Posts Tagged ‘SITI’

Marina Del Ray

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

For the last two weeks, I’ve been in Los Angeles. Actually Santa Monica. Actually Marina Del Ray. A gang of us from SITI Company have been making a new show. It is a new version of Antigone, written by Jocelyn Clarke. We’re working at the Getty Villa which is just up the coast from where we’re living. Where we’re living is two blocks from Venice Beach.

I’m spent quite a bit of time in Los Angeles over the years, and have come out to this area just to visit the beach, but I’ve never spent this much time here. Although we’ve been so busy with the show I haven’t had that much time to myself, I’ve taken a few walks around and done a bit of running. It strikes me that the climate, fauna and even the architecture of this area is remarkably similar to areas of Japan that are very familiar to me from childhood. This is a bit weird. I mean, this is Venice Beach. We’re talking Muscle-Beach and paddle-tennis and literal beach bums waking up under huge swaths of graffiti. Sand in everything. Despite the clear differences between almost any part of Japan and California beach culture, I have moments when a smell wafts through the air here that transports me back to my childhood in a powerful way.

It’s not just the ocean. Even though it is the Pacific one.

I think a lot of this is botanical.

I think a lot of this is neurological.

Powerful nostalgia in places we’ve never been…

I fly to Shanghai in the wee hours of Monday morning. Never been there. Wonder if I’ll remember it…

Totally off topic but…

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

I’m in Tempe Az. It’s SITI Co’s last of three residencies here. We will be performing Under Construction, next Saturday.

However, this week, we’re rehearsing Who Do You Think You Are. We will be performing WDYTYA at the Kranert in Champaign/Urbana in a few weeks but this is the only chance we’ll have to rehearse it. We’re also doing workshops during the day with the ASU MFAs. Some of which were in Eurydice earlier this year, so it’s good to be back in a room with them.

But what I want to blog about here, briefly, has nothing to do with any of this. It’s a new thing that I’ve been doing online.

This is in addition to the Yelping, Chess With Friendsing (free on iPhone), Bright Kiteing and Twittering that I’ve been doing. If any of you know what those things are and care to join me…

My point here today has to do with the fact that there are certain things that humans, any human, are better at than computers, any computer. Combine this with the fact that we have more data coming into the world of astronomy than we know what to do with and you get Galaxy Zoo.

If you go to Galaxy Zoo and register and go through a bit of a tutorial process you can classify galaxies. You’re looking at actual images of galaxies and making basic decisions about what you’re seeing. This data you provide is cross referenced with other folks choices looking at the same images and what emerges is a fairly accurate/useful sorting process. This is not a game. It’s active, citizen science.

So I leave it open in a tab on my Firefox and every once in awhile I’ll just stare at stars and sort them. It’s kind of meditative and it’s also contributing. Busy as I am, I can work on our sharpening picture of the cosmos. This makes me happy.

Under Construction 2

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

So we’re up and running and the show is kind of fantastic and fun and we’re having a great time with it.

Here’s my hero Chuck Mee talking about the show:

YouTube

The national press hasn’t descended upon us yet. Isherwood will probably write about us in the Times but in the meantime here are two local reviews:

Courier Journal

Leo Weekly

We may be posting some footage that I’m shooting on a FlipCam during the show on YouTube at some point soon. In any case I’ll keep y’all posted here. If you’re in driving range of L’ville come on down! We’ll also be doing it in Tempe AZ, and Champagne-Urbana IL once we close here.

K. Nuf for now.

Under Construction

Monday, March 9th, 2009

I’m in Louisville with SITI Company working on UNDER CONSTRUCTION, and it would be hard to be happier with a work at this point! We’re having a BLAST and this big messy mass of theatrical pleasure that we’re working on every day is my favorite thing in a LONG time. Of course I say that about everything I work on. Sue me. But this is really quite special I think. It is exactly where I want to be right now on so many levels.

And I think a lot of people are going to hate it.

And I think a lot of people are going to love it.

And that feels about right.

To paraphrase Tom Nelis, talking about the actual play from inside the play: This is the way we’re doing it and we think this feels wonderful.

Anyway there’s a blog. Check it out.

