Beckett Shorts

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 0 comments

Because New York Theatre Workshop's recently closed Beckett Short's employed two Flux members, I will not digress on the production, except to say that as this production was my first direct encounter with Baryshnikov, Akalaitis and Glass; I was absolutely grateful to have been there.

However, what I can digress on freely is the plays themselves. Beckett is often praised for his visual genius: the tramps and the tree, the lit mouth in darkness, the mound of earth, the trashcans. And he does certainly excel in compressing whole plays (if not existences) into one stark image that is both a metaphor and the thing itself.

But he also is an absolute master of language, and his power of compression with language is what made me fall in love with him when I was but a wee junior in high school with no idea that he was supposed to be different from the other playwrights.

I was reminded of this in the final piece Eh, Joe?, with the line, "The best's to come, you said, that last time...Hurrying me into my coat". The balance of that line, the compression of a whole relationship, the 'best' playing off the 'last', the 'come' playing off the 'time', and then a beat and the trivial piece of business of hurrying into her coat putting a bit of human mess on the elegance of that cold line, "The best's to come, you said, that last time...hurrying me into my coat"; the slow drum beat of the one syllable words, then the rush of the syllables of hurrying trying to escape from them...Later she will repeat the line a little differently, she will have trouble with her buttons; but watching the play at NYTW the first time I heard that line the sharp chill of it ran through me body and I ran it over and over in my head the rest of the day, trying to smooth it down a little.

It is always a wonder when I meet another human being who obsesses so much over the little loves and betrayals of words jostling together in a sentence, like exquisite little party goers hiding and sharing their mysteries.

Something too much of this, but thanks to NYTW for staging this teleplay and giving me that sharp chill. And ah, Baryshnikov! Read the full story

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Reverie Productions, "Widows"

Trilogy playwright Johnna Adams and I went to the opening of Ariel Dorfman's Widows at Reverie Productions, and it was a wonderful opportunity to see the kind of ambitious, globally-engaged work an Indie theatre is capable of reaching for and accomplishing. HUZZAH to a company willing to premiere a play with a cast this big, and with themes this timely and difficult. With America in Iraq and Afghanistan from anywhere to a few years (Democrats win in November) to a hundred (McCain wins); the human cost of a military occupation is something theatre needs to explore.

That cost manifests itself most theatrically in a stunning moment at the end of the play. A grandmother who has seen her children, husband and father 'disappeared' by a military regime is given a choice by the local captain: give over your protest, or condemn your grandson to death. What is so stunning about this moment is that throughout the play, The Captain (well played by Mark Alhadeff) is forced to navigate a number of difficult choices between what is right on the individual human level, and what is necessary for his military to keep the peace. In spite of his best intentions, the horrors of the past, brought to light by the widows of the village, continually force his hand to commit further atrocities.

In this final moment, however, he thrusts that choice into the grandmother Sofia Fuentes' (beautifully played by Ching Valdes-Aran) hands. She can no longer simply be the righteous suffering woman. She now literally holds her grandson's life in her hands. Her choice, which I will not spoil here, cannot simply be called a false choice, because the Captain has made it clear that if past horrors can be kept in the past, then he can be kind, and there can be progress. But Sofia refuses that pact with this equivocating devil, and in doing so, provokes his further violence, until at the last, the moral difference between them becomes blurred. Who is morally right - the Captain trying to hide the evils of the past to move forward; or Sofia, forcing those evils to the light of day at the cost of potentially perpetuating them?

The similarities between the difficult choices faced every day by our military and the civilians they occupy is a parallel that makes this play often uncomfortable to watch, though some aesthetic distance is granted by Dorfman's decision to give the play a Greek chorus in the widows of the village.

What is fascinating is how this aesthetic distancing rubs up against the claustrophobic staging by Hal Brooks. The audience sits within breathing distance of the action, so that when a character points a gun, we are well within firing range; and when dead bodies are hauled out of a river, we can see the actresses faces straining with the weight. There is real bread and real dirt on an otherwise elegantly simple thrust set; and the grit of the bread and dirt and weight of the bodies sparks nicely against the lofty, stylized agony of the widows.

