Friday, December 31, 2010

not much left to the year...


While you're waiting for the sun to go down so you can get your party on, or for your plane to get de-iced, or for the liquor store to open (because the party starts when you say it starts):

Why take a few minutes to fill out our audience survey?

WE NEED DATA! DATA!!!!

Happy 2011. We're gonna be all up in yours.
--COItc

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

coitc.org back up


Hosanna! We're back online -- and all thanks to Managing Director of Stage (and web wizard) Leah Bonvissuto. Our eternal thanks to her.

It's a yuletide miracle.

[image via]

Monday, December 27, 2010

call for submissions [PCF]

Actors, Writers, Directors --

The Planet Connections Festivity is accepting submissions for its third year. If you've got some stuff to strut, read on:

The Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, New York's premiere eco-friendly/socially conscious, not-for-profit theatre festival, is currently accepting submissions for its 2011 season. The festivity accepts all topics and subject matters including but not limited to: new works, musicals, adaptations, one-acts, and solo shows. No time limits. We accept short and long formats. For details and an application, please visit www.planetconnectionsfestivity.com.


The deadline is February 1st. The festivity will take place in June 2011 at Robert Moss Theater (440 Lafayette Street), The Gene Frankel Theatre (24 Bond Street) and Bleecker Street Theater (45 Bleecker Street).


The Festivity is designed to utilize art to promote social consciousness, inspiring people to become involved in their community. Live theater can ignite social change. Through theatre, audiences view the world from a new perspective, exploring the unique connection of humanity.


Fostering a community of like-minded artists is fundamental to the success of the festivity as the relationships formed throughout allow talented artists to find new audiences and partner with new teams opening doors to creative outlets beyond their previous scope.


Executive Director, Glory Kadigan, is “looking forward to the third year of the festivity with eager anticipation. As I meet with the returning artists and new artists I am confident that this year will continue our tradition of coupling high-quality productions with vital philanthropy. The festival has been written up in the NY Times, Clyde Fitch Report, Broadway World, Theatre Is Easy, The Happiest Medium and featured on The Sundance Channel. Productions have received favorable reviews from Back Stage, Broadway World, NYtheatre.com, Fab Marquee and more.

Friday, December 24, 2010

it's not too late...


Need a break from your family this weekend?

Why take a few minutes to fill out our audience survey?

You'll be glad you did. Pour out some eggnog and pull up a chair!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

asymmetric warfare

Gawker's takedown at the hands of (purportedly) 4chan's ill-meaning denizens reveals an interesting new front in internet conflagrations.

While the focus of current articles detailing the hacking have focused on the tit-for-tat rivalry that seems to spring wholly from a lack of respect for the hacker "community" in Gawker's editorial tone, what is striking is the wholly incompatible composition of the opposing corners: on one side, you have a media outlet, trying sell advertising space and turn a profit -- a digital state, if you will -- while on the other you have a loosely knit confederation of programmers and malcontents -- a network of some kind.

We know how well these confrontations work in the real world. Welcome to the new digital stalemate. (And change your passwords often.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tickets Available for "Still On The Road"


We're happy to note that tickets are on sale for Sara Wolkowitz's documentary about The Acting Company:

What: "Still On The Road"
Where: Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center
When: Monday January 3rd at 8pm
Twelve actors travel across 28 US cities on a seven month journey to bring classical theater to America. The Acting Company, a classical touring ensemble founded by John Houseman and Margot Harley, started with members of the first graduating class of the drama division of the Julliard School. Kevin Kline recalls Houseman’s motivation being, “We couldn’t just let them go out there and do garbage.” In the Company’s 37th season, twelve actors spend seven months on a cramped bus, lose a leading man, play 71 roles, and learn to work in spaces that won’t hold their set. Throughout, they reconnect with their passion for performing, receive a great review in the New York Times, and teach high school and college students a new way to look at Shakespeare. As we follow the actors on tour and watch insightful conversations with Kevin Kline, Rainn Wilson and Harriet Harris, we learn that with the exception of Xbox and Wi-Fi on the bus, not much has changed – and that is just as it should be. 
Congrats to Sara on this spectacular achievement!

[Film Society at Lincoln Center]

Monday, December 20, 2010

survey

Hey!

Want to help us build a good audience profile?

Take this survey.

That is all.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

am I a jerk that this makes me feel kinda *better*?

well, crap.
Only half as many online teens work on their own blog as did in 2006, and Millennial generation adults ages 18-33 have also seen a modest decline-a development that may be related to the quickly-growing popularity of social network sites. At the same time, however, blogging's popularity increased among most older generations, and as a result the rate of blogging for all online adults rose slightly overall from 11% in late 2008 to 14% in 2010.
Everyone's always ragging on me for acting like an old man, I just didn't think that would reach, you know, this.

[pew internet via gawker]

Monday, December 13, 2010

coitc.org down


So, just in time for the holidays, COI's main website is down. This is because our host -- and the payment service they use -- are both terrible. This probably wont be resolved before the new year, and for whatever reason, it's proving to be terribly vexing. It's the digital equivalent of having your fly down, and for a theater company without a physical presence, a broken homepage is strangely shaming.

If we didn't have a regularly updating blog and podcast, our complete lack of a digital presence would be really embarrassing.

Wait, we haven't updated the blog since when?

And we haven't updated the podcast since when?

poop.

Friday, December 10, 2010

ugh

The Times today has an appraisal of Ed Schmidt's farewell to theater, "My Last Play." While the conceit -- a playwright ends his career in a monologue performed in his actual home, marking the earnestness of his declaration by allowing audience members to depart with one tome from his library at the end -- might be somewhat affecting, the self-reverence of the enterprise is decidedly not.

Two years ago Ed Schmidt, a New York playwright, got word that his father was near death in upstate New York. He bundled his family into the car and drove north, explaining to his young children on the way the sad fact that Grandpa might not recognize them when they got there. As it happened, they arrived minutes too late; Willie Schmidt, a former history teacher and camp director, had died, probably as they were parking the car.

That night, seeking solace, the younger Mr. Schmidt read the final act of his favorite American play, Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.” That’s the one in which Emily Webb, a woman who has died far too young, revisits her family kitchen on the morning of her 10th birthday and discovers the agonizing truth about how little value people place on the quotidian moments of their lives.

Mr. Schmidt, a sturdy, pleasant-looking man of 48, explains all this near the start of his new play, a solo piece that he is performing for 12 theatergoers at a time in the living room of his ground-floor apartment in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn. “Our Town” failed him, however, he says. He felt no better, and that’s when he made the leap: If great theater is no use to him in a moment of crisis, then it’s not worth spending his life trying to create it.
The death of Schmidt's father is, of course, an event most deserving of empathy. His decision that theater has ultimately as a significant art form, however, is one that is only his business and no one else's. And then there's this:
After a recent performance one exiting theatergoer, evidently distressed and irritated, worried aloud that Mr. Schmidt was woefully depressed.

