Hanging On and Letting Go

It is my opinion that often a playwright doesn’t get to hang on to the complete vision of their play enough.  They get butchered, bastardized and taken away from their original intention because so many people are pulling at it.  And you end up with a hodge podge mess of a thing.

Here’s a letter from JD Salinger describing why he will never let Catcher in the Rye be made into a film.  What I admire perhaps, is his strength of conviction but it seems like at the end of the day, he doesn’t trust actors.

The most interesting pieces I’ve seen lately seem to have a complete  vision are Once and For All We’re Gonna Tell You Who We Are, So Shut Up and Listen at the New Victory Theater and Pig Iron’s Chekhov Lizardbrain at Clemente Soto Velez.  In the case of the first, the director got 13 14-18 year olds in a room and devised the piece with them.  In the case of Pig Iron, from what I have read, the piece was group conceived by three of the actors and the director.

So, what I am trying to figure out is where I can belong in a collaborative process like that which yields striking results, where everyone buys in and creates something that is more than the sum of the parts.

I am going to see if I can make the April/May workshop of The Sugar House at the Edge of the Wilderness that kind of experience for all involved.  We’ll see.  We’ll experiment.  We’ll play.  I’m going to try to hang on by letting go, but doing so in a collaborative environment.

I would like to hear about successful collaborative or devised experiences that anyone has heard about.  Anybody?  Colossal failures too.  It is helpful to know what doesn’t work.

But, for now, have a look.

Poetry, Found Text and Birthdays in America

I promised I would try to start getting to things before they close so that I could tell people about them.  I missed it this time, and I’m sad about that, but you can still check out Jenny Holzer’s Protect Protect, if virtually.  She has always wowed me with her truths and aphorisms, but now she is working with found text, heavily redacted, declassified documents she found at the National Security Archive.

I also saw the lovely Pious Poetic Pie from Fluid Motion last week and it was good to see poetry onstage again.  Beautifully directed by Denyse Owens and beautifully rendered  remake of Medea by poet Yubelky Rodriguez.  And, this guy’s post-show performance was also a revelation.  Makes me wanna write in verse again.  His band, the Mighty Third Rail, violinist, bassist and voice, was mighty fine.

And I hear some people are keeping their birthdays quiet.  Happy Birthday, Ed Lin.  Keep taking down the man.

Oh, and speaking of birthdays, you’ve got one more week to see American Hwangap, Lloyd Suh’s newest directed by Trip Cullman at the Wild Project.  A touching, heartbreaking, very funny play about what happens when a Korean American man comes home after deserting his family 15 years before.  And it’s his birthday.  But don’t trust me.  Variety, Theatermania, the NY Times, Time Out, they all friggin’ love it.

I miss L.A.

Have you seen Dogtown and Z-boys?

I have lived in NYC since 1996 and there are a rare few things that make me miss Los Angeles.

This movie made me miss it.

It’s a vibe.  A wildness.  White hot sun and dirty streets.  It’s a particular kind of rebellion which birthed the Zephyr crew who took surf moves to concrete and brought skateboarding out of obscurity and party-trick-land onto the streets.  Out of a wasteland, these guys made art.  The youngest member of the crew, Jay Adams, was 13.  I was inspired, but I also wondered what it is that causes great rumblings, causes people to build something where no one else will.

Know what I mean?