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On Watership Down and the Creative Home

Friday, December 31, 2010 10 comments

I wonder if every child that grows up without much religion finds those earliest, indelible rhythms of what faith they have in books. For me, that was true, and no book burrowed deeper into how I live than Richard Adams' tale of rabbits, Watership Down. And as it is New Years Eve and time for resolutions, I thought I'd write a little while about why a band of silly rabbits remains so central to who I am, and my dream of building a creative home.

For those unfamiliar with the book, Wikipedia is here to help you, though if you saw Jacob's House, you saw as much of Watership Down as you did the Old Testament. A runt of a rabbit, Fiver, has a vision that sends a group of rabbits, led by Hazel, on a dangerous odyssey to find a new home. It is a gorgeously dark and vital book, and as a child, I remember it felt more like life than anything else I'd read.

Of all the characters, I connected most with Hazel because he was a completely different kind of leader than I'd read before. He was not capable of any skillful violence, he had no magical power, he wasn't the fastest or the strongest or the cleverest, he was not a favorite of destiny nor was his leadership defined by dominance. He wasn't, in fact, particularly good at anything except one thing: the capacity to see what was best in others and call it out into the world.

As a child, I was profoundly moved by this, even though I'm not sure I could've articulated why. Every other model of leadership I'd seen was entirely individualistic - a character accomplishes great things because they themselves are great - and today, whenever I read those endless streams of articles about leadership, most continue to define it this way.

The idea that the survival of community lies not in a single greatness, but in the capacity to see what is good in every one and call it into action, continues to feel like a radical and sacred ideal. As I get older, and see clearly I am not the strongest or fastest or cleverest, it is this ideal that calls to me with ever greater urgency, to find or build a creative home.

Home is such a powerful world; simply say it with intention and let it live in the air awhile, and some strong emotion will usually follow. I think this is because, like the characters of the Old Testament and Watership Down, most of us don't feel a sense of home; most of us are in exile.

For many, that exile is despairingly literal; some power prevents them from returning to the place they call home. For others, they live in the place but that place has changed, and no longer calls to them with that voice of belonging; they are exiles in their own house. So much violence comes from exiles trying to return and others trying to keep them out; from those wanting to keep their home as it always was and others wanting to turn it into the place they left behind.

A grace of Watership Down is that the rabbits do not try to return to their original warren after it is destroyed; home is not a location for them. Rather, home is a place defined by something else: safety, belonging, the capacity to speak in your true voice and be truly heard; a sense of destiny through community; a balance between continuity and change, difference and shared purpose; peace; love. It is home defined by people instead of place.

Theatre, through its powers of imaginative empathy, is one way to see what is best (and worst) in others and call it out into the world (or exorcise it); it can help create a home defined by people instead of place. It is one way, not the only way, though it is the way I love best.

There are many exciting things I'm looking forward to in 2011; marriage (!), directing Ajax in Iraq, producing Dog Act, trying to beat the seven full-length plays I wrote in 2010, writing my first book. But through all of that burns a singular resolution to better see what is best in others and call it into the world, to help all of us exiles find or create a home in each other.

What are you looking forward to in 2011? Any Watership Down lovers reading this blog? Read the full story

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Flux Sunday, December 19th

Thursday, December 30, 2010 0 comments

(What is Flux Sunday?)

Playwrights: Katherine Burger (Ever, Ever), Aja Houston (Superwomen?), Brian Pracht (Wendell Wants), August Schulenburg (The Temptation Show)

Directors: Tiffany Clementi, Katherine, Isaiah, Kelly O'Donnell

Actors: Ken Glickfeld, Matthew Archambault, Carissa Cordes, Leila Okafur, Kathleen Wise, Matthew Murumba, Lynn Kenny, David Crommett, Damon Kinard, Alex Marshall-Brown, Tiffany, Chudney Sykes, Isaiah, Aja, Gus, Jaime Robert Carrillo

Yup, it was a jam-packed Flux Sunday for our last Sunday of 2010, and there was all sorts of good work going on.

