Archive for August, 2007

Delicious Grapes

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

We had a really good crowd for Hail Satan tonight. By “tonight”, I mean, this afternoon, of course, since we have an incredibly difficult schedule within the festival. We have five shows, and four of them are before 5 or after 10, which doesn’t really feel like a vote of confidence from the folks who run the festival, but we’ve managed to actually sell pretty well so far.

Last I heard we had sold 8 tickets to the show at 3, and when I started the opening lines, I could tell we had about 50 people in the house, so that’s pretty exciting.

I’m posting under “delicious grapes” because I noticed on my friend Mac’s blog there was new comment on an ANCIENT post. I went back and read it, when we were not accepted by the Fringe several years ago.

I realized that we’ve come a long way. I still think that Lucretia Jones is the perfect show for the Fringe, it’s actually a much better idea than the last two shows that have been accepted. In a way, the Fringe Festival is the exact *wrong* place for us to put up Hail Satan. James Comtois points out in his blog that this incarnation pushes a little more for laughs and although it was more true for the show he saw than for the actual run, he’s not wrong at all. People come to the Fringe to see shows that have very broad humor or very avant garde seriousness, and the audience at that show treated us like a drunk night at UCB.

And that’s great, it really is… But we found ourselves holding for laughs, and we were unprepared for that. We’ve been creating a psychologically specific piece, and the comedy actually comes from the fact that we’re playing everything as honestly as possible. When a character says “My… My workday ends at five” and everyone laughs, it’s not because he just got kicked in the nuts, it’s because we’ve all been in a situation where we’ve done what we thought was expected of us and then learned that we weren’t doing enough.

On the flip side, we’re really not being precious with the material. We hope that people have fun when they see the play more than we hope people LEARN or anything. We’re not trying to stop the war, we’re not trying to live with hope… I mean, we’re saying something that we think is true, and it being true makes it funny and hopefully relevant, but there’s no sense that we’re reinventing the wheel.

Lucretia Jones is the perfect show for the Fringe, and maybe we’ll submit it some year. Air Guitar was a mess, an unfinished mess that we produced badly, which got no help from the people we turned to, and Hail Satan is a show for a more sober crowd than the Fringe, and I still don’t understand, after all this time, why Lucretia Jones wasn’t accepted. It would be perfect.

But all that being said… we had fifty people at 3 o’clock on a shitty Tuesday, where it’s pouring down rain. And there are a lot of people talking about the show, both on the internet and in person. Other theater pros are hanging around and emailing us later and stuff.

That’s a miracle, it really is. I remember thanking the crowd at The Gershwin Hotel for being part of our first sold-out weekend, and we had about 60 seats in a theater that is now the back room at a bar… and we gave everyone brownies for showing up. Mac wrote it and the three of us acted it. Reviews? HAHAHAHAHAAAA. We played six shows and poneyed up the PR and the rental space and everything. We weren’t gonna get REVIEWS….

But… I’ve been frustrated by the reviews we have gotten. I don’t mind if people have a problem with what we’re producing, and I usually agree with people if they don’t like a show we’ve done, but a bunch of our reviews have recounted plot points wrong. When someone thinks it would be scarier if Satan did not appear on stage, I get that critique, but since Satan DOESN’T appear on stage in our production, it makes that particular point useless. Someone didn’t understand why one of the characters suddenly joins the church… except that character doesn’t ever join the church. That kind of thing.

But we’re in the festival. Elena is lovely to us, knew me and Mac and Jordi on sight and played with Barno. Five years ago, I would have given my left nut to have Time Out New York review our play, even if it was an intern from the restaurant section. There is a mountain still in front of us, but it’s important to look back and realize that what still looks like a mountain is actually just the top half, and we’ve already climbed so far.

(Oh, and also, the play is by Mac Rogers, who’s been produced all over the city for the last eight years. Not “Marc Rogers” who is, according to what I can find, a wonderful Canadian accoustic bassist.)

Update on Invite Me

Monday, August 13th, 2007

I got some private emails, and I’m gonna do my damnedest to come. It’s a tough sell, in this climate, particularly with everyone talking about how the Fringe sucks…

Look, it’s possible that the Fringe Festival in another town would bring the whole city to its collective knees, but New York isn’t like that. It just isn’t, we’ve been through too much. I can tell you that on by September 14, 2001, most of the people in the city just wanted to get back to work and have a drink with their friends, if you really expect a THEATER FESTIVAL to turn this town on its ass… well, then maybe you should check out Philly or Edinburgh or whatever. It’s not gonna happen.

But for the number of people who are involved in the festival to work as hard as they have, just to have people say “the festival doesn’t attract the real offbeat and the real established artists…”

Before I go off on a rant, and I’m going to so prepare yourself, let me put some links up here.

First, Galatea, which I am really excited about.

That’s the link they sent me. I love the pygmalion story, and I LOVE THE FRINGE FESTIVAL, so I’m going to this. Also…

The Wisdom That Men Seek, who are also from Astoria, did some work on their site

So, I wanted both those up there, so you’d know to go to their show.

