I am excited to announce that I will be directing the amazingly talented Pascale Roger in her one-woman show: "The Ins and Outs of Fingers, Spoons and an Open Marriage."
I have been giving Pascale dramaturgical support on this piece since before I moved to San Diego. Just this week, after a very meaty and fruitful (heh heh) Skype session, we decided it would be possible to work together on it. In addition to more Skype time, she will be coming to San Diego for rehearsals and I will be traveling to SF for tech/performance.
I worked with Pascale on an initial draft of this piece that premiered at The Marsh SF last year. Pascale won an audience award for that performance, which is allowing her to do a longer, more fleshed out version this year.
It is a one-night only performance: October 3. This play is steamy, sexy, awkward in the best kind of way, touching when you least expect it and ultimately so empowering. I hope you'll spread the word and come see it.
So I moved to San Diego in July. After 18 years in the Bay. 14 years in my little Berkeley garden retreat.
My truck died. After 16 years and 220,000 miles.
All these numbers seem(ed) important. And I guess the main thing they might say is:
IT WAS TIME FOR A CHANGE.
My main squeeze, Ross, got a super dreamy job at Francis Parker School (middle and high school English teacher) and I grabbed Storm and said, "Let's do it!"
First impressions of San Diego:
1. Overall, people are incredibly friendly, warm and open.
2. Everyone seems to know someone in San Diego, and it only takes an email introduction for those people to agree to meet with you and tell you wonderful tips about San Diego.
3. There are so many delicious beers! And...You cannot drink delicious beer every day without gaining weight.
I saw an awesome show at Blindspot Collective that was beautifully acted. And that made me so happy! The audience was filled with students, which also made me happy. Beforehand, one of them asked me: "Is this going to be real people?" I assumed he meant, actors, since the play was based on actual words of immigrants interviewed over several months. I struck up a small conversation with him, noting that even the teenagers are open and friendly here!
I've been hired as a teaching artist at California Center for the Arts, Escondido. So far I've done amazing training on restorative justice, arts integration and emotional intelligence in curriculum design. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I have to learn. So happy to continue what I started at the Sojourn Devising Institute this summer. It has been a year of learning so much.
Storm and I have been exploring a lot and there is still lots more to explore. I am missing my Bay Area family and I miss Berkeley Bowl more than I ever thought possible. But I am also continually reminded how much growth can come out of change and for that, I'm so happy to be here and can't wait to see what continues to unfold
I still managed to go on year 5 of backpacking adventures with this crew. We did the southern half of the JMT. 125 miles! All that San Diego beer did not make these passes any easier. But 2 weeks was a great boot camp toward getting back into shape. Storm and I are keeping it up exploring Balboa park and surrounding areas.
"Skinned" is one of those perfect collaboration experiences that I dream about. I sent some stage directions I'd been thinking about to Kim. I was surprised when she wrote back that she loved it. We met in a literal meat-locker in Omaha...(OK, it's a classroom where they teach culinary students how to cut meat. Notice the posters on the wall behind the audience?) We discussed a basic outline. I edited 10 minutes of Trump talking about women down to 8 skin-crawling minutes. We went from there. I honestly think an audience member shouting "You guys are f*#%^@** crazy!" after your performance is the highest praise I can think of currently.
We performed 3 nights between an assemblage of other performance art, short pieces, films, one-acts--all "speaking through, at, and from within this vicious and incredibly alive moment in our history." We got to feel what it was like to recreate the intimacy in a larger space; the immediacy within repetition; the fervor even when half the audience walked out beforehand because they were there to see the piece before ours. All good. All juicy. All so necessary in this art-as-a-way-to-survive-crazy-times thing.
We played around with color more in the NYC performances.
Onions were red.
Shoes were yellow.
Slips were white.
20 pound bags of onions we carried in slung over our shoulders then dropped heavily onto the table. We got a lot of great feedback and responses that are factoring into next iterations of the piece.
Here's a little mention of us in a Culturebot article about the festival.
In other news: This May, I'll be moving on from the school I've taught at for the last three years. Until then, I'm exposing the students to my favorite--site-specific theatre--as we stage a production of "The Lion King" in the school courtyard. Some of them are still not convinced about how awesome it's going to be, but I'll win them over eventually.
In the meantime, I'm enjoying taking Storm on hikes to see the ridiculous sunsets we've been blessed with pretty much nightly here in the Bay Area. Enjoy a slideshow of these #nofilter pictures!
After every show we had a bonfire with wine and cheese where the audience could stay and chat. Each weekend's audience was in an entirely different emotional space, making each show its own pressure point on the pulse of what we were all experiencing. I learned so much from this production: about my own artistic practice, about engaging with an audience, about why I think this kind of theater needs to still exist. 6 months later, as I'm trying to decide what to work on next, I keep feeling I should just take everything I learned and mount this play again. It doesn't stop being relevant and maybe I can do it better the next time.
So much has happened in the YEAR since I last posted.
It's hard to know how to encapsulate it all in one, succinct blog post.
I'll use lots of pictures to try to make it interesting.
First off, I started teaching full time at Ring Mountain Day School in Marin.
I taught K-8 drama AND art and directed the all-school play. It was (and is) an incredibly rewarding and educational experience with some of the best colleagues on the face of the planet. Mostly because they still want to work with me after being introduced to my Kansas childhood delicacy, Beer Butt Chicken (I was told that's the proper way to talk about it in polite company), and my interpretive dance skills.