-A hot Flux Sunday for Tiffany Clementi, with a turn as the foul-mouthed gorgeous Sadie in Wendell Wants, calculating therapist in Superwomen?, and then bringing a playful directorial focus to the 2nd scene of Aja's pageant play.
-The trifecta for Isaiah Tanenbaum, with funny turns as an actor (Wendell), director (1st scene in Viva Fidel) and as a playwright, the comic highlight of the day in the 2nd scene of Fidel, where Matthew Archambault played the (literally) puppet dictator in a ludicrously staged scene by Kelly O'Donnell.
-But the scene that stuck with me the most was Chudney Sykes monologue in the first scene of Superwomen?. Aja crafted a subtly troubling monologue for Cleopatra about dreams and body image that Chudney handled beautifully.
-Personally, any day that I can act in a Katherine Burger play with both David Crommett and Ken Glickfeld is a good day. And so it was, in Ever Ever (if not for ever ever).
-Matthew Murumba easily fitting into a role I may just be writing for him in mind (The Temptation Show).

If you were there, what do you remember (other, than of course, Archambault's brilliantly flailing limbs?) Read the full story

10 Reasons To Give To Flux in 2010

(Don't need convincing? Click here to make a donation to Flux through our fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas.)

Thank you to everyone who has already given generously to Flux this year - all of us deeply appreciate your support. But, as you may have noticed from the emails flooding your inbox, the last two days are the biggest giving days of the year, so here's our shot at convincing you to give before the ball falls and the bubbly flows. We give you...

10 Reasons To Give To Flux in 2010, 0r
The Subliminal Power of Acrostic Poems

Giving is tax deductible to the full extent permitted by law, and it makes your eyes twinkle with a beguiling charm; especially when you give to an Ensemble that is...
Indefatigable in the face of challenges, as we rallied from the loss of our intended J.B. production to write and stage a new play, Jacob's House, in only two months. As Flavorpill put it, “Flux wrestled outside forces and won.” This was an example of our...
Values (newly revised) in action, and we'll keep bringing Joy, Compassion, Collaboration, Creativity and...
Excellence to our mission of uniting artists and audiences to build a creative home.

Together with your help we staged 1 full production, 1 Have Another, 1 Foreplay, 3 Food:Souls, our 5th Annual Retreat, and 24 Flux Sundays, serving...
Over 150 artists, nearly 1,000 audience members, and developing (I think exactly!) 68 plays, not to mention dubbing the 100+ new...

Friends of Flux, our new relationship category created to honor and empower those individuals who have made a significant long-term contribution to Flux's mission of building a creative home. And just...
Look at the amazing season we have to share with you for our 4th season! So with your help, it's
Upwards and onwards into 2011. And after all, if you don't give...
X, as in Dr. X from Hearts Like Fists, may very well poison you in your sleep - and do you really want to wake up and have this be the first (and last) sight you see in 2011? Oh, so evil.

So please give now while there's sand left in 2010, and from all of us in Flux, our deepest gratitude.
See you in 2011! Read the full story


The Jewish Daily Forward's True Drama

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 0 comments

I was pleased to note that the Laurence Klavan of the Jewish Daily Forward mentioned Jacob's House in his 2010 round up, True Drama. Laurence's original review came at a time when I was unsettled by other critical reactions to the play. His current round-up is one of the more interesting takes on theatre in 2010, including an insightful look at The Wife, which he accurately describes as "engagingly grim". Well worth a read! Read the full story

Press Photos For Dog Act

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 2 comments

(All photos by Isaiah Tanenbaum. Pictured: Lori E. Parquet, Chris Wight.)

We had a great time taking early press photos for Dog Act (and did we mention tickets are now available with a limited time discount?) After our first music rehearsal with Gerard Keenan, he gratefully lent us his 100 year old banjo for the shoot, and we headed on down to Madison Square Park. I'd brought my juggling clubs for Lori (we wanted something performative that could also be used as a weapon), Chris played the banjo, and Isaiah tried to capture the perfect shot.

We may end up going with the shot above - we're all drawn to the framing of Dog and Zetta by the blurred legs of the passerbys - there is always something depressing about the inevitable overly-staged quality of most press shots that fail to capture any of the vitality of a real show.

We also liked the playful quality of this shot, but it doesn't capture the tough circumstances these characters are facing in their post-apocalyptic world.

This shot, on the other hand, feels a little too somber (have you noticed the great bare tree in the background?)

One of the highlights of the shoot was our random decision to ask a passerby if her dog could walk through the shot. She not only agreed, but spent the next 15 (cold) minutes arranging the lovely Emma in various poses. I really do love this city.
There's something really cool about this shot, but in the end, we worried having an actual dog in the shot distorted the play - hopefully Emma will find her well-deserved fame in spite of that, and thanks to Nina for playing with us!