You know what? No rant, sorry. It’s just assinine. There are hundreds of people putting on tons of wonderful plays, and there are a bunch of crappy ones too, but, you know what? What did it cost you? $15 and a couple of hours? When you’re dead, are you gonna say, “well, thank god. I was gonna go see that show, but then I would have died without that extra $15, and I wouldn’t have had that awesome *nap* that Thursday…”

The Fringe is amazing. The people who run it are one of the few companies anywhere in the world that have figured out how to present 200 shows a year and break even. Oh, and they do it in New York.

I say all this because I got pissed about the voice piece, and I got a little rankled by David Cote’s blog. And then, of course, in the next paragraph he goes and singles out our production and says there ought to be a producer out there to develop our show for the next level. So… um… David Cote, I disagree with you! Except for the part where you think our show is good!

Cote’s blog

New Promo for Hail Satan

Monday, August 6th, 2007

There was a pervasive sense that the first trailer had some problems. It wasn’t “good”, if I remember correctly. It “sucked” according to my sources.

So, I did another edit. I think this one’s pretty fun.



Friday, August 3rd, 2007

The play we’re producing right now is largely a discussion of tolerance. At one point, one character says to another “If someone said that their religion tells them they don’t have to stop at red lights, would you just tolerate that?” and the answer, of course, is no. In fact, the answer there is so obvious that it isn’t even given, the question is a point in and of itself.

Now, earlier tonight, I was explaining to some friends that Hail Satan was born out of a frustration with the liberal mindset in 2004, that somehow the left had become so obsessed with being reasonable and respectable, so tolerant of every viewpoint, that we had quit standing for anything.

When I described the liberal mindset as too tolerant, I was jumped on. My friends are very conservative, twice voted for Bush and only three days ago said they would vote for him a third time if he could run. They claim that the left is too rigid in its thinking, and that from their point of view, it’s the liberals who are hopelessly dogmatic.

When pressed I was asked questions like, “What if I want to pray in school, the liberals won’t let me do that!” and “What if I want abstinence taught in school? The liberals would have a fit!”

Now, naturally, these are people who get all of their information from right wing sources, so I just sat there waiting for them to dig themselves a hole. Then, I pointed out, in a few short moments, the myriad ways that they were wrong. The response at that point was, put simply, “we disagree” and then silence.

My brother’s blog, about a right wing Texas educator who basically had the book publishing world by the short-n-curlies for decades got a series of pissed off comments from people who think that he’s being intolerant to people who want to worship Jesus.

So, let me clear something up.

Oh, and by “clear something up”, I mean, “write something that won’t make any difference to anyone because this is just another blog itching about stuff.”

I don’t give a shit if you worship Jesus. I don’t disrespect you, I don’t respect you, it has no bearing on my opinion of you whatsoever. If you think my wife and I should worship Jesus, then I respect your opinion on the matter, and I’d love to talk to you about the whole thing and exchange some ideas. Maybe you’ll convince me that I should worship Jesus as well.

But if you think that everyone should worship Jesus, all the time, to the point where you think we should have a time at school where everyone prays at the same time, then you’re trying to make me and *people you don’t know* do things when you don’t know if they want to or not. And that’s just not fucking fair, it’s just not.

So, no, I am not tolerant of you thinking that. I have to fight it, as should every person who believes in the American system. It’s just un-American to make people worship something they don’t already worship, that’s just bullshit.

Why do you have to worship Jesus IN THE CLASSROOM? WHY? Don’t you worship him at home, and at church and before every meal, and can’t you just fucking pray whenever the hell you want? Like, can’t you just lower your head and pray right before class starts, and then, y’know, do THE THING YOU’RE IN THE BUILDING TO DO, and then LEAVE and then go pray or do whatever the hell you want ON YOUR OWN TIME???


Seriously, I’m at a full boil, but will someone write to me and tell me just why the hell you can’t pray all the time in your leisure time, and then let TEACHING happen at SCHOOL? When you go to your job, like, when you deliver a package for fedex, do you show up with the package and then ask the person to bow their head and pray with you before they sign? HOW DOES THAT EVEN MAKE SENSE?

I think I know why. I think I know why you need prayer in school. This is my blog, so I feel like I can state my opinion about it. You want children praying in school, because you know adults won’t do it. If you were delivering a package and you asked me to pray before you gave me the box, I would… in short, I would demure. I would thank you for the invitation and say no.

But a little kid? You can control them. And the truth is that religion is a pretty hard pill to swallow unless you get taught it at a really young age. When you’re a little tiny kid, the idea of a grandfather figure watching from the sky makes some sense, you’ve got bigger, stronger adults around you watching you and protecting you all the time. But, if somehow you don’t get religion as a little one, you aren’t gonna get it once you’re a grown-up smartiepants.

What I am saying is not a denial of the existence of God, or the truth of any particular religion, and I genuinely believe that if someone can explain their faith to me in a way that makes sense to me, I will happily embrace their religion. I’d be more than happy to talk to someone about all this, hopefully over dinner and beers. Or, if you’re Mormon, dinner and Jell-o. I don’t even like drinking anymore, I’ll do it over dinner and anything.

