Wednesday, November 30, 2005

opening night

It is almost time for me to get my butt on the #4 or 5 train to Nevins Street to get to the theatre but I will check in briefly to say that our opening was really lovely last night. We had a warm, friendly house who went along with us in the journey of the show and I would like to think that they really got something out of it. There was lots of animated chatter going on in the lobby after the show and many friends of the Builders and other assorted fellow travelers of the avant garde could be found representing for our show. It was really wonderful.

And afterwards, there was a party! BAM rented busses and shuttled everyone, audience included, over to the Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburgh for a food-and-brews blowout. There was tasty middle eastern fare for the nibbling and a few varieties of beer on tap in this very large room that also contained two giant brewing vat things where beer was silently birthing itself as we partied below. There was also a fat, relaxed kitty who wandered around the place, completely at ease and showing none of the signs of social anxiety that the party was bringing out in me, for instance. Ah kitty, you have it so good.

We hung out with our friends, loved ones and random audience people and chit-chatted the night away. Then it suddenly got to be "late" and I was feeling the pull of bed, despite the stalwarts who continued to party on. We got back on the bus, which deposited us at the L train subway stop. And yes, there was a DRIVING rainstorm that I managed to avoid until the subway moment. We were let off at the train but uh-oh, it was one of those entrances with the red light which means that it's closed and you have to walk a block down to the one that's open. Shoot. So me and Jeff plodded along to the station and got a little wet In the process. By the time we got to Manhattan however the rain situation had reached Category 4 proportions and we both got soaked to the skin going home, though we each live about a block and a half from the train. Lucky for us, it was not that cold.

I went to bed damp and content, and let the three pieces of baklava I consumed at the party give me sweet sweet dreams.

Off to work,

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

back to the cradle

Yo yo yo Brooklyn! We are back in Brooklyn, back to the place where this show was born, once called the borough of churches, now known as the hip place to live and work. Brooklyn is the new Manhattan, only better in my opinion because its neighborhoods have not been blandified by the homogeneous creeping crud of lots of people with too much money to spend. I will stop with the Communist rant for this entry anyway.

We are all very excited to be playing SUPER VISION at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, one of the co-producers of the piece. We are performing in the beautiful Harvey Theatre, which is not in the big BAM house but a couple of blocks over on Fulton Street. The Harvey was originally called the Majestic and served downtown Brooklyn as a vaudeville house and then a movie theatre I believe for many decades but fell into disrepair In the 70's, along with the rest of New York City and was shuttered for several years before BAM bought it and renovated it in a "shabby chic" style, leaving all the old plasterwork and not attempting to renovate in the way we think of nowadays. The seats are new and nice, and the electrics and plumbing and other systems were upgraded but the old majestic quality of the theatre is intact. It feels as if the many spirits of shows gone before are lurking in the house, inhabiting their old stamping grounds and watching over us. It is really a spectacular venue.

Today was spent with actors rehearsing and watching a videotape of our last performance in Seattle and going over notes with Marianne. We could not get onto the stage today until late, as the load in was still happening, but BAM has a crackerjack crew of stagehands from the union local and under the good shepherding of Neal, Joe and Jamie,they got it up and running in record time. Because we open tomorrow, people! A fact I did not fully recognize until I was at rehearsal today. Lucky I did not schedule my liposuction for Tuesday evening like I'd originally thought! I decided to postpone it until after the holidays when there will be more to suck out, but that's another story.

So we had a long day today, as we needed to get in a run-through before tomorrow in case any major problems occurred. There were plenty of snacks backstage to get us through and since we are in downtown Brooklyn, the eating options are pretty good. Rizwan favors the Golden Crust Jamaican patty place around the corner on Flatbush. I walked by on my way to Subway (my indulgent junk food of choice) with Kyle who bravely had her first Subway with me. We checked out the Golden Crust but opted for Subway in the end. Tomorrow perhaps, the Crust.

