New photo and new reviews…

Dana in Machine 6259

Review at NYTheatre.com

Playwright Anne Phelan’s blog

Patrick Lee’s review at Show Showdown

Thanks to EVERYONE involved in this show for giving it their brilliant best!

Advertisements

Watch out for this woman…

DanaMassEmail3

Dana Berger is something else! Her passion and commitment was absolutely stirring last night. And she has found nuance in these characters that I could never write. It’s similar to the way a violinist finesses a strain of music. A composer could never scribe that kind of inflection. It’s really something else.

Do yourself a favor and come check this girl out.

Tickets for “WASHING MACHINE” are available at www.theatremania.com

One preview down…opening Monday…

Everyone’s scrambling around – doing their brilliant best to get everything in order to open this little show (thank you ALL – You’re all Mike and my Brilliant Best!).

Watching the first preview last night…it’s strange to realize – with all the ado and all the dragging of lights and sound equipment and set pieces about the white floor – it’s a tiny little show about a tiny little moment that effected so many people. It’s galvanizing when I think about it.

I went back to the Post article that started the whole process and was struck again at how someone as small and – in the grand scale of the universe…at first glance at least – fairly inconsequential made such a huge impact at the moment of her death.

We just don’t seem to appreciate what we have or what it means until it’s removed. Living in the city – I certainly find myself facing the terrifying notion that people don’t really matter to you until they’re on your doorstep or in your closed circle.

And here was a small town where a child’s death MATTERED! Painfully mattered! Changed the face of the town!

And I was struck by the mystery again. What the hell happened??? What caused this? Why her? Why now? Why in that place? What about that place brought about that tragedy? What was it about that unique collection of people that brought about this horrible thing?

It’s cliche…but I wrote the damn thing because I didn’t know and had to find out. I was sort of brought into this project – a sort of hired hand – but by the time the final draft came off the press – I was writing this thing totally for myself. To figure out why and how something like that could happen.

Because – in the midst of all the theatrical hocus pocus…it’s all boiled down to a five-year-old girl in the most desperate moment a human being can have. How would any of us as adults handle that? How does a child handle something like that?

I wrote this to find out.

And it all has begun…official opening on Monday…

13 days to go…

inmachine6(smallmedium)

“WASHING MACHINE” opens next Friday – June 20th! There’s never enough time in theater. There’s never enough space either – if that’s a comprehensive thought at all. There’s the chaos of rehearsals and the haphazard nature of marketing. And the unpredictability. What’s going to happen? Who’s going to show up? Who’s going to embrace the show? Who’s going to reject the show? What’s going to happen with the email blasts and the “flyering”? What the hell am I going to do with this blog? Are lights and sound going to work? Is the set going to fit through the door?

Is anyone reading this going to care?

And I’ll tell you something. If we get to the Sanford Meisner next Friday and plug in the lights – and they don’t work – or the sound wonks out – or the set collapses – it won’t matter. It won’t matter.

Because Dana could walk into that empty theater with nothing more than her costume, that pink bandanna, and a boom-box for underscoring and you’ll see something remarkable. Remarkable.

I got into theatre for the unpredictability. I got into theatre because of its immediacy and because of its potential to exhilarate and because of its potential to fail. You fail in most any other creative medium – you edit or you cut around it or you paint over it. In theatre – you breathe the same air as the people who are performing in front of you. And if you fail – but you fail with conviction – it can be just as enthralling as a success. I don’t know if I can completely qualify or explain that in an effective manner. I can only explain by example. How many productions have I seen where an actor went up on their lines? Countless. And more than once I have watched them flounder. But I have also seen some of them use the failure – use the mistake – and create a moment of character that I could never script. They play indecision or they play insecurity. They commit to their circumstance and they use every moment to its fullest.

Where else can you do that? Where else can you use unpredictability? Theatre wants to evade expectation. Theatre wants to revel in the fact that you do not know what’s coming.

