V.19 No.5 |
Yay for Revolutions!
We’ve all had some time (five days, in fact) to dry our oh-sad-it’s-the-end-of-Revolutions tears and meaningfully reflect on the highs and highs* of the festival. And it’s occurred to me that we should probably acknowledge some people/things/events that might not have gotten the acknowledgement they really deserve. So here they are. If you think I’ve left anyone/thing out, say so!**
Best Revolutions Curator: Summer Olsson. Now this is my first Revolutions, and there’s only one festival curator this year, so it’s not entirely fair to say it like it was a real contest. But Summer did a remarkable job organizing this year’s festival. I saw every show except for two, and I was pleasantly surprised at the realization that the festival felt curated. Beautifully curated. It wasn’t a this-is-what-we-can-get program. It was a this-
Best Revolutions Majordomo: Kristen D. Simpson. I’d like you to take a moment to have your mind blown. Imagine this: 28 performances that accepted reservations. A conservative average of 50 tickets per show. Which, if we say there were 2 people to each group, translates to a conservative average of 25 reservations and/or sales for each show. So 25 X 28 = 700 transactions (and 1400 tickets). All of which Kristen arranged. Not super-hero-y enough for you? She was at what felt like every performance to ensure that those tickets got into every one of those 700 reservers’ hands. If you haven’t coordinated an event, you still might not understand what this really means. If you have, you know Kristen is amazing. And either way, you can join me in saying: Yay for Kristen!
Best Revolutions Get-The-Word-Out-ers: Chad Brummett and Jessica Trumble. Not a Revolutions day went by without Facebook posts and email invitations and festival updates. Not a day. Chad is the Marketing Director (and a company member) for Tricklock, and Jessica is a Senior Account Exec from RJC, and between them, they made sure that we all knew everything about everything Revolutions. And thank goodness. Because forgetting anything would have been terribly terrible. So yay for Chad and Jessica!
Best Revolutions Politicians: Mimi Stewart and Martin Heinrich. Forgive me if I’m missing someone, because any politician who supports the arts in a meaningful way – and demonstrates that support by attending events (in addition, of course, to voting ‘yes’ on legislation in favor of the arts and sustainable arts funding) – deserves our collective appreciation. But I actually saw Mimi at Flamingo/Winnebago and The UnPossessed and Martin at Catgut Strung Violin. So yay for Mimi and Martin!
Best Revolutions Soundtrack: This is a tough category. Why? Because I’m still humming the title track to Countries Shaped Like Stars and Le Chat Lunatique’s “Viva Las Vegas” rendition from Flamingo/Winnebago. But no one likes a tie (let’s face it: they suck.), so I’m going to break this category into two… Best Revolutions Most Beautifully Heartbreaking Soundtrack Ever goes to Countries Shaped Like Stars (Mi Casa Theatre Company). Best Revolutions Snazzy Jazzy Gypsy Swing Soundtrack Ever goes to Flamingo/Winnebago (Lucidity Suitcase and Le Chat Lunatique). Yay for Stars and Flamingos!
Best Revolutions Kind-of-Candid-Camera Picture: Nicholas Di Gaetano of Mi Casa Theatre Company. While preparing for Countries Shaped Like Stars, and listening to festival curator Summer Olsson thank all of the magnificent organizations and foundations and businesses that supported the festival, Nicholas caught me snapping photos. And made a really cute face. Don’t you think? Yay for Nicholas!
Best Revolutions Crowd: Albuquerque. You are amazing, my city-mates. Amazing. Pretty much every show I attended was sold out (and if it wasn’t, it was very very close to), and that’s – of course – you’re doing. And I just want to say from one arts fanatic to another: Good going. You probably already know this, but it’s crucial that we support the things that make Albuquerque so rich and vibrant and exciting. Like exhibitions and performances and readings and seminars and workshops. And you so enthusiastically supported Revolutions. So yay for Albuquerque!
V.19 No.4 |
First Ever Super-Cool-Extra Winner
Alibi.com user Scalbot won the first ever Super-Cool-Extra Million Points for correctly identifying the origin of the blog title "Been Trying To Meet You" as The Pixie's song "Hey."
So hoooorrrrraaaaaay for Scalbot, whose new Super-Cool-Extra winnings have absolutely zero redeemable value, but come with the very very very spectacular fun-ness of being able to say that he or she ("Scalbot" isn't particularly gender-specific) has a million points.
And Scalbot: In case you need proof for your naysaying friends, here (in the image to the right) is your certificate of victory. Have a great time getting it framed!
Been Trying To Meet You
Tricklock's Catgut Strung Violin
You may share my fear of charades. Or, more accurately, of what playing charades means. Something about being required to communicate without words, while under strict time constraints is – in the most basic, least hyperbolic sense – horrifying. So horrifying, in fact, that it renders my imagination (which is ordinarily and irritatingly overactive) utterly useless. I’m supposed to act out Debbie Goes To Dallas in a minute? Ha. Right now, as I consider what that would look like, I’m assaulted by semi-viable possibilities of ear-lobe-grabbing and air-drawn outlines. But put me in front of a group, and turn that mini hourglass upside down, and it’s all I can do not to start crying with frustration at the emptiness of my mind.
So, when I witness three actors perform for nearly ninety minutes and speak maybe a thousand* words but recount a story completely, compellingly, vividly – in many ways, more richly than a play of beautiful and relatively constant dialogue – I am captivated. Amazed. And that’s just what happened at Catgut Strung Violin on Thursday evening.
