Sunday, December 27, 2009

2 AM in LA


The short film "2 AM," with James Dumont and Lisa Goodman, directed by Barbara Tarbuck, will be shown in LA Wednesday Jan 6. Details below.

El Cid Short Film Night Wednesday January 6th -- Timeline

8:00pm Pre-Show Cocktail mixer/Dinner party ($8 Cover)
9:00pm Show

El Cid (Silverlake)
4212 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles 90029

Very excited about this, as Lisa and James have been relentlessly promoting. "2 AM" is based on my short play, "A Phone Call from Washington State, Late at Night," with a screenplay adaptation by myself and Barbara. The whole project was excellently done, and I'll love it if any LA friends can go see it and give a report back.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"I Was a Friend of Harry Lime."


What to say about this movie? This print looks fabulous. Every shot is genius.

The ferris wheel at the park, where they have their meeting. Trevor Howard and his crisp delivery – “I don’t want any more murders in this case, and you were born to be murdered.” The scene in the children’s hospital in Vienna, with the unseen victims of Harry Lime. “It got meningitis. They gave it some of Lime’s penicillin. Pity, isn’t it?” with the creepy, smiling nuns floating around cheerfully, ministering to these unseen things. Greene’s moral universe where if you murder people you never see, it doesn’t count does it? Kind of like today’s predator drones. The brilliantly overlapping dialogue in the ferris wheel. The first shot of Lime, cat between his feet. (“He only liked Harry.”) The crease of his pants just so, hitting the right mark on the shoes. A man dead for two weeks and his pants are still faultlessly pressed. His hail-fellow well met cheery dialogue, covering up his murderous eyes. The last shot, Anna Schmidt walking down the road, Joseph Cotten off to the left, leaves falling as she walks past without acknowledgment. Even after his act of heroism, he can’t get a date. That cloying bouncy zither music punctuating the action – the most counter-intuitive music choice ever for a film, up there with Duke Ellington’s score for “Anatomy of a Murder.” The music is so intrusive, it’s practically another character, and yet somehow perfect.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kapow

My review of the Brick Theater's "Evolution", part of Fight Fest, is up on NYTheatre.com.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Last Reviews Before Closing

All the reviews are in from Busted Jesus Comix in London, which closed on Saturday.

Four stars here.

QX Magazine here.

And The Stage here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Civil Rights Reborn

Wow. Those evangelicals who hate on the gays are just like Martin Luther King.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Exposition

Playwright/blogger/Holmes-to-my-Moriarty Matthew Freeman has a new show opening Thurs PM at the Brick. You can get your tickets here for "The Exposition."

David Cote talks to him here about the process, his director, and his complete inability to express himself in concrete terms.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Robert Johnson's Home

This is a very cool article that came up today. They've verified the birthplace of bluesman Robert Johnson, in Hazelhurst, MS.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pictures of London







Thanks to my wonderful friend, Barbara Tarbuck, for these pictures.

Happy Birthday, Frank.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

First Review In

From the Comica '09 in London, no less.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Opening in London


Opening night of "Busted Jesus Comix" in London is SOLD OUT.

I'm feeling sassy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Greetings from Missitucky


Go see "Finian's Rainbow." You'll have a blast.

I double dog dare you not to pee yourself when Chuck Cooper realizes he's black.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Christian Radical Blog

An announcement on "Candy & Dorothy" from the Desert Sun, picked up by the CW Christian Radical blog. Which is kind of neat.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I believe the most interesting human beings, so far as talk is concerned, are anthropologists, farmers, prostitutes, psychiatrists, and an occasional bartender." - Joseph Mitchell, "My Ear is Bent"

Mothra, the Film. Oh - Wait.

Contracts signed off on a short film adaptation for "Mothra is Waiting," done by Blue Coyote Theater Group last March, in "Conversations on Russian Literature Plus Three More Plays." I'll be working on this adaptation with Kevin Newbury, who directed "Candy & Dorothy" and "The Eumenides."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Coming Attractions



Here's a YouTube clip of rehearsals for "Busted Jesus Comix," opening at Above the Stag in London on Nov. 3. It's also up on the London International Comics Festival site, pg. 1

"Candy & Dorothy," opening this Friday in Palm Springs.

And a shout-out on the Plays & Playwrights NYTE blog from Rochelle & Martin.

Went to Hartford this weekend with Dave, Jonna and Scott to see the 9-hr Horton Foote cycle. I want to write more about it soon - one of the most amazing times I've spent in a theater, and highly recommended. It's one more week at Hartford Stage, then it moves to the Signature.

UPDATE: Another nice bit of PR from Palm Springs.

