Friday, April 30, 2010

100 reasons why you should buy tickets to war crimes [60-51]

Tickets are on sale now for our June production of War Crimes. You should buy some. Here are some reasons why:

60. Because if you don’t you’ll break your mother’s heart
59. Because 759 people from over 30 nations have been held at Guantanamo Bay without charge
58. Because without you there, it's not a performance -- it's just rehearsal (albeit a really awesome one)
57. Because an exceedingly reasonable ticket price for outstanding alternative theater means you can afford this place afterwards
56. Because audience members of the first performance to sell out before May 31 will be eligible to win a free Other Than Emily crew shirt (really)
55. Because finding a new political cause to get outraged over every month is exhausting, but human rights are eternal
54. Because if you don't you'll break my mother's heart
53. Because Stone Cold Said So?
52. Because the Robert Moss Theater has central air conditioning
51. Because we can kill time together until new Caprica episodes start up again

Need more reasons? Come back next week. Otherwise, buy your tickets right now.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

you really think it's not going to happen here...

...until it happens here. Are you sure fascism can only happen in other countries?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

psst ... c'mere

Check it out. It's the cast of War Crimes.


.5 weeks until Captain Ferguson. [tickets]

Six weeks until War Crimes. [tickets]

Eight weeks (we think) until live COI podcasts as part of BoCoCa.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

mistaking the symptom for the disease

It's sinfully enjoyable to point and scorn SEC inhabitants touching themselves rather than watching the markets implode:
Just when it was beginning to repair its reputation with its high-profile case against Goldman Sachs, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) suffers another major blow: Senior staffers there were surfing Internet pornography – as much as eight hours per day, in one case – when they were supposed to be policing the financial industry.

Perhaps this helps explain why the SEC didn't see the financial collapse coming. Or did nothing to stop Lehman Bros.’ questionable accounting tactics. Or Bernie Madoff’s dubious “investing” strategy."

They were busy with other things.
But it's all too easy to look for a scapegoat. Of course, it's a perfectly plausible narrative that incompetence and errant sexual desire are responsible for the lack of financial oversight -- but if you believe that, you probably also believe that Lynndie England is the ringleader of a massive criminal conspiracy.

This is "a few bad apples" all over again. SEC workers sleeping (or worse) on the job is not the problem is a symptom of the problem. The larger issue is thirty years of market deregulation, the Washington Consensus coming home from overseas to bite us on the ass, and Democratic Secretaries of the Treasury recommending the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

If you're the SEC, for three decades you've been told you're not the solution, you're the problem. So you're not going to intervene with the almighty market -- you're going to watch porn.

Monday, April 26, 2010

eff off

I like to point to school allegiance, rabid sports fandom, and regional chauvinism as example of why race-based identity never holds much water with me: explaining my behavior because there are inherent qualities of my character due to my skin being brown is as arbitrary and silly as attributing it to my wholly irrational love for the Brooklyn Cyclones.

But I'm as hypocritical as they come, and one area in which I've always been fully tribal in my thinking is my bias toward all native New Yorkers. Dwellers of this city are a superior breed of humanity -- a master race, if you will -- which is what makes this news item so very galling:
A failed plot to bomb three New York City subway lines during the morning rush last September was spawned in 2008 by two senior Qaeda leaders in Pakistan who sent three New Yorkers back home to carry out a suicide strike, federal officials said Friday.

The failed plot to bomb three New York City subway lines during the morning rush last September was hatched in 2008 by two senior Qaeda leaders in the tribal areas of Pakistan, where they met personally with three would-be suicide attackers from Queens to urge them to carry out a strike.
It's outrageously stupid for me to be more horrified by the plot simply because it was three guys from Queens -- although, as a Brooklyn native, I'm not surprised they were from Queens -- but I am.

Jon Stewart's reaction to Revolution Muslim, the New York-based group that threatened the creators of South Park last week, also holds at its core the horror that they dispatched their threat from "the former shadow of the World Trade Center."

American Muslims -- New York Muslims -- are better than this.

(Because New Yorkers are better than everyone.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

100 reasons why you should buy tickets to war crimes [70-61]

Tickets are on sale now for our June production of War Crimes. You should buy some. Here are some reasons why:

70. Because if there’s one thing your off-off-Broadway theatergoing experience has right now, it’s too much English
69. Because no animals were harmed in the making of this production
68. Because ON-STAGE NUDITY [Note: there is no on-stage nudity in this show]
67. Because the ghost of David Garrick said you should
66. Because you're as sick of identity politics as we are
65. Because the ghost of Slobodan Milosevic said you shouldn't
64. Because even if you didn't care about the last puppy (#99), you'll care about this one
63. Because musicals are overrated
62. Because vampires are overrated
61. Because because stunt casting is way overrated

Need more reasons? Come back next week. Otherwise, buy your tickets right now.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sausage Gets **Funded** [All's Fair (Six Western)]

We interrupt our normal playwright's navel-gazing for this breaking news update -- the developmental workshop of All's Fair (Six Western) is now the recipient of a seed grant from the Puffin Foundation!