Typical blog post

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

I suspect that the most common sentence used to start blog entries is some variation on: “I haven’t updated this blog in awhile.” I know I’ve written a few. I’m trying to avoid writing it again, but it’s been two full months since I’ve shown my face here. So here I am.

I really meant to blog about the inauguration, and the Oscars but I didn’t.

What I’ve been doing in the meantime,

  1. I’ve been in Tempe/Phoenix Arizona directing a production of Sarah Ruhl’s EURYDICE. It was a so-called “site specific” production. Here’s a review. While in AZ. I did a lot of hiking in the Superstition mountains/wilderness. This activity took up all the time I would have spent blogging etc.

  2. I’ve been watching Barak Obama get inaugurated and start his term. I still choke up almost every time someone says “President Barak Obama.” I have also discovered that I wish I was Malia or Sasha. Not that I am that unhappy with the life I have, but man, wouldn’t it be GREAT to be one of those girls?

  3. I’ve been getting more active on Twitter. If you know what it is, I’ve also started using Brightkite to update both Twitter and Facebook. I’m also using Yelp more and more and I’m actually writing reviews. Check out the new Yelp window on this blog (scroll down on the main blog page, it’s on the right).

  4. I’m now in Louisville KY rehearsing (as an actor) Chuck Mee’s UNDER CONSTRUCTION with SITI Company. More on this later…

Ok. So that’s it for now.

Shameless shill for the heartless non-profit machine…

Monday, December 8th, 2008

My recent foray into YouTube has resulted in being asked to produce a video for the SITI Company’s holiday fund-raising campaign. In the interest of spreading the word: click here.

Manhattan Canyon

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Manhattan Canyon is a short film by my friend Greg King. It’s up on the IFC website. I’m posting about it because, aside from it being both brilliant and beautiful, it relates to my Walking Broadway project of a while back. It gets at something about the large scale patterning of New York, that I’m fascinated by. Greg did the video work on SITI Company’s Hotel Cassiopeia, and like Joseph Cornell, the subject of that play, he has a relationship to both New York City and beauty that I am always deeply moved by.

Greg is an artist with whom I have a certain degree of intimacy; The largest object in my living room is a painting by Greg. I see it every day I’m here in New York. It is a work of art that I live with. I think it’s important to live with art. To allow it to permeate one’s daily routine. Alter how you go about your business. Not as background. Decoration. Some sort of conspicuous bourgeoisie status badge.

When people come to visit the apartment, I often take them around to show them the Paul Jenkins watercolor, the Robert Wilson charcoal, the Harvey Wang photo, the Jan Sawka Beckett posters, etc. Not because I want to show off (I hope). But because I want to introduce them to the pieces of art I live with.

I’ve never been one to understand how one can read a great book, see a great movie, listen to a great piece of music, see a great production just once. It’s like meeting a good friend once.

So here’s a link to Manhattan Canyon. The IFC site is a bit obnoxious but the film is worth it.

Enjoy: Manhattan Canyon

New York Moovee Daze

Friday, January 25th, 2008

The bulk of the time since getting back to New York was spent working on the new SITI piece “Who Do You Think You Are”. It’s exciting work and I can’t wait to get back to it. We’re taking a few weeks away from it before we go back to Arizona for the second SITI residency there where we’ll finish the play and premier it on March 1st.

In the meantime, I was supposed to go to Paris to act in a film. That got nixed because the director decided that he wanted to do my scenes in a more improvised style and I don’t have the French to do THAT. So I’ve ended up with some time on my hands. Which means, as usual that I let a lot of it run through my fingers. I’m not complaining. Wasting time is not a waste of time as far as I’m concerned. It’s giving me a chance to check in with all kinds of “Back-burner” things, but it’s at the expense of some of the “front-burner” stuff. Se la vie!

One thing that has taken up some time, is the fact that the Oscar nominations have come out. I had seen several of the films that had important nominations, but there were some holes. So I’ve been filling them in.

This gives me an excuse to talk about the Oscar movies for a bit.

I haven’t seen Atonement or Juno as of this writing, but the other three nominees for Best Picture are all exceptional films.