What shots are you drawn to? Read the full story

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Tickets On Sale For Dog Act

Monday, December 20, 2010 0 comments

Illustration by Kristy Caldwell

"Peppered with astonishing and exhilarating eruptions of storytelling and wondrous plays within the play." --The San Francisco Chronicle (Liz Duffy Adams Dog Act)

"Her language has a natural period flavor and a formidable wit; her characters possess the spark of fully animated spirits; and she weaves into her story both biographical detail and cultural context with grace." --The New York Times (Liz Duffy Adams' Or,)

$10 tickets to Opening Weekend available until December 31! use code "CHINA" (discount available Feb 4, 5 & 6)

Purchase Tickets

Preview - Friday, February 4
Opening - Saturday, February 5

Runs Feb 4-20 Tue at 7PM, Wed-Sat at 8PM, Sun at 3PM

At the Flamboyan Theater at the Clemente Solo Velez Cultural & Educational Center
(107 Suffolk Street at Rivington)

Playwright: Liz Duffy Adams
Director: Kelly O'Donnell
The cast features Becky Byers, Liz Douglas, Lori E. Parquet, Zack Robidas, Julian Stetkevych and Chris Wight.

The creative team includes Scenic Design by Jason Paradine, Costume Design by Lara de Bruijn, Lighting Design by Kia Rogers, Sound Design by Elizabeth Rhodes and Musical Direction by Gerard Keenan. Catherine Adler-Josem will serve as Stage Manager for the production with Assistant Direction by Tiffany Clementi.

The story: A theatrical, post-apocalyptic dark comedy, DOG ACT follows Zetta Stone, a traveling performer, and her companion Dog (a young man undergoing a voluntary species demotion) as they walk through the wilderness of the former U.S.A. with their vaudeville troupe. They are heading toward a gig in China, if they can find it...and if they can survive to get there.
Read the full story

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Miss Lilly Gets Boned

Saturday, December 18, 2010 2 comments

(Pictured: Nitya Vidyasagar, Michael Davis, Matthew Archambault, Heather Cohn, Alisha Spielmann, Kitty Lindsay, Bekah Brunstetter, Jessica Claire Preddy, Jesse-James Austin)

Much like an elephant, I won't soon forget our 7th Food:Soul of Miss Lilly Gets Boned. Please leave your thoughts on the play and the event itself in the comment field below. To whet your mindblade, I offer up these pictures from photogenie Isaiah Tanenbaum.
(Pictured: Our house of around 65 peeps - including, for the astute eye, a playwright, director, director's Mom, and Holdorf shoulder.)

(The elephants have arrived. Pictured: Michael Davis, Jesse-James Austin, Kitty Lindsay, Alisha Spielmann)
(Vandalla approaches the elephant Harold with caution. Pictured: Nitya Vidyasagar, Michael Davis)

(An ill-fated plant lures Richard to Miss Lilly. Pictured: Alisha Spielmann, Matthew Archambault)

(Lara loves hymns. Among other things. Pictured: Kitty Lindsay)
(Miss Lilly shows her sister how it's done. Pictured: Alisha Spielmann.)

(It's not all sweet piano playing. There's plenty of violence, too. Pictured: Matthew Archambault, Michael Davis)

(Elephants should be hugged, not kicked. I think. Pictured: Nitya Vidyasagar, Michael Davis)
(It's just like riding a bike. Pictured: Kitty Lindsay, Alisha Spielmann, Matthew Archambault)
(Father and son. Pictured: Jesse-James Austin, Matthew Archambault)
(Can you do tricks? Pictured: Michael Davis, Jesse-James Austin)

(Obligatory artsy Isaiah shot. Pictured: the text, the Jessica Claire Preddy)
Read the full story

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Flux Sunday, December 12th

(What is Flux Sunday?)

After two weeks off (one for Thanksgiving, one for NET's Micro-Fest), we returned to our trusty Flux Sunday back-up at 520 8th ave. That meant reads around the table, which, while not as fun as playing on our feet, does give us the opportunity to read more pages. And they were some solid pages, if I do so solid myself.

Playwrights: Fengar Gael (Devil Dog Six), Aja Houston (Superwomen?), Brian Pracht (Wendell Wants), August Schulenburg (One More Go Around The Darkness)

Actors: Will Lowry, Matthew Archambault, Alisha Spielmann, Jason Howard, Ken Glickfeld, Carissa Cordes, Isaiah Tanenbaum, Kathleen Wise, Ryan Andes, Ingrid Nordstrom, Heather Cohn, Garth McCardle, Regine Mont-Louis, Tiffany Clementi

-Aja's hilarious pageant play (wish we could have staged that second scene!) with a goofily lovable Grier from Regine and a fiercely focused Tiffany Clementi as Venus.
-Ken Glickfeld was ON this day: relaxed, nuanced, focused reads as Bernard in Devil Dog Six and Eliot in Wendell Wants.
-Watching our progression of Wendell's, from Isaiah's perfectly pitched younger Wendell to Garth's irony-laced teen Wendell to Jason's painfully present lover Wendell; it was a wide world of Wendell Wants.
-Ryan Andes dangerously funny cool kid. If you were there, you know what I mean.
-Ingrid Nordstrom taking my note of excitable and running with it as Charity in One More Go About The Darkness. I also appreciated Kathleen Wise's formidable Ellen.