Also exciting was to see Melissa Miller, so excellent in Ken Urban's Private Lives of Eskimos, working well in a very different vein here.

The reviews of this production have ranged from the very positive of our own Johnna Adams' blog to the highly critical; but as an Artistic Director of a small company yearning to see Indie theatre take bigger risks and reach outside our collectively ironic navel, this earnest night of political theatre was well worth applauding. Read the full story

Shakespeare Workshop, Sunday January 20th

On Sunday the 20th before our Flux Sunday, 17 members of our community met for our first Shakespeare Workshop. This workshop's goals are to:

1.) Establish a common language for discussing Shakespeare's text moving into our production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in June.

2.) Explore the feasibility of ongoing actor training within our Flux community.

To accomplish the first, we are focusing on Kristin Linklater's Freeing Shakespeare's Voice. After graduation, I was an intellectual actor with way too many ideas in my head to ever be available with my body for the spontaneous action and reaction on stage we call "being in the moment" or some other approximation of that essential ingredient of presence necessary for good acting to happen. Linklater's book, and a series of tours that allowed me time to practice her ideas daily, allowed me to break out of that, and I've been an eager convert since.

We are also using as supplemental texts John Barton's Playing Shakespeare, a transcription of a series of astonishing workshops Barton held with some of England's greatest actors.

We began the workshop by discussing our personal relationship to Shakespeare in performance. Some of the actors in our community have years and years of experience with his text, others very little; but everyone spoke eloquently of that rare magic when an actor makes Shakespeare's words feel as if they're alive, being spoken for the first time because a character in that very moment needs to say them, and no other words will do.

But how do you get there? Linklater's work suggests a reawakening to the visceral power and pleasure of language; the emotion of the vowels, the thought of the consonants, the possibilities of single sounds and words to awaken within us a vibrant physical response, and for that response to infuse the language with a greater capacity for theatrical communication.

Our work began with rethinking our relationship to the vowel sounds. Though there is a risk of this work seeming at best silly and at worst indulgent, the group gamely joined me as we explored the physical sensation of different vowels; of what colors, textures, images, sensations and even emotions they might awake within our bodies; of allowing the possibility for the vowel sounds of words to carry their own physical sense that is linked but not wholly determined by the meaning of the word itself.

A favorite moment was when Jason Paradine described the 'ahh' as orange and in his hands, holding up his hands as if they might shoot orange out of them at any moment; another was David Douglas Smith finding new found relish in a line from Oberon; another was my own exhilaration at standing in the middle of a circle of all that sound. They were singing my body electric, and I can't wait for us to return to this work when our audition process is done.

If all continues to go well, our hope is to bring in new techniques and ideas to the community, everything from Viewpoints to improv, and to thereby gradually expand our theatrical tools and deepen the process with which we work together. Read the full story


Awards and Sporks

Congrats to Flux friend playwright Erin Browne on winning the International Student Playscript Competition that is part of the National Student Drama Fest with her A Meth Play.

Erin also has her play Lucky in Love at the Spork Festival, and Rattler's director Jerry Ruiz is directing his own piece, Under the Skin, featuring Life is a Dream and Rue actor David Crommett. Be sure to check it out! Read the full story

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Flux Sunday, January 20th


Well, not exactly, but at our Flux Sunday on the 20th, she did some acting worth a thousand words. In the staging of the final scene from Rob Ackerman's Icarus of Ohio, Felicia Hudson (picturing here) played Maggie, our protagonist's poetically pushy girlfriend. After a buoyantly happy ending where protagonist Jay outwits the government forces intending to abuse his creation of human-powered flight, Maggie reads the melancholy concluding lines of Ovid's Icarus, and Felicia nailed the sad beauty of the end of this play. Though Icarus died, and Jay lives, something has changed forever from their flight to close to the sun.
One of the sad pleasures of these Flux Sundays is coming to the end of a play we've worked through week after week, and that was especially true for Rob's theatrical tale of flight and the things that keep us grounded. I have two additional regrets: that audition/workshop rescheduling kept Flux from attending Rob's reading at hotInk, and that we didn't have a chance as a community to discuss our work on this beautiful play. As per Felicia's suggestion, we will now offer the opportunity for the community to discuss our work on play's when a full-length has been completed.
Also in this picture is fellow member Joe Mathers, who added a note of hilarity to the scene as a star-struck friend and former foe of Jay's.