“He shouldn’t be telling this to us,” she said. “He should be telling it to a therapist.”
For years I have reduced my theory of how theater, personal experience, and especially identity politics fit together to one phrase: theater isn't therapy. While I usually have to do some bending of a particular work to apply this critique, I have yet to encounter a work that so completely embodies the example. Until now.

Mr. Schmidt, I'm sorry for your loss. I'm sorry that you feel theater failed you in your moment of need. But for the love of all that is holy, to charge people money for your therapy session is insulting, and confirms the worst suspicions people outside the form have of those who practice it.

You do make a fair trade of a book of your library for their ticket. There's that. But here's hoping your title is indeed a promise.

[NYTimes, My Last Play]

[UPDATE: Within the first three paragraphs on the play's website, he compares himself to both Shakespeare and Moliere. Never mind -- he's a self-important blowhard who deserves obscurity. Good riddance to bad rubbish.]

Monday, November 29, 2010

Leslie Nielsen, 1926-2010


Like many, I grew up watching Leslie Nielsen only as the uproariously funny comic actor; I didn't realize until much later that he had started out as a serious one. How I loved his work.

(It's only fitting that I learned of his passing from Peter Serafinowicz's twitter feed.)

[image via]

Friday, November 19, 2010

c'mon, it's funny

I can understand if purityrannical Americans got all hot-and-bothered about such a thing, but Europeans? I expected more out of you, Old World:
Spanish politicians have criticised a video by the Young Socialists in Catalonia in which a woman simulates an orgasm while casting her vote.

Both Socialist and opposition politicians have attacked the campaign video.

The equality minister called it "misleading" advertising.

In the video the young woman gets increasingly excited as she votes for the Socialist Party in this month's regional elections in Catalonia.

It concludes with the phrase, "Voting is a pleasure", after she puts her voting slip in the ballot box.

The leader of the conservative opposition Popular Party of Catalonia, Alicia Sanchez-Camacho, said the video was an "attack on the dignity of women".
Although Socialist equality minister Bibiana Aido wins the day:
"If it was true, electoral participation would go up greatly, but I think we are dealing with a misleading advert."
[BBC News]

the coi podcast programming changes


Hey there, sports fans.

We're still finalizing episodes of the COI podcast, but I can tell you about some details and some changes coming to the program.

  • First, we'll be switching from a two-week release schedule to a three-week schedule.
  • Second, I'd like to release the first of the new episodes before the New Year so, you know, fingers crossed on that.
  • Third, the live COI podcast episodes will be released in a ten-episode arc. So it'll take up a lot of the months to come. (We might very well be recording new live episodes in 2011 as we still release 2010 episodes. Yikes, does that makes us the Moth or something?)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

done and done

We mentioned this not too long ago, but now here's your proof.

Along with the Democratic majority, say goodbye to the closest we'd come to a Congress that represented women to a degree that could, albeit only by a very generous application of the term, be termed fair.

Here are some of the ones we'll be losing, courtesy the CSMonitor.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

shattering the audience

Politico announced this week that it was releasing PoliticoPro, a site with wonky details for policy "professionals"; subscriptions are expected to cost thousands per year. According to Columbia Journalism Review,
Politico Pro’s expected staff of forty journalists will provide “high-impact, high-velocity reporting on the politics of energy, technology and health care reform” for political and policy professionals.
It kinda sounds like they'll be doing what they're already doing, but with bigger words -- or perhaps it would be more accurate to say they'll use acronyms without defining them, since the readership will be assumed to be "in the know."

So I think COItc should offer something similar, and I'm happy to announce that in 2011 we will be offering COIPro for discerning audience members.

  • A $500 annual subscription will provide live performances without programs or pre-show music (that stuff is for the plebes)
  • $1,000 gets you expedited shows without the first half -- you're provided an index card with the gist of the first act and actors will speed through to the final moment of the play, assuming you know what you're about and don't need all that padding for beginners.
  • For $10,000 you can just sit with the playwright in his apartment while he stares at his navel.

There is no larger audience: there are only insiders and suckers. (You'll need to check the wallets to see which is which.)

the black market is the black market

An interesting side note in the aftermath of the defeat of Proposition 19 this month: don't worry, law-n-order nutjobs -- even if pot had become legal, Mexican drug cartels are well ahead of you, branching out into illicit software sales.

In an age when cash is increasingly digital, war is waged via computer virus, mega corporations battle each other over our contact lists, and those same corporations do little more to pile their (digital) billions than aggregate data, the propaganda undertaken to demonize software piracy will make Reefer Madness look restrained by comparison.

The absurdity that underlies stringent prosecution of software piracy makes for Dr. Seuss-like reading:
The most vociferous critics of Microsoft and the overall proprietary software industry describe the anti-piracy crusade as a sophisticated dog-and-pony show. They say the software makers tolerate a certain level of piracy because they would rather have people use their products — even if counterfeit — than pick up lower-cost alternatives. At the same time, the critics say, the software companies conduct periodic raids to remind customers and partners that playing by the rules makes sense.

“It has always been in Microsoft’s interests for software to be available at two different prices — expensive for the people that can afford it and inexpensive for those that can’t,” Mr. Eben] Moglen[, a Columbia Law professor,] says. “At the end of the day, if you’re a monopolist, you have to tolerate a large number of copies you don’t get paid for just to keep everyone hooked.”
We get caught up in the thing that is prohibited -- whether it's illicit narcotics (as opposed to controlled substances) and prohibited forms of media copying -- and instead it would behoove us to look at the boundaries between what is forbidden and what is allowed. That boundary tells us more about ourselves as a society than how many joints we smoke or songs we download for free.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"my problem is, it's become tribal"

Jon Stewart's full conversation with Rachel Maddow about his Rally to Restore etc etc etc... and its implications for pundits on both the left and right is n outstanding conversation. It's hard to believe that a conversation of this caliber and duration is allowed to exist on television (oh, wait, of course it isn't. The unedited version is only online).

The whole point is that you have to watch all 49 minutes of it. If we can't sustain our attentions for that long, well -- we get what we deserve in the 24-hour cable news cycle, then:

Monday, November 15, 2010

really, guys ... they're fascists. you can't see it?


For those who suspected that our collective ridicule of Governor Palin and Sideshow Glenn was us whistling past the graveyard, those gut instincts are proving correct. Clearly, if he's a clown, Beck is a Stephen King-type clown.

His attacks on George Soros have revealed something darker in Beck's paranoiac psyche. Clearly Soros, guilty of the twin sins of being richer than beck and disagreeing with Beck, is part of a larger conspiracy:
Throughout three programs this week, Mr. Beck has portrayed Mr. Soros, a billionaire investor and philanthropist, as a “puppet master” who is “notorious for collapsing economies and regimes all around the world” and whose “next target” is the United States. Citing Mr. Soros’s statements about the decline of the dollar, Mr. Beck said, “Not only does he want to bring America to her knees, financially, he wants to reap obscene profits off us as well.”

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, took issue with Mr. Beck’s depiction of Mr. Soros as a “Jewish boy helping sending the Jews to the death camps,” calling it “offensive” and “horrific.”
Doesn't this all sound familiar? Deriding a sub-section of society as being the puppet master financiers constituting a fifth column that wants to destroy the country from within. Really? Not setting off alarm bells at all?