What fireflies of the day did you catch in your bottle? Leave them in the comments below! Read the full story


NET's Micro-Fest in Los Angeles

Readers of this blog may remember the profound impact the 2009 Network of Ensemble Theatre's Conference had on the thinking of myself and fellow attendee Heather Cohn. So we were thrilled to attend Micro-Fest LA, NET's mini-conference on new play development in Los Angeles from December 3rd-5th. It was indeed a jam-packed 3 days - what follows are the recollections I keep several weeks after.

FRIDAY, December 3, 2010
We began with a welcome from the ever-wonderful Mark Valdez and continued with presentations from a psychologist looking at creativity and John Malpede of the Los Angeles Poverty Department.

"Loose and tight" was how the psychologist described the brain's creativity, saying that creative activity was not confined to one side, but required a focused relaxation that allowed unexpected connections to be made on the right and then articulated by the left. This makes stress the great enemy of creativity; a heightened playfulness is required to summon the muse.

Malpede's speech was moving because of the clear impact LAPD continues to have on a community afflicted with poverty. Malpede's conversion from East Coast performance artist to West Coast missionary reminded me of John O'Neal's move from NYC to the the South to form Junebug, and struck again that chord of uncertainty of my own work here in theatre-stuffed NYC.

The night ended with a performance of Clown Town City Limits by Two Headed Dog. It was clowning by way of Sam Shepard, and while I loved the tonal dissonance of the piece, I wish their had been more consequences to the characters' actions (my own aesthetic baggage, yes). After a brief talkback, there was a party we were too jetlagged for, and we rested up for day two.

SATURDAY, December 4, 2010
I started with a Dramaturgy workshop (Heather went to movement) where I was given the great gift of Elinor Fuchs essay, Visit To A Small Planet. These questions approach a play as if the dramaturg is traveling to a new planet, with its own laws of physics, social structures, and ecosystems. There are no accidents in the world of the play, and through a series of questions, the unique ways the world works are brought to light. But this essay deserves its own post, so I will leave it for now.

We then were treated to 10+ minutes of physics which, as readers of this blog know, I could have easily wished to be 10 hours. It was pretty basic stuff, but he approached the second law of thermodynamics in a way that was new to me, and conceptually very helpful (again, probably a separate post).

Then we were up on our feet, brainstorming what made an ensemble structure's approach to developing new plays unique. There was a flurry of exciting ideas that now live on paper, and I look forward to NET sharing those with us!

Next up was Clark and I Somewhere in Connecticut by Theatre Replacement. I loved this play: a rabbit-suit wearing man describes his obsession with a suitcase full of family pictures he finds one night by a dumpster. His increasingly obsessive quest to understand these strangers leads to legal consequences and a beautiful reversal near the end of the play.

Obsessive love is something that has always fascinated me dramatically; the need to control the beloved's story, however benevolently, is almost always catastrophic; except, in this case, in the instance of pets; which, while sometime master of their own actions, have less agency to change the stories we invent for them. The obsessive purity of a central character's love of her pet dog is mirrored in the narrator's obsession with the photographs; for all the staging's whimsy, it is an unsettling piece that makes you look at the strangers you call family in your own life. The rabbit-suit device may have blunted the emotional impact of the play (the actor's face was obscured by the costume a lot of the time), but that didn't prevent the performance from moving me (and thinking deeply about it after).

We then saw two short Art-Bursts: the energizing krump and spoken word performance of Buckworld, and nightmarish dreamscape of Sadam Hussein set to the music and voices of Killsonic. There are more ways to make theatre than are dreamt of in my philosophies.

And there was more theatre to come: at 8PM, we saw two performances, The Ghost Road Company's Stranger Things and Post Natayam's SUNOH! Tell me, Sister. I responded most strongly to the second piece, especially the haunting second dance which featured a woman made featureless by fabric over her face and body, dancing to escape and transforming the fabric into wings. Heather and I both walked away thinking of possibilities for Ajax in Iraq and Menders...and then collapsed asleep.

