/companies who were, or weren’t, doing holiday shows. In my favorite (read: least favorite) conversation, the representative of one major venue kept insisting that they don’t do “holiday” shows. And it’s true, their December play, a children’s play, is not “holiday” themed or religiously oriented in any way. I don’t know why he kept insisting on this distinction, though. And he didn’t stop. He kept repeating, “But it really isn’t a holiday show.” They do two children’s shows a year, and one of them is always in December. I apologized for misspeaking, and agreed that of course his play isn’t Christmas themed, or Hannukah themed, or etc. But I suppose because I had used the word “holiday” to begin with, he was unable to converse amicably about it, and kept taking issue with my including their programming in my article at all. There’s a reason why you do a show during the holidays that’s family-friendly, isn’t there? I finally asked. Not really, he concluded, bamboozlingly. The conversation failed to move forward in any productive direction. Me = puzzled. ~~ I’m doing the theater editing for Phindie.com now. In fact, I am The Theater Editor. I’m excited, because I’m excited about Phindie. Check out all of the activity that’s been going on there in the last few days: I reviewed GHOSTS, EL ANO EN QUE NACI, CHEROKEE. Some other very talented people reviewed some other stuff (it’s all linked from the main page. Phindie has a theater calendar, too, now. ~~

A handsome roach brooch.I’m working on a play. I’ve written it, edited it, and submitted it to a director (the ingenious Robert Gross). We had our first rehearsal session a few days ago, and I was like, yep, he’s still a genius. MICROMANIA is about roaches. It’s about people who are obsessed with roaches, and who might harbor, in their deepest insides, some roaches.

It is, as Robert told me, about the abject as it operates upon and formulates the self. Or something like that. I’m sure that Ingmar Bergman would agree. I think it’s very good. I’m performing it as a one-man show, which means getting to play a cast of bizarre, deranged characters. The idea is to do it as part of Collage Festival, to which we have submitted the play. We won’t know until February 15. Perhaps if I link to the Collage Festival three times on this blog, it will be more likely to accept me into its 2014 Festival. The Collage Festival, presented in its third iteration this year at the CEC in West Philly, puts a bunch of contributors and artists into one space. The works bleed into one another. Unless you’re in the stage area, which is where I hope to be, and where audiences might be able to hear some sound from outside but otherwise I can torture them with nothing but my own self for forty-five uninterrupted minutes. It’s an adventure, it will be an adventure, and it’s all about roaches. I’m immensely excited.


A snap of the This takes place close by set

New Theater Thursdays at Paperclips215 – here I’ll keep you posted on the coolest theater/music/dance stuff that I know about, with a focus on cheapcheapcheap shows.

There’s a discussion, too, about where “contemporary performance” and “experimental theater/music/dance” can or should go, which I welcome you to chime in on.

Also, at Phindie: a review of thingNY Is Back, the third night of <fidget>’s Fourth Annual Experimental Music Festival. The performers included locals Joo Won Park & Adam Vidiksis - both of whom you should check out. Their websites are fantastically constructed and feature lots of multimedia stuff, videos, music, fun. Don’t let the “experimental” in front of “music” scare you away.

Headliner was thingNY, an experimental music ensemble company who are creating an opera project in residency with New York’s Incubator Arts, from whom I’m always getting emails and whose work I’ve never seen. Their latest work, which they previewed here, is called This takes place close by, and is an “opera” about natural disasters. Really present stuff.

What does “opera” mean? After seeing this, and SVADBA-WEDDING a couple weeks ago, I’m sure I don’t know, but I’m also sure that everything should be opera, now. I curse the fact that I know nothing about music composition. What it seems to mean to me: the vocals are performed in a variety of ways (song, operatic song, deliberate speech, whisper, noise, words turned into noise), and by not simply choosing to talk them, the mode of delivery of each line becomes part of the message (read: the medium is the message).

Also, bought from thingNY a comic book/cd of a previous opera, ADDDDDDDDD. $15, and absolutely insane.


Recent articles:

Another to-do for PaperClips215 last Thursday, including this, which I’m attending tonight. Also including a link to Ellie Brown’s indiegogo, at which she’s raising $7,000 to put her SoLow show on stage. Anyone who doesn’t get how even a low budget production costs a fortune will be interested to read what she has to say there. And to give a few bucks.

I saw THE GARDEN Thursday night, Nichole Canuso’s latest show. Really delightful. Review here.