“WASHING MACHINE” deals with so much of this. The antagonist of the piece is circumstance. The very fact that we are often at the mercy of things we have no control over. We are blessed and cursed by what we can’t predict.

Come and see the show and you’ll see what I’m talking about. We open on the 20th of June and run thru July 19th. Everyone involved is fantastic! I’m really proud of the work we’ve done here.

they started thinking…

land_of_the_dead_cover

(STEP-BROTHER is a young adolescent with a rather volatile fascination with zombies)

SHIT! SHIT! Did you see that? He put that spear through the fucker’s head. Schwck! SPLAT! Leguizamo was pinned down in that abandoned shop…and the zombie was holding him down…and I thought he was fucked…zombie food, man…and Leguizamo put that spear through the fucker’s head! Schwck…SPLAT!

Yeah. It was cool. Not as cool as “Dawn Of The Dead” where the zombie bit that woman’s shoulder off. Woah! I couldn’t fucking sleep the night after I saw that. Snuck into the drive-through in the back of Chip’s pick-up – under the tarp.

That was scary. And the bikers. Bikers were as creepy as the zombies.

SHIT! But that spear through the fucker’s head! That was AWESOME!

(silences)

They started thinking. The zombies started thinking in this one. And that freaks me out. Seems the only thing that would make being a zombie okay is that you couldn’t think at all. You just eat and shit. And get your head blown off or sliced in two by some short hispanic with a spear gun.

Do they know they’re zombies? Do they know they can’t be people again?

shit.

I can’t think of anything scarier. Knowing you can’t be people again. Knowing you can’t feel good again.


(Over the next few weeks, I plan to blog in the voice of the characters from Fist In The Pocket’s upcoming production of “WASHING MACHINE”. I’ll find a theme – something that catches my fancy – and then I’ll blog about it from two perspectives. I’ll blog from the perspective of myself – which will be posted at THE EPHEMERAL

And then I’ll blog from the perspective of the characters here at fistinthepocket.wordpress.com

Tickets for “WASHING MACHINE” are available at www.theatremania.com

“WASHING MACHINE” is coming soon!

washer front 800 (somewhat brighter) blog

The experiment is simple. Whether it will work or not is about to be discovered. Will I, as a writer, have the wherewithal to maintain a riveting narrative or the tenacity to sustain a captive audience over the following weeks?

But, uncertainty in the face of creating anything seems to be a benchmark of these kinds of endeavors. And since I’m not reinventing the wheel and simply dressing one up in slightly reorganized hand-me-down clothes – this should all prove to be fairly harmless if it fails.

Do, or do not. There is no try.

Fist In The Pocket, a theatre company I founded with Michael Chamberlin last year, is presenting a revival of “WASHING MACHINE”, a one-woman show I penned detailing the grisly death of a five-year-old girl who was mysteriously trapped and asphyxiated inside a Laundromat washing machine in a small, unnamed town somewhere in Middle America.

And there was many a desperate night writing this thing where I knotted every internal organ trying to keep it from being a downer!

One of my solutions was to show the small town and how it was impacted by the tragedy. And if you have ever stopped long enough in a small town to actually exchange a few sentences with any of the population, you know that it’s a veritable culture dish of strange, eccentric personalities.

Of course, small towns don’t have a monopoly on eccentric characters. As I write this, sitting in this uncomfortably cold, heavily air-conditioned coffee house in New York City, I’ve just seen two blue-haired dwarfs walk by that actually put me in mind of punk Billy Bartys.

The difference is that the small town eccentrics are often less obvious. When everyone in town knows your name and your address – I think you have to keep your kinks, perversions, and closeted skeletons much closer to home – and far more hidden.

But, believe me; they come out – often in extraordinary ways.