We also read a new scene from Melissa Fendell's as yet untitled play, with a bunch of 20 somethings skewering the institution of marriage, featuring the triumphant return of Flux Sunday veteran Kitty Lindsay from her tour in Germany. And what better way to welcome an actress back than give her a vibrant page long rant against institutionalized monogamy?

Casting is 90% of directing unless you're casting Katie Hartke and Jane Taylor, in which case it's 190%. In David Ian Lee's pressure cooker political thriller Sleeper, I had the joy of unleashing these two talents on each other in a scene between liberal activist and grieving widow Teri (Katie) and right-wing attack dog Rachel (Jane) who made her name breaking the story of Teri's husband's capture by terrorists. It was thrilling to watch these two actresses try to win a scene with everything at stake. And to make matters even better, Gretchen Poulos played the stunned TV page filming the entire debacle, and her reactions were the perfect comic counterpoint to the serious game being played.

We continued through two scenes of Erin Browne's Trying, her play about two young sisters trying to make it after being abandoned by their parents, and the love affair that threatens to break up their house. That description is far too purple for Erin's subtle play of guilt, love, and duty; and it was given excellent life by Caitlin Kinsella and Cotton Wright as our two Lena's, Anja Brannstorm as Chels, and Elise Link once again as the irresistible Belle Walker.

Very different plays at this Flux: a tale of flight ending, a battle of political wills made personal, a Shaw like attack on marriage, and the simple story of how hard and sweet love can be, all in a mere three hours. Read the full story

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Live Theater Week; New Jerusalem

Wednesday, January 23, 2008 1 comments

Much like Jason, I am not Gus. Instead, I'm Isaiah. Yeah, that guy. This is my first blogpost. Wow. Also, hi!

Readers of FluxBlog, did you know that this week is Live Theater Week here in New York? It's true that every week could be called that, I suppose, but not with those Fancy Capital Letters. What makes this Week different from all those other quotidian, lower-case-w weeks? Well, if you clicked that link above you would discover that you can purchase 2-for-1 tickets to many excellent shows. Take your sweetheart! Take your boss! Take some random person off the street!

One show you should definitely check out is New Jerusalem at Classic Stage Company, a new play by David Ives. The action centers on the heresy trial of Baruch de Spinoza by the religious authorities of Amsterdam in 1656, but the emotional core of the play is the changing relationship between Spinoza (an enthusiastic Jeremy Strong; center in the above photo) and Chief Rabbi Mortera (Richard Easton, powerful and commanding; left), his careful mentor, loving father-figure, and, ultimately, the one who is bound with final judgment and choice of sentence. Spinoza is blessed and cursed by the inability to betray his own line of thought; given wings, he must fly, even if the flight is straight into a cage, and he'll take anyone who will fly with him. Mortera is bound by different chains, religious and civic, and knows that there are some things one cannot believe and remain a Jew or a citizen of Amsterdam; has Spinoza crossed that line? Can he be brought back? Mortera struggles with these even as he struggles with the brilliant, self-searching Spinoza; the play is by far at its strongest when it throws these two well-drawn, undeniably likable characters first with, and then against one another.

Also weighing in are the lay leader of the congregation, Gaspar Rodriguez Ben Israel (Yiddish theater veteran Fyvush Finkel, having a ball of a time), and Abraham van Valkenburgh (David Garrison), a regent of Amsterdam. It is Valkenburgh who was set the heresy trial in motion, a bit of creative fiction by Ives but a believable one, since after Spinoza was convicted by the religious court, he was also banished by the civil authorities. Valkenburgh and Ben Israel provide well-appreciated counterweight and exposition, balanced well with the heady ideas bandied about by the Talmud-educated, Maimonides-quoting Mortera and Spinoza. Clara Van den Enden (Natalia Payne), Spinoza's impossible love (she's Catholic), provides a much-needed emotional parallel to the proceedings; her final words are haunting and, ultimately, express the need for Spinoza's civil banishment as well as heresy conviction.