In short, those fighting against prayer in school aren’t intolerant of prayer, and aren’t intolerant of prayer happening in school. We just don’t want MANDATORY, ONE RELIGION PRAYER FORCED ON OUR CHILDREN. I’d be willing to support an Arab prayer in school, just to get the Christians thinking about how awful their kids, and the Jewish kids, will feel.

The same thing about abstinence. NOBODY IS PROTESTING ABSTINENCE EDUCATION. I mean, I’m gonna be really honest with my kid, I’m gonna tell him that 15 year olds have a thousand times the levels of hormones as adults, that basically kids are absolutely crazy, technically crazy, and that he’s got to be SUPER, SUPER careful. So, I’m not gonna teach my own kid abstinence, but that’s between a father and his son.

What we protest, and you can tell in the name, is ABSTINENCE *ONLY* education. It would be like saying, “We’re gonna teach history, but we’ve decided to leave out the teens and twenties, the sixties and seventies, and both President Johnson’s presidencies… Why? I mean, there’s information there that we think children shouldn’t have…”

We’re not intolerant of telling children not to have sex. We’re not intolerant of teaching children the many benefits of abstaining from sex. But if you don’t teach children how to use a condom, how to responsibly take the pill, what sex IS, then you’re just being obtuse.

And we have to fight that.

It’s a horrible sort of pretzel logic that has left the liberals fighting for neo-Nazis to have the right to their opinions, it’s the liberals who’ve fought constantly for the freedoms enjoyed by trash-talking right wing pundits and swift-boat style trash talkers. We keep fighting for these freedoms, we keep fighting to open the doors for more and more and wider a set of ideas and facts to be learned and shared within our culture. This sort of “tolerance” has left us weakened, our constant ache to keep the world open for everyone has left us weakened because the people we fight for actually hate us.

We’re fighting for something so hard that we forget sometimes that we have to fight against people who have twisted the freedoms we strain for to insure that they remain free and that those with opposing viewpoints aren’t. But you can’t say that intolerance of intolerance is intolerance. That’s a twisted logic that doesn’t make sense after even a moment of thought.

Hail Satan Video!!!

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

We are restricted by the union and by our own empty pockets from shooting a feature length film based on Hail Satan, but we can do this…


Really! INVITE ME!!!

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

Here’s the second half of what I think might be good at the festival this year. If you aren’t on here, write to me and tell me why you should be, and if you are on here, you better let me know to come to your show. I’ve got brothers and aunts and relations showing up for Hail Satan and they want to see theater while they’re here.

Yesterday has the first part of the alphabet, today is the last half.

On Air Off is totally trying to seduce me into coming. It’s a radio show gone nuts, with voices from the future and bizarre shit going down. This sounds great.

The Other Side Of Darkness has, in its cast, one of the best performers alive today. Rob Maitner is what Nathan Lane wishes he was, a genuine original talent with a heart as big as his flamboyance. I love Rob as an actor, I might love him even more as a guy.

Poppies looks interesting. I have to say, on this level you have to be really careful the way you advertise dramas because they can rub you either way, but this one really attracted me.

Riding The Bull is written by a guy I’ve worked with in the past, and who I believe is a good writer. I know nothing about the show, but I trust Gus (August Schulenburg as he is listed) to put together a good evening of theater.

Ripper’s 5 gets qualified interest from me. I know that it’s gonna be a smaller musical, which really intrigues me, because of the venue, and I love the subject material… but it is 2 hours and 35 minutes long. Now, the last show I was involved in producing ran damn near three hours with intermission, so yes, I’m an asshole and a hypocrite, but that show was one of the best shows I’ve ever read. If Ripper’s 5 is as well, then I’ll be glad I saw it.

Semi Permanent is a really great show. I’ve known Rick for a long time, and he is one of the best storytellers you will ever find, and this show is so lovely, so warm, so funny and so beautiful. I can’t wait to see it, and you should leave this blog right now and buy tickets.

Slut looks a lot more interesting than the name suggests. I have a soft spot for Canadians talking about sex, what can I say?

Theremin (no working link) – are you kidding me? Of course I’m going to this, this is the guy who basically invented electronic music. Good grief… I’m going and I’m bringing people.

Victor Woo, The Average Asian American is going to be fantastic. Sometimes you just get a feeling, and I just know this show will be great. I don’t know anyone in it, and have barely read the blurb, but I’m POSITIVE.

I’ve never been wrong about this kind of thing.

The Wisdom That Men Seek has one thing going for it as far as I’m concerned, and that’s that they are from Astoria. Their website has no information on their play, but it does have an awesome picture of the track and bridge from about five blocks from my house. So, naturally, I’m gonna go see their play.

So, that’s it. These are the shows I’ve got warm fuzzies for, but I could be off by 80% (the guys I know in the festival, I’m still gonna vouch for) (oh, and that Average Asian thingy, that’s gonna win an emmy one day, trust me), so please drop me a line or use the comments area to tell me to come see your play. I would love to be wrong about something I disregarded, but I’d hate to regret it.