Also, an article for the latest incarnation of Art Attack, on how David Patrick Stearns is not putting forth competent work in his new job as staff theater critic.

A bit nervous about this one, because it’s the second time I’m criticizing a critic publicly. The first time, it spurred conflict with the critic I came out against. Poor Stearns is a classical music critic, why would they transfer him to theater? I’m mostly speaking against the ridiculously desperate tactics of the Inquirer. Thing is, they’re a respected news source; if they quarter-ass their theater coverage, people will still believe them. Air Bud could be their staff writer, and he’d still get hits.

Actually that’s a really good idea.

Ignore what I said before about art attack being done. They’re not done, they’re just moving. Watch ArtAttackPhilly.com. It’ll be up in a couple of weeks.

Did anyone see my paperclips post last week? In it I suggested people check out InterAct’s We Are Proud to Present and SmokeyScout’s Nice and Fresh, among others.

One of those others was a one-time special event, a kind of mashup of 11 performance and visual artists around The Mural and The Mint’s Race Street Pier soundwalk, ANIMINA (the soundwalk you can preview here and which is always available for $0.99).

I was furious to miss it. I was at Nice and Fresh (you can see my review here), which was awesome. But a shame to miss such a weird and neat event. Thus far I see no reviews online . . . if I find something, I’ll share it.

Two cool things coming up. Tonight you can check in at the PMA between 5:30 and 8 o’clock to curate your own exhibit . . . don’t worry, you don’t have to bring materials or paint or anything. Check it out.

Also, make a minibook. I know I will.

Gentle readers,

PaperClips215 is a new portal for info on Philly’s creative culture. It looks like for now I’m their main theater guy, and am going to be publishing there once/wk, directing people to the best local shows. This is important, because many of these amazing shows are under-financed, under-publicized, and under the radar.

I’m focusing on experimental and cheap. The gems you otherwise won’t hear about. The pay-what-you-can weird shit you’ll brag to your friends about and they’ll moan about how they would see more theater if they knew it could do THAT. Like a choose-your-own-adventure dance in the basement of a power plant in Old City. Or devised theater cabaret about genocide. Or a play about crystal meth play performed in someone’s living room.

For me, it’s nice to have Paperclips turn up around the same time that Art Attack vanished. That venue has closed down, unfortunately. But writing for Phindie and Paperclips is so much fun because they’re all such scrappy chaps. Even if they don’t pay me.

Check out my first post for info on what to do with your weekend.



PS: Also, going along with the theme of new venues, a number of articles have popped up about the new FringeArts space – and more specifically, their $60 tickets. Most writers contribute to the moaning (which is valid enough) or remain neutral, but Amy Freeman has written a thought-provoking and fact-filled op-ed for the USA Herald. She even offers a solution, mad as that may sound.

PPS: Help me out. I want to represent the BEST and WEIRDEST of Philly’s underground experimental performance scene. If you hear about anything really awesome you think I might not catch wind of for any reason, let me know. I need to be in all the loops. There are so many loops in this city that just when you think you’re in the loop you find another smaller loop somewhere.

Deeply suspicious

In the dark?

I’ll be in Atlanta this weekend, but if you’re in Illy you should have plenty to do.

FIRST OF ALL, for the sophisticated reader, there is Regency & Revelry, the Lantern Theater Company’s Jane Austen festival, a celebration of the author, her world, and Pride and Prejudice‘s bicentennial. Attractions include tea and dance lessons, book clubs, panels by local experts (who knew there were so many?), and a charming, infinitely watchable, three-hour-long adaptation of Emma. If I were in town, I’d be dragging my girlfriend to the tea thing. Check out my preview on Phindie: http://phindie.com/the-perfect-company-in-the-perfect-city-regency-and-revelry-at-lantern-theater-company-207/

SECONDLY, if you haven’t seen Do Not Push, you should consider it. It’s a constantly-engaging clown/slapstick show, Vladimir and Estragon without like all the sad and stuff. Consistently inventive and surprising for the 50 minutes it runs at Plays and Players upstairs theater. My full review: http://phindie.com/do-not-push-gdp-clown-symphony-205/.

THIRDLY, if you don’t like any of that, I can’t help you. Go out for brunch. I’ll be in Atlanta enjoy the last of the 75-degree weather. Have fun in the rain.

Did you know that enervate means “to weaken”?

I thought it meant “to strengthen” – I’ve been using it the wrong way all this time.

Oh, mendacious memory! These fallacious confidences beguile me at every turn.

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