SUNDAY, December 5, 2010
The last day began for me with a group discussing Culture & Creation (Heather went to group talking about Space). I attended this group hoping to learn tactics for successfully building a collaborative community of cross-cultural artists to bring into Flux Sunday, but time kept us mostly conceptual.

Then, there was a truck, and this truck had pancakes. 'Nuff said.

At 1PM, we saw our final round of performances, Critical Mass Performance Group's Untitled and Watts Village Theater Company's Clover and Cactus. I loved the first piece: I don't think I've ever seen excellent traditionally naturalistic acting merged so seamlessly with a poetic staging before. Devised work often leaves me feeling removed from the heart of the play, but grounding the more abstracted peregrinations of the piece with really detailed, nuanced human conflict and change gave me a way in. I wish I could see what happens next with this play in development!

And then, after some parting words, we packed and went our separate ways. I'm looking forward to the synthesis of all the ideas and energy generated by these busy three days. Thanks to good people of NET!

Read the full story

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Judson on nytheatre.com

Our friends at Judson Memorial Church were interviewed by Martin Denton of nytheatre.com! It's a great interview, and I was particularly struck by this one quote (slightly edited) from Michael Ellick:

"The way we understand the gospel in our Christian tradition is not that our job is to evangelize in the sense of I'm trying to convert you to this set of dogma and you have to give the secret knock of Christianity ...we never talk about that stuff. People are just welcome to be here. You know, our idea of the gospel is an invisible gospel that would come out of relationships, and what's being passed is the idea of compassion between us."

That last sentence strikes me in a powerful way. Our core value of Compassion says "We practice contagious empathy and mutual respect." I love this overlap of values between Judson and Flux; the idea that theatre and faith can both be a conduit for greater compassion. We all can't wait to see what 2011 brings in our ongoing collaboration! Read the full story


Wider Frame: Menders

(What is The Wider Frame?)

Though Menders is a year away, it's not to soon to be thinking of the ripple in the real world this play makes. This is especially true on a day where the Senate votes to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell; an act that connects directly with Menders' themes of conflict between military service and sexuality.

There are a number of ways we'll be looking to frame the action of the play in a wider context, including blog posts and pre/post show speakers and conversations. Here is a list of some of the interesting possibilities - if this sparks an idea for a pre-show event, post-show speaker, or blog feature, please email me at gus at fluxtheatre dot org, or make a note in the comments.

Potential Frames:
Subversive Stories: Drew, the teacher of young guards Corey and Aimes, tells them stories that subtly challenge their beliefs of what they're guarding and why. The history of storytelling as means of subverting oppression is one exciting way to frame this play.

Conformity of Sexuality: As mentioned above, Menders also deals with how fear makes us hunger for conformity, especially in regards to sexuality. Unfortunately, this frame is still too much with us, and it will be an important part of work within and surrounding the play.

The Charge of Teaching: The occasional erotic charge between teachers and students has always been a troubling part of that power dynamic; how much of it is inherent in sharing knowledge, and how much is a perversion? That moral ambiguity is just one frame that gives Menders such a deceptively deep impact.

What Price Safety?: How much freedom are we willing to give up to feel safe? This question plays out in airports, on the sides of highways, and in this play.

Re-purposed Myth: The two main stories Drew tells are inspired by myths; why are we drawn back to using and re-imagining these kinds of stories, and what impact does it have on our culture?

Regimes and the Monopoly of Information: Oppressive regimes demand a control over information to maintain their version of the culture's narrative. How do contemporary versions of Menders' walled city do it? What is the cost of that monopoly on story?

This is just a start for Menders, as our principle energies are focused on the imminent Dog Act, but let us know if any of these frames inspire any ideas, and we'll be following up with more on these frames in later posts!
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Wider Frame: Ajax in Iraq

(What is The Wider Frame?)

A play that deals so directly with our current Iraq war can't help but be seen in the context of a wider frame. In producing Ajax in Iraq, we must do justice not only to the play itself, but to subject matter of the play, the lives of the soldiers serving in our two wars. But there are other exciting frames to this dazzling and complex play.

We'll share these frames through blog posts and pre/post show speakers and conversations. Here is a list of some possibilities - if this sparks an idea for a pre-show event, post-show speaker, or blog feature, please email me at gus at fluxtheatre dot org, or make a note in the comments.