MORE UPDATE! I just found out - didn't know this - that the artwork for the London production of BJC - flying hero baby - is by none other than Mike Diana. Which is pretty cool. In case you're unfamiliar with his work - don't open the above link when you're at the office. OK?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Quote of the Day

"On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy." E.B. White, "Here is New York"

Friday, October 2, 2009

The George Place at HB Playwrights Foundation

"The George Place," my play that premiered at WHAT last fall, will be read at the HB Playwrights Foundation next week, October 7 and 8, 8 PM. The reading is free - you can reserve seats at 212-989-7856, Monday thru Friday, 1 PM to 5 PM. 2 per. Reservations can be picked up 15 minutes before curtain, at 124 Bank Street between Greenwich and Washington. Splendid cast, and this time around it's being directed by Kevin Newbury, my collaborator on "Candy & Dorothy" and the original production of "The Eumenides." With Jacqueline Knapp, Sloane Shelton, Gil Rogers, Vince Gatton, Scott Robertson, and Jane Titus reading stage directions. This is a piece that's rather near and dear to me, and slightly revised from its Cape production. I hope you can come see it.

(Oh - and when I say, 'the original production of 'The Eumenides,' I don't mean the one in 500 BC. So no cracks. I'm looking at you, Wayne.)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Candy & Dorothy

Information here on the Palm Springs production of "Candy & Dorothy," opening in October. If you're near Palm Springs, CA, go see it!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mac Rogers' VIRAL at Fringe Encores

Last night, I saw Mac Rogers' "Viral" at the Fringe Encores series at the Soho Playhouse. I had not seen any of Rogers' plays before, and he’s a real talent. “Viral” is creepy, sickening and brilliant – a play about a woman who wants to commit suicide, and then falls in with a group of losers in Portland with a very disturbing fetish. It has humor but is most definitely not a comedy. The cast is exceptionally strong across the board. Great acting, great direction – nobody is who they seem to be, and they all hold back from commenting on the ghoulishness of the characters. It’s an engrossing play, and Rogers refuses to tell you what to think of these people. Two performances left, Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Saturday with Martin

Happy to announce that "Saturday with Martin," a two-hander one-act I wrote several years ago, is getting published in an anthology by TnT Classic Books in a few months. "Martin" was produced by Blue Coyote Theater Group in 2003, with Brian Fuqua and George Hosmer, directed by Kyle Ancowitz. (Brian just finished up the run of "Effie Jean in Tahiti" as the hilarious and scene-chewing 'Proteus, the Old Man of the Sea.' And George played Uncle Austin in "The George Place" at Wellfleet Harbor last summer.) Moving Arts also produced the show, in the fall of 2004. It's a piece I'm very fond of, and I'm glad it's getting a longer life.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Good Charlotte


This is my awesome goddaughter, posing in Times Square.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ravi Coltrane at the Village Vanguard


Saw this gentleman at the Village Vanguard last night, courtesy of my fabulous boss. A gorgeous set, including a cover of Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica." (I think - I'm bad with jazz titles. I know it was Monk.) This was the first time I'd seen him since he played with his late, great mom at the NJPAC in Newark a few years ago. A lovely night.

And on the silly flip side - only four more performances of "Effie Jean in Tahiti" left! We close on Sunday with a matinee, so what are you waiting for?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"I'm Sure You're a Nice Lady, But I'm Married to the Sea!"

Matt Freeman gives sweet sweet blog plugging (blugging?) here on "Effie Jean in Tahiti."

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Bring Me My Fantastic Jewels. I Wish to Gaze Upon Them."

Listings for Effie Jean in Tahiti at NY Times and Time OutNY (oh, those scallawags.) Splendid opening last night, and thanks to all who came to see the first performance. And special thanks to my fabulously spunky heroine, Laura Desmond, who negotiated one cane and a sprained ankle, and did it in style.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Being an Only Child's A Tough Break, Esther, But I'm a Busy Dame"


Get your tickets for "Effie Jean in Tahiti." Opening tonight, Blue Coyote at the Access Theater.

Quote of the Day

"We spin out light in a dark time." - Diane Di Prima, "Revolutionary Letters"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cecil on a Good Night

When I first saw Cecil Taylor a few years ago, he was at Castle Clinton. Part of the River to River Festival. He still had his long dreads, he was playing with two younger guys who had silly grins affixed to their faces the whole time, the I’m-playing-with-Cecil-Taylor grin, how cool is that? He was fiery and passionate, giving a performance for a big outdoor venue. When I saw him last fall at the Village Vanguard, he seemed much older; withdrawn, grouchy. He played beautifully, but at the end when he stood up and faced the audience, he had a look on his face like “Have you people been here all this time?” Even then, though, he had moments of heart-breaking lyricism.

Last night, I saw him at the High Line Ballroom, and he was in a different mood completely. The set began, with the bassist coming out and moodily hitting the strings. The percussionist came out, and tapped around the stage, setting his sticks on the piano, the floor, all the equipment, as if they were casting some sort of spell to clear the air before Cecil arrived. He came out, his dreads gone, wearing a cap and a black tank top. He started off with some spoken word, some Cecil Taylor version of spoken word. I couldn’t make much out; “bicarbonate,” liturgical,” “dopamine.” And then he sat down to play.

