Friday, March 30, 2007
She mentions an interview she did with Jose Rivera, which I hope to run highlights of here on the blog. For now let us consider those insights a Company secret. We wouln't want to give to much away about what the playwright thinks his play is about, because many of you may disagree.
1. What is your job in References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot?
2. Have you ever worked for Rorschach before and how?
Yes! Jenny and Randy (et al) did a phenomenal job producing the reading of my play Blood-bound and Tongue-tied! True professionals! Inspiring! Not afraid to go where others normally have been! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
3. Do you have any recurring dreams and if so what are they about?
Well it's kind of funny, because when I'm writing a new play, I tend to dream the play. So right now I'm dreaming a lot about the Middle East, Matadors and bulls, Greek Mythology and Lebanese food. Sometimes, I'll dream a scene that needs to be written that hasn't yet, so my characters will show up and work through parts of the play. Othertimes, I won't dream stories so much as images and feelings. For example, china berry trees in bloom, hummingbirds, smeared wedding cake. The senses are of me being crushed by some kind of pressure ... sometimes it's the ocean (scary, because I can't really swim), othertimes it's a man (sometimes scary/rarely erotic).
4. Other than Dali which painters turn you on?
Rene Gruau, Jack Vettriano and Vik Muniz
5. Have you been doing any special research for the show?
Yes, this play is gorgeous! It's dream vs reality structure is challenging ... kind of. Anyway, I had the opportunity to interview Jose Rivera and asked him all about the dream structure and his inspiration for writing the play. He shared with me more than I asked and more than I would have ever dreamed of asking. The whole experience was inspiring!!
6. Who is the biggest celebrity you have ever met and how?
I don't know who's more famous than the other, but these meetings meant a lot to me and my work: Nilo Cruz (Arena Stage reading of Bolero-Cesar was there!), Sarah Ruhl (dramaturged Clean House, she's become a great mentor), Robbie MaCauley (lead an intense workshop for a writers group that I'm a part of), Ruth Margraff (taught at UT-amazing mentor), and Quentin Tarantino (afterparty at SXSW in Austin).
7. In a steel-cage-no-holds-barred-death match which character in Dali would win?
Cat! No question! Nevermind the stamina, dexterity, flexibility, and that oh so fabulous femme fatale sleek sexiness, she's just more stubborn than the rest of them! Trust me, once she's locked in her claws, they're set. And in the words of Tennesse Williams, spoken by one of the most formidable cats of them all, Saint Maggie herself: "What's the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof? Just staying on it I guess, as long as she can."
8. What is the most impossible thing that happens in the play?
A man returns home from war, survives it with mind (the waking part) and body intact, and chooses to remain in the military.
9. If you could live inside of any painting what would it be?
Vik Muniz's Lovers, I mean, it's painted in chocolate!
10. If you had a theme song what would it be?
My theme song for this play, is The Killer's When You Were Young. The lines, "And sometimes you close your eyes and see the place where you used to live," resonate, immediately and profoundly, feelings of sadness, hope, innocence and bitterness. I love it.
My theme song at the moment is: Mika's Grace Kelly. This song says "F*ck you!" with a gorgeous melody! It also says, "I'm going to do and say whatever I want, ignoring all social protocol because I just don't give a sh*t, but at the same time I want you all to like me and invite me to all of your parties!" And that, in a roundabout squiggly way, sums me up!
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I ask people to not stress about being funny in these interviews. Gabriela on the other hand has done something special and makes her interview sexy.
I have mentioned before that this is a sexy, sexy show and a big part of that vibe comes from Miss Gabriela herself.
Since this is Gabriela's first Rorschach show I think those who have not seen her around town will be pleasantly surpised when you get your first taste of the talent that is Gabriela Fernandez-Coffey. She starts the whole thing off with a little note to me:
10. If you had a theme song what would it be?
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
The set begins to take shape around us and designers come in and see what the hell exactly we have been doing for the last three weeks. This is when theater comes together. And while it may lack the life that performance in front of an actual audience achieves, all of the elements are there. Characters find their voices and movement, Directors decide what the play is actually about and Stage Managers begin to realize exactly what kind of monster they will be attempting to wrangle for a four week run.
