Tuesday, July 20, 2010

New York Innovative Theater Award Nomination

I am happy to finally be able to report here that the NYIT Awards, which are the TONYS of the Off-Off Broadway world, have nominated me for Best Actor in a Featured Role for my work in Temar Underwood's play The Brokenhearteds.  It's an honor and a great encouragement for Temar's fledgling company I Mean! Productions.  You've got to hear him say the company name out loud.  It's hilarious. 

Here's an official announcement with myself sharing the headline with Susan Louise O'Connor and Harris Yulin (!!!) on Theatermania.

This is my third IT Award nomination after being up for Featured Actor in Vampire Cowboys' Fight Girl Battle World and, along with the cast, winning Best Ensemble for that one, too.

I'm thrilled and excited for everyone who is included here and for the recognition of this level of theater-making that the awards provide.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Tenant

Something else happening now that is really intriguing me is the work happening at rehearsals for Woodshed Collective's adaptation of Topor's The Tenant.  First of all, the level of intelligence and dramatic inquiry going on at these rehearsals is blowing my mind.  It's kind of a complicated story how it all works and where it's going, but what is so intriguing is the process.

Teddy Bergman (Woodshed Co-Artistic Director) and Stephen Brackett are co-directing a site-specific piece that involves peering into the worlds of the various tenants who share a building with the protagonist.  In the Polanski movie version, the lives of the others are just hinted at, and multiple playwrights have been employed to flesh out each room's tenants.  Sarah Burgess is writing our segment, and Jocelyn Kuritsky and Black-Eyed Susan are performing it with me.

A question that is immediately clear from our first investigations into a piece like this is how to dramatize the internal lives of literary characters and communicate their rich thought processes.  What is so wonderful about the source material is excavating the justifications for the characters' extreme actions, something which is fairly virgin territory.  We're blazing a mental path, but without an omniscient narrator or voiceover, how can we physically lead the audience along it?  

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Auden Reznor

Two quotes recently slammed together in my brain as I went about my Thursday.

The first is from The Cambridge Campanion to W.H. Auden.  Oddly, enough, it's not a bit of literary criticism from a critic but from Auden himself writing in the introduction to his 1935 anthology The Poet's Tongue, quoted by Stan Smith in the introduction (I tried but didn't really make it too far past the introduction, to be honest):

'Of the many definitions of poetry, the simplest is still the best: "memorable speech."'

This rattled around in my brain and then collided with a quote by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails from an interview regarding the release of their then-new album With Teeth, something that has stayed up there for about four years waiting to be utilized in my blog.  In his characteristically laconic (and arguably adolescent) style, he likens the songs on the album to "twelve good punches in the face."

What is poetry?  Why is it something I like in my limited experience of it?  What is any (literary) art form valued for?  I determined that I like poetry and plays and books because they wrestle the expansiveness of human experience and feeling into the rigors of language. 

The epic nature of human experience cannot be circumscribed neatly within the scope of our language, and yet, against all odds, some people try.  How to describe it?  When our best writers use words (with all their strictures) to engage with amorphous things like life and emotion, the experience of reading is transcendent because the words rise above their ordinary meanings, their base origins, and evoke more than they should.

Words, well written, give us a means to engage with our greatest human questions.

Good writing should have the same impact that a track from With Teeth has.  It should feel like a punch in the face. Was Reznor being poetic when he said that?  According to Auden, yes.  God knows what that meeting of minds would be like.

Music and it's qualities are still a mystery to me, though, and I have no idea why I like one thing over another.  Sometimes I'll love the melody and hate the lyrics, sometimes the opposite, sometimes I will hate a song and it becomes my favorite in time.  I can only think to say that sometimes, when everything is aligned, a good song's effect is magical.  They're musical poetry.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Hey, All of You, my legion of loyal blog followers who have been missing my pithy posts about what's going on in my brain for the past six months!  There's a lot to talk about.

The first thing is that my manager's office SirenSong Entertainment now has a fabulous web presence here. You can click on my profile and see pictures, read press quotes, and get career updates.*  It's a very impressive site and you can find many other incredible actors there including frequent collaborators Will Harper and Hoon Lee.  Huzzah to Donna DeStefano and her industrious interns!
*Just as I was writing that line, the half-melted italian ice I was eating spilled all over me and all over my bed. Watermelon.  Goddammit!)

The second thing is that I have, with the aid of my dear friend Jon Hoche, co-written my first ever play, Subterranea.  Jon and I play estranged brothers named Nick and Dick Brotowski who are thrust together by fate to fight Nazis at the center of the Earth.  We had been toying with the ideas and their execution when Carla Ching, artistic director of Second Generation Theater Company (2g), offered us a proving ground in the form of their new play festival In The Works this past June.  It was a giant step forward for us and we are so grateful for their support.  (We are also indebted to the rest of our cast*: Jackie Chung, Cindy Cheung, and Erica Swindell--as well as our director, Robert Ross Parker.)  The best thing about the process was to work so closely with trusted and admired colleagues.  It was a dream come true.

*Jesus Christ, the phone is ringing off the hook!  My friend Gabi just called and we caught up on the last six months.  He's currently head of production at Digital Kitchen and recently got back together with his girlfriend.  That's the short version.

Also, I was in Michi Barall's new play Rescue Me Off-Broadway with another stellar creative team.  I listed them all already so I won't get into it here, but they were so much fun and I learned a lot from them.  Mostly, though, I learned never to operate puppets after taking claritin.  No, iced coffee does not mitigate the attendant drowsiness.

More to come, as always.