I’d never heard him play like he played last night. There was all his old crashing, thunderous chords, melodies peeking out every once in a while. Tumultuous, like he was summoning up a storm, and then pulling back to show something beautiful and tender, something so unexpected and lyrical it made you catch your breath. The audience was – as always at a Taylor show – mixed in response. A few get up and leave. Others sit rapt. I burst into tears several times, not even knowing why. That happens to me when I’m listening to him. Sometimes there’s the sense of a fever breaking and enormous relief.

He has the same indifference to the audience. He finishes abruptly, and reaches up for the stack of note paper on the piano, and that’s how you know he’s done with that number. He bowed awkwardly, shyly, at the end, acknowledging the audience, but still you feel as if you’ve interrupted something private.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cecil Taylor


Tonight, at the High Line Ballroom. I've seen him at Castle Clinton and last fall at the Village Vanguard. Taking a night off from the show to listen to some jazz, baby. High Line has been programming some great stuff recently - a week ago I saw the great McCoy Tyner there.

Recordings are great, but no substitute for live music.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Busted Jesus in the UK


Announcements on the Above the Stag site, where last fall they performed "Letters" as part of an evening of one-acts. Very excited about this production in November, and hopefully will be able to work in a trip back to London to see it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And Thanks to this Poster...

who name-checked me in the Times review of the Public's "The Bacchae." (And thanks, Bob Goodman, for passing that on to me.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Because what child doesn't love EURIPIDES?????


Coming up...my new show. It's based loosely on Euripides' "Iphigenia in Tauris." And "Twelfth Night." And honestly, there's some Simpsons in there. Also Abbott and Costello. And a bit from Mary Tyler Moore. And "Valley of the Dolls." And yes, it's for kids. Stop making that sound. It is so for kids. Not everything I write is about doing terrible things to babies. I have facets.

It's "Effie Jean in Tahiti," with music and lyrics by Stephen Speights, frequent collaborator & Blue Coyote guy. This is the first time he's done music on a show of mine, though, since "A Bush Carol" about six years ago. We've got a great cast, choreography by Jonathan Hollander of Battery Dance, and we're all pretty excited.

So here's the info.

And here's where you buy tickets.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Coming Up Next...

..."Effie Jean in Tahiti," at Blue Coyote. Stay tuned for details, cast and dates nearly final. Paperwork is not signed yet, but I should have some good news about two other productions coming up very soon.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cinderella in the WSJ

My friend Kevin Newbury, who directed "Candy & Dorothy" in New York and Wellfleet Harbor, got a rave review for his production of Rossini's "Cenerentola" at Glimmerglass Opera in the Wall Street Journal.

Coming up for me..."Effie Jean in Tahiti" at Blue Coyote. Euripides, Shakespeare, Abbott & Costello. Details soon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Backstage Name Checks Play Russia

From Mark Peikert, who wrote up "Conversations on Russian Literature Plus Three More Plays" for NY Press.

Yes Yes Yes this Thurs at the - um - Peter Jay Sharp!


"Yes Yes Yes," which was previously seen in Blue Coyote's "Happy Endings," will perform at the Samuel French Festival on Thurs July 16. This version features Sean Kenin, Joe Curnutte and Joseph Yeargain, once again directed by Gary Shrader. It's at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre (which is Playwrights Horizons, we're just not allowed to say that - but it's that building, OK?) 7:30 Thurs night. Tickets can be snagged here.

More info on the Festival can be found here, their very cool blog for the event.

Pictured above: Joe Curnutte, Jimmy Ireland and Carter Jackson in the original production of "Yes Yes Yes" at the Access Theatre, 2008.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Quote of the Day

"When the young behave badly, as we are told so many of them do now, it is because society has clearly behaved worse. We have the teenagers, like the politicians and the wars, that we deserve." J.B. Priestley, "Margin Released"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thoughts on "Drag Me to Hell"


In the field that it’s set for itself, it works flawlessly. Sam Raimi digs deep into his bag of horror movie tricks and he doesn’t give a damn about character, psychology, depth, or any panty-waist notion of 'logic.' He wants to scare the crap out of you. It’s a movie that is absolutely single-minded in pursuit of that goal. There’s not a detail that doesn’t support the director’s intent of making sure you have a ball. Raimi works in the conventions of the horror movie, and pushes them as far as they can go. (In short - that means 'bodily fluids.')

It’s a film that has been engineered as methodically as any ride at Universal Studios - a piece of mass entertainment, so lovingly crafted and technically brilliant that it touches art.