[NYT; image via Osborne Ink]

Friday, November 12, 2010

coi podcast update


Finished the first edited episode of the live COI podcasts! (Only 15 more to go...)

To the four of you who actually listen to these: do you ever listen to the end of the episodes? I didn't think so. I kill myself to get the credits right, without thinking about the fact that no one listens through to the end.

I guess it's a holdover from the days of my youth when I listened to terrestrial radio (what's that?) -- specifically, WNYC's rebroadcast of Harry Shearer's Le Show originating out of the LeShowDome in Santa Monica on Sunday nights. I always felt a wistfulness as he read the final notes over the swell of music ("the home ... of the homeless") as a cherished conversation was coming to an end.

Anyway. Right. The point is, I really shouldn't bother. (But I will.)

Lineup and release schedule to follow.

I'm with you up to a point

Look, I like a curmudgeonly counter-cultural position as much as the next curmudgeon, but there is such a thing as taking a good argument too far:
Television drama should say more about the world we live in today and not rely on costumes, irony and pastiche, according to the award-winning screenwriter Jimmy McGovern. The television veteran behind the uncompromising hit shows Cracker and The Street is calling for dramas that reflect reality and have a strong point to make.

"Why write drama that doesn't matter?" he asked this weekend. Commenting on the high viewing figures for costume dramas such as ITV's Downton Abbey and the popularity of arch adventure shows such as Dr Who, McGovern said he believed the best writing took itself seriously, as well as taking its audience seriously.
Hey hey hey -- I like Dr. Who.

However:
"Why have a BBC complaints unit in the first place? They tell me, 'Jimmy, it is in case you offend anybody,' and I say, 'I am a writer. That is my job.' Just imagine if it said on my headstone that I had never offended anybody – I would turn in my grave."
That? That is just awesome.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

reading this week (11/12)

Our friends at the Crossroads Theatre Project have something to tell us about:

WHAT: Staged reading for Tulpa, or Anne&Me combined with birthday party for Anne Hathaway (aka Andy aka Jack). There will be cake. There will be balloons. There may be party hats.
WHEN: Friday, November 12 at 8pm
WHERE: WOW Cafe Theatre, 59 E. 4th Street, New York, NY
WHY: Fundraising for Crossroads Theatre Project and WOW Cafe Theatre.
HOW: Click on the Fractured Atlas button below to send a donation to Crossroads Theatre Project. Suggested donation $10. $25 or more lets you join the raffle for an autographed copy of the script. $50 gets you your own autographed copy of the script (no raffle needed). All donors will be named on the playbill.



ABOUT TULPA, OR ANNE&ME
When Anne Hathaway crawls out of your television, what do you do?

Tulpa, or Anne&Me tells the story of a Black lesbian with an overactive imagination who forges an unlikely bond with Anne Hathaway. Guided by two guardian angels of Blackness (or are they voices in her head?), she struggles to connect with Anne across the thorny barrier between Black and White women. Through a series of visitations merging memory, reality and fantasy, Tulpa, or Anne&Me wrestles with the racial tensions that haunt even our most intimate relationships.

Raw, intimate, and unapologetic, Tulpa, or Anne&Me blends pop culture, Tibetan mysticism and womanism to begin the conversation about race that Black women and White women have never been allowed to have. Until now.

Read what some people are saying about Tulpa, or Anne&Me at:

ABOUT CROSSROADS THEATRE PROJECT
Crossroads Theatre Project is a collaboration of new Black playwrights whose works explore how race intersects with other identities and challenge mainstream ideas about Black theatre.

The crossroads are rooted in African folklore, Vodou, and Delta blues as a place where strange and unexpected things happen. Anything can happen on the crossroads. You can speak with the dead, meet the spirits of your ancestors, or even sell your soul to the Devil.

Crossroads Theatre Project is the anti-Chitlin Circuit created to break barriers and undermine stereotypes by presenting thoughtful new stories by and about African Americans today. In the simplest terms, this means: no maids; no crackheads; no Tyler Perry.

The vision of Crossroads Theatre Project is nearly identical to 13P. The idea is to use our shared passion for theater and our status as Othered to empower us when it comes to gathering resources and reaching out to potential audiences and creative partners. We're committed to giving people theatre by and about us that challenges what people assume we stand for and/or are interested in. The goal of Crossroads Theatre Project is to incubate the works of new Black playwrights from first draft through full production.

Read more about Crossroads Theatre Project here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Everything they tell you is a lie

A rocket was launched in Southern California. The video is here. Clearly that happened. The Pentagon is mum -- bizarrely so:
[John] Pike[, director of the U.S.-based security analyst group globalsecurity.org] said he didn't understand why the military had not recognized the contrail of an aircraft. "The Air Force must ... understand how contrails are formed," he said. "Why they can't get some major out to belabor the obvious, I don't know."
I'll tell you why: because they know exactly what it is, and they're not telling.

When I was a kid, two Air Force bombers flew in concentric circles at a low altitude over Brooklyn over and over again. People on the street stopped and stared. Having read my fair share of crazy-but-plausible military coup porn, I thought I knew what was going on. But now that alien infiltration of our planet has been proven, I'm not so sure.


(Seriously, y'all, the Pentagon knows something.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

[sausage gets made] we have a cast!


Remember those faces from our post about the script reading? They're all in. [Bonus points to anyone who can name them all. You, sir or madam, would be crowned a true off-off connoisseur.]

We're beginning our fundraising campaign which will be much more entertaining than my ramblings, but if you're a regular reader of this blog, you might have an inkling of the caliber of our productions.

Maybe you're ready to help us start a solid foundation on which to build without all the bells and whistles?

(Or, stay tuned for bells and whistles.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

last week's election was worse than we thought

The Boston Herald's Joe Battenfeld:
Here’s the message for Scott Brown that I gleaned from last week’s election: Scott, run for president.
Oh. My. God.

when are 1's and 0's more than 1's and 0's?

In an interesting way, the Economist lays bare the difference between the Pentagon Papers and Wikileaks (sub req'd). Interestingly, both have intimately involved newspapers in their release (for a great breakdown of the Papers, by the way, see this book), the leakers at the center of each have similar biographies, and both laid bare data which showed the military was being less-than-truthful about its campaigns. But there's one huge difference: Daniel Ellsberg understood that his principled stand meant persecution, the near-destruction of his life, and the possibility of imprisonment. Julian Assange is doing everything he can to avoid punishment -- indeed, avoiding any culpability for actual or collateral damage:
Mr Ellsberg turned himself in, willing to be held accountable for what he has done. He faced charges—eventually dismissed—under America’s Espionage Act. In contrast, WikiLeaks distributes its servers to take advantage of whistle-blower laws in Sweden, Belgium, Iceland and America. Mr Assange enjoys the protection of several liberal democracies, but is not really accountable to any of them.

