Thunder Above and the Saloon

You’ve got to see Thunder Above, Deeps Below.  I have said that Rey is the Asian American Tony Kushner of our time.  Go see why.  He’s taken Pericles and dropped it down into Chicago with three homeless kids trying to head west before the winter hits.  It is charming, irreverent, surprising, and best of all, theatrical.

Also witnessed the most packed Saturday Night Saloon ever.  Almost didn’t get in.  Everyone has amped their game up this year.  You have to wait until October for the next installment, but I recommend showing up early for some really good stuff from James Comtois, Mac Rogers, Crystal Skillman, Dustin Chinn, Jeff Lewonczyk and Brent Cox.  I would try to explain, but it’s difficult to encapsulate that which is the Saloon.  Genre-smashing, ingenious, speakeasy theater.  There.

A Room of One’s Own

Good thing I have good walking shoes.  And an Unlimited metro card. Run around time has begun.

Started the new Pace class yesterday.  They are an awesome group.  I introduced Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process (thanks to Unlocking the Classroom for putting my eyes on it) as I’ve been not 100% pleased with how feedback sessions go in creative situations. I wanted to practice on work that wasn’t theirs.  I asked them to choose a play we were all familiar with.  Perhaps it’s a sad state of theater that we couldn’t find a common play.  I went to film.  Someone suggested Star Wars, but not everyone had seen that either.  Somehow we ended up with a certain film about a man who overcomes his disabilities, class and a single-parent up-bringing to become an influential–albeit, haphazardly so–figure in history.  Yes.  That movie.    But that’s not important.  What’s important is that we practiced the process, with them taking turns as the writer and responder while I facilitated and they got quite good with it in a short period of time–giving and receiving feedback in a meaningful way.  And it really made a difference that the artist drives the conversation with their own questions about their work.  We will see how the semester goes, but I am quite hopeful and so glad to have found this new way of workshopping plays right off the press.

Started at Teachers and Writers yesterday.  I am meant to assist with their programs this year and to work on my own writing.  I am so excited. When I was taken to my new office, I almost started to cry.  A lovely little room, filled with light.  A red wall, two other walls of glass and the third wall with a window, from which you can see the Hudson.  A little red hand-painted public school chair that was apparently found on the street.  I have never had a room of my own in which to write.  It does make all the difference.

I am familiarizing myself with their programs and am astounded at how far reaching they are and what a lovely history they have, being founded by many, but Herbert Kohl and Muriel Rukheyser, who are two personal heroes.  Much to do.  Much to learn.  Much to look forward to.

The future of the Ohio

kanoa lambretta by kanoa.

I was talking with a fellow theatermaker who just closed a show at the Ohio Theater with Clubbed Thumb about what a special space it is–it’s height, it’s depth, it’s location and it’s history of really wonderful projects that’ve run through there.  I saw Sung Rno’s wAve there some time back and they carved a river with running water down the side of the stage and then simulated the landing of a helicopter.  I saw Target Margin’s beautiful and strange Ten Blocks on the Camino Real there.  The first play I was ever paid to write was put up there. 

And there has been the talk of it closing, but it seems they’ll be able to be open for one more year.  One of the last, great downtown theater spaces.

We were mourning for it before it was even gone.

Now we can love it for a little longer.

Alexis Clements interviews Robert Lyons, head of Soho Think Tank/The Ohio Theater about the organization and the stay of execution.  Oh, and the tantalizing Ice Factory.

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.