See it in a movie theatre if you can. There is a communal aspect to screaming your lungs out at something scary which DVD just can't touch.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Quote of the Day


"It's more valuable to have absorbed while there. You let it roll around, undergo a chemical change, and then seep out onto paper in the form that will suit the musicians who are going to play it. But it really takes quite a bit of doing to decide what to do and what not to do, particularly when you have that big, wonderful, and beautiful world over there as a subject. You don't want to underestimate or understate it." - Duke Ellington, "Orientations," March 1964, describing the writing of "Far East Suite," with Billy Strayhorn. (Thanks to Dave for getting me the CD of FES.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Last Call for NYC PAS Survey

Hey folks. If you are a performing artist or work in the performing arts in NYC - or if you run a facility used for rehearsals or performances in NYC - follow this link to our blog and take a survey. It closes Friday June 12 and we'd love to get more responses. It'll take about five minutes.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Glee Club at The Brick

OK. I'm not impartial here. Playwright Matthew Freeman is a good friend of mine and in his new show at the Brick, out of the eight cast members, I counted six who had either acted in or directed one of my shows. Go read something else for cold-blooded objectivity. But I've seen a lot of Freeman's work, and "Glee Club," part of the Antidepressant Festival, may be my favorite. "Glee Club" is a hilariously nasty piece of work, a bunch of losers in an amateur singing group prepping for a concert for the terminally ill. The star soloist has joined AA and no longer has the pipes he had when on the sauce. Then things get weird. All the characters are venal, neurotic and unbelievably selfish. The whole thing quickly devolves into a men-only "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson, only funnier. What's remarkable (and enviable) about the piece is how much Matt is able to sustain the comedy while going deep into very disturbing territory.

The whole cast is great but I have to say my favorite performance was my friend (and frequent director/collaborator) Stephen Speights as the obsessed and passive-aggressive music director. His meltdown near the end while breaking up a fight is one of the funniest things I've seen on a stage in a long time. There are only three more performances at odd times and I'm looking over my calendar to see when if I can get to it again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Help NYTE Win 5K

Details here at Martin Denton's blog.

Blue Coyote's Glee Club at the Brick


Matthew Freeman's "Glee Club" opens this weekend at the Brick, as part of the Antidepressant Festival. Get your tickets here. Matt's entries at the Brick Festival include "Interview with the Author" two years ago, where David DelGrosso, Matt Trumbull, Matt Freeman and I all played...Matt Freeman. And "Trayf" a year and a half ago is one of the only plays I know where the writer started with the idea, "Hmm...here's a lobster suit...how can I make one of my best friends wear it onstage?"

Pictured: (from the bottom clockwise) Tom Staggs, Matthew Trumbull, Gary Shrader, David DelGrosso, Robert Buckwalter, Stephen Speights, and Carter Jackson. Not pictured is cast member Bruce Barton.)

Sam French Blogspot Interview

First installment of the Sam French blog interviews for the July Festival is up. That lovely photo you see of me is by none other than Mr. Stephen Mosher. (Same as the photo off on the side.)

In this interview, I speak of some of my proudest moments in the theatre - like killing a bat made of balsa wood and black dress socks in full view of an audience.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Beautiful Darling:" Sundance, CineVegas, and Outfest


I recently got word that "Beautiful Darling," Jeremiah Newton's labor of love, was sold to Sundance this winter. Which is great news. Jeremiah and director James Raisin have spent several years putting together this documentary of Candy Darling - now it's slated to screen at CineVegas next month and Outfest Los Angeles in July. They've even found some footage from a film with Candy and Jackie Curtis which was never released.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My State Senator Answers His Own Emails.

I'm not kidding.
*****************
From: Eric Schneiderman
Subject: RE: Marriage Equality
Date: Friday, May 22, 2009 11:18:44 AM

Dear David,

Thank you so much for your note. I will do everything I can to make sure that marriage equality happens this year.

Keep fighting the good fight. It is only with the energy and commitment of people like you that we can achieve equality.

Best,

Eric T. Schneiderman

From: David Johnston
Sent: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 2:38 PM
To: Eric Schneiderman
Subject: Marriage Equality

Dear State Senator Schneiderman,

Thanks very much for your support of Marriage Equality in New York state, indeed all of your strong support for LGBT rights. I'm one of your constituents and I'm happy you're my Senator.

David Johnston

*************************

The others NEVER write back as themselves. It's always a form letter. Of course, I'm usually bitching about something too. This is one of the few nice communications I've sent to my elected officials.

Sam French Blog

The playwrights for this year's Sam French OOB Festival are up on their website. My interview for their blog (they're really organized these days) will run on June 2.

Here's some press on the festival from Playbill, Broadway World, and TheaterMania.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Take a Survey

At NYC Performing Arts Spaces, we're working on a survey to assess the current economic situation on NYC's performing artists. It just takes a second. It would be great if you could let us know what's going on with you right now. There are two survey: one is for the artists -actors, dancers, musicians, directors, playwrights, choreographers, etc, etc - the other is for those who run or manage nonprofit or for profit performing arts venues and facilities. Follow the link, it'll just take a mo. Thanks.

For artists, click here.

For facilities, click here.

(NYC Performing Arts Spaces is a program of Fractured Atlas. I'm their Program Consultant. OK, that should cover everything legally.)

Thanks!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

AIP at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum

America-in-Play will be presenting a free program at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum on May 21. Jonna McElrath & Vince Gatton will be performing some of the material I wrote for the Tribeca PAC evening in March, so I'm excited to hear that. It's at 6:30 - and if you have never taken one of their tours, check them out. They're lots of fun.