It is late and I must get myself back to Brooklyn tomorrow on the early side so I must sign off for today's report from the front of performance-making. If you are in or near to Brooklyn, please come visit us and we will take you out for a nice piece of cheesecake at Junior's afterwards. It's just a couple of blocks down the avenue. They make a nice egg cream too.

peace, love and cholesterol,

Saturday, November 12, 2005

show show show

It's after the last show in Seattle and things could not be nicer out here. This is in fact the verdict on Seattle: a really really nice town. It's on the water, always good for the body and soul even if it is way too cold to swim in most of the time, it's nestled between a couple of ranges of purple mountains majesty, not to mention Tahoma the big old mountain, also known by its slave name, Ranier. There is great food and good culture and really really nice people everywhere. And green green ever so green. There is a rich, potting-soil smell to much of the town and moss grows freely in the places that people don't step too much. And I believe the moist weather to be good for the complexion. There are many reasons to like Seattle.

The shows have gone well and we have been sold out, which is always a nice vote of confidence from the viewing public. We continue to make small changes and adjustments to the performance each night to fulfill Marianne's quest for perfection. Between Dick's burgers, fries and shakes and the oh-so excellent coffee drinks of Caffe Ladro up the street from the theatre, we go fueled in body into the process of tweaking every day before the show.

Did I explain that part to you? Forgive me if my decaf-addled brain has misplaced the fact that I already went over this part of the process but I will recap. When we are out on tour with the show, we must adjust it accordingly to each space we inhabit. They are all different and things like sight lines and acoustics have a lot of variation from venue to venue. So, there is the process of tailoring the show to each space, sound, lights and visual-wise. Then once we are actually doing the show, Marianne and James will watch the thing and get new ideas about how it can be better. Then the day after the show, we have notes on the betterment process and then we try and apply the notes to the show in rehearsals before the show that night. The show is a growing organism, and like a bourbon-eating fruitcake, must be "fed" with new ideas and energy until it reaches maturity. We are getting there and have thankfully left the ugly teenager phase way behind us. It's looking good, friends.

But hey, come see for yourself at one of our upcoming venues. See the SUPER VISION web site for touring details: and come visit us when we hit your town.

OK, gotta go to sleep now. It's been a long week of art.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

rain city arrival

Hello from Seattle, stop number three on SUPER VISION World Tour. It is not raining. We arrived yesterday from Columbus via Delta, which I think is filing for bankruptcy? I still live under the impression established in my youth that bankruptcy is a bad thing and a shameful corporate death but apparently it is now a cheerful corporate rebirth, complete with possible federal and state bailouts. Anyway, that has nothing to do with the show, but that is the beauty/horror of the blog form. Be thankful I am not making dumb comments about famous people or something. Not too dumb anyway.

This evening we were treated to a lovely gathering at the home of Sally and Charlie Weems, the people that brought us all Marianne Weems, our director. Sally and Charlie live on an incredible houseboat in Freemont, spitting distance from headquarters of Adobe and a great barbershop called Rudy's and a statue of Lenin that was bought somewhere "behind the Iron Curtain" and transplanted to the People's Republic of Freemont. Yes, there is a food co-op too. Meanwhile, Charlie and Sally have this beautiful house that FLOATS, even though the basement is made of concrete! I know this success story of solids over liquids has something to do with displacement but I also still live under the impression established in my youth that concrete doesn't float. Please, someone explain.

The house of Sally and Charlie is lovely and comes with all the things a regular boring old land house has: bedrooms, bathrooms with all the nice plumbing, pet cat hiding under bed until intruders leave, cheese plates and very good guacamole, and very nice spirits and soft drinks. We had a lovely time in the floating house and it was such a pleasure to spend a little time with the folks who are responsible for the cheerful diabolical genius that is Marianne. Yes, there were some embarrassing stories regarding Marianne's early forays into the performativity of the downstairs playroom, but I feel the need to invoke source-reporter priviledge at this point.

I wish I had a picture to show you the twinkly night lights of Lake Washington but I do not. I will ask around and post later if I dig one up. Use your imaginations in the meantime and think of all the Builders on a comfortable concrete flotilla with that calming water smell all around as we eat smoked salmon and cheese selections and chat with the Clan Weems.

Tomorrow we get things going in the theatre. Yesterday was our day off and many of the Builders chose to explore the hamburger options of our neighborhood, Queen Anne. Directly across the intersection from our hotel is Dick's, a fine hamburger establishment and Seattle tradition. Fries and shakes and burgers. That's basically all they do and they do it right. And down the road is a somewhat more fashion-forward place called Kidd Valley, which features a veggie burger and garlic fries and Mr. Pibb soda.