Potential Frames:
Veteran Care: America's care of its veterans remains fraught after Walter Reed, and with so many veterans returning in this uncertain draw down, questions of how to honor their service are painfully timely and central to Ajax in Iraq.

Gender and Service: A.J., the central character of the modern world of Ajax in Iraq, is a female soldier who suffers a betrayal from a male commanding officer. How is the experience of a female solider different than a male soldier?

Sophocles' Ajax: A.J.'s story runs parallel to that of Sophocles Ajax, re-imagined by Ellen McLaughlin in her ongoing work with Greek theatre. It would exciting to explore how the Ajax story has been interpreted throughout history.

Temporary Insanity: The difficult questions of this legal idea are given visceral life in what happens to A.J. and Ajax when they are betrayed. How easy is it to lose ourselves in the mindless violence of cruelty?

Iraq History: The strata of Ajax in Iraq go beyond the parallel tracks of A.J. and Ajax to include such historical figures as Gertrude Bell. How did a country made up of such antithetical cultures wind up existing, and how can it (or should it be) sustained?

Military and Civilian Divide: Douglas B. Wilson says that "less than 1% of the American public are serving in uniform serving on battle fronts." What is the cost of that experiential divide, and how can it be bridged? What role does theatre serve in doing so?

This is just a start for Ajax in Iraq, as our principle energies are focused on the imminent Dog Act, but let us know if any of these frames inspire any ideas, and we'll be following up with more on these frames in later posts!
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The Wider Frame: Dog Act

(What is The Wider Frame?)

It may seem that a post-apocalyptic vaudeville like Dog Act may not have a whole lot of real world resonance. But for a play of such wild imagining and comic invention, the painful and beautiful stuff of the real world runs through it.

There are a number of ways we'll be looking to frame the action of the play in a wider context, including blog posts and pre/post show speakers and conversations. Here is a list of some of the interesting possibilities - if this sparks an idea for a pre-show event, post-show speaker, or blog feature, please email me at gus at fluxtheatre dot org, or make a note in the comments.

Potential frames:
Recycling: In the post-apocalyptic world of Dog Act, everything that remains is sacred, because everything must be used for survival. The scavenger tribes roaming the wilderness treat "reduce, reuse, recycle" as a sacred saying.

Vaudeville: More than just the detritus of the pre-apocalypse is recycled; stories and ways of telling them are also repurposed. Liz's fascinating scramble of pop culture, biblical texts and more is filtered through a vaudevillian way of story-telling; and it would be exciting to have current vaudevillian lovers talk about (and share) their work.

Invented Instruments: Dog Act is a play with music, so how do you make music when most instruments have been reused as weapons or firewood? We're hoping to create some intruments from found and discarded materials, and would love to feature the work of artisans already making music this way.

Weather Troubles: The world of Dog Act has a deeply troubled ecology, with earthquakes and momentary loss of gravity amongst its ailments. But the rapidly shifting seasons - reminiscent of Midsummer - are the greatest challenge, with both winter and summer possible in a single day. With global warming making our planet's weather patterns increasingly unstable, Dog Act could serves as a playful way to talk about this serious issue.

Guilt and Trauma: Despite being a comedy, Dog Act wrestles with how we process guilt and trauma. How do we recover our sense of self from our worst mistakes? It would be fascinating to talk to psychologists who deal with these questions, or host a story circle for our community to share our own difficult stories.

Communal Music: One of my favorite recent events was the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain's Ode to Joy event, where they taught an audience of uke players to play Beethoven's tune, and then all played it together in performance (1,008 ukes!) Given that the banjo may anchor the found instruments we create, could we teach one of the songs in the play to an audience full of banjo players for the greatest curtain call jam session ever?

Apocalypse: We're always wondering about how the world might end, and what might go on after it does - it would be a great pre-show discussion to look at the different ways we might go, and then enter into the joy and ache of surviving that is Dog Act.

Scavenging: The aforementioned scavenger tribes are more than just scary, funny foils; they represent a real resilience and cleverness, and it would interesting to look at contemporary scavenger movements like dumpster diving to learn a different approach to our cycle of waste.

Tribalism: And speaking of those tribes, examining the past and present social structure of tribes would be a great frame on the vauder and scavenger tribes of Dog Act.

So let us know if any of these frames inspire any ideas, and we'll be following up with more on these frames in later posts! Read the full story

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Flux Sunday, November 21st

(What is Flux Sunday?)

We were thankful to return to Judson for our last Flux Sunday before Thanksgiving!

