Monday, September 8, 2008

Theater theater weekend weekend

Whew! I've just concluded the busiest weekend on record. Full of theater stuff, although not Song of Extinction stuff...

Workshop
On Saturday morning, I got up early and wrote. The reason for this madness (getting up early!!!) was that I had workshop at 10am, and wanted to have pages to share. I'd written a little through the week, long hand, on the new play I'm working on, but hadn't put it all together yet. So! Made some coffee, fed the cat, typed fast, printed, and dashed over to Silver Lake to attend Lee Wochner's consistently awesome "Words That Speak" playwriting workshop. We have a good group again this round (the workshop is eight sessions -- 3 hours per week for 8 weeks). Dorinne Kondo was there, and Terence Anthony, Steve Lozier, Ross Kendall, and Bill and Stacy, the newbies. Ian was absent -- he's putting up a play and had an actor drop out, so he's ended up being cast in the role himself, as there wasn't time to recast. We all understand. Small theater has these kinds of challenges! You often find yourself taking out the garbage, sweeping the floor, answering the mail, acting in your own play, and fixing the toilet, as well as writing the play.

Reading to Vegetables at Theatricum Botanicum
I left workshop early (bad me) to head up the 101 and into the hills of Topanga Canyon to Theatricum Botanicum, where I was having a table reading of an older play of mine, called Reading to Vegetables. A big thank you to the fabulous Jennie Webb, who heads up the theater's "Seedlings" program for organizing the reading, and to the wonderful actors who gave their time to the process. RtV is a play that I wrote after Infinite Black Suitcase, but before Heads. It's kind of tricky and fun -- a morality play wrapped up in a medical mystery, as a hospital administrator tries to get the truth out of a college student who was involved in a psychological experiment that has caused someone to be badly hurt. I think it needs some work before anybody's going to want to do it -- but I think it's worth working on. This reading was a great kick in the pants to get me going. We sat around and read the play, then talked about what people thought it did well, and what they thought it still needed. I took lots of notes. Great stuff! And I got to see my old friends Ronnie Clark and Christel Joy Johnson (of Ghost Road), who played Tom Linkowski and Beth Mills, respectively, and DJ Harner, who I know a bit from her work with my playwright friend Richard Hirsch. Small world, theater!

Agamemnon at the Getty Villa
I *did* say it was a busy day... My friend Dorinne Kondo invited me to see Agamemnon on Saturday night at the Getty Villa in Malibu. Tyne Daly played the hell out of the role of Clytemnestra, and her real daughter played her character's daughter Iphegenia (very well), the one whose death must be revenged. Delroy Lindo plays Agamemnon, who returns this day from ten years away at the war (over his brother's stolen bride, Helen), only to be murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra, in revenge for his "sacrifice" of their daughter Iphegenia. He killed her so the gods would give his beached army a good wind, for going across the sea to fight the war. I think he had it coming, myself. Go, C! But really, the play seems to be about the unending cycle of revenge that we get into, and are unable to escape from. It's really very cool to see Greek theater in the Getty's outdoor amphitheater, with the dark sky above and cool winds coming in over the Pacific. Dorinne knows the director, Stephen Wadsworth, and it was great hearing her stories that he'd shared about the process of bringing this play to life.

The War Plays Project and Sissystrata
On Sunday (a day I usually try to save for myself, scheduling nothing), I had the September War Plays Project event. It turned out to be well worth the time and energy we put into it, though! I slept in a bit, then put together the programs, printed them at Kinkos, and stopped by the store to pick up wine, cups and cookies. I made it to the Celebration Theater in time for their 3pm matinee of Sissystrata -- a modern gay adaptation of the greek play Lysistrata, which is about women holding a sex strike to stop their men from making war. This adaptation is set in West Hollywood, five years from now, when "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has been repealed, the butches have all gone off to war, and the "bottom boys" left behind decide that something has got to be done to stop all the fighting -- led by the inimitable Seymour "Sissy" Strata. I thought it was a hoot -- funny, fast, and with lots of food for thought in the end, both about the war and about how we see ourselves. Good stuff! Our War Plays Project event followed the show. We invited the writer of Sissystrata, Allain Rochelle, to be on our panel for a discussion of the particular challenges of gays in the military. Joining us were Julie Sohn, a Marine Iraq war veteran and activist for equality in the armed services, and Steve Gratwick, who is in the process of making a documentary film about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" called Patriots. Most of the cast of the show sat on stage with us, and it ended up being a great conversation. Steve Lozier, Managing Director of Moving Arts had booked our panelists, and was there, and so were our associate producers Danny Lynch, Elizabeth Gomez and Meropi Peponides. We're excited about the next three months of programming we have scheduled -- Religion & War in October, Genocide in November and Vietnam/Iraq in December. Stay tuned!

So! That was my weekend. What were you up to?

1 comment:

jason said...

my you keep yourself busy. I think i'm going to go take a nap...reading about your weekend has tired me out. Keep it comin'!