We still have a long way to go before we're on our way to Washington State, but it's a rip-roaring start -- and if strangers can get us so far, imagine what a little help from a lot of our friends can do? Donate here.


We've chatted about Blackwater/XE before, so we might as well share the good news:
The former president of Blackwater Worldwide was charged Friday with using straw purchases to stockpile automatic weapons at the security firm and filing false documents to cover up gifts given to the king of Jordan.

Gary Jackson, 52, who left the company last year in a management shake-up, was charged along with four of his former colleagues, according to the federal indictment.
(The whole indictment reads like the plot of The State Within -- a BBC thriller that, while sharing my sympathies, came across as a bit over the top at the time. No longer.)

Now giving executives a pass on the murder of civilians and nailing them for financial shenanigans allows the Bush-vintage "bad apple" lie to continue, but at least the higher-ups are starting to get nailed for something.

Combined with the SEC Goldman-Sachs indictment, you would think there's starting to be some accountability after nearly a decade or more of violations by the powerful with impunity.

If that bothers you, though, be sure to vote Republican this fall -- that'll nip this nonsense right in the bud.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


1.5 weeks until Captain Ferguson. [tickets]

Seven weeks until War Crimes. [tickets]

Nine weeks (we think) until live COI podcasts as part of BoCoCa.

Monday, April 19, 2010

quick test, kids

Do you believe that the United States of America is an exceptional nation due to a complex combination of its founding philosophy, geographical location, and historical happenstance? Congratulations, you're a patriot.

Do you believe that the American people are chosen by a higher power, and that their inherent qualities are defined by hard-to-quantify elements like class, family bloodlines, and -- most importantly -- excluding undesirable elements from their superior pool of individuals? Congratulations, you're a proto-fascist.

Friday, April 16, 2010

when it comes, it will be wrapped in a flag...

In a freewheeling conversation with two brilliant artists last night, my favorite topic of the month came up -- are we seeing a resurgence of American fascism?

My interlocutors think I'm way off -- fringe madness has been with us before and will continue to rear its ugly head whenever cultural privilege and economic security are threatened. I sincerely hope they're right and I'm dead wrong. But items like this make me less sure that I am:
Porter J. Goss, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, in 2005 approved of the decision by one of his top aides to destroy dozens of videotapes documenting the brutal interrogation of two detainees, according to an internal C.I.A. document released Thursday.

Shortly after the tapes were destroyed at the order of Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the head of the C.I.A.’s clandestine service, Mr. Goss told Mr. Rodriguez that he “agreed” with the decision, according to the document. He even joked after Mr. Rodriguez offered to “take the heat” for destroying the tapes.

“PG laughed and said that actually, it would be he, PG, who would take the heat,” according to one document, an internal C.I.A. e-mail message.
(Because obstruction of justice is hilarious.)

The most terrifying element of totalitarianism isn't state violence against its own citizens -- it's how arbitrary the causes of that violence can be. It's really a system of you're-under-arrest-because-I-don't-like-your-face.

When intelligence agencies destroy inconvenient evidence of criminal activity, can't produce evidence claimed to get us into war, and the only people who go to jail in the whole affair are journalists -- that's fascism, folks. No Church Committee in the world can save you.

When you come see our production of War Crimes in June (You are coming, right?), you'll see that we depict a abortive genocide on American soil eight years from now. I don't refer to any particular president or administration, but it's not thirty years in the future either.

That's because the totalitarian threat is both us and not-us. We're living with overlapping narratives: we have the first black president, and a president who orders the extra-judicial assassination of American citizens at the same time.

Thank goodness he's using an agency that places such high value on evidence and the rule of law.