What is more, Mr Assange seems unwilling to reflect on the risks of what he is doing. Amnesty International has complained that documents in WikiLeaks’ release on Afghanistan were not sufficiently edited, and thus likely to endanger Afghans who had worked for the coalition. Even such supporters as Birgitta Jonsdottir, an Icelandic member of parliament, has expressed disappointment over how the documents were released. Mr Assange disagrees, saying that nobody needed protection as a result of the release—citing, of all sources, NATO in Kabul. In contrast, Mr Ellsberg is more self-critical and concedes, for instance, that the publication of the Pentagon Papers actually had no effect on the war in Vietnam.
In essence, Assange is doing to the Pentagon's data what Mark Zuckerberg is doing to yours: grabbing it, doing what he likes with it, and then claiming it's no big deal because it's a new digital age.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

november chill TONIGHT

Join us tonight for two short works and excellent music.

The Technician and Missed by Sergei Burbank, directed by Eileen Trilli
featuring Tatiana Gomberg and Paul Bomba

Music by Carly Howard and Open to the Hound
Linger Lounge
533 Atlantic Avenue | Brooklyn
7pm | Admission: pay-what-you-can

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

vote, motherf*ckers

In 1994, Mario Cuomo ran for his fourth consecutive term as Governor of New York. While the state had suffered along with everyone else as a result of the latest recession, Cuomo was the relatively well-respected incumbent Democratic governor of a solidly blue state.

Because so many voters had grown accustomed to having Cuomo as governor, not many bothered to show up to vote. With roughly 30% of eligible voters turning out, George Pataki was sent to the Governor's Mansion as part of the 1994 Republican Revolution.

Pataki took an emergency stop-gap decision taken by Governor Cuomo in the face of financial crisis to reduce MTA overhead -- using credit to maintain the subways and buses of New York City -- and turned it into longstanding fiscal policy, something it was never intended to do.

As a result, all service cuts and fare hikes taken in 2009-2010 are because budget funding was never restored to its early 1990s levels, because an indifferent electorate allowed a public-service-slashing conservative win an election he would have no right winning had people been paying more attention in the first place.

The Moral: Midterm elections matter, despite your disillusionment/boredom/cynicism.

Bonus Moral: You can't bitch about fare hikes unless you are a registered and active voter in New York City.

Monday, November 1, 2010

if you need help finding a mirror I'll get one

It's fitting that the NY Times will help write its own epitaph, as Jeremy Peters scratches his head in the Sunday edition as to this explosion of enmity towards the news media from both the left and right, apparently out of nowhere.
News media experts say that an attack-the-press strategy can make sense as a pure political play. While polling has shown that majorities of Republicans and conservatives have long harbored suspicions about the news media, there has been a surge in negative feelings among Democrats and liberals.

The biennial Pew Research Center poll on public attitudes about the news media found last year that much of the growth in negative perceptions about the media has been driven by Democrats. For the first time last year, a majority of Democrats, 59 percent, said that reporting from news organizations is often inaccurate. That figure was just 43 percent in 2007.

Michael Dimock, an associate director at Pew, said this reflected a tendency by Democrats to shift part of the blame for their recent misfortunes on the press. But he said he also believed it was about something broader: a mistrust of large institutions.

“Whether it’s the press, whether it’s government, there has been this lowering of credibility in a lot of institutions in America,” Mr. Dimock said. “You name it. It’s hard to find a group or institution that isn’t being viewed more skeptically these days.”
No, no, no guys -- it's afar simpler explanation: it's not institutions, it's you. They explained this to you at the Rally to Restore Sanity the day before you published this:



Oh wait, that's right, you didn't send any correspondents. Not because you don't know how to do your job, but you're worried about how you, the watchers, will be watched.

[A post-script: all of the content at the links and embedded video in this blog post are covered -- sometimes literally -- with advertisements. Why that isn't that a source of concern about the perception of media companies? Nah, it's the politicians...]

Friday, October 29, 2010

scriptwriters


Heading into the midterm elections, it's a good moment to revive an article from last November's New York Times, as Robert Pear discovered eerie similarities between floor speeches and remarks entered into the Congressional Record by members of Congress, with ink drops leading all the way back to the offices of lobbyists for Big Pharma.
Statements by more than a dozen lawmakers were ghostwritten, in whole or in part, by Washington lobbyists working for Genentech, one of the world’s largest biotechnology companies.

E-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that the lobbyists drafted one statement for Democrats and another for Republicans.
No partisan slant on this post, really; just a reminder to vote next week. It's one thing if big money buys our elections in spite of our best efforts; but if they're scripting the floor show for a democracy and no one's even bothering to watch, then we get what we deserve.

[image via a Canadian Christian Puppets site -- really.]

Thursday, October 28, 2010

more sausage getting made [af(sw)]

We held the latest read-through of all's fair (six western) this past weekend. Some pics from the event:



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This time next week, can we count on seeing you here?


Don't answer yet. We'll ask again next week.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

all in the timing

Oh, he needed to be fired. No doubt.

But exactly a week before the general election? Seriously?

bricking over the ceiling


In an election year where the New York Gubernatorial election has taken on all the subtlety and maturity of a fraternity brawl, the Times notes a significant overabundance of testosterone at the highest level of the two main campaigns:
In the race for New York governor, women are suddenly popping up everywhere — everywhere, that is, except inside the campaigns’ inner circles.

Even as Mr. Paladino, the Republican, and Mr. Cuomo, the Democrat, embrace women’s causes, they rely on strikingly few women as key advisers.

Neither of them selected a woman as his running mate or campaign manager, and the top ranks of their political operations are conspicuously dominated by men. The scarcity stands out in a state where the modern women’s rights movement was born and where female voters play a crucial, and at times decisive, role in elections.
This isn't just an issue of catering to one of many constituencies. It's important because in an election that will see a notable rollback of women's representation in Congress for the first time in a decade -- at a time when vital issues like all women's reproductive rights and gay women's civil rights will come under pressure -- women are increasingly being spoken at by men or, worse, by barely competent ciphers.

What does it say about the national party's estimation of the value of women when this woman, this woman, and this woman form the vanguard of the GOP's female ranks? (This isn't just a difference of opinion. Fellow brown people, show of hands: who wants to cast their lot with Alvin Greene? Hint: if you think the candidate that looks like you is a plant by the other side, then they're probably not moving your agenda forward.)

You know the Equal Rights Amendment still hasn't been ratified, right?

Monday, October 25, 2010

outsourced

The NY Times this weekend went in depth on the latest round of the wikileaks document dump on the war in Iraq. Despite the erratic behavior of its founder, the value of the light the document release casts on America's entanglements in the Middle East can't be denied. Amongst the accounts of gross negligence and incompetence, there is one chilling line:
There are more contractors over all than actual members of the military serving in the worsening war in Afghanistan.
Be it ten years from now, sooner, or later, we can only anticipate more sickening accounts as a result.

Friday, October 22, 2010

the fourth estate *finally* gets it right

If the Administration's icky whiff of xenophobia when facing down its critics in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce seems a bit too desperate to latch on to, fear not -- the New York Times actually did its job and found a nasty little conspiracy on our own shores:
Prudential Financial sent in a $2 million donation last year as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce kicked off a national advertising campaign to weaken the historic rewrite of the nation’s financial regulations.