Your Correspondent,

Friday, November 04, 2005

mixing work and pleasure

This is Joe Silovsky. He is in SUPER VISION, playing a series of helpful civil servants and he is also the technical director. In other words, a double threat. In this picture, you are catching him "mid-charade", as he is apparently trying to get you to say a little word. Joe and the rest of us were doing a little mailing project for the company one night after the show in the lounge area of our hotel in Columbus. And we decided to play a little charades to enhance the fun of stuffing envelopes and having a night cap. Notice Joe's really good outfit, which gets him a lot of attention from the ladies and the wee folk.

We've done two shows and it seems to be going well. Marianne and the crew continue to work things out and refine each little moment into perfection and we are getting good feedback from the folks that stick around to give us some. That's always nice.

Tomorrow is Saturday and that means college football and OSU really really means college football and we are curious and a little scared to see what happens to this town on game day. When the stadium is full, it can accommodate one tenth of Columbus' population. That's a lot of Buckeyes, folks.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

hello Columblog

Greetings from the green room backstage at the Mershon Auditorium, part of the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. We have been in town for about 3 days and have loaded in and rehearsed the show in a super-compressed fashion, because everything about Super Vision is SUPER! Thanks to Neal and Jamie and Joe for all rheir extra efforst and the fabulous pros here at the Wexner.

Rehearsed all day yesterday, and were in this afternoon checking stuff out. It's always a little different in each theatre we load into and this one is especially different from the last venue. Why? Because the Mershon is a large, beautiful house and we are not using the entire auditorium and are performing on the stage with the audience up there with us! This is done all the time by the folks here at the Wexner, when the desire is to create a more intimate space and get the audience closer to the action. And oh boy, are they close! I can almost reach out from my little outpost downstage right and touch someone. But I would not touch them in an inappropriate way.

We are staying a couple of miles south of the theatre in a very nice Hampton Inn which includes breakfast and a USA Today and a walk across a parking lot to the very fabulous North Market, which is a very cool food and produce market where there are loads of nice things to eat for sale. I was very excited to discover a stand selling caramel popcorn on the first day and they also sell cheese popcorn and for any of you that have had the pleasure of eating this combination together in Chicago for instance, you will know the happiness I bought myself for a buck. Sounds weird, I know but trust me and if you ever encounter this combo, do yourself a favor and try it. Moe may steer you wrong on things like love advice and fashion, but she will not make a mistake about food.

David Pence, one of my talented cohorts, is at this very minute enjoying a nice baguette and some brie he bought at the market and transported to the campus here. The theatre is on one of the perimeter streets of the university and that means all manner of food that attracts college students can be found within walking distance. The main qualifications for success of these establishments seems to be quantity and cheapness. In other words, lots of food for very little money. That usually means starch in various forms and if there is something tasty that can be put either under or on top of a bread product or a pile of rice or a potato, it can be found for sale across the street. David had the presence of mind to import a high quality bread and tasty dairy item of his own in opposition to the wall of melted cheese across the street.

The very good news is that Jennifer Tipton, our lighting designer has finally been able to catch up with us here in Columbus. Circumstance made it impossible for her to join the production fully up until this point and we are delighted to have her back with the show. A special shout out to Alan Hahn, who courageously took the helm in her absence and made it so I was very very pretty in all my scenes. And that is what I think really matters when it comes to lighting. Welcome Jennifer.

The fall leaves are swirling nostalgically along the paths of the campus here at Ohio State. There is Buckeye paraphenalia all over the place and it is obvious that this school is very, very serious about football. We have a show on Saturday and I believe it is a game day here in Columbus and I am looking forward to experiencing the full-on tailgating phenomenon, which I will try to report on if I remember what happened. In my forties, I am seeking that leaf-strewn quad, college experience I never had and hope that nobody slips me a ruffie, which is an innovation since I was in college and we relied on keggers and other charms to have a social life.

Camera check in 10 minutes, then show in another hour. We go for Indian dinner afterwards at Indian Oven, the best south Asian food around. They are staying open late for us and we are very grateful, since we have been eating the above-described food for the last couple of days. Bindi masala, here I come.