It's Not too Late

...to sponsor me for AIDSWalk on Sunday. I've raised over two Gs and the W&M Alum team has scored over 12 at this point. Thanks to Matt and Pam for succumbing to my 'pointed' bribery.

It Pays to Advertise

My pal George Hosmer just got a bang up review from Backstage for his new show at the Metropolitan Playhouse. I saw their production of "Nowadays" last year with Frank Anderson and Matt Trumbull, two other actor/colleagues whose work I adore. (Not that I would ever say that to Trumbull, mind you. It's too much fun to play on his insecurities.) This is definitely one I want to catch before the end of its run.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Yes Yes Yes Again Again Again

My one-act, "Yes Yes Yes," commissioned by Rude Guerrilla and produced by Blue Coyote - wow, that's two animal names. But "Yes Yes Yes" will have another go at it in the Sam French Festival this July, at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre from July 14-18, definite times & dates TBA.

Rude Guerrilla, by the by, has closed its doors. One of the most interesting theatres in So Cal. They did the first full (non-student) production of "Candy & Dorothy" back in 2004, and also the production last summer of "Yes Yes Yes." A very sad thing and a great bunch of folks.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Funeral Home in Brooklyn


"A Funeral Home in Brooklyn," published by Smith & Kraus and originally produced by Blue Coyote, is out in print. It's part of "2008: The Best Ten Minute Plays for Two Actors." You can order your copy here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ben Lerman at Left Out


My review of "An Evening with Ben Lerman" is up at NYTheatre.com. One more performance left of this very entertaining gay stand up/musician at the Left Out Festival.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Lynn Nottage Wins

And a well deserved win it is - "Ruined" for the Pulitzer.

"...we hold the Iowa Marriage Statute violates the equal protection clause of the Iowa Constitution."

Frank Rich's elegant demolition of the anti-marriage right's last pathetic gasps. I've read this many times now.

The Times article also has a link to the Iowa decision.

"...the County has been unable to identify a constitutionally adequate justification for excluding plaintiffs from the institution of civil marriage."

Thrilling words to read.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ah Crap

I accidentally deleted by whole blogroll. OK. I'll fix this soon.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Henry VIII I Am


I'd never been to the Grolier Club before - never even heard of it - but I saw the article in the Times last week on the exhibit there, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the ascension of Henry VIII. It's a fun exhibit - bibliographic items, the Cloverdale Bible, letters written on vellum by various diplomats bitching about instransigent popes, even some cartoons and virulent attacks by Dickens. They have the Spanish Inquisition's copy of Shakespeare's works, where they've blotted out certain lines in the play, "Henry VIII" - presumably any lines referring to Protestants and 'not damned.' It's free, over on East 60th Street, through May 2.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

And, Over at NYC Performing Arts Spaces...

...check out our new blog.

Cool Website of the Day


The Coney Island History Project. They're having their first event of the season this Sunday, which I'll miss. But I'm hoping to get out there to check out the booth soon. Their e-newsletter is great, too.

Tonight - Dante's Inferno with Jane. Hooray Dante!

Monday, April 6, 2009

What Child Doesn't Love Fassbinder?

Yesterday I went to an event for Martin Denton's "Plays & Playwrights 2009" at the T. Schreiber Studio. I saw some excerpts from some of the plays published this year. (If you want to buy a copy, go here.)

There was one play I saw a brief excerpt from, and this bit of dialogue made me fall out of my chair.

SCOTT: When I was a child, my father used to take me to Film Forum...All the other kids got to see Bambi and Back to the Future. I went to the Rainer Werner Fassbinder retrospective. That's probably why I carry around this little jar of poison. (He pops it out.)

VICTHORIA: Did you like it?

SCOTT: I dreamt up all sorts of damaging things after I saw Beware of a Holy Whore at the age of seven. It's still my favorite movie, but it fucked up Halloween in 1987, when I went as a half-empty glass of Cubra Libre being brutally smashed into the floor...

I bought my copy of the anthology, and read this play on the way downtown to Film Forum. It's called "Death at Film Forum," by Eric Bland. The above dialogue again made me guffaw embarrassingly on the train.

Dan Walker

Dan Walker passed away a few weeks ago. He was a.) the father of a good friend of mine, Sheafe Walker - b.) the husband of a woman who is in the WPA with me, Dina Harris Walker and c.) a founder and board member of Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre. I did not know Dan that well - had only met him a few times and he was in ailing health when I saw him last fall - but the stories were awesome. Sheafe passed on a lovely obit for him, that ran in Cape Cod Today.

Taught theatre at Brearley for years, great, loving family, a founder of a terrific and still ongoing theatre. As he said, "I've had a good run."

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

AIDS Walk New York



AIDS Walk New York is May 17. You need to sponsor someone, and I want your money. It's that simple.

Let's cure this disease and leave the world a little better than how we found it.