• Despite the fact that my friend Jordan Lage makes an appearance in it, I had not seen “Michael Clayton” until it was nominated. It’s an amazing movie. It captures a finely modulated sense of frustration about life that is so subtly rendered that it was hard not to identify strongly with the characters. I’m not one who usually finds this an important criteria for enjoying a film, but this was rather uncanny. There are things about the title character and his situation that I identified so strongly with and have never seen dramatized before. The entire cast is fantastic. Clooney, Wilkinson and Swinton are being singled out for very good reasons. It is a testament to her chops, but if this was the first thing that I had seen Tilda Swinton in, I would think of her in a totally different way. For someone who is the embodiment of a certain kind of internal metal, to perform the complete lack of it is stunning. Tony Gilroy’s direction and screenplay are both not only inspired but driven by a clear passion for these flawed people and what they say about the world we live in. Mr. Gilroy also directed last year’s excellent, and otherwise nominated “Bourne Ultimatum” and is quickly becoming someone I pay attention to. Next time, I don’t think I’ll wait for a stupid Oscar nod to go see his movie.

• “No Country for Old Men” is, in my opinion, the most mature movie the Cohens have produced. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re doing an adaptation for, what I think is, the first time, but the film has a steady intelligence that cuts through their normal wit to punch you straight in the gut. It’s not that the wit is gone, it’s just modulated, and as such, moments that would make you laugh in another of their movies become something quite different here. Somehow in what is a disturbingly violent movie, they get you to care about almost everybody who enters the frame. This is why the violence is so disturbing. It is not a cartoon. Even the seeming stock charactors like the hotel clerks or gas station attendants (not to mention Tommy Lee Jones’ jaded cop with a hard past) come off as people who are worth caring about, and this is part of what makes Javier Bardem’s psychopathic hit man so chilling. He’s hurting people. And he knows it. No movie of this genre has ever scared me before. This movie scared me.

• I don’t know how to start talking about “There Will Be Blood”. It is a remarkable film. It is cinema. Although Anderson has been inviting comparisons to Wells and dedicated the film to Altman, it made me think of Kubrick at his best, and that’s hard to do. Daniel Day-Lewis stands tall in the middle of this masterpiece, and if he wasn’t a giant of world cinema before, he is now. It is a performance of historic proportions. There is much that can (and is being) said about this movie, but the most cogent thing, if you haven’t seen it, is “Go see it.”

What all three of the afore mentioned films confirm that whether a film (or any work of art) is uplifting, is not dependent upon it’s content, but upon the level of the artistry with which they were crafted. What is hopeful, is that in such a dark time in our culture, we can still make substantial works of art.

Looking over some of the other nominations:

• Mr. Depp certainly deserves his nomination for “Sweeny Todd”. I’m not always a fan of Tim Burton’s stuff. When I like it, I really like it, but there are times when he leaves me cold. I liked “Sweeny Todd”. Liked it a lot. It’s wonderfully twisted. The parallels to “Charlie And The Chocolate Factory” are both disturbing, and surprisingly fun to think about. I also love the fact that all over America it’s got the goth kids talking to the musical theatre kids.

• Mr. Hoffman’s nomination for “Charlie Wilson’s War” is deserved. It’s a wonderful turn in a good movie. I’m not a big Tom Hanks fan, but I actually liked him in this film as well. I was surprised. The film itself is interesting. I kept wondering if the general American public is actually understanding the connections between the story of the film and our current nightmare. There are a couple of scenes in which the screenplay is about 1 degree of separation away from mentioning Osama Bin Laden. It’s weird because I’m usually a big fan of ambiguity and allowing the audience to do the work, but I found myself wanting a more explicit line drawn.

• Julian Schnabel’s “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly” is one of the best films of the year. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see it in the Best Picture category. The Best Director and Adapted Screenplay nominations are well deserved. This is another must-see, run-don’t-walk picture. It’s absolutely brilliant. On paper, it looks like it’s going to be a total drag, but it just simply soars. Filmed in the hospital where the story actually happened with some of the actual people who took part, playing themselves, this is a remarkable achievement.

• It’s nice to see Pixar’s second Brad Bird picture, “Ratatouille”, get some attention here. Recruiting Mr. Bird is one in a long line of smart things John Lasseter has done. The movie is a delight. I find it particularly moving because of the allegory that Bird is making about being an artist in America (I’m not making this up. I’ve heard him talk about it in interviews). The idea that we’re trying to make something good for people in an environment where the folks in charge are trying to kill us, is very resonant.