100 reasons why you should buy tickets to war crimes [80-71]

Tickets are on sale now for our June production of War Crimes. You should buy some. Here are some reasons why:

80. Because our play kind of pisses off liberals
79. Because nothing caps off a day at work like 90 minutes of shouting and hallucinations
78. Because you'll fear the future less the more you know about it
77. Because (unless you squint and kind of turn your head sideways) it's not about immigration reform
76. Because we have inside info that aliens are planning a massive abduction on June 10, but wont be looking for victims inside the Robert Moss Theater (don't ask us how we know this)
75. Because it's classier than those fake documentaries that never really took off
74. Because you can't watch it on the iPad
73. Because we had nothing to do with the Vatican cover-up
72. Because FREE BEER (note: there is no free alcohol of any kind associated with this production)
71. Because Conan's tour sold out and this is practically the same thing

Need more reasons? Come back next week. Otherwise, buy your tickets right now.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

go throw yourselves in the Bay

You see a headline like this, and you think that there's going to be some digging beneath the platitudes; you know -- insight, some real journalism:
Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated
Instead, we learn that people who describe themselves as members of the Tea Party "movement," and the journalists who interview them, are fucking morons. To wit:
Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, and are no more or less afraid of falling into a lower socioeconomic class, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
My goodness, this is news! Let's find these erudite, wealthy philosophers who have been shouted down by the plebes thus far, shall we?
“I just feel [President Obama is] getting away from what America is,” said Kathy Mayhugh, 67, a retired medical transcriber in Jacksonville. “He’s a socialist. And to tell you the truth, I think he’s a Muslim and trying to head us in that direction, I don’t care what he says. He’s been in office over a year and can’t find a church to go to. That doesn’t say much for him.”
Emphasis added, idiocy not. This is my favorite, though:
Some defended being on Social Security while fighting big government by saying that since they had paid into the system, they deserved the benefits.

Others could not explain the contradiction.

“That’s a conundrum, isn’t it?” asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. “I don’t know what to say. Maybe I don’t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.” She added, “I didn’t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I’ve changed my mind.”
You didn't look at it from what perspective, exactly? You mean in all the time you guys wrote your misspelled placards; drove, flew, or bussed to Washington, D.C.; camped outside the office of Congressmen so you could shout racist and homophobic epithets that them -- you didn't have time to think your slogans through to their logical conclusions?

And hey, New York Times journalists -- did the person who wrote your lead paragraph read the rest of the article? Because I think they kind of didn't.

You know what? We should have death panels.

new podcast episode

Don't forget, we'll be recording the podcast live in a couple months as part of the BoCoCa Arts Festival. In the meantime, enjoy a new episode where we bring back a good friend. As always, there are three ways to listen:

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

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

missing time

It's happened twice now -- in talking about baseball, people have forgotten that the Yankees won the World Series last year.

On that scant evidence, I'm ready to declare a worldwide conspiracy: we are collectively missing time. (It's like FlashForward, except it's real life and people are actually paying attention.)

Playwright B. Walker Sampson and I have a standing question -- when we will each write our baseball plays? I think I've found mine...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

uh oh

If this sparks a new round of holy wars, the United States will shatter and fall into the sea:
RICHARD DAWKINS, the atheist campaigner, is planning a legal ambush to have the Pope arrested during his state visit to Britain “for crimes against humanity”.

Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.

The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.
While I am not eager for believers and unbelievers to actually come to blows, I am eager to see the Popemobile in a low-speed chase.

Friday, April 9, 2010

who doesn't like a scary story?

If four years ago Lincoln Chafee gets bounced for his moderation, and this fall Bart Stupak is forced into retirement for not being stringent enough on a single issue (while still managing to enrage those who disagree for being too adamant on the same) what could possibly be our legislative future?

Oh, right.

Let's put it in culturally appropriate bible-speak

UPDATE: But Obama does get to replace a 90-year-old liberal on the Supreme Court with a 50-something-year-old, an (arguable) upgrade.

100 reasons why you should buy tickets to war crimes [90-81]

Tickets are on sale now for our June production of War Crimes. You should buy some. Here are some reasons why:

90. Because our play would really piss off social conservatives (if they went to plays)
89. Because you like plays with film components
88. Because you can say you were at the Public Theater and not be lying...technically
87. Because direct address tickles your soul
86. Because you love this country
85. Because with elements of time travel and by taking place in the future, it counts as science fiction
84. Because despite all that, it's really not
83. Because with a female director and non-white playwright, it's got real anti-establishment street cred
82. Because, while more expensive than a movie, it's actually a movie and a play -- a two-fer!
81. Because it's better to spend $18 on living theater artists, instead of wasting it on this

Need more reasons? Come back next week. Otherwise, buy your tickets right now.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Trying not to pile on...

...and in general I do try to be equally disdainful of all organized religions. BUT. The Vatican's crisis management merits attention for a moment simply as an exercise in epic narrative fail. Quoth the Times:
The Vatican heatedly defended Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday, claiming accusations that he helped cover up the actions of pedophile priests are part of an anti-Catholic ''hate'' campaign targeting the pope for his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. [...] Also arguing that Benedict's promotion of conservative family models had provoked the so-called attacks was the Vatican's dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano.

