Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Blurred Lines (Theater Edition)


This past Saturday, I caught the theatrical equivalent of a double feature: seeing two plays in one day. With a Shake Shack break in-between. And the more I thought about it, the more I realize these two plays shared a very common (and I do admit, slightly arbitrary for the sake of this post), thread: they cross boundaries.

I started my day by waking up at noon, having cereal, and then heading into Manhattan for "Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play" by Anne Washburn at Playwrights Horizons. It deals with a post-apocalyptic world, where immediately after, a group of people act out old episodes of "The Simpsons" from their memories to keep themselves entertained.

And with "The Simpsons" becoming oral history, in the style of "Othello," it becomes something like a Greek drama in the second act (set 75 years after the apocalypse). It's a powerful concept: At the end of the world, after the power goes out, "The Simpsons," a work originally presented in the most philistine of mediums: sitcom television, have become the new classics: a Grecian-style tragedy with chorus, masks, and overtones of morality.

Low art has become high art. Or maybe it has always been high art and it just took the lights going out to realize it.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Summer? What Summer?

So I've been thinking about my New Year's Resolutions. What? You may ask. It's only fall, isn't it a bit too early to think about resolutions? Yes, it would be if I was thinking about 2014. Instead, I'm thinking about 2013. One of my resolutions was to blog more this year, for no other reason than I think people (mainly arts-loving people) would benefit from hearing my opinions. Or at least, I like to think so. Not really, I just like to bitch and moan online like a majority of the populace.

Well, as you can see from the lack of entries this year, I've failed miserably at putting my snarky thoughts to type. Instead what have I been doing? Writing for pay! Because I hate having free time.

Here is what I accomplished this summer, while everyone else was out of town. And this list does not include watching all 13 episodes of "Orange is the New Black" and the first three seasons of "Breaking Bad."

  • I filed a story for the July/August issue of "American Theatre" about the immersive theatre movement, which has gotten an insane amount of hits and also, one (that I know of) lovely response. And in that issue, I also wrote about my trip to Alabama, where I saw some new plays about bunnies and had a lot less fried chicken than I hoped to have.

  • I also wrote a 4,000-word piece about the TCG Conference (aka the biggest theatre conference of the year!) for the September issue of AT.

  • I did a podcast interview with my personal writer hero David Henry Hwang where I talked to him about "M. Butterfly," "Yellow Face" and YouTube videos. And this time, I was only moderately enthusiastic (as opposed to the first time I met him where the reaction was more "Oh my god, you inspired me so much and you are so important!"). Listen to it here.

  • I wrote three theater reviews at the New York International Fringe Festival, for "Time Out New York." My last review was in 2011 and I have to say, this time around, the snark came out much easier. I'm guessing that's just one of the side-effects of living in New York City, like knowing how to weave through crowds or ignoring the break-dancer spinning right in front of you on the subway. Though this little dance into criticism aside, I think I may leave it for the more seasoned professionals, because while it's fun, having this much power in my hands is unsettling. And then, because the Fringe refused to let me go, I did a small post for "Back Stage" about the best performance I saw at the festival. 

  • I wrote two pieces for "Stages," the theater magazine for Theatre Development Fund (who, coincidentally enough, works in the same building as TCG, the publisher of AT). One was about "King Kong" at SummerStage and the other was about "Monkey: Journey to the West" at Lincoln Center. Read the second one if you want to see a great example of how to take a 10-minute interview and turn it into a 600-word story. It wasn't David Foster Wallace-style of thumb twiddling, but it was still challenging.

And lastly, I went to Maine for my one mini-vacation, where I killed some lobsters, with a knife.

Now, with three shows this week and four next week (two of which will be in Chicago), I say: Bring on the fall. And the return of blazers and life-changing dramas.