Monday, June 20, 2011

Bruins parade, maybe. How about a parade for the arts?

We've seen the pictures and the video of the Vancouver hockey riots on the night of the Stanley Cup final game. There's no need for me to repost them or even go through Blogspot's clunky procedure for posting rich media onto this blog. (Though, Blogspot, it has gotten better.) We've all gawked. It's embarrassing for Vancouver. Move on. Show's over.

Wow. All over a hockey game. Scenes we saw from that night are usually reserved for places that are trying to overthrow a dictator or win civil rights. I'm not even sure what it was all about. I'd be willing to bet they didn't even know either. Were they mad? At whom? Frustrated? By a hockey team? You're kiddng? By the economy? By their spouses? Man, there is some deep-seated anger in Vancouver. Who knew?

Still, deep, deep, deep in one of my darkest places, I might be mildly thrilled if I wrote say, a play, that infuriated or touched people so deeply they were compelled to storm out of the theater and riot. Turn over a few cop cars and set them on fire. But that ain't going to happen. Not in the United States, at least. That only happens with sporting events. And in Europe.

And I would love if I, or maybe I and a group of fellow artists, were given a huge Duck Boat parade through Boston like the victorious Bruins were. Or if I was given a trophy, maybe. A trophy would be cool. I could put M&Ms in it, to show I was still just a regular guy. Or I think it would be neat if people held up signs with my bespectacled face reading, JGF for president. Or I'd even take an on-camera interview by a blonde Barbie of the like who interview middle-aged, fat coaches, who I resemble more than just a little, on ESPN. I'd nonchalantly mumble some cliches, because if we've seen one thing from this Bruin victory, these guys can't really say anything articulate. Sorry, they can't. Maybe they are star athletes and really nice guys to boot, but they effing flunk public speaking. Hey, take it from a word guy.

We're too sports-crazy in this nation. We are. And I know it sounds like sour grapes, but we don't value artists--at all. I even heard someone in my current class ejaculate (yes, it means something else beside that; what are you?--a hockey player or something?) that she is tired of hearing about artists. And she was sitting in a room with artists and I'm assuming self-professed that she was the same. Talk about your low self-esteem.

When my kids were little and I'd sit in an auditorium watching a school play, it would amaze me what parents would put up with. Those very same parents and relatives who would groan at a dropped pass on the football field or a miffed play on the baseball diamond were willing to put up with the sloppiest productions. Excruciating-long set changes, missed lighting cues, mixed up sound cues, bad blocking were totally acceptable, yet these same people would blow a gasket if a team didn't perform up to snuff. I figure they a) didn't know any better, and b) didn't care.

What's up with all this? I'm not saying nixed sports. I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying we should, like the ancient Greeks, embrace the arts equally with sports.

Funding for the arts is one of the first things to get cut. But in my opinion, given the economy and general disarray of the country, the fractured nature of our country for years, we need the arts more than ever. Politician every election year say they are going to bring the country together, but politics divide. Politics promotes debate, which can be good, but I'm not so sure it's what we need right now. We need dialogue--something completely different, and I'm a word guy and if you don't believe me look it up--but the arts promote dialogue. Conversation. That's what we need now.

Yeah, dialogue. Conversation. That's worth a parade.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

CentAstage Three Ring Reading Series

Sometimes you have to ask yourself why you're in the theater. You hear all the time about how you can't make a living and how (some, a few, many) of the people are, shall we say, hard to deal with--present company included I must say on certain days.

But it's not boring and that's one of the many things I love about the theater--it's rarely boring. I hate boring. I like new. I like fresh.

So, when you get up in the morning and check your email and you see you have a Facebook message from someone in the theater who you haven't worked with in a long time and is frankly not one of the hard people to work with, you know it's going to be a good day...

AND to make it even better, she's asking you to read a part in a new play (I heart new plays) and it won't take up that much time or energy so it won't really affect classwork or even your life in general...

AND then you open the script and see such a surprise: The script is set in the 1500s and you'll be reading the part of an anatomist who also just happens to be a dwarf and then life can't get much better.

Or actually, life sucked and then it got very cool again.

Tomorrow night at 7:30 at the BCA in the South End in Boston as part of the CentaStage Three Ring Reading Series, I'll be reading the part of Andreas Vesalius in Hortense Gerardo's one-act play, On the Fabric of the Human Body.  It's free. And I promise tomorrow night that I'll be on my best behavior.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tornado in Brimfield, Massachusetts--Raw Footage from June 1, 2011

This is incredible raw footage right after the Springfield, Massachusetts tornado that touched down yesterday. I post this because it is so filled with raw emotion that's in the moment. It is so much a piece of human drama. Two men who just seconds ago survive a tornado. And you can deny that quintessential Massachusetts accent and attitude.

myentertainmentworld-theatre Has Some Nice Things to Say About Me and My Friends

When you have invested as much time and energy as I have into a new career in the theater, I can't tell you what it's like to get up, pour yourself a cup of coffee thinking to yourself, Lordy, what's today going to bring, and see this: Playwrights to Watch.

First of all, congratulations to both Heather Houston and Peter Floyd, who are classmates of mine (well, Heather just graduated.) They both wrote terrific plays and it was a huge part of my education so far to watch the plays' development.

And it's nice that the blogger had good things to say about my play, Highland Center, Indiana:

" of the most moving nights I’ve spent at the theatre in a long time."

"Highland Center, Indiana speaks to the greatest strengths of the human spirit and the worst failings of human beings, a story more honest than any I’ve seen."

As I near graduation--hopefully in August if I can just get through two more lit classes taught by two extraordinary professors and somehow hurdle my language requirement--the realization that I'm going to have to cobble a living in the theater becomes this looming, scary problem. After the thrill of being accepted to the Boston Playwrights' Theater program, then experiencing the roller coaster ride of the curicculum, you reach the point where the reality of the real world starts to come into play. Was I nuts to pursue something that I love so much?

And then here's the answer. Here's why we all do it. To touch someone with our art. You can't do it any other way and some of us reach the point that we have to do it. There is no choice. It literally is do our art, or die, at least metaphorically.
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