This was how I managed to keep this horrific story from getting bogged down in inevitable despair. I showed the light and life of this small town. I thought back to the strange, wily characters from all those youthful drives my family would make to Willow Springs, Missouri. I remembered the stories my grandparents would tell me about the town oddities. I though back to the aging waitresses at the greasy spoon just off the highway. The “old coot” (as someone affectionately called one of the characters from the show the other day) who would sell fruit out of the back of his pickup. And I wondered – who takes the time to stop and buy this stuff? And I realized that someone must stop – there’s a reason he keeps coming out here.

Over the next few weeks, I plan to blog in the voice of these characters. I’ll find a theme – something that catches my fancy – and then I’ll blog about it from two perspectives. I’ll blog from the perspective of myself – which will be posted at THE EPHEMERAL

And I’ll also blog from the perspective of one of the characters from the play here at fistinthepocket.wordpress.com

And hopefully, with a little bit of luck and a little bit of burnt midnight oil, I might just have something interesting.

And perhaps I’ll get a few of you to come out and see this bizarre, enigmatic, experimental, at times wonderfully funny little show that I’ve created with my director Michael and our wonderful actress Dana.

And so we begin….

Tickets are available at www.theatremania.com

From THE EPHEMERAL…Jason’s new, ongoing column…”Tragedies in Virginia”

‘I was in a coffee shop in Alphabet City, furiously typing away on the umpteenth draft of “Washing Machine” when news of tragedy at Virginia Tech came to my attention. Intensely hunched over my laptop – looking rather comical – I finally came up for air and a stretch. I glanced at the muted television across the room, noticed footage of a college campus obviously shot from a news helicopter, and began reading the closed captioning that seemed to stutter across the bottom of the screen. Updates on the estimated dead scurried across – almost as if they were stock results scrolling underneath a CNN report. And the number slowly climbed.

va-tech01

Others in the coffee shop watched the same newscast with that certain empathetic detachment that we all have most of the time watching others tragedies in such an impersonal manner as on television. We appreciate how horrid the things we are witnessing are. Yet, there’s only so much real emotional investment we can afford to make in a single day. It’s survival. We can’t weep for every single injustice in the world. We need to spare our resources for the injustices in our own little circle of offenders.

But I was touched deeper than I was prepared to be.

I turned back to my laptop. The cursor was blinking at me – anticipating my next key stroke. I had literally just finished another run at the character of the mother. The character of the mother has lost her five-year-old child in a freak accident involving a Laundromat washing machine in a small, unnamed American town. The incident in the play is very loosely inspired by a Washington Post article my director stumbled upon while he was packing dishes with newspaper for his move from D.C. to New York City.

The character of the mother is wrestling with how to proceed with her unyielding grief following the death of her daughter. How does she deal with this horrid thing? Does she ignore it? Does she wallow in it? Does she surrender to it and allow it to consume her?

The small town in the Post article was in Virginia – a small distance from Blacksburg.

Of course, the enemy in that little five-year-old girl’s demise – as well as my own scripted piece – was circumstance.

The enemy in Virginia Tech’s story was an individual who had committed a heinous act.

I remember thinking about the nature of grief. Do we really deal with it? Or is it like a virus? There is no cure. We simply wait until it works its way out of our system.

The friends and family of the Virginia Tech massacre have very specific places to direct their anger. The have very specific places they can direct their ire.

But what – ultimately – do we do with grief?

We wait it out. We let it die. We wait until we have accumulated enough distance and enough distraction and we let it go.

And it’s the most unsatisfying realization I have ever had.

I leaned back over my computer and followed the only path that made any kind of sense to me. I did one more pass on the mother’s monologue. I found new ways she could ask her questions. I found new dramatic ways she could wrestle with her dilemmas.

That’s what we do. We make order out of chaos while the virus works its way out of our systems.’

Fist In The Pocket’s Playwright-In-Residence, Jason Stuart, has just started a new, ongoing column – THE EPHEMERAL – dealing with art, science, life, and the occasional recipe…

Please come visit at http://www.theephemeral.wordpress.com