Dow Chemical delivered $1.7 million to the chamber last year as the group took a leading role in aggressively fighting proposed rules that would impose tighter security requirements on chemical facilities.

And Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco, and Aegon, a multinational insurance company based in the Netherlands, donated more than $8 million in recent years to a chamber foundation that has been critical of growing federal regulation and spending. These large donations — none of which were publicly disclosed by the chamber, a tax-exempt group that keeps its donors secret, as it is allowed by law — offer a glimpse of the chamber’s money-raising efforts, which it has ramped up recently in an orchestrated campaign to become one of the most well-financed critics of the Obama administration and an influential player in this fall’s Congressional elections.

They suggest that the recent allegations from President Obama and others that foreign money has ended up in the chamber’s coffers miss a larger point: The chamber has had little trouble finding American companies eager to enlist it, anonymously, to fight their political battles and pay handsomely for its help.
The entire article is worth a read -- unless the oligopoly they got over in Moscow seems appealing to you.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

film festival this week

The Home Planet Film Festival, founded by COItc Artistic Director Adam Karsten, will be screening the winners this week.

Festival winners will be screen this Friday, October 22, 2010 at the June Havoc Theatre (NYC) starting at 12 noon.

For a full schedule of events and list of winners, follow this link.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

American Taliban

Via the Times:
Christine O’Donnell, the Republican candidate for Senate in Delaware, on Tuesday appeared to question whether the First Amendment to the Constitution imposes a separation between church and state.

In a debate at the Widener University Law School, Ms. O’Donnell interrupted her Democratic opponent, Chris Coons, as he argued that the Constitution does not allow public schools to teach religious doctrine.

“Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” Ms. O’Donnell asked him, according to audio posted on the Web site of WDEL 1150 AM radio, which co-sponsored the debate.

The audience at the law school can be heard to break out in laughter. But Ms. O’Donnell refuses to be dissuaded and pushes forward.

“Let me just clarify,” she says. “You are telling me that the separation of church and state is in the First Amendment?”

When Mr. Coons offers a shorthand of the relevant section, saying, “government shall make no establishment of religion,” Ms. O’Donnell replies, “That’s in the First Amendment?”
In the same election season where a Tea Party Candidate has a journalist detained by his private security firm, and a candidate for national office deems her speeches private events to avoid public scrutiny, the question is why hasn't the latest iteration of American fascism been called out for what it is yet?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A fascinating look in last week's Times of shows that go straight to Broadway rather then getting regional tuneups. Most fascinating was little more than a side note in the piece as a whole:
The four multimillion-dollar musicals are all leaping to Broadway without a net because of their creators’ confidence in the material and, to varying degrees, skepticism that a tryout elsewhere is useful anymore. The Internet has made it impossible to fly under the radar at theaters in La Jolla or Seattle; bad buzz anywhere can reach New York theatergoers instantly, as was true last weekend when some bloggers picked apart the first preview of “Women on the Verge” only hours after it ended.
"Tastemakers" is a term that applies to two groups now: prominent critics / creative types, and a vengeful crowd with twitter accounts.

Monday, October 18, 2010

be interactive, but not *too* interactive


When high-brow institutions try to appeal to the masses, the results are usually unintentionally hilarious.
Tate Modern is to stop visitors walking over the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's vast field of 100m porcelain sunflower seeds because of health and safety fears over ceramic dust.

As revealed by the Guardian, the Turbine Hall installation has been closed since yesterday morning because of worries that dust inhalation might be a health risk. That means the thousands of visitors who traipsed through the installation between Monday and Wednesday were the lucky ones. The work will now be viewed from the building's bridge.

"The Unilever Series, Sunflower Seeds, by Ai Weiwei is made up of over 100m individually handmade porcelain replicas of seeds," the Tate said today.

"Although porcelain is very robust, the enthusiastic interaction of visitors has resulted in a greater than expected level of dust in the Turbine Hall. Tate has been advised that this dust could be damaging to health following repeated inhalation over a long period of time. In consequence, Tate, in consultation with the artist, has decided not to allow visitors to walk across the sculpture."

The work is intended to be interactive and to have people walking through it, although some visitors, mainly children, had more fun in the seeds than curators might have liked.
Really, that last line is the money shot, and draws an underline beneath the dilemma that purveyors of "high culture" face in this mass media age.

Naturally things went wrong the moment an audience's interaction couldn't be dictated ahead of time. Much as I adore opera, I find it obnoxious that an audience is expected to know the work beforehand: when they applaud or boo, they're judging the latest performance against a pre-determined canon, reducing the entire evening to an inside joke with formalwear.

I particularly enjoy, therefore, when snooty cultural gatekeepers give lip service to the idea of making art accessible to the general public, and then act horrified when the public acts like, well, an unruly group of people.

[image via the Guardian]

Friday, October 15, 2010

art and austerity


Last week the BBC asked -- a bit too cheekily for my taste -- Do hard times equal good art?
Vincent van Gogh, starving as he slaves over his masterpieces. Johnny Rotten, sneering at the wreckage of 1970s Britain. George Orwell, finding his voice amid the poverty and despair of the Great Depression.

You'd think today's artists would be happier about the prospect of imminent destitution.
Not an auspicious beginning to a serious conversation, but the article does right itself later:
The left-wing singer-songwriter Billy Bragg is certainly no supporter of the funding cuts, and he acknowledges that the music industry was already facing deep-seated problems even before the arrival of the credit crunch.

But, weaned on punk rock, and his craft forged during the battles of the 1980s, he does believe that musicians tend to find their voice during periods of crisis.

"As times get hard, it's still the most obvious way to reach out and speak to people," he says.
This is a slightly different argument, but more perceptive. It is true that artists need some kind of crisis (even a minor crisis like a deadline -- looking at you, COI podcast) to focus their minds.

I don't see how that's an argument for pushing them to the brink of starvation, though.

[image via Chris Tyrell]

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Truth Be Told this weekend

Our sister company, Oracle Theatre Inc., is mounting the latest installment of their Truth Be Told series this weekend. Their info is below:
Oracle Theatre Inc Presents.......


Join us for a night of new works, as Oracle Theatre Inc presents scenes by NYC playwrights: Susan Ferrara, Corey Ann Haydu, and Isaac Rathbone.


October 16, Saturday, at 7:00pm
Shetler Studios - Penthouse 1
244 West 54th Street (between 8th and Broadway)
12th Floor; then ask for the Penthouse


Cover at the door is $5. A small reception will follow the performance.


"Truth Be Told" is our longest running program, that promotes collaboration and the development of new projects by a variety of different artists. If you are interested in presenting at a future event, please let us know! Join us and continue to support the arts.
See you there?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

would you let this man near *your* children?


Carl Paladino's delayed repudiation of his weekend gay-bashing is being rightfully dismissed as too little, too late. But that doesn't mean it still can't be picked apart for its lack of logic, cowardice, and inanity. "I am Carl Paladino," the statement (probably not written by Carl Paladino) opens, "a father, a husband, a builder and a business owner."