The play is not perfect. Ives overplays his hand with both Valkenburgh and Ben Israel, giving us brief cause to question the former's stated civic motives, and oversimplifying the latter's transition from avuncular, reflexive support ("These are not the words of an athiest!") to terrified condemnation. Rebekah de Spinoza (Jenn Harris), Spinoza's half-sister, seems to have wandered in from another, more broadly-drawn play, and there's no need for Ives to so blatantly manipulate Spinoza's friend Simon de Vries (Michael Izquierdo) to keep him in the action, then maneuver him out of it, then toss him in again. 90% of the play takes place in the congregation's hall, whose set (designed by John Lee Beatty) is pitch-perfect and dominated by a gigantic table; why, then, does Ives take us out of this claustrophobic, decidedly deliberative space for one expository scene at the pier? Why not just start at the real point of attack: the start of the trial?

These are all distractions, and it's a shame because, as I said, the heart of the play is rock solid, emotionally moving, and eloquent. And while they might keep this play from being brilliant, they are not nearly enough to keep it from being great. Moreover, the issues that are discussed here -- the purpose of government, freedom of religion and freedom from religion, how we treat outsiders with insidious ideas, the nature of "the most tolerant society on earth" -- are very much at the heart of our current cultural moment, here in New Amsterdam.

Bottom line: Go see this play! It closes on the 10th; as I said, tickets are 2-for-1 this week.

(And go see it on a Sunday for a free talk-back with Ives and leading Spinoza scholars, or on Tuesday, as I did, for a talk-back with the cast) Read the full story

A truly amazing monologue...

Monday, January 21, 2008 1 comments

It's Jason again... twice in two days.

Anyway, I took time tonight to reread something that I hadn't read in quite awhile. Years, I'm sure. Some of the most powerful writing I've encountered. It makes for really great theatre. It evokes both Lincoln and Shakespeare and in it's own way surpasses both.

Any writer could learn from it. Any actor could certainly learn from it's performance. Every human could learn from it, actually.

You can read it here.

On a much less important note, I just realized that I need to come up with a cooler way to identify myself at the beginning of a post other than saying, "Hey - it's Jason." Like my own calling card I put out there at the beginning so you know it's me. We could all have one. In fact - let's make this blog more interactive... anyone have suggestions for me? Read the full story

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Damnée Gus, Sacrée Jason

Sunday, January 20, 2008 0 comments

Hey guys, it's Jason. You may remember me from such blog posts as this one, or perhaps even this one. Here's the deal though - unlike Joe, in his post - I neglected to identify myself as 'not Gus'.

I couldn't help but notice even though Gus is by far the superior Flux-blogger, his profile is far less informative than mine or Joe's. Except to say that he's in the accounting industry and lives in Afghanistan... and those are LIES! Kinda makes you question everything you've read here on our little corner of the internet, doesn't it? Next thing you know he'll be trying to claim this. Although admittedly, that would be pretty cool.

Anyway, as I was saying - I'm not Gus. I'm also not Dave. (ask your favorite Flux-er to explain that joke... although be warned, once you ask, we'll know who your favorite is.)

I know what your thinking, "But Jason... Gus' posts are informative and keep me abreast of what fun and exciting things Flux has been up to! Even Joe's post, although a little wordy, talked about Marisa Tomei. What's the point of your post?"

First off, I would also like to congratulate your thoughts on the appropriate use of the possessive apostrophe there. Way to go. And I'm getting to the point.

I mentioned this briefly at Flux Sunday today, however I'm sure some of you weren't there. (and at Flux Sunday I couldn't provide you with nifty hyperlinks). Last night I went to go see frequent Flux Sunday participant (and Food:Soul vet) Elise Link in Damnée Manon, Sacrée Sandra at Theatre Row, presented by Beyond the Wall Productions. Sorry, I should have said I went to see Elise Link in the show. (you see what I did there? Link? ...taps imaginary microphone... Is this thing on?)