My donation page is here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

He Lives

In case you didn't see it, this one has been extended at Film Forum for five days and is a damn fine time.

Here's where I'm off to tonight.

America in Play Redux


Next Monday night is Part 2 of America-in-Play's reinterpretation/mash-up/collage/what have you of "A Glance at New York." Our installment went very well two nights ago - Marissa Copeland was fabulous in the Lize Tall Tale, and Carrington Vilmont was a terrific Houdini. On Monday night March 30, is the next installment, "Stealing Glances." Admission is free.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Suddenly Last Summer


Last fall, Phillip had brought his Maggie Smith DVD set to Wellfleet, and while we were in rehearsals for "George Place," we watched this one night - one of the best Williams' adaptations I'd ever seen, with Maggie Smith as Violet Venable, Rob Lowe (???) as Dr. Sugar and Natasha Richardson as Catharine Holly.

I never got to see Natasha Richardson on stage - missed her in "Cabaret," "Anna Christie" - but all day I've been thinking of her in that Williams piece. She was so desperate, twitchy and haunted - and so much a match for Smith, who knows her way around a Williams line. Richardson's death seems so random today.

Plays & Playwrights Blog on AIP

Over at NYTheatre's blog, Plays & Playwrights, Rochelle posted more info on AIP's "A Second Glance" next Monday night at Tribeca Performing Arts Center. It's free - more info is available here. Some marvelous performers, including Carrington Vilmont, who was in Tom Rowan's "The Second Tosca," which Kevin Newbury directed a few seasons ago.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Matthew Freeman Explains It All For You


Matthew Freeman - Clayface to my Batman - explains the subtle nuances of theatre blogging in NYC. Complete with links to articles about cats.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hell YEAH


BAMCinematek and the films of Carl Dreyer. Starting tomorrow night.

CTI

A strange recommendation, to be sure, but I did this a few years ago - the three-day seminar on producing for the commercial theatre for CTI. I'm not interested in producing for the commercial theatre. But for a playwright, this was a very interesting and valuable experience, and it does give you a great appreciation for what someone goes through if they want to produce theatre anymore.

It also lets you - as a playwright - know what would be appropriate for a producer to ask for in a negotiation. And what would be completely off the chain.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Liz Lerman's Modest Proposal

Also from my pal Martha - 'cause I'm finally getting to my inbox after closing "Conversations" - choreographer Liz Lerman on Wall Street executives and how not to spend your MacArthur genius grant.

More on Foote

My pal Martha sent this - a lovely Foote appreciation on Arts Journal - which also pegs the whiff of snobbery in much of the material that has appeared since his death last week.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Time Out NY Blog: Pimp My Chekhov

Adam Feldman on Chekhovapolooza around town, with regards to "Conversations on Russian Literature Plus Three More Plays." Plus, other hacks you've never heard of, like Denis O'Hare, Simon Russell Beale and some Irish guy named Brian Friel.

A Great Playwright Goes Home


Horton Foote passed away yesterday, about ten days shy of his 93rd birthday. His play, "Dividing the Estate" just closed on Broadway in January. He was in Hartford, CT, completing work on his massive "Orphans Cycle," being co-produced by Signature and Hartford Stage in the fall.

That, people, is the way to go.

I first saw Foote's "The Widow Claire" in the eighties at the old Circle in the Square Downtown. I didn't care for it. I was 23 then, and it didn't have enough action for me. Fast forward about 18-20 years when I saw productions of "The Last of the Thorntons" and "The Carpetbagger's Children." Suddenly, Foote's slow-moving, decidedly un-flashy characters resonated with me in my life and memories. Was he better, or was I older? I was older.

One thing to feel good about - his children, notably Hallie and Daisy - will undoubtedly protect and care for these works. They'll put them in the right hands and make sure they live.

And I'm going out to Hartford in a few months with my friend Dave 'cause I wanna see the whole damn Orphans Cycle. Why not? You think a writer comes around like this every day?

Judd

It's nice to be praised. It's even nicer to get praise from old friends and colleagues whose opinions you value. My friend Judd Silverman wrote up a lovely 'mini' review for Conversations on Russian Literature over at his blog.

Judd does not mention it, but he had a hand in original readings of "Play Russia" over at the old Turnip Festival...many moons ago.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Last Chance for "Conversations on Russian Literature Plus Three More Plays"


We've had a tremendous run and tickets are going fast for the last four performances. If you wait till you get to the box office, you may be disappointed. So order in advance and just pay the damn online fee at Smarttix, tightwad.

Above, two glorious actors - Frank Anderson and Jonna McElrath in the title piece of the evening, photo by Kyle Ancowitz, who directed two of the other entries in the night.