Why stop there? You are also a Republican, septuagenarian, Virgo, homo sapien -- actually, I can see where this would get problematic. Let's leave it at "business owner." He goes on to write that this whole incident began when "Yesterday I was handed a script."

That is leadership, people.

We could go on to outline our disdain for the my-best-friends-are-gay gambit later in the statement, the brain-melting attempt to place himself alongside President Obama on the same side of, well, anything in the Year of the Tea Party, and the fact that within hours, an aide had maintained the Paladino campaign's pace of one-gaffe-per-day by calling the Attorney General "oily".

We've noted, more than once, our disgust with Accidental Governor Patterson. But maybe the bigger problem isn't the politicians, but the office itself. Maybe it only attracts the venal and mildly insane.

Or maybe just the possibility of attaining the office turns you crazy and hateful.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

performative politics


A fascinating profile of Ann Coulter in the Times Fashion section on Friday, as she stakes out new ground since the Tea Party has taken over her brand of crazy:
“I happen to think that Ann believes everything she says,” said Bill Maher, the host of “Real Time,” who is a friend. But at the same time, “it is a bunch of show business. You are working in the media. You are in makeup.” For a person like Ms. Coulter, Mr. Maher said, “once they are in the public eye, they don’t want to be irrelevant.”
Something to keep in mind the next time you get all worked up by something that was said on-air by paid pundits...

Monday, October 11, 2010

don't forget to consult your abogado, kids!

The actress who provided the voice of cartoon heroine Dora the Explorer between 2008 and 2010 is taking legal action against the Nickelodeon network.

Caitlin Sanchez, 14, claims she has not been paid fees due from reruns, DVDs, other products and promotional work.

[...]

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Sanchez's action alleges she was given just 22 minutes to sign an "unconscionable" contract without the advice of an attorney.
Now, I don't know the details of this case, and Viacom says she got her fair due, but given the history of every media conglomerate ever -- I'm going to go with Sanchez probably got screwed.

[via BBC News]

Friday, October 8, 2010

pay to play [af(sw)]


We have some very exciting news to share soon about our workshop production of All's Fair (Six Western), but in the meantime: a friendly reminder that you can help us with an online donation via Fractured Atlas here.

(Give us some money, then we'll tell you what we know.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

like looking in a warped mirror

Over at Deadspin, Emma Carmichael has a fascinating piece on a conversation between Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell as part of the New Yorker Festival. She breaks apart the fragile mythos that allows Simmons -- a highly paid columnist and author -- to play the part of an average joe sports fan in the eyes of the New Yorker's readership. The piece has, I think, a summary of seminar attendees that transfers almost seamlessly to theatergoers:
The New Yorker Festival promotional material has a sketch of a young man and woman walking side by side, presumably headed to some venue in the city where they will listen to famous actors and writers talk about how they got to be so wonderful, and if they're lucky, one of those two will get to stand at a microphone to ask a question that shows the crowd that they, too, are quite wonderful. In the sketch, the guy has glasses and a coffee cup; the woman has high heels and a big bag. They are not walking to the Meadowlands.
(Okay, minus the "young" part.)

As we've argued before, theater exists in an elitist, rarefied market. Attempts to make works for "the people" ignore this salient fact (looking at you, Lombardi). When theater artists try to make their work universally appealing -- or, let's face it, appealing on any kind of mass scale, they look as absurd as Bill Simmons trying to convince us he has more in common, class-wise, with sports fans than the millionaire athletes they watch.

The whole article is definitely worth a read.

[Deadspin.com]

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

the old versus the new on the subcontinent

It's not just on these shores that the integrity of live performance is under siege by the pandering of mass media. Aditi Saxton's profile of the Gati Dance Forum in the Caravan explores how the group can preserve traditional forms in the face of vulgar popularization while still finding space to innovate (and stare down their own arch-conservative critics). Saxton's purple prose is also a joy to read:
Even as fusty traditionalists worry about the siege of the new—in Besseling’s End (of ) Days, Arundale’s disciple MR Krishnamurthy expresses precisely these fears—the modern, the contemporary, it’s the twin Trojan horses of Bollywood masala mash-up and TV dance competition gimmickry that are laying waste to the Indian dance-scape. With no connection to reality, the kind that inspired thinking choreographers like Chandralekha, the two are reducing dance in India to its lowest common denominator. When the aggressive jut of a pelvis wins accolades, the appreciation for subtleties dwindles proportionally, whether it’s a mudra replete with spiritual significance or a battement executed with technical virtuosity. The threat is not from change but from capitulation to mediocrity.
RTWT here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

the end of days (coming in 2011)

God. Dammit.

[Relevant to NYC subway riders only]

fight call

Lest actors forget the importance of taking fight call and general stage safety seriously:
A play at one of London's most critically acclaimed theatres has been suspended after an actor was apparently shot in the eye with a fake gun during a performance.

David Birrell was appearing in Stephen Sondheim's Passion at the Donmar Warehouse when the accident happened on Saturday.
The Guardian has the whole story. But yikes.

Monday, October 4, 2010

when you realize the joke is on you


To: Steve Jobs/Apple Computer
From: COItc
Re: Well played, Sir. Well played.

Can you hear that sound? It's a lone, slow clap that reverberates against the walls and ceiling. It's sardonic, almost mournful. The applause is hardly celebratory; it's recognition of a brilliant, methodical practical joke at our expense. We don't like having egg on our face, but we can certainly salute the complexity of the Rube Goldberg machine that delivered it there.

As we've noted before, the COI podcast is largely recorded on a MacBook Pro using GarageBand software -- a program that all Macs include out of the box.

When the laptop failed the first time, we thought it was simply a byproduct of our hard-living style, as we carted the machine between the BoCoCa Arts Festival and Planet Connections Festivity.

The second and third times, we thought we certainly were suffering some ill luck, but clearly a visit to the Genius Bar and hardware replacements would allow us to return to the brisk release schedule of the Spring without a second thought.

But now, as the laptop is about the return to the shop for the fourth time in three months, we realize what you've done. And we must tip our caps to you. As has been documented elsewhere, whether it's your absurd response to phones that don't work, or shipping computer displays that look like crap, you have taken a captive audience and milked them for all they're worth. You built a cult of fans who paid premium prices for high-concept, high-design computer products that "just work." Once that niche appeal became mass appeal, you cut corners to increase profit margins, with the inevitable results that more and more units per production run failed miserably.

Idiots like me lose weeks at a time in productivity because we're waiting for your well-meaning but overwhelmed service departments to repair inferior products. And because my investments in your closed software ecosystem have forced me to throw good money after bad, I have no choice but to sink even more money into your declining product line -- I'm bailing water from a sinking ship with no lifeboat in sight.

So as I type these words from the new iMac I bought in order to keep productive for the week while my defective laptop heads into the back room once again, I can do nothing but applaud your evil genius -- charging more and more while providing less and less.

You magnificent bastards.