Damnée Manon, Sacrée Sandra reveals the obsessions and desires of it's two title characters, Manon and Sandra, through a series of intertwining monologues -- no doubt a daunting project for all involved (and certainly actor Carlton Tanis and director Danya Nardi deserve to be commended for their work as well). However the night's most heartbreaking, chilling (and often hilarious) moments belong to Elise. We see the heartfelt rigor of Manon's passion and how that which drives her could ultimately destroy her. There were several moments I felt I wasn't given proper time to digest the power of a monologue as the play pushed forward. Very riveting performance.

I'm floored every week by the talent of people that come out on Flux Sundays; writers, directors and actors. It was great to see an actor that I normally see take quick stabs at cold readings and super-quickly staged scenes (and most Flux Sunday participants fall into this category for me) - really shine in a full-staged production. It really excites me to see what everyone can do with our season.

Fortunately I went early in the run of the show, thereby giving all you folks plenty of time to go see it yourself. You have until February 1st -- although not too many nights of performances --and you can get your tickets here. Consider yourself encouraged to do so.

We now return to your regularly scheduled posts of Gus, King of Dogs.

Read the full story

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Good news for Flux friends

Thursday, January 17, 2008 2 comments

A couple pieces of good news to get you through the end of week blues...

Playwright Adam Szymkowicz has received a commission for a new play from South Coast Rep!
A well deserved congratulations to one of Flux's favorite playwrights.

And, Flux playwright friends Rob Ackerman and Jason Grote are both participating in the hotInk festival at NYU.

Flux has been workshopping Rob's play Icarus of Ohio for a few months now, and I definitely recommend checking it out. Jason participated in last year's Dream Chain, and our next Food:Soul features his This Strom is What We Call Progress. I don't know his play Maria/Stuart, but it's surely worth the journey.

Congrats to all! Read the full story

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Flux Sunday, January 13th

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 0 comments

There's nothing like rising early with the sun, reading the day's paper on the early empty weekend subway, and coming to rehearse some theatre with a bunch of dudes. The dudes in this pic (taken by the lady of the rehearsal, R.K. McHugh) are myself (Red Sox cap), Brian Pracht (NY mets Cap, creating a cap replay of the '86 series), Jake Alexander (glasses), and Zack Robidas (pacing w/coffee cup). Who possesses the most raw charisma? You might as well ask which orchid possesses the most refined beauty. But enough about charismatic orchid men in the early morning. Onto your weekly Flux Sunday update!

This Sunday began with Flux membership reading through Johnna Adam's 8 Little Antichrists, the third play in her Angel Eaters trilogy. This was her very first draft, and it wrestles with end of days prophecies (yes, plural), angels shorn of wings, breeder vats, Masons, McDonald's prisons, characters strung out on driz, and God and the Devil having a great reckoning in a little room. All of our heads and hearts were buzzing with this draft, which holds enough action and ideas for three more plays. Sextology again?

Then we met for our most well attended Flux in some time - 26 peeps - and due to last minute playwright peril, the biggest cast scene was pulled out from under us. This led to some tense scene juggling, as I tried to find good stuff for all (and with all watching).

But, despite some personal quibbles that I babbled about on the train ride back, things went well. We staged 5 scenes: Open Hearts, Adam Szymkowicz's play, was directed by Kelly O'Donnell; and featured a hilarious Nurse (Lindsay Wolf) and my favorite Kelly bit in Michael Davis' Dr. X screaming "Nooooo" for longer than should have been possible; taking a breath for another long "No"; then a melodramatic "Come back!" and then a soft-silly-sad "Come back" to end the lazzi. Oh, and that was just the first scene - Marnie Schulenburg and Brian (of the aforementioned Mets cap) Pracht gave us a Lisa and Doctor Peter scene that nailed Adam's timing.

David Ian Lee self-directed his Sleeper, an epic play about an American kidnapped in Afghanistan and the right wing talk show host who exploits(?) his capture. There was really nuanced work from Zack Robidas and Katie Hartke as lovers trying not to fall out of love, and a hilarious cameo of Nancy Franklin as Benjamin Franklin (perhaps a relation?)

