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Showing posts from 2017

Only the most iconic sound cue in all of theatre.

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Suddenly a distant sound is heard, as if from the sky, the sound of a breaking string...

That is how I have been feeling lately. I keep returning to that sound. Not because I'm about to experience the fall of the Russian empire but because this has been one of the most challenging semesters yet. I feel stretched thin. My first year students have asked me to do a lecture on self-care and how there are only so many hours in a day, and you can't do everything, and I keep thinking I am so not the person for this. Sleep is not a thing right now. Or human relationships for that matter.

But I'm sitting in the production meeting for The Cherry Orchard right now and just heard that sound cue, or the version of it that currently exists. I also just now heard the music that signals the dreams/fugues that I am creating with projections and lighting. I love working with Mike Croswell, the sound designer, and hearing his work has made me want to run home and create. Forget eating forget…

Long ago, there was a strange deception.

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I just looked back through emails to confirm it - ten years ago this week we started work on Transformations.


This started as the project that "ruined my life," the grad school assignment from Bob Schmidt that became Rapunzel - Kim Gritzer and I creating performance art in the basement of the Brockett Theatre at UT Austin for the New Works Festival in 2005, which was invited to be performed at the Prague Quadrennial in 2007. And there was a second piece that was an ActLab project, also in 2007, Sleeping Beauty, one of my many attempts to throw art at my lifelong messed up relationship with sleep while simultaneously making some sort of feminist statement. And the freezing cold First Night performance under the bridge.  Then Sarah Mosher added a couple of pieces of her MFA thesis - Snow White and the absolutely stunning Red Riding Hood. All of these pieces centered around Anne Sexton's poetry, which yes, I'm aware has been staged countless times but really, who cares? …

Adventures in Edinburgh: Lula del Ray, Red Bastard, The Kelpies

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Manual Cinema - Lula del Ray

I can't explain to you how HAPPY seeing three overhead projectors on stage makes me! I've seen a couple of shows using overhead projectors (and created one for my thesis way way back) but this was just stunning. Manual Cinema is a group out of Chicago, which means I can drive 6 hours to see their work, and I just might do that now that I know it exists. Lula del Ray reminded me of Kid Koala's Nufonia Must Fall - very similar in how the actual *making* of the performance is a part of the performance itself, all musicians and technicians onstage, and the audience can watch the creation of the "movie" on the overhead projectors, just in case they forget they aren't watching a film. Which, if you just watch the screen, you can do. It's beautiful, seamless, and stunning.

Austin people, they are coming to the Long Center, you need to see them.



Red Bastard - Lie With Me

So, it's been a day since I saw Red Bastard's show at the …

Adventures in Edinburgh: Baby Mama, Lies, and Seance

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I've been awful about writing and I've seen 15 "shows" or "events" (edited at the end of my trip to show total of 18 shows):

Theatre Conspiracy - Foreign Radical We are Jane Doe/Zanetti Productions - Jane DoeDoughnut Productions - Speaking in TonguesMariah McCarthy - Baby Mama: One Woman's Quest to Give Her Child to Gay PeopleAgent November Productions - Agent November: Major X-Plow ShunMalaprop - BlackCatfishMusketeerOntroerend Goed - LiesBinge Culture - Ancient Shrines and Half TruthsDarkfield - SeanceAuld Reekie's Haunted Underground - Ghost and Torture TourThe Scotch Malt Whisky Society - Dram is Worth a Thousand WordsTidy Carnage - ShameMr and Mrs Clark - (FEAR)Theatre Voliere - EvocationQuote Unquote Collective/Why Not Theatre/Aurora Nova - MouthpieceJoanne Ryan - EggsistentialismManual Cinema - Lula del ReyRed Bastard - Lie With Me

Originally I had wanted to write about everything I saw, but there are of course some things that I just *don'…

Adventures in Edinburgh: Foreign Radical & Transmission Opening

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I've been in Edinburgh, Scotland for about a week and a half now - about half my time here is gone. The festival opened yesterday and our show, Transmission, opened today. I'm not going to go into how many pages and scenes and hours of video and number of hikes up Arthur's Seat and broken feet and podcast episodes and renders and Skype meetings and bottles of Scotch and resubmissions of the app to Apple have gone into this. But I feel so fortunate to have been a part of this project and look forward to where we go in the future.


I am in love with this city and this country.

Theatre Conspiracy - Foreign Radical

My first Fringe show was today - I bought a ticket to the performance ofForeign Radical that was right before Transmission's first performance. The description was the only thing I knew about it: "Thirty participants are invited into an intriguing theatrical game exploring security, profiling, privacy and freedom of expression in the age of cybersurveillance.…

Adventures in Taipei - Day 2

My day started out with a workshop. I then intended to see a couple of performances but only ended up at one before the awards were handed out at World Stage Design that evening...
Workshop: The Whale Inside the Shell - Kinetic Scenography and its Symbolic Applications I was lucky to be able to grab a last minute seat in this workshop with Francesco Fassone, the artist behind the previous day's performance Shape. There seemed to be two ideas at play here - one, the concept of using one form that could change shape (in the way that the cloth did in Shape) to represent different scenes during a performance; and two, the idea that objects used in scenography could be archetypes that would work on a subconscious level for the audience. I was far more interested in the first than the second, and while I can see a connection between the two I'm not sure that connection was made entirely clear, or at least it wasn't for me.  The challenge of finding an object that can change its …