Sincerely,
COItc

PS: Long story short -- the COI podcast is delayed. Again.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

the coi podcast is delayed (again)


After a good stretch of getting new episodes released on a semi-regular schedule, we'll have to pause our pipeline once again while we deal with some technical difficulties.

Sorry.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ars Marginal

If you're interested in any of the following:

  • minority viewpoints vis a vis mass media
  • informed sci-fi fandom
  • the playwright's process
  • good damn writing

do yourself a favor and bookmark this site. You're welcome.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

morality is a mule

The New York Times reported earlier this month that one of the most celebrated photographers of the Civil Rights Movement, Ernest C. Withers, was actually an FBI informant.
On Sunday, The Commercial Appeal in Memphis published the results of a two-year investigation that showed Mr. Withers, who died in 2007 at age 85, had collaborated closely with two F.B.I. agents in the 1960s to keep tabs on the civil rights movement. It was an astonishing revelation about a former police officer nicknamed the Original Civil Rights Photographer, whose previous claim to fame had been the trust he engendered among high-ranking civil rights leaders, including Dr. King.

[...]

Although Mr. Withers’s motivation is not known, Mr. Garrow said informers were rarely motivated by the financial compensation, which “wasn’t enough money to live on.” But Marc Perrusquia, who wrote the article for The Commercial Appeal, noted that Mr. Withers had eight children and might have struggled to support them.
The lack of any reaction among those not old enough to have participated in the movement themselves is a damning indictment of our society's sense of history.

On the one hand, many clearly see the political gains that resulted from the struggle to be pre-ordained. This bodes ill for those who hope to secure the rights of non-documented laborers, gay and lesbians who wish to serve in the military and/or adopt children, any many other marginalized groups. Why do we need to lift a hand to ensure social justice? These things just happen.

Another perversion of hindsight is that the enemy of change came in the form of chaw-chewing, pot-bellied, pasty-faced Southern sheriffs calling grown men "boy" and lecherously ogling African-American women; sure, if you live in the world of "Mississippi Burning" (or even, heck, "A Time To Kill"), but the reality is that the camps of "us" and "them" are far blurrier than we like to admit.

Through rose-tinted glasses, segregation was an unmistakable evil, its elimination an inevitable historical correction. Those who equivocated, opposed, or undermined the progress of history are the enemies of all that is good.

But in the event, things don't ever shake out that clearly.

Desegregating Southern society had the potential to undermining a large black middle class that had developed as an unintended byproduct of "separate but equal." It was a group largely destroyed by integration -- and nothing of its ilk has ever arisen to take its place. There were plenty of people who wanted to protect the status quo rather than cast in with a bunch of Communists and degenerates.

And there were plenty of people -- like, apparently, Ernest Withers -- who used the agitation of the time to make a quick buck off the strife between those who wanted change and those who wanted things to stay just the way they were. Withers had access to civil rights leaders, and the federal government was willing to pay for that access.

It doesn't make him evil, merely human. And it's a reminder that human motivations and allegiances are almost never as clear-cut as we wish they were.

Monday, September 27, 2010

you lose some, and you lose some


Some bad news: All's Fair (Six Western) will not be able to avail itself of the space grant from Centrum.

The grant, which we first outlined here, would have allowed us to hole up with a cast and director of the original piece in the glorious Pacific Northwest forest. And while we have received some spectacular monetary support for this project from The Puffin Foundation (and company subscribers), the funds raised weren't enough to underwrite the cost of the trip.

Oh well.

We will continue plugging away for our 2011 NYC Premiere, and hopefully we'll have good news to outweigh the bad in the weeks to come...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kevin McCarthy, 1914-2010


Last week the NY Times marked the passing of Kevin McCarthy, veteran stage, film, and television actor most famous for his leading role in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers (I will always remember him as the cartoonish villain in the utterly ridiculous UHF).

The biggest distinction between stage actors and screen actors is one of work ethic -- to reach the pinnacle of one's craft in the latter means large payouts in exchange for as little effort as possible, while in the former to be at the highest levels is to work exhaustively.

McCarthy, throughout his career, was a stage actor in temperament:
Despite his film and television success Mr. McCarthy never abandoned the stage. The 18 Broadway productions in which he appeared included Moss Hart’s “Winged Victory” (in which he was billed as Sgt. Kevin McCarthy), the political drama “Advise and Consent,” Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” and Kurt Vonnegut’s irreverent “Happy Birthday, Wanda June.”
[...]
But in 1991 he told a critic for The San Diego Union-Tribune about his feeling that purposeful employment was a remedy for many ills. “I try to get as much work as I possibly can,” Mr. McCarthy, then 77, said. “I love to work. I love to be in things.”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

scripts for development


Even though COItc's Reading Series will lie dormant through the remainder of the 2010/2011 season (we're consumed with staging projects), that doesn't mean you should stop submitting.

As Literary Manager for our sister company, Oracle Theatre Inc., I'm tasked with reading scripts for the Truth Be Told and Playwright's Forum series. So keep 'em coming!

conflictinfo[at]gmail[dot]com
or
sergei_burbank[at]oracletheatreinc[dot]com

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

the COI podcast would love to showcase your work


We've always been blessed with a steady pipeline of work, but it's worth nothing that we are always interested in reading submissions for the COI podcast. Submissions can be emailed to conflictinfo[at]gmail[dot]com.

Monday, September 20, 2010

re-emerging apartheid

You know the old chestnut: if you don't know who the sucker at the poker table is, it's you. A corollary: if you're at a table with Germany and they're not the biggest xenophobic asshole in the room? It's you.
France and Germany are embroiled in a diplomatic row after German Chancellor Angela Merkel flatly contradicted President Nicolas Sarkozy over Roma (Gypsy) camps.

The issue of Roma deportations from France dominated an EU summit.

Mr Sarkozy told a news conference that Chancellor Merkel had said to him that she intended to follow France's example in dismantling Roma camps.

Mrs Merkel's spokesman denied she had discussed the issue with Mr Sarkozy.
The issue here is not that in times of economic crisis, governments look for scapegoats while they finger their rosary beads and wait for jobs and complacency to magically return -- that happens all the time, and can be chalked up to simple human stupidity, and ignored. The problem is when those scapegoats are found (or created) within more permanent social subgroups, the discrimination against which will outlast any economic crisis.

When, instead of blaming equal-status outsiders for your own misfortune, you start to see groups that were already marginalized and suffering before your current crisis as the source of your misfortune, that trouble (and by "trouble" I mean institutionalized discrimination, hate speech, internment camps) begins. If you live in Tucson, Miami, Las Vegas, or Marseilles and blame recent arrivals from other regions (fellow citizens) for soaking up the few jobs to be had, you're safely within the former. If you blame undocumented immigrants (Mexican, Roma) for somehow eliminating jobs -- jobs for which your groups  never going to compete in the first place -- (a) you're an idiot, and (b) you're on your way to internment camps.

[This is exactly what EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding was talking about, and she was absolutely right.]