Coming Soon


A bunch of playwrights including myself - plus videographers, composers and renegade dramaturges - over at America in Play Project will examine, dissect, respond to and generally raise Cain with the classic American play, "A Glance at New York." Tickets are free - at Tribeca Performing Arts Center on March 23 and 30. Info is here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Really Wanna Go to This


One of the last surviving cast members of the Burton/Gielgud Hamlet, Richard Sterne, is speaking tomorrow night at the Episcopal Actors Guild. Get this - he has secret audio tapes. I don't know how I can stay away.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reviews for "Conversations on Russian Literature" at Blue Coyote

In keeping with the mission of this blog - blatant self-promotion - here are a couple of reviews for the current show at Blue Coyote, "Conversations on Russian Literature Plus Three More Plays."

The New York Press.

Jon Sobel at Blog Critics.

NYTheatre.com

Mixed to positive from Theatremania.

And a very good write up from the New York Times.

Tickets are available here.

UPDATE: Curtain Up came in, another keeper.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hummingbirds and Boobies in Greenpoint


My pal Pam (who stalks the night as the avenger Phantasmphile) has a new show she's curating for Dabora Gallery; "Fata Morgana: The New Female Fantasists." Opening party March 14 has free absinthe.

If you're in Greepoint looking at pictures like the above, and drinking absinthe, WITH PAM, you are automatically cooler than Steve McQueen forever.

The New TONY Theatre Blog


David Cote talks about "Russian Literature" on the new Time Out New York theatre blog, Upstaged. I'm on top of Cheyenne Jackson and I can't think of a better place to be.

Above, Tracey Gilbert and Katherine Puma in one of the evening's one-acts, "Mothra is Waiting."

And more at the Plays & Playwrights blog of NYTheatre.com

Up and Running

"Conversations on Russian Literature Plus Three More Plays" is up and running, in previews at the Access Theater with Blue Coyote. I'm excited about this production - three of the four one-acts are receiving their NY premiere. For tonight Thurs Feb 12, Dramatists Guild members get in free with their card. If you haven't already, get your tickets here. And thanks to Matt Freeman for the shout out on his blog.

And while you're at it - go join Blue Coyote's Facebook group.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ogre in Korea

My friend Scott Ferrarra has decamped to South Korea. Scott is freakishly tall and used to work as a bouncer when he wasn't writing plays and poetry. He has learned all Korean variations of "foreign giant," which is apparently what he is always addressed as. His blog is here.

Playwrights for Pets Fairy Tales

My pal Sue Yocum's group is having another performance of play readings to benefit no-kill animal shelters. Sue's a great friend, and devoted to this cause. Even if you're allergic to cats like me, go see the plays. This installment is for children of all ages.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Trumbull Has a Blog

Good taste and coherence, beware.

"Ruined" at MTC

It hasn't opened yet, but I think Lynn Nottage's "Ruined" is the best new play I've seen since "August: Osage."

Blue Coyote site for "Conversations"

The Blue Coyote site has been updated and all current info on the show opening next week can be found here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"A Brass Unicorn Has Been Catapulted Across a London Street and Impaled an Eminent Surgeon!"

Just watched "The Abominable Dr. Phibes," one of my favorite Technicolor Art Deco horror films. Vincent Price doing all of his lines into that crazy golden Victrola, the camp appeal of the whole thing. Funny looking at it now, how it seems like a precursor to much darker films, like “Saw” and “Seven.” Deliriously goofy. The makers thumb their noses at trite, elitist concepts like - coherence and plausibility.

That movie contains the most passive murder victims ever. If Vincent Price came into your room holding a bunch of jugs, a tube and a needle, wouldn’t you – like –try to leave? Or if he came into your car holding some sort of homemade death ray – and a strange woman in a fur hat sat on the hood playing a violin - wouldn’t you try to – I don’t know – get out of the car?

There is not even the slightest attempt to explain how a celebrated concert organist has figured out how to do things like –build an entire clockwork band of musicians, build a device which can lower the temperature inside a car to below one hundred degrees, find a whole lot of tropical bats – never mind how to pay for it. It’s just a plain old Jacobean revenge tale. The focus is on the elaborate, Rube Goldberg set up of the murders, not anything like character or believability. (The hook – for those of you who have never treated yourself to this – those who look with proud disdain on Vincent Price films – is that the murders are based on the Biblical curses of the pharaohs.)

Favorite scene: the locust murder. We see Vincent Price making a concoction of what look like thousands of Brussels sprouts. He tastes it at one point. (He doesn’t have a mouth anymore due to a horrible accident, so he sticks his fingers in a hole in his neck and we hear these weird slurping sounds.) Then he goes into a hospital, drills a hole in the ceiling above the victim, and starts slowly dripping what looks like crème de menthe onto the sleeping woman. Why the hell she doesn’t wake up is beyond me. If someone dripped gooey syrup all over me while sleeping, I’d sure wake up. (Scratch that.) Then he lowers a tube full of big, mean looking locusts through the hole in the ceiling. That would sure wake me up if the syrup didn’t.

When next we see her – when the cops burst through the door and realize they are once again too late to STOP THE MADMAN PHIBES – she’s a skeleton. With a wig! Because everyone knows that locusts eat human flesh! Especially if it tastes like Brussels sprouts! Right??? RIGHT?????