Last night oour our Grady Weatherford came in to do some stage combat work. While nowhere near as intense as some of the fight work that Grady has done for us in the past, there were a number of practical questions that needed answering. Questions like the correct use of a fire arm (basic stuff like not trying to take a loaded gun into a Senate Office Building) or whether it is in fact possible to safely Tango with a woman an a loaded weapon. I think these are issues we all face in our day to day lives.
We have another designer run tomorrow night. And I think we have actually got a show here folks. You know I have to be positive, it is my job, but I feel damn sexy in this play and I think everyone is wandering around like Casanovas and Don Juans, so look for the steam to rise as we are just two weeks away from our first preview audience.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
ASM on Rough Magic
Anxiety dreams about my third grade class acting up
Sandra Day O'Connor and Kofi Annan. I sang for them in college.
Naturaleza Muerta Resucitando by Remedios Varo. I like the flying plates.
10. If you had a theme song what would it be? And for the actors what would your characters theme song be?
'Happiness' from You're a Good Man Charlie Brown.
Monday, March 26, 2007
The Google searches that have directed people to the Rorschach Blog include:
◊ Jose Rivera Themes
◊ Elizabethan Costumes
◊ Curtain Speeches
◊ Learning your lines
◊ Putting Asses in Seats
◊ Who was Shakespeare?
◊ Japanese Theater
I am not so self-absorbed that I think this blog is the repository for all things theater. I do think this blog has a life beyond just Rorschach.
Friday, March 23, 2007
I am particularly proud of him because he provided all of his own links and actually responds to the previous Get to Know You posts of his fellow cast mates in References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot. So without further ado, Andrew.
1. What is your job in References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot?
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
4. Other than Dali which painters turn you on?
Monday, March 19, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
It was the summer of 2001. It was a different world for Rorschach, almost all of us were in our twenties. There was no war to protest and it was hot as hell in the confines of an art gallery in Blagden Alley, NW.
Rorschach was doing its fourth production. The Illusion, adapted by our old friend Tony Kushner from the play by Pierre Corneille. It was so long ago that it hard to remember anything but the heat. I do remember the audiences though. Making their way down the alley. Walking up to the door of an old stable which had been converted into an art gallery. This was when Rorschach was still finding spaces. Being homeless we turned whatever space we could into a performance space. We had spent time in greenhouses, theater lobbies, and abandoned high school auditoriums before we found our way to Casa.
And I remember the people. Jason Stiles, Mike Glenn, Yasmin Tuazon, Grady Weatherford, Jesse Terrill, Rahaleh Nassri, Tim Marone and Scott McCormick. All of us still feeling our way through the bottom of DC theater. Before any of us had found any of the success that we would on stages like Woolly, Arena, Shakespeare, The Folger and Studio. We were all fresh off of tours, or classes and we were all looking for the next big thing. The Illusion was that thing.
It was a success with both the crowds and the press. That oft used quote from Delores Whiskeyman at the Washington Post:
It's not hard to find talent among the more than 80 theater companies in Washington. But brilliance -- that rare confluence of perfect design, direction and performance -- that's something else again… The Rorschach Theatre achieves it with The Illusion, Tony Kushner's adaptation of the Pierre Corneille classic. It's sharp and sexy, brilliantly played by a strong ensemble cast, smartly directed and crafty in its design -- and all the more exciting because it is not performed in a theater.
That review helped bring people into a part of the City they wouldn't have visited, unless they got lost. Here was the show that Rorschach did on its own. No Theater J looking over our shoulder in case we stumbled. No Art-o-Matic support to help with the advertizing. This was the show that meant we could do it all on our own.
During the rehearsal the other day for References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot the other day I had a flashback to The Illusion. My character Matamore having shown himself to be a phony as a lover and a fighter has decided to leave this world behind and go to the moon. After the play a young lady, well known to many of you but I will protect her identity here by just saying she is an actress around town and leave it at that, came up to me in tears. She had loved the play and had her own take on why Matamore wanted to leave earth for the moon.