Playwrights: Kira Blaskovich, Fengar Gael (Devil Dog Six), August Schulenburg (The Hand That Moves, The Temptation Show)

Directors: Kira, Amy Staats

Actors: Candice Holdorf, Kimberly Klein, Isaiah Tanenbaum, Ken Glickfeld, Jane Taylor, Kari Riely, Stacey Jenson, Matthew Archambault, Corey Allen

Highlights included:
-Amy's daring direction of The Hand That Moves towards a more abstracted, dreamlike quality than I'd intended - it's always exciting to see directors take unexpected risks with your work!
-Getting a chance to take the emotional slalom of Kira's two-hander along with Stacey Jenson - the vocabulary between former lovers is always fun to negotiate
-But the field this day belonged to Fengar's Devil Dog Six, with Corey Allen and Isaiah Tanenbaum turning in especially focused performances in these raucous series of scenes

If you were there, what memory from it did you lovingly fold to keep in your back pocket? Read the full story

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The Quest For The Cart

Saturday, December 11, 2010 0 comments

In our upcoming production of Liz Duffy Adams' Dog Act, the most important set piece is on wheels. Zetta and Dog are "vauders", performers traveling through a post-apocalyptic wild to reach (a mythical?) China, where their act will finally reach an audience of more than scavengers.

Essential to that act is The Cart, a mobile archive of every prop, costume, razzle, and dazzle of past vaudevillian ages. Around 200 years old, The Cart has been passed down from generation to generation, and Zetta guards it now. It is essential to her, to the act, to the world; and so therefore to our production.

So we have a a cart to make! And we're hoping you can help. If you have a farm style cart or wagon of enough size that it could house such a hoard, email me at gus (at) fluxtheatre (dot) org if you're open to parting with it free (or close to it). Vauders of this and many generations to come will thank you.

And now, pictures to inspire:

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Food:Soul #7 - Miss Lilly Gets Boned

Friday, December 10, 2010 0 comments

Food:Soul features good food, good company, and a fully staged reading of a play Flux is passionate about developing and sharing with you - all for FREE!

by Bekah Brunstetter
directed by Heather Cohn
featuring: Matthew Archambault, Jesse-James Austin, Michael Davis, Kitty Lindsay, Alisha Spielmann, and Nitya Vidyasagar

Dinner begins at 6:30pm
Reading begins at 7:30pm
(home cooked food will be provided, but feel free to bring a dish as well)

About the play:
Miss Lilly, a Sunday school teacher, has been waiting patiently for God to drop a man in her lap. When a new student disturbs the harmony of her classroom and his father disturbs the harmony of her heart, Miss Lilly is forced to re-examine her own sense of faith and self. Right or wrong, sinful or holy - a natural force is at work in Miss Lilly's classroom where her hymns are accompanied by the rumble of angry elephants and her prayers are answered by a stranger to her god.

About the playwright:
Bekah Brunstetter's plays include A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE (Naked Angels, Spring 2011), OOHRAH! (The Atlantic Theater) and HOUSE OF HOME (Williamstown Theater festival.) She is a member of the Primary Stages writer's group, a Playwright's Realm Fellow, and resident playwright of the Finborough Theater, London, where MISS LILLY received its debut in the Summer of 2010. MISS LILLY has also been developed with the Lark, Luna Stage the Babel Theater Project. MFA, The New School. www.bekahbrunstetter.com

About the director:
Heather Cohn is a co-founder of Flux Theatre Ensemble and currently serves as the Managing Director. Directing credits for Flux include August Schulenburg’s The Lesser Seductions of History (nominated for Best Director, New York Innovative Theatre Awards) and Other Bodies (FringeNYC Excellence Award for Outstanding Direction). She also recently directed Blood by Aliza Einhorn for the EstroGenius Festival. Upcoming: The Break in the Day by David Stallings (June 2011) and Menders by Erin Browne (Winter 2011).

Why are we excited about this Food:Soul?
  • We've been buzzing about this play for awhile - it was featured on my Plays That Need Doing In NYC.
  • It reunites the Oberon/Puck duo of Michael Davis/Nitya Vidyasagar, this time in a very different dynamic.
  • Alisha Spielmann and Kitty Lindsay have been rocking Food:Souls, ForePlays and Flux Sundays for some time, but this is the most substantive collaborative process we've had with these particular rock stars.
  • It has an elephant. For real.
  • It has God. Who may be real.
  • It's partially about grief, and what behavior grieving permits, and how the grief process has some powerful similarities between elephants and human beings.
  • It's also really, really funny; and as Lilly might say while talking with Richard, dreadfully delightfully lovely.
Want to learn about past Food:Souls?
#6: Hearts Like Fists by Adam Szymkowicz, directed by Keith Powell
#5: Lickspittles, Buttonholers, and Damned Pernicious Go-Betweens by Johnna Adams, directed by John Hurley
#4: VolleyGirls by Rob Ackerman, directed by August Schulenburg
#3: Narrator 1 by Erin Browne, directed by Scott Ebersold
#2: This Storm Is What We Call Progress by Jason Grote, directed by Kelly O'Donnell
#1: Pretty Theft by Adam Szymkowicz, directed by Heather Cohn