We then saw two scenes from Erin Browne's Trying, the first directed by me, and the second by Erin herself. My 'cast of redheads' and I had a great time wrestling with the subtle battle of a sister defending her younger sister from what appears to be true love...or is it she's defending the true love from the truth about her family?

That question reached a searing point in the second scene, where Johnna showed off her acting chops as Lena pushed away from her new love Walker (Caitlin Kinsella), terrified that the closer they got, the sooner she would have to give up being a clean slate, and tell Walker the truth. Then, with a kiss, the scene lost all that heaviness and took on the giddy rush on new love, captured by the fearless performances of Caitlin and Johnna.

We followed that up with a sad/happy farewell to Katherine Burger's Legends of Batvia. Little by little, scene by scene, we've worked our way through this farcical feast of language; and while the delirious comic twists at the end had us laughing, it was sad to think our time with the play is done. But Katherine has promised a reading of the play with music (yes, a musical) and I can't wait to hear it.

We said hello to first-timers Corey Ann Haydu and Caitlin Kinsella, and welcomed back friends who had been gone too long, like Hannah Rose Peck and Katie Hartke. And in spite of my frenzied casting and Monday morning quibble-backing, had ourselves a time.

(Yes, I just wrote quibble-backing. I'm sorry). Read the full story


Have Another through the eyes of Isaiah

Thursday, January 10, 2008 5 comments

While many of you perhaps thought that the Flux Have Another bar series was a tawdry mix of half-baked scenes and too many pale ales, leave it to Isaiah Tanenbaum to show that the rhythms of love and life are woven subtly into the fabric of this event. The pictures, and the captions, are his.Girl (Caitlin Kinsella) meets beer...
Girl and Beer meet boy (Tom Del Pizzo)...
...and the inevitable conclusion.
Drew Valins knows its time Have Another. Read the full story

Have Another #2, January 7th

Wednesday, January 9, 2008 0 comments

Oh captain, our captain, Jake Alexander, MC of the Have Another, with his trusty sidekick, the donation fishbowl...if you've ever wondered what Inspiration would like like if it assumed human form and that human form wore cool ripped jeans and a bad-ass hoody with a script in the pocket...look no further.
Laugh whilst you can, bullies played by Gretchen and Michael. Soon, Christina's character will come with her pepper spray, and the laughs will end.
Christina Shipp as Maggie in Rob Ackerman's Icarus of Ohio, directed by Melissa Fendell, backs up the bullies played by Gretchen Poulos and Michael Davis.
Drew Valins as CD and David Douglas Smith as Hep in Johnna Adam's Godsbreath. Sadly, we have no shots of the rooster being raised from the dead...but it happened, mostly thanks to incredible puppetry courtesy of director Kay Mitchell's invention, and Cotton Wright's frighteningly accurate chicken noises.
Leah asks Chris about his commitment to the plant she gave him (aka, their relationship).
Zack Robidas as Chris and Rebecca McHugh as Leah in Brian Pracht's Unplugged In, directed by the auteur Brian Pracht. What strange addiction has come between our lovers?
Here's a shot of Jimmy's #43 packed to the veritable gills, courtesy of actress and photographer Rebecca Katherine McHugh.
And here's a shot of one of the scenes: featuring left to right Jason Paradine as Frank Salt, Daren Taylor as Jay, and David Douglas Smith as George Salt in Rob Ackerman's Icarus of Ohio, directed by Melissa Fendell. In this moment, Jay is having a break through on his way to creating human powered flight. Read the full story

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Flux Sunday, January 6th

Sunday, January 6, 2008 0 comments

Now why, you may ask, does this post begin with a picture of Candice Holdorf as Chuck in my play Rue holding triumphantly aloft a zuchinni? I'm glad you asked. A picture being a thousand or so words and all, I thought his particular one might speak eloquently of the zeal Candice brings to each and every role, and that was especially true at our last Flux Sunday.

Some actors think, "Cold table reading, better play it cool." Candice thinks, "How can I spontaneously transform into a were-panther whilst sitting here at this table and reading these lines for the first time?" It's all about the zuchinni, ladies and gentleman.