• Despite this post, I don’t really put a lot of stock in the Oscars. They’re fun. I enjoy them, but I don’t think they have a lot of meaning. What meaning they have is their ability to direct attention into directions that it wouldn’t otherwise go. Almost every year I can find something in the nominations or awards that makes me angry or bewilders me. This year is no exception, and here it is: Why no “Simpsons Movie”? What the…? I’m not going to go out on a huge limb here defending The Simpsons as important American cinematic art. I would argue, and not alone, that the show represents the very best of what American Television has to offer. This is not the same thing as being great cinema all on its own. That being said, there is something very interesting going on in “The Simpsons Movie”. It’s not just that it had a certain pop culture penetration. A careful examination of the film reveils that these people worked very carefully to ride the aesthetic line that separates Film and Television. I didn’t fully realize how carefully this was done until I got the DVD and saw it on a TV. The movie is in a different world from the TV series. If only on this basis, I think the film has something very important to offer to the conversation about cinema in the United States. This is ignoring it’s value as a fun movie that hangs twenty, while surfing the huge wave of American pop culture like only The Simpsons can. Now even if you don’t buy this, are you going to argue that “Surfs Up” is better? Really? REALLY? “Surfs Up” should be considered for an Academy Award and “The Simpsons Movie” shouldn’t. That’s what you’re saying? I wouldn’t mind it at all if “The Simpsons Movie” lost to “Ratatouille” or “Persepolis” (which I haven’t seen but intend to). I really wouldn’t mind that. But for Matt G. et all to not even be nominated is just crazy. Disclaimer: There may be some technical reason why “The Simpsons Movie” was not nominated. If that is the case, I don’t know about it. If I find anything out, I’ll report back. If any of you know, then enlighten us.

• The other movie that I think could have gotten more attention is “Once”. This lovely little film is something that there was a lot of buzz about in certain circles, but a more prominent Academy notice could get a lot more people to see it.

Ok. That’s enough for now. I’ve still got some movies to go see, so I’ll be back with more, but for the time being let me just say that it’s a nice time to be a cinemaphile. There’s some great stuff being made out there. The writers strike may move a lot of production overseas but that’s not such a bad thing. The standards are good and we may be getting back to somewhere near where we were before the industry was hijacked by the blockbuster. But that’s a rant for another time…

Go to the movies!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

It’s 2008!

Looks alot like 2007. If you look in the right direction, it looks just like 1843 or 1214 or 25,000 BC. I wonder if it looks like the year 5008.

Nothing points out the indifference of nature/the universe to me the way a day like this does. There is NOTHING to mark this “New” year. Where is the starting point or the ending point in the track around the sun? It is gray and hazy in New York right now. Bits of rain. Does this “mean” anything? Does it have any relation to the rest of the 360 some odd days that today is now part of. Then again, it’s all about how you look at it, and maybe marking a day like this is a way of making ourselves conscious of things like time, it’s passage, and how for us it can be fleeting. My problem is that what people say about this kind of thing is something that I aspire to infuse every day with. To never engage in the drudgery of yet another day following day. So I tend to get prickly about holidays simply because they point out both nature’s indifference and our inability to make every day special.

But for today, here’s how I’m going to take it: This is practice. I’m going to take everything associated with New Years, new beginnings, clean-slate, hopefulness for change and growth. I’m going to take all of this and touch in with it today, as a way of seeing it. Then I’ll try to check in with it every day. To see if I can make every one of the next 360 some odd days as hopeful and clean-slate as this one. Then I’m going to see if I can do the same thing with the other holidays that make me prickly (easy to say now that the “season” is pretty much over).

Maybe that’s just a garden variety new year’s resolution. Hopefully not.

I’m sorry I’ve not been blog-prolific of late. Since getting back from Japan we’ve been busy working on the new SITI production “Who Do You Think You Are”. At the same time I got a cold (actually two of them) and had kind of a tough time. Then we got a pretty big homework assignment to work on during our holiday break so, although I haven’t been working EVERY MINUTE, I’ve been pretty busy.

I have at least one more post about Japan, sort of summing up, and I need time to sit down and finish it, but I haven’t taken that time yet, so. I’ll put it aside for now and see if I can get back to more regular blogging.

Have a good one.