The insidious language of inequality continues on these shores. The Daily Beast has a pretty good rundown of The New Republic editor Martin Peretz's comments on his blog that Muslim life is "cheap," and the firestorm it has sparked:
In the article in question, Peretz criticized a New York Times editorial for defending Muslim-Americans against prejudice during the debate over whether to build an Islamic community center blocks from ground zero.

Citing violence in Muslim countries, Peretz wrote on his blog that “frankly, Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims. And among those Muslims led by the Imam Rauf, there is hardly one who has raised a fuss about the routine and random bloodshed that defines their brotherhood. So, yes, I wonder whether I need honor these people and pretend that they are worthy of the privileges of the First Amendment, which I have in my gut the sense that they will abuse.”
The refutation of his specific idiocy can be left to others who have already -- and creditably -- done so.

However, his premise is still troubling -- and is one that theater artists should see as not only morally repugnant, but a threat to our ability to create. It is a relatively recent commonplace that there is no such thing as a "cheap" life. Enormous diplomatic effort has gone into cementing this very assertion. It is not anywhere close to being universally accepted. And it's all to easy to give credence to voices which will argue that "our" lives are worth more than "theirs."

As theater artists, as storytellers, we cannot allow these such an assertion to stand unchallenged. From an amoral standpoint, it would simply negate our ability -- our right -- to mine any and all human experiences for instances of the sublime. From a self-aggrandizing one, we alone have the ability to discover and highlight the epic qualities of humanity's significance of history's well-known chapters, not to mention the deeper resonance of the mundane everyday -- not putzes like Peretz. From an ethical one, our voices have been at the forefront of the battle against this very ignorance for so, so long: the fact that his words are not immediately dismissed as insane show just how vital our work remains.

Friday, September 17, 2010

the danger of the narrow trench

Some potentially troubling reactions to this comic:

  • You find nothing objectionable about the world it posits
  • You immediately run this search
  • You're already on the robots-in-suits listserv

Thursday, September 16, 2010

innovative play reading series

If you're at a loss of things to do this coming Monday, our friends over at Monday Night Reading Series are presenting the latest installment at THE COVE in Brooklyn. Want to listen to new work? Want to be part of an off-the-cuff cold read? Take a look.

From the mouth of MNRS themselves:
This Monday night, the 20th, we're reading a collection of short new plays from an awesome group of up-and-coming playwrights at the The Cove in Williamsburg.
We're tweaking things a bit, too. Half the plays will be cast ahead of time, half will be cast live (name-drawn-from-hat style, fans of The Moth) and read completely cold.
Got all that?
Details:
An Evening of Shorts @ The Cove
featuring work from Bekah Brunstetter, Josh Koenigsberg,
Sibyl Kempson, Dan Moyer, Adam Bock, Gina Gionfriddo,
Richard LaGravenese, Rob Ripley and MORE!
Monday, September 20th
*Drinks @ 6:30
Readings @ 7:30
*actors arrive early, say hi and submit your names!
The Cove
108 N. 6th Street (b/w Berry & Wythe)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
*L to Bedford

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Monday, September 13, 2010

new podcast episode

A new episode of the COI podcast is ready for download, as we wrap up Jason Andrew Updike's original work, "Avalon." As always, there are three ways to listen:

(1) Stream the episode below
(2) Visit our podcast page and listen online: conflicttheater.podOmatic.com
(3) iTunes users can click this link



Friday, September 10, 2010

obsession

It's of course fitting that Terry Gilliam's adaptation of Cervantes' masterpiece, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, is a rolling disaster. It was immortalized in the documentary Lost in La Mancha -- essential viewing for anyone who has produced a play or film -- but beware, it's our version of a horror film. It looks like we might need a sequel:
Terry Gilliam has said his latest attempt to make a film about Don Quixote has stalled after his financial backers pulled out.

The director told Variety magazine that financing for his take on the Spanish knight-errant "collapsed about a month and a half ago".

His film, in the making for more than a decade, has been beset by problems.
By the time the book closes on Gilliam's career, it will stand as a parable for the many hazards of film making: loss of creative control (Brazil), tragic acts of God (Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus), and the pitfalls of chasing one's obsession (Don Quixote).

The danger of producing a work that obsesses you is that, if you're honest, you don't really know -- you can't know -- if your end product is any good. Obsession necessarily shuts out actual perception: you have an idea of what the final product is already going to be like (otherwise why would you be obsessed?). When you a chase an idea that passionately, you condemn yourself to never actually consummating the project, since you'll be chasing just the idea of it all your days.

It feels like this, right, TG?

This is not the finger-wagging of a pedant, but the lament of a fellow-sufferer. But good luck, fellow obsessives, everywhere.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

pretty obvious answer

In their recap of an interview with author Daniel Pink, the CS Monitor asks:
Author Daniel Pink argues that once you have "enough" money, it's not much of a motivator to work harder. So why do wealthy entrepreneurs keep starting new businesses?
Because sufferers of unfettered avarice and megalomania are too obsessed to bother with counting their money.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

short memories

I grew up hearing tales of great-grandparents who, having lived through the Great Depression, behaved in anachronistically austere behavior that during my parents' childhoods (the full-bellied Fifties) and my adolescence (the swinging Nineties) seemed bizarre -- scraping the wrapping paper on sticks of butter, etc -- but it seems the memory cycle has tightened considerably.

A case in point: why would anyone, anyone, who has lived through the past three years give this quote to a newspaper reporter:
“We have had enough artificial support and need to let the free market do its thing,” said the housing analyst Ivy Zelman.
Yup. "Experts" are saying that -- with unemployment at 10% and the economy turning towards a double-dip recession -- the problem with housing prices is that the government is simply doing too much.

Having just survived a failed attempt to be a homeowner myself, these articles fill me with terror; if, as it seems many argue, the Obama Administration has run out of tools in its toolbox to prop up house prices, that doesn't necessarily mean that some laissez-faire hegemony returns by default, does it? We've been here before. But, oops, I guess that was too long ago to remember in the internet age:
As the economy again sputters and potential buyers flee — July housing sales sank 26 percent from July 2009 — there is a growing sense of exhaustion with government intervention. Some economists and analysts are now urging a dose of shock therapy that would greatly shift the benefits to future homeowners: Let the housing market crash.
Guys. Seriously. You're not even changing the terminology?

While I support (most of) President Obama's policies, it has become clear that he has continued many of President Bush's initiatives in everything but name -- especially the conduct of the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in the human rights abuses perpetuated in our name in extra-legal detention centers around the world. But while he has abandoned the eye-rolling terminology of George W. Bush's ownership society, the Obama Administration's efforts to prevent mortgage defaults at all costs is the same desperate attempt to prop up unsustainable levels of consumption.

Which begs the question -- which bothered me the entire time I was failing spectacularly to purchase property -- if home ownership is the hallmark of stability that everyone seems to think it is, why would messing around with tax credits of $6,000 to $8,000 (a fraction of a home's purchase price) create such earthquakes? Could it be that it's a concept based on a fallacy? Like the ownership society? Like capitalism?

(Seriously, just read Naomi Klein.)