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Family Feud Answers Revealed!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010 0 comments

Thanks to everyone who answered our Family Feud survey. The event was a huge success and everyone had a great time. We've had some requests to post the questions and answers that were used. One of the highlights of the night was when the panelists (all theatre people) were presented with the question "What’s a reason someone might go to see a play?" The only answers they could think of that night were "a friend is in it", "comps", "a good review" and "a celebrity is in it". The #2 answer was "Entertainment" but not one person on the panel even considered this. Hm...what does this say about us?

Anyway, here are the questions and answers that were used. Enjoy!

Name the most important American playwright of all time.
1. Tennessee Williams – 36
2. Arthur Miller – 23
3. Eugene O’Neill – 22
4. Edward Albee – 7
5. Tony Kushner – 6
6. August Schulenburg – 6

Interesting answers that didn't make the cut, but worthy enough to mention: Shakespeare (2), Oscar Wilde, Tyler Perry, Sophocles

Name something actors do to prepare before a performance.
1. Vocal Warmup – 46
2. Stretch – 10
3. Breath – 8
4. Learn Lines – 7
5. Drink – 6
6. Rest – 5
7. Bathroom – 5
8. Yoga – 4
9. Smoke – 3
10. Exercise – 3
11. Hair/Makeup – 3

Worthy enough to mention: ritual sacrifice, make out, sex

What’s something annoying an audience member might do doing a performance?
1. Talk – 24
2. Text – 23
3. Answer Cell – 19
4. Cell Ringing – 18
5. Candy Wrappers – 16

Worthy enough to mention: audibly say they can see your underwear when you are doing a direct address monologue
vomit on the person in front of them and then talk about it,
hide their dog in their purse and have it bark during the show

What’s a reason someone might go to see a play?
1. Friend is involved – 53
2. Entertainment – 11
3. A Date – 9
4. Positive Review – 7
5. Catharsis/To Be Moved – 5
6. Cultural Experience – 5
7. Escape – 4
8. To Look Smart – 3
9. Celebrity in the Cast – 3
Worthy enough to mention: because you’re bored (2), concessions, nudity (2)

Fast Money Round!

After NYC and Chicago, what’s the best theatre city in the United States?
1. Washington, DC – 20
2. San Francisco – 20
3. Minneapolis – 16
4. Seattle – 15
5. Boston – 11
6. Philadelphia – 10
7. Los Angeles – 8
Didn't make the cut: Montevideo Uruguay

What’s your favorite Flux production?
1. Lesser Seductions of History – 20
2. Angel Eaters Trilogy - 18
3. Pretty Theft – 15
4. Riding the Bull – 12
5. Jacob’s House – 8
6. Never seen one – 8
7. Can’t Decide – 5
8. Rue – 4
9. Other Bodies – 3
10. Life is a Dream – 2
11. Midsummer – 1
12. Cotton Wright – 1
13. Hearts Like Fists – 1
14. J.B. – 1
15. Flux Family Feud – 1

What was Shakespeare’s funniest play?
1. A Midsummer Night’s Dream – 21
2. Comedy of Errors – 19
3. Twelfth Night – 18
4. Much Ado About Nothing – 16
5. As You Like It – 9
6. Taming of the Shrew – 8
7. Titus Andronicus – 4
8. Love’s Labour’s Lost – 3
9. Merry Wives of Windsor – 2
Didn't make the cut: Car Wash III, the one with the mistaken identities

What signals the start of a play?
1. Lights Out – 74
2. Lights Up – 7
3. Curtain – 5
4. Stage Manager – 5
5. Silence – 3
6. Curtain Speech – 3
7. Flashing House Lights – 3

What’s the most important part of the curtain speech?
1. Turn Off Cell Phones – 49
2. The End/Brevity – 19
3. Thank You’s – 15
4. Ask For Money – 10
5. Fire Exits – 7
Didn't make the cut: Thank John Horgan –without him nothing else is possible, location of the bar Read the full story