Adventures in Taipei - Day 1

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I'm in Taipei for World Stage Design 2017 this week soaking up inspiration from some of the best scenographers, designers, and artists in the world, people who really conceive of space and performance in unique ways. Monday I arrived after a very long flight and wasn't up for much of anything but crashing, but Tuesday I made it over to TNUA, Taipei National University of the Arts, and walked through the gallery of professional designers selected for the conference (my work wasn't selected this year but damn, seeing these artists' work inspires me...and makes me sad I didn't make more of an effort to get to Seoul in 2009 when my work WAS selected...next time).

I started taking pictures of all the models, and then of the displays that I found the most interesting, partially for myself but also to show my students how work could be presented and show them the painstakingly crafted detail work on the models. My instagram feed is filling up with some of the more interes…

You Get What You Put In.

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Once upon a time, I was lucky enough to design lights for Rubber Repertory, before Josh moved to Los Angeles and Matt moved to Shanghai. And we did this odd, amazing production called Biography of Physical Sensations. Designing lights for this was honestly the safest way to "see" it. Josh and Matt are very...original...when it comes to audience interactivity. For Biography, each audience member bought a ticket and selected a specific size chair. Your chair size determined your level of participation - small chairs meant you were willing to dip your toes in the water, medium meant you were willing to wade in, and large chairs meant you were diving headfirst into the deep end of the pool, hoping it was filled with water. I never chose anything above a small chair. I knew what awaited the people in the others.

I don't want to go into a big thing about what exactly Biography was, because there are plenty of articles out there on it, but I can say that the experience of works…

Five Things: Notes from While You Were Out Tech

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1. It's April, and now that I've been in Minnesota for almost two years I am learning that April means I'm about ready to peel my own skin off if it means I can see some sun and some warm weather soon. I am missing Texas, again, and that memory thing on Facebook decided to show me this the other day:


I know that when we moved to Texas from San Francisco I didn't love it, and so I try to remember just how long it took me to fall in love with the Lone Star State. It's difficult to imagine feeling that way about Minnesota right now, when everything feels cold, damp, and grey all the time. But I know that when May broke last year it was amazing. I'm just holding on for that. Hopefully the rest - the part where I do fall in love with the state - will come in time, just like it did with Texas.

2. Once this show is open and I have some down time (not much, since I'm moving straight on to Mary Poppins) I am having a serious talk with myself about why it is I need t…

Five Things: Notes from Acute Care Tech

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1. Jason Tremblay and I went to grad school together at UT Austin. He was an MFA playwriting candidate while I was in design. His play Katrina: The Girl Who Wanted Her Name Back was first produced at UT our final year there. I think that was the year I was on the play selection committee, too. I found out this afternoon that he died this morning. This was a shock to me - he wasn't a close friend though we were both a part of the Austin theater community for years and years, friends of mine had produced his work, and I had bumped into him again when I began to design for ACC. He was one of three Austin theater makers who have been battling cancer on and off for a number of years, and I think that's what hits me the hardest - since I heard the news, part of me has been thinking quietly one down, two to go. Given Travis's recent heart attack, I'm coming to realize that even people our age die.

2. And I am now the age my mother was when she died of cancer. The unknown qua…

Lust Experience Adventures Begin

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The Lust Experience has begun - two incredible events have already taken place and I have already been blabbing to every performance studies person I can nail down to a chair for twenty minutes about what is transpiring.

As Amy Guerin said last year, "time to performance studies the shit outta this!"
The Book Release On March 15, a book release party was held for the commemorative glossy behind-the-scenes book about The Tension Experience at the OOA compound. This was seemingly advertised as a party and a last chance to say goodbye to the place where the immersive piece was held, and to socialize with old friends and cast members. Which is exactly what it seemed to be, in the beginning. I wasn't there, because my impromptu trips to Los Angeles will be curtailed somewhat this year (see last blog post) even if Travis doesn't entirely remember the last one. I saw friends posting photos of themselves seated on the stage (where I was sacrificed my first time through Ascen…

How much does a heart attack cost? And what does that have to do with NEA cuts and iPhones?

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I have really and truly wrestled with writing this post. Two friends of mine in particular asked me to write it when I blew up at someone on the internet in a dumb internet moment a couple of months ago because I started spouting the numbers, and they said it would be important for people to know exactly what happened to us, and why, and what it cost in actual dollars.
What this is NOT This is not about politics, about Obamacare, about Trump or anything like that. This is about what happened to my husband and myself as a result of our choices. If you feel that you're in a position to pass judgement on us, please go right ahead. This is also NOT a plea for money. AT ALL.
What this IS If you're a person who thinks that this is something that happens to other people and it can't happen to them...you are wrong, and you need to stop. We spend too much time assuming that this happens to *not us* because we are (fill in the blanks: hard working, responsible, stable, whatever). Yo…