We began by reading scenes from my play Honey Fist, continuing through Katherine Burger's Legends of Batvia and Rob Ackerman's Icarus of Ohio, and read a scene from Johnna's 8 Little Antichrists. The highlights most certainly included Candice's previously mentioned lycanthropic transformation, but it was also the absolutely funniest Batvia scene yet (including a book beating scene that I wish we had staged); and Icarus' reached an exciting climax that has all of us eager for the final pages.

This was also a good Flux for Zack Robidas, who played a doddering English lord, a stoned charismatic kidnapper, an eccentric inventor, and an immortal angel of evil all in three hours. The immortal angel of evil was in the second scene of Johnna's 8LA, and featured Candice as his angel/demon partner. Their good cop/bad cop chemistry as they tortured a helpless mortal was one of the most exciting surprises of the day.

We also continued staging Erin Browne's new play Trying, which featured for the second week in a row an incandescent performance by Elise Link as Walker, a love-struck woman with a heart of high metabolism.

And we reached a climatic scene is Adam Szymkowicz's newly retitled Open Hearts. Angela Astle staged a wild romp of a comic stage battle, with performances from Felicia Hudson, Katrina Foy, Brian Pracht and Katherine Burger (as the evil Dr X.) as highlights.

Comic book heroes, angels of doom, metabolic hearts and lyncathropy...not a bad way to spend a Sunday. Read the full story

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Flux Sunday, December 30th

Saturday, January 5, 2008 0 comments

Our last Sunday of 2007 began with this quote from Trevor Nunn in the preface of Playing Shakespeare (originally a television series) and his experience with the Royal Shakespeare Company:
"The Company is founded on continuity. It is surely unique that a television series can field a cast of internationally and nationally famous performers who are present precisely because they feel themselves to be members of a theatre company, and who have shared the experience of trying to communicate the ambiguities and complexities of the greatest of all dramatists."
Two things struck me about this quote:
1.) Belonging to a theatre company can be a lifelong force of continuity in an artist's life, regardless of what measure of traditional success they do or do not achieve, and;
2.) Why are there not more companies committed to the "shared experience of trying to communicate the ambiguities and complexities of" living playwrights?

And this second thought has stuck with me. Certainly, actors and directors become known as premiere interpreters of this playwright or that; and companies frequently begin life as vehicles for a certain playwright and director. But the sustained commitment to a playwright's voice that exists in Shakespeare companies seems to me, for the living playwright, exceptionally rare.

But when such a continuity exists, in can yield things like Mamet's Atlantic, Brecht's Berliner, Chekhov with Moscow Art, etc. Yet the idea of providing a living playwright with the lifetime of connection with a specific group of artists necessary to fully achieve their work of "ambiguity and complexity"...well, it seems very difficult to realize.

Is Flux this company for me, and could it be for the other playwright gradually joining our community? I don't know. But it sure is fun to think about.

Anyway...our last Flux Sunday was a good one, and at the very least, the most relaxing session I can remember. We began by reading through the latest scene in David Ian Lee's Sleeper, and the staging scenes from Adam Szymkowicz's Open Hearts, Erin Browne's Trying, and Katherine Burger's Legends of Batvia.

Highlights included Christina and Jason finding the right balance of comic strip humor and human reality as Lisa and Peter in Adam's scene (and with an assist from first time director Jake Alexander); I will not soon forget Jason's heroic doctor ripping-off-the-glasses move.

In Trying, Kay Mitchell brought out the hills and valleys of the difficult love between two struggling sisters, and then the thrill of attraction in a second scene that featured Elise Link showing her range in a very different role as an aggressive yet vulnerable love-struck book store employee. It was exciting to be introduced to this new play of Erin's!

Finally, we settled into the delightful feast of language that is Katherine's Batvia. Highlights here included Jane Taylor's Irish Scotsman, as she tossed Katherine's aria paragraphs effortlessly into the air; and Candice's Anthea showing us the meaning of brisk haste.

And all I had to do was stroll from room to room and watch the action, and think big thoughts, and laugh at little things, and enjoy all these wonderful people. Read the full story