She thought that as actors we all were reaching for something beyond ourselves, something higher than the world that surrounds us. Matamore reaches for the moon because he wants to be more than he is.
I am now playing the moon.
Hope you all enjoy this blast from the past as much as I.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot has a lot of things going on that make it a Rorschach show. Today I introduce you to the cast of characters that inhabit Acts I and IV. This time the meta comes from a talking cat (second time we have had one of those prowling Casa), a talking coyote (first time for that one) and the anthropomorphic moon (Rahaleh was the last one to take a stab at that one). What does it take to make these wonderfully weird creations of Jose Rivera come to life? Well costumes and research have a big part to play in allowing the actors to be the very best talking, walking and acting creatures of dream that they can be.
Today's entry will borrow heavily from other peoples research and work so the drawings are Pei Lee's our Costume Designer and the words come from Jacqueline Lawton's Dramaturgy.
Danny Gavigan returns after his Rorschach Debut in Rough Magic to play our coyote.
The coyote has grayish-brown to yellowish-brown fur on top and whitish fur on its underparts. It has large triangular ears on the top of its head and a long, narrow muzzle. It has a black nose, yellow eyes and a long, bushy tail. One way to tell the coyote apart from wolves and dogs is to watch its tail when it runs. The coyote runs with its tail down. Dogs run with their tails up and wolves run with their tails straight out.
Coyote often plays the role of trickster, although in some stories he is a buffoon and the butt of jokes and in a few is outright evil. His personality strengths are humor and sometimes cleverness. His personality weaknesses are usually greed or desire, recklessness, impulsiveness and jealousy. Coyote is often the antagonist of his brother Wolf, who is wise and good natured but prone to giving in to Coyote's incessant demands. In Tongva Mythology, it is Coyote who is tricked. Coyote challenges "The River" to a race. Coyote is victorious, but collapses from fatigue. The river laughs at him and takes the name "Hahamongna," which is said to explain the noise made by the upper Arroyo Seco which sounds similar to laughing.
Yasmin Tuazon joins the Rorschach five timers club in her role of the cat.
A cat believes in itself, her walk can assure you that much. She is independent, has a mind of her own yet she is gentle enough to be liked by all. A number of myths have surrounded this animal since ages. In ancient Europe, she was believed to be an evil spirit. Those were the bad days for cats. Now, cats have become a part of almost every household. They have the power to win the hearts of their owners through their elegance, dignity and off course, their soft purrs and mews can have effect on you almost instantly.
· Myth: Cats always land on their feet.
· Fact: While cats instinctively fall feet first but that does not mean that they will not receive any injuries.
· Myth: Cats should be given milk everyday.
· Fact: Some cats have lactose intolerance. So, they should not be forced to have milk. A grown up cat can have its nutrients even without having milk.
· Myth: A cat's sense of balance is in its whiskers.
· Fact: Cats have whiskers as "feelers" and not to have balance.
· Myth: Cats smother babies
· Fact: Nothing can be more false than this. There has not been even a single case in the whole world so far.
And Scott McCormick is the moon.
The Full Moon seems to have some odd effects on both people and animals. They go bananas! Did you know that the word "lunacy" comes from lunar? Did you know that once people thought there were little green men living on the moon? Take a look at some of these superstitions:
· A full Moon on Christmas day brings bad luck.
· Two full moons in the same month will cause severe weather in the following month. It's also called a blue moon!
· The moon is made of green cheese!
· It is unlucky to look at the new Moon through a window for the first time.
· Chickens lay more eggs under a Moon in its last quarter.
· A full Moon during harvest means a good crop.
· A new Moon brings good fortune.
· Blowing nine times on a wart while the Moon is full will make the wart go away.
· A wish while looking up at a new Moon is thought to come true within the year.
· It is best to cut your hair when the Moon is waxing; it grows strong and healthy.
· It is unlucky for a child to be born when the Moon is waning.
· A ring around the Moon is a warning of rain to come.
· Bowing to a new Moon and turning over silver coins will result in doubling your money by the end of the next cycle.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
In the 1940s Walt Disney and Dali worked on an animated film that was not completed until 2003, Destino. Here is a trailer for the film. There are many snipets regarding this film available and I for one would like to see the whole thing.
