Thursday, August 25, 2005

view from the bridge

Here's what I see on my way to work. It's looking north, up the East River. It's a blue collar view of New York. Not the glamorous midtown or downtown skyline. The Willamsburgh Bridge is on the left there and the boat in the middle is the Circle Line I believe. To the right, you can see the stacks of the Con Ed plant and the shoreline of Brooklyn, once a busy waterfront and now in various stages of revitalization/decrepitude.

This morning there was evidence of more partying on the bridge. A big green empty quart bottle of some kind of screw-top malt liquor and I think I counted three empty packs of Newports. You know, Alive With Pleasure? Anyway, there must have been some fun had up there the last few nights.

I was not called to rehearsal the past few days, as the scenes I appear in were not being worked. I can't reliably tell you what went on in rehearsal, just as I cannot for sure tell you what happened on the bridge the last few days and nights. I can only read the traces of each. And it seems that much was accomplished and the scenes that I am not in are going very very well.

Today though, I was put to good use and got down to business with my scene partner and stage relative, Tanya. We have a mediated video relationship which is odd only in the sense that we are actually in the same room together and usually these things occur when people are separated by geography. It will all make sense when you see the show (and you are going to see the show, aren't you?) but let's just say it is very interesting to be acting in a scene with someone who I cannot directly see.

We also had script discussions with the writer, Constance De Jong and Marianne and James to try and work out some of the wrinkles we were running up against. The video, sound and animation must all work in concert with the text (duh!) and sometimes, those design elements are in place before the language is exactly. It is a curious and intricate dance to try and make it all balance out elegantly.

Had a frozen hot chocolate from the diabolical Jacques Torres today. It was exquisite. Jacques has quite a thing going and it is apparently a stop on this bike tour that I have seen coming through twice now. I only noticed because there was one person standing on the sidewalk one day guarding about a dozen identical bikes while the tourists that had been riding them were lined up to buy high-end chocolate goods, still wearing their helmets.

Incredible rain storms the past few days. Wish it made the heat disappear but alas, it just makes for more steamy sidewalks. Water comes into God's Little Warehouse beneath the rolling gate and through some holes in the ceiling. Not near the equipment or stage area, thankfully. It is so loud, it sounds like a fake sound cue.

Hope you are enjoying summer, wherever you are. And if there is summer, wherever that is!

bloggily yours,

Saturday, August 20, 2005

end of the first week

OK, people!

We have come to the end of week one of rehearsals. We are on schedule, thanks to perseverance on the part of everyone to get through the script and roughly block out the major movements for the actors, scenery, props, video, sound score and lunch habits.

I mention lunch movements because as I mentioned in an earlier post, DUMBO is a neighborhood that is becoming a neighborhood. Not a whole lot of folks lived down here, though it offers spectacular sweeping views of Manhattan's east side and the river, until the last say 5 years. Yes, there are old timers who still must run from the landlord and pretend that they don't "live" in their zoned-manufacturing lofts, but the major influx of dwellers has been in the last five years. This presents a peculiar problem. A neighborhood where there are not yet people services but people are living there. For instance, there is no grocery store. And this is where lunch comes in. There are two delis, a pizza joint, a couple of restaurants and Grimaldi's pizza (excellent pie, by the way) within walking distance. We New Yorkers are used to having a lot of option for our midday meal and the 2-deli situation is troubling for me. There is always Jacques and his chocolate world down the block I suppose.

Anyway, the first week has gone swimmingly and despite the heat, we press on and make great headway in getting the piece on its feet. It can walk now! Yes, they are baby steps it takes but it does have legs, as we say in show biz.

Today on the bridge I saw several tall boy cans of Bud. One was still strangely hooked to its plastic six-pack thingy, but had been drunk. Party on the bridge! I guess you go for the view? And there is a little bit of a breeze up there, though it mostly comes from the D train going by on days like these.

bon weekend,

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

the day after the second day

Here it is, my commuter's view of the Manhattan Bridge. See, I live in Manhattan and I ride my bike to work in the mornings over this path. It is really nice, I gotta say. I feel very special that I get to live in this incredible city and do stuff like ride across its bridges on my bike. Even after living here the better part of the last 25 years, I still love the place.

The reason why I bring up the bridge and its path is that I have noticed in just a few crossings back and forth, that a certain amount of activity besides commuting goes on on this bridge. I can tell this because there are traces of said activities left behind. This morning, for example, there was a half eaten whole wheat bagel in the middle of the pathway, on the Manhattan side. I spent the rest of the bridge wondering how that bagel got there and why, why, why was it there. If any readers out there have an idea about this mysterious bagel, please feel free to let me know. Puzzling bagels and all, it is a fine commute and I can get from my apartment to the space in about 25 minutes. More on my commute later.