I blame all my lack of "keeping up" with outside life on that.
In Art-Land...Wonderful Things are Shaping Up.
I'll be producing "dark is a different beast" this fall with my playwright-producing collective 6NewPlays. Some of you may be thinking..."Wait a minute...didn't we hear a whole lot about this piece already?" And yes...I made a short film of segments of the script and that film got into a couple film festivals and you can even watch the whole film here if you'd like. However...I've always wanted to produce the whole play and I still was interested in the initial idea of using wearable kinetic sculpture to create the machine of the piece.
Enter, China Tamblyn.
China and I know each other from working with youth theater. After a few years of producing kids' shows, we realized we really liked each other on a personal level. And then I found out China is this bad-ass welder/sculptor/artist and I approached her about working together on something. She read a couple scripts and liked "dark." We applied for and got the Theater Bay Area CA$H Grant (whoop whooop). 6NewPlays had already received an organization-wide grant from the Venturous Fund that will help fund my piece. The wonderful Puffin Foundation West, who first funded this project back in 2012, has also offered additional support. And you will probably be hit up soon with a Kickstarter campaign. So--it's for real!
I couldn't be more excited about the creative team that is shaping up. I won't post anything official until I've got it all down in writing, but let's just say, I feel like I'm going to be in heaven, surrounded by a bunch of amazing artists.
One of whom, is Heather Helinsky, from GPTC....
Have I ever Mentioned how much i love gPTC??
Ahh...my beloved annual spring sojourn to Omaha. This year I was fortunate enough to work alongside Heather as she dramaturged Bonnie Metzgar's play (in which I performed). Watching Heather support and guide her playwrights through a process is like watching a doula in the delivery room (which I have never done, but I'm imagining). So I asked Heather to help me fine-tune "dark." I feel so lucky to have her on board for this production.
GPTC was again, filled with amazing work. Despite a nasty bout of strep throat (that allowed me to experience the compassion of the Charles Drew Health Center in Omaha), I had an awesome week.
I produced the 6th Annual Fringe Night in this amazing old theater, 40th Street Theater.
The building was purchased by a couple as an expansion to their instrument repair shop. As they started doing renovations, they discovered the history of a theater dating from the early 20th Century. (We're talking rooms full of artifacts that have been perfectly sealed away for 75 years!) They began to preserve it and are now opening it up to various artists in the community.
I wanted to perform a piece about the San Quentin execution chamber.
I asked if they had a gurney.
They had 4.
This one is from a 1935 psychiatric hospital with matching lamp.*
I feel so lucky I got to produce my 6th Fringe Night in this amazing space. And have so many old pals perform amazing new work there.
And finally...i shot another film (Kinda)
Somewhere in the spring, I did a one-day film shoot. It was a continuation of the Nero piece I've been working on for a while. Kim was coming into town. Dave was here. Aidan hadn't moved to L.A. The time was right. Even if it felt like there was no time. I needed this new footage shot and lit by a professional. There was no other time we could do it.
Now for the time to go through the footage and continue the editing....
*Some numbers and dates may not be exactly right. Don't fact-check me please. Also, all photos from Fringe are taken by Tom Grady, who is his own kind of hero of GPTC.
I was honored to have "dark is a different beast" (film) screen on opening night of the 2015 Columbus International Film and Video Festival.
Dave was able to extend his time in the U.S. to make it to the screening.
We enjoyed chatting with Jeremy Henthorn who runs the festival at the super cool, site-specific experimental film showcase.
I feel like everyone I talk to can't believe it's already June. Six months into 2015 and I'm still having trouble remembering to write '15 instead of '14 on my checks. (Yes, I still sometimes use checks.)
A brief synopsis of my spring:
(Even my new, fancy high-heeled shoes couldn't transcend the apparent muteness I'd been stricken with. Maybe I got there too early...)
(A lot of important work gets done there, I promise. Oh...and I made that dress. I'm very proud. That last picture is me introducing the Fringe Night. I like it because people look happy. And like they are listening to me.)
Coming up this summer:
Oh yeah...I got a dog.
This is her on the quilt I made her.
I named her Storm.
That's about it for now. I hope it's not another 4 months before I get to post again.
If I am ever complaining about living in the Bay Area, please remind me that the cherry blossoms bloom in my birthday month here. There is nothing better than that.
This year started off with amazing news. The Puffin Foundation West, Ltd. offered me a grant for the remaining out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the making of "dark is a different beast." I had finally sent them my final report for the first grant I received way back in 2012. I had applied for that initial grant with a slightly different concept. I still worked on the same project, but with an entirely different outcome, so I wanted it to be complete before I sent it in. Here is an excerpt from the email response from the Director, Java Kitrick:
I have never seen a film like yours before. THAT IS AN INCREDIBLE THING! I was so deeply engaged from the beginning. The imagery, the words, the music, your actors, the set, the pace, every effect.
Needless to say, I was elated and encouraged and thrilled and all that other stuff. I had been getting rejections from film festivals all winter, so her words of encouragement were really valuable. Enough so, that I bit the bullet and rented out the Oddball Films space for a private screening party for cast and crew. I'm excited to let everyone see it. (If you haven't been to Oddball before, you should definitely get on their mailing list and check out one of their screenings. It's a real SF gem.)