''By now, it's a cultural contrast,'' Sodano told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. ''The pope embodies moral truths that aren't accepted, and so, the shortcomings and errors of priests are used as weapons against the church.''
So the line in the sand they want to draw is this -- if you condemn the cover up of criminal behavior by priests, you only do so because of the Church's stand against gay marriage. But allowing the exploitation of children in the name of defending moral values is taking the high road. For Jesus.

If any of my characters made an argument such as this (I tried for an adjective, really I did -- and I failed), I would be a really bad playwright.

But this is real life. It's real.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sausage Gets Made, continued [All's Fair (Six Western)]

Part of COItc's pipeline for 2010-2011 includes development of the new play All's Fair (Six Western), the recipient of a performance residency at Centrum (Port Townsend WA). Throughout the year, we hope to post the thoughts of various members of the development team and track its progress.

Below, the playwright continues to recall some of the thought process behind the work. (Part Three is

Our first group meeting was in a dim coffee bar just south of Union Square -- Kina had been there, of course, long before us, and tucked in the corner I think we all would have waited patiently for hours not noticing that we were all met. We're a bunch of rather meek tragedians.

On top of that, COItc is a very small circle of meek folk; Leah had recommended Kina to me for Timor Mortis, but this was the first time they had collaborated on a piece. I'm always nervous bringing together people who I work with well -- my working relationship is not a guarantee of smooth sailing for everyone involved.

Leah and I had been chatting informally about the play and how we could stage it off and on for weeks. One idea that had evolved was having three playing spaces isolated from each other; in her napkin sketches, Leah had drawn three squares in a row, rotated 45 degrees. It had solidified over time, and it was one of the first items that made me nervous about our meeting.

Kina has an incredibly flexible mind -- she's designed shows for us with fully built frames and shows on poster board -- but what designer wants to have a playwright and director say this is how we think you should approach your job? [I'll pause as all designers say in unison, "That's exactly what happens."]

We launched into our discussion; eventually, Leah got to her ideas on spacing, on staging. She flipped to a blank page in the script and drew the squares. Here was the test. I shot a look over to Kina, who I find rather hard to read sometimes. She looked blankly at Leah's sketch, opened her script ... and revealed her own sketch depicting pretty much the same thing. This was going to be a lot of fun.

Our next meeting was in a hole-in-the-wall wine bar which is fun for atmosphere but not so much when it comes to working meetings with over-achievers. Leah and I expected maybe some sketches ... Kina arrived with a HUGE white box which contained a fully realized model of the set. With sand.

It's incredibly breathtaking when you've written a script and bit by bit other people start fleshing out your vision. With well over a year to go before any of this would be realized, it was jaw dropping (not least to the other bar patrons who suddenly had an art exhibit on their hands).
The world of the play was coming together. Now we needed to hear it, and figure out if the script would make any sense at all.

Friday, April 2, 2010


You might have noticed a new advertisement (disguised as a widget) over to the right there.

Our friends at the Planet Connections Festivity -- where our production of War Crimes premieres this June! Buy your tickets now! -- are currently in the running for a Pepsi Refresh Grant through the Pepsi Refresh Project.

You get 10 votes per day to vote for your favorite submitted idea, and at the end of the month, the top 10 ideas with the most votes in each funding level will get the funding they requested. If PCF obtains this funding, they'll be able to "green the festivity" (green is a verb now) and make the festivity as a whole a fantastic, eco-friendly experience.

And the puppy wont have to die.

Do what's right, America. Do what's right.

100 reasons why you should buy tickets to war crimes [100-91]

Tickets are on sale now for our June production of War Crimes. You should buy some. Here are some reasons why:

100. Because let’s be honest: it’s been a long, cold winter without you
99. Because if you don’t, the puppy gets it
98. Because dystopias can be fun, and that fun involves gas
97. Because a portion of our ticket sales go to Amnesty International
96. Because it’s still kind of cold out and you want something to circle on the calendar in the warmer months to come
95. Because the mention of John C. Yoo’s name still makes your blood boil
94. Because you find international law riveting
93. Because our last Planet Connections Festivity show got nominated for five freaking awards and you didn’t see it
92. Because for six nights in June we’ll show you just how compelling political theater can be
91. Because it’s not about healthcare reform

Need more reasons? Come back next week. Otherwise, buy your tickets right now.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

new podcast episode

And speaking of the podcast, a new episode is ready for download. As always, there are three ways to listen:

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

the COI podcast goes live in June

Exciting news for fans of the COI podcast -- and not a prank:

We will be recording live episodes this summer as part of the second annual BoCoCa Arts Festival in Brooklyn!

Dates, venues, and program TBA, but if you're not in the NYC area, start booking your travel now -- come to New York in June and you can see two COI productions in one trip (Tickets for War Crimes are on sale now).