And finally this bit of surrealism (whether intentional or not) was found by our director Shirley Serotsky and posted on her blog CityMouse yesterday. I think if Grady can acheive the same artistry in our trailer for References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot, we will be beating people back at the door with a very big stick. Enjoy!
Monday, March 12, 2007
Since the blog started we have had 6 first reads. I just missed the one for Beard of Avon, but I think all of you are all starting to get the hang of it now. I show you some pictures of people around a table and there is always some kind of food in the pictures (in this case it is a bacon, egg and cheese bagel that Yasmin brought). What more is there really to say on the subject? We sit at a table Randy and Jenny make a pitch, the director tells us what her idea of what the play is about, the designers make their pitches and then we read the play.
What I think I have tried to convey on these pages is the feeling of expectation that fills the room. The unknowable of whether this whole thing is going to work or not. I will be honest I have been in first reads that have scared the hell out of me. My confidence is knocked out of me before we even get on our feet. Knock wood that has never been the case in a Rorschach read, but even the most talented and intelligent performers and directors, sometimes find themselves stranded on a sinking ship before they have even left Pier One.
What was the mood this weekend? I have to say it was pretty damn good. In the interest of full diclosure I had some worries about the play. I think I have mentioned some of the fantastical elements of the play, the talking cat, moon and coyote. Those parts of the play struck me with their poetic beauty and vibrance the first time I read the play. It was the sticky middle that had me worried. This center and heart of the play is straight-up two people talking to one another drama, and that is not always the easiest thing in the world to do.
When you have two people alone on stage talking to one another, you need chemistry. Even more so if the play is about two people who have been married to one another for a long time and have to make that comfort with one another seem effortless.
Now I am not making the bold assertion that Gabriella and Andrew were like a married couple from the first time they read together, but I will say that even at the table read you could feel the heat that will make this show a success. Nearly all my worries about seeing two people talking to one another melted away by the end of the read. These two have chemistry, biology and physics through the roof. And even hearing the stage directions about the steamy bits (edited by Shirley because her parents were there) made me realize how this play will live up to its title.
I'll have more to say about rehearsals as we go through this thing. I will have a lot of material to convey so check back here regularly, because when the blogger is in the show, you get more.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Imagine if you will the challenges faced by a young man growing up in a foreign land and journeying to a world completely different from the world he knew at home. The challenges of language and culture he faced as he began his studies at an American university years and miles from the world he knew as a child. I think Grady's story would make for an excellent best seller. I am taking title suggestions now.
People might even be interested in Randy growing up in Southeast Asia and coming to the United States. Although I much prefer Grady coming from Richmond in the early 1990s to the University of Maryland.
All of us have stories to tell. Theatre is almost exclusively made up of playwrights who attempt to work some of their own personal history into their work. The good ones find the universal in their stories and convey a little bit of that to their audience. Even actors call upon their memories to bring moments to life on stage.
I commend the publishing people for giving Mr. Bass the opportunity to share with the world the insights that he has collected over the course of over a quarter of a century of life. And I encourage all of you to consider whether your lives are ready for a full biographic exploration.
Personally I have been playing around with my own autobiography for weeks now. Here are my list of titles so far and the opening sentence:
A Seperate Piece of Pie
It was a rainy day in 1987 that I remember first discovering my nut allergy.
Don't Read this Book, Wait for the Sequel
If you have paid $24.99 for this book, you should have waited for it to go on the remainder shelf and bought it for $6.99 or even $3.99 or better yet you could have borrowed it from a library.
Make Mine One With Everything
It is often that you see people standing in line for tickets to see 'N Sync in concert.
My Half-Life in Theatre
So here is what I would have said to Lee Strasburg.
Out of Baltimore
I had a home in an inner suburb of B-more, hon!
I Have Watched a Lot of Star Trek
I think it was the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan that made me want to be an actor.
Day Jobs Are For Suckers
You know what I loved best about working for the man, free internet access.
My Turn is Next
Still wishing I had gone to see that movie with John Goodman.