All kidding aside – you know what I really love about this movie? Vincent Price. The movie works because Price was an actor of such incredible dignity. (Like Boris Karloff, another favorite of mine.) He could make infantile, ridiculous material work because he played it like it was the most dignified and dramatically satisfying tragedy Shakespeare ever wrote. He never talked down to his material or his audience. Price elevated material with his presence.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Info on Conversations

Press is out. Cast and dates are here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

No, I Do Not Translate Classical Spanish Literature

That's another guy named David Johnston, who writes plays. But thanks for thinking I'm fluently bilingual and have cleverly concealed it all these years.

Monday, January 19, 2009

20at20

Thanks to Martin Denton for the heads up on this - 20at20 For twenty bucks twenty minutes before curtain, you can go see a number of Off Broadway shows, including "AltarBoyz" - (it's fun - trust me), Brian Friel's "Aristocrats" and "Looking for the Pony," by a wonderful colleague of mine from the America in Play Project, Andrea Lepcio.

Conversations on Russian Literature

Coming soon...announcements on dates - very soon - for "Conversations on Russian Literature Plus Three More Plays" with Blue Coyote at the Access. Other pieces in the evening include "Play Russia," "For Those Of Us Who Have Lived in France," and "Mothra is Waiting."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

WBGO On Demand

If you're into jazz, and you've never checked this out, click here. WBGO has a new series, "Live at the Village Vanguard." Once a month, they broadcast live from there, and post it on their site. Ravi Coltrane played there in mid-November, and it's a gorgeous set I've listened to several times.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Will Eisner's "The Plot"


I had workshop on Monday night, and borrowed Chuck’s copy of “The Plot,” Will Eisner’s graphic novel on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It’s a brilliant piece of work, and I read it all in one sitting. I’d loved Eisner’s stuff since I was a kid, and would read magazine reprints of “The Spirit” from the forties and thirties.

“The Plot” is something of a miracle, a broadside polemic, history of a fraud, written in – Eisner’s terms – ‘sequential art.’ Amazing also that Eisner continued to be working at such a high level of ability and creativity until mere weeks before his death at 87.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Milk


Watched “Milk” last night, and it was a very emotional experience for me- probably the biggest gut punch I’ve gotten from a film in a long time. Sean Penn is – well, he couldn’t be better. He is every inch the character – the bravado, the insecurities, the focus, the wit. He’s amazing as a man who in his forties finds his niche in life, and runs with it.

Gus Van Sant has always made interesting movies – I love Drugstore Cowboy and My Own Private Idaho. But he’s also made some absolutely terrible movies, like “Cowgirls Get the Blues” and his remake of "Psycho." I always wondered if Van Sant could make a good movie about something other than beautiful male criminals. But “Milk” is a grown up movie –and it’s a grown up gay movie. It doesn’t depend on shirtless beauties in discos to sell its story. It’s a real movie about gay men having real lives that don’t revolve around coming out, falling in love with a high school jock, and having tearful scenes with parents.

Two scenes really got me. The one – where Harvey picks up the phone and it’s a kid from Minnesota on the other line. He’s seen him on TV and he’s called him – obviously trying to get some help – and told him he wants to kill himself. And then he later calls again – to deliver some pivotal news from LA about the vote on the Briggs initiative. Both of those scenes just slayed me. (Slew me?) It brought home in an immediate way those kids at the time, who looked at TV and had never seen anyone like Harvey Milk, who said he was gay and was a happier man for doing so.

I was about 14 at the time of Milk’s assassination. And I only had a dim awareness of what was happening then in San Francisco. Richmond was a long ways away. But I remember that feeling – remember what a big deal it was when Billy Crystal played a gay character on “Soap?’ As a kid that age at that time, there were simply no models anywhere for what a happy gay man looked like. We clung to anything.

Van Sant starts out “Milk” with some amazing footage of gay men being rounded up, filmed in bars, shoved into police vans, hiding their eyes behind their hands. And it really brought home what those times were like, where being gay could get you fired, jailed, run out of town, or worse.

I know it's still like that some places, but things are better for most of us. Of course, Dennis O'Hare's Briggs would not be out of place on Fox News today.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Theatre of War

Went to Film Forum to see “Theatre of War,” the documentary about Meryl Streep, Brecht, and the Kushner Mother Courage in the Park two years ago. I feel about Brecht the way my old roommate Sally used to feel about brie. She’d buy brie, bring it home and not eat it. She didn’t like brie- she liked the idea of brie. That’s how I feel about Brecht – I love the ideas, the idea of a revolutionary theatre, the in your face politics, the songs – but hate sitting through his plays. I like the idea of Brecht.

Streep is articulate, smart and no bullshit. She’s asked if Courage is a tragic figure - she rolls her eyes and says, ‘I just think of her as you and me.’

She did say one thing that stopped me cold. “Mother Courage lives off the war. That’s what we all do. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we’re living off the war."