Spent yesterday reading through the script again and talking through it, while we all sat around the big table and swatted flies. Yes, there is a fly issue. The doors are open for ventilation and the wild fauna feel free to visit us. I try to direct the flies to the Jacques Torres chocolate factory down the block where the pickins are most certainly better than my lunch crumbs, but they do not speak my language apparently. Anyway, we read and talked through the show again and people threw out ideas and Marianne and James elaborated on what the stage directions indicate is supposed to happen. All very exciting.

Today we began staging scenes, very roughly and inserting the animations, sonic landscape and video. I think it looks incredible so far and we've only just begun to live, as Karen Carpenter would say. It is so great to be in the rehearsal room and have all the designers there all the time and to have the people who the actors usually meet during "tech week" at the very end, there and creating their cues in juxtaposition to the actions and movements of the piece. It's amazing, all of this gorgeous content, and I know it takes a village to make it all happen. Wait until you see it!

More on this and other matters later.

your bloggy friend,

Monday, August 15, 2005

day one

Hello there blogsphere. It is I, Moe, your friendly guide to the making of a new, exciting piece of theater. I'm here in New York City, in the borough of Brooklyn in the up-and-coming neighborhood known as DUMBO, at St. Ann's Warehouse. St. Ann's is neither a church nor a warehouse any longer, but the name suggests the kind of faith-based initiative that perhaps will get us some funding from the feds. But I am already off track.

So, it is the first day of rehearsal and all souls were in the house. It's hot here in New York on August 15 and it is really hot in our warehouse-turned-performance-venue. Last week was worse from all accounts and due to the incredible self-cooling efforts and stamina of our production manager Neal Wilkinson and Joe Silovsky, the tech director and the magical crew of people that were here sweating away, we have a beautiful set in place, ready for all the theatrical hijinks we can muster.

There were close to 35 people in the room on the first day, including the video and sound crews, programmers, animation fellows, tech people, production assistants, designers, performers, producers, writer, research and demographics consultants and documentarist, to name a few. It is an impressive group of talented folks and to top it off, there is the tag team of masterminds behind this whole she-bang, our director Marianne Weems and her co-creator James Gibbs. Where they are leading us precisely, we know not, but everybody in the room is on board for the ride.

St. Ann's, or as I like to think of it, God's Little Warehouse, is located on a street that any location scout in their right mind would recognize immediately for its New York City "authenticity" (see photo above). DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, is a collection of former warehouses, bus depots, manufacturing and shipping concerns that are now in the process of being converted into a residential neighborhood by the powers of developers. The nabe is still a little on the bus-depot side of things and on the next block is a Transit Authority building where things go to get repaired. Due to the heat, combined with the lack of air conditioning, we have the big roll gate open to the street to coax some semblance of breeze into our midst. This does not happen enough, but the busses roaring by do and they must be paused for by anyone speaking. Welcome to the gritty reality of New York City, friends.

Today we sat around a big table and talked through the ideas of the piece and read through the script, to get a feel for what direction we are going in. It was all very exciting, to hear what the vision of SUPER VISION is. I don't want to spoil it too much for those of you who will have the chance to see the show, but according to the web site, the show is about data surveillance and our data identities in the increasingly important data world. These are the kind of big ideas that make my head want to blow off its precariously fragile stem because if I stop to think about who knows where I use my ATM card, I will have to stay in bed all day and worry about it. I am hoping the process of doing the show will give me some better handle on what all my personal information is doing in those big databases and what is the lighter, up side of being spyed on without my direct consent by marketing firms. Oh, did I really write that? OK, forget I said that last part. Suffice to say, I am really excited about the show!

I will try and check in here as often as time and brainpower allow. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comment zone and I will try my best to answer them here.

Stick with us friends. It's going to be a long process. Five weeks of rehearsal (and I am leaving out all the workshops and readings that have preceded this) then touring around the US for this fall and further touring across the seas next year. I will provide a performance schedule soon enough so that you may plan your theatre-going vacations with us with as much lead time as possible.

Thanks for spending some time with us. I know there are millions of other ways to while away your living moments here on the internet. But hey, it's cheaper than playing poker with a machine that you've never met or buying prescription medications.

Your Little Theatre Friend,