Hold the phone; let’s back peddle a little bit. Not quite as far back as the last time I attempted charades, but to mid-December, when I met with Tricklock Co-Artistic Directors Summer Olsson and Kevin R. Elder. At the time, and largely because I moved to Albuquerque in July, I’d only seen two of the company’s performances, and neither was an original work. (Mac Wellman’s Dracula/SWOOP and Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.) Naturally, then, I had little personal frame of reference from which to ask Olsson and Elder what it is, exactly, that defines a Tricklock Production. Their cooperative reply was expansively inclusive and, at the same time, very vague – which is probably how it should be; the breadth of Tricklock’s work just over the course of Revolutions can’t be accurately contained in a single definition. Let alone the collected body of work they’ve crafted over more than a decade.
But watching Catgut, I felt like I was watching the soul of Tricklock materialize. Created by company members Kevin R. Elder, Alex Knight and Elsa Menendez, along with special guest Charles Gamble, Catgut is the tale of a soldier named Anton and his violin. The subject matter is wrenchingly potent, built around elements central both to Anton’s war and to our own – a manipulative draft induction, a mother left behind, a friend lost in battle, an arbitrary ascent to heroism, a narrative circle anchored on the image of war prisoners. And somehow, it’s also humorous in a full-bellied-laugh-out-loud kind of way.
Yet it’s the environment, created by performance and production, that seems so definitively Tricklock. The lighting and the music, the costumes and the set, convey so much despite materially consisting of so little. The story is woven of mannered and expressive physicality; though their words enrich it, it is their actions that carry the plot and their movements that stay with you after the play. Elder’s naïve, eye-brow-raised smiling. Gamble’s machine-gun miming. Knight’s somersault parachuting. Reminiscent of the most animated silent film stars, the trio’s performance is indelible. And memories of it have made me burst into that full-bellied-out-loud laugh countless times over the last few days. (And, as it always seems to happen, when I’m alone in places that aren't – I gather from the looks I solicit – particularly friendly to solitary laughers. Like a bus stop. Or a public restroom. Or a hotel lobby.)
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Catgut is that it captures everything I think of when I think of WAR. And simultaneously introduces an entire war-centric universe that I never would have considered – but that feels, maybe (in a strange way) because of its hilarity, entirely authentic. It’s the perfect equidistance between foreign, familiar and fantastic. Altogether, it’s been one of my favorite Revolutions experiences. And I feel like I can finally say: Tricklock, it’s a distinct pleasure to meet you.
P.S. How about a game of charades?**
P.P.S. To everyone who is not Tricklock: Tonight is the last night of Catgut, at least in Revolutions. It may be sold out, but even if so: It's worth a try to go down to UNM's Theatre X and put your name on the waiting list for the 8:00 p.m. show.
It's Hell in Here Opening
I am going to talk a little bit about It's Hell In Here, but there are no spoilers ahead. Last night was one of the most important moments of this whole festival. It's Hell In Here, by Abigail Browde and her comrades from NYC, opened at Nth 4th. And it's weird. It's an excellent show, with very strong performers, interesting ideas, bravery and, maybe most importantly, willingness to push boundaries. The line (if anyone thinks there is one) between dance and theatre is erased. In fact, the very idea of what "qualifies" as dance is being questioned. They play a lot with space. Where is it ok to perform within the building? Everywhere! The show made me vaguely tense as I watched, and more and more curious to understand what was going on. It's not that there is no story- there is. I have the definite sense that the creator/performers care very much about the audience, and about communicating something. However, the show is non-linear, poetic in the sense that it has lots of gaps for you to fill in with your own imagination and lots of links you must make for yourself. By the time I started to grasp the full meaning of the show, and put some pieces together,it was ending.
I also dropped in again on ONE in rehearsal. It looks like a dark vaudeville dream leaked out onto the stage. On top of their show being cool, they are incredibly nice people.(This is me perpetuating a stereotype about Canadians, but dammit I think they are all really nice!) I am totally excited for this weekend. A newly retooled Catgut Strung Violin too, which is almost sold out, rounds out the last shows of this festival.
Talkin Bout A Revolution
Get a move on, kids. This is the last weekend of the Revolutions International Theatre Festival. And it’s a jewel on Albuquerque’s art crown; don’t miss your chance to witness its sparkly-ness. In case you need a reminder, here’s the agenda for the next few days:
Tonight, Thursday, January 28
Tomorrow, Friday, January 29
Last Chance! Saturday, January 30
V.19 No.3 |
It's almost impossible for me to believe, but it's the last week of Revolutions International Theatre Festival. In the middle of December, I was thinking "Oh god, here it comes, I can't believe how busy I'm going to be." Now I'm thinking "Crap, where did that festival go?" I am totally excited for the shows this week, especially ONE. I fell in love with it in 2007 and have been trying to get it here ever since.
Hannah also has a band, Come On Go With Us.
Please enjoy some pictures of artists eating their first sopaipillas and chile rellenos ever.
A Miraculous Night of Musical Theatre
Flamingo/Winnebago and Countries Shaped Like Stars
Last night, Alex and I embarked on a downtown adventure: A double Revolutions Festival feature. It’s in the running for the best decision we’ve ever made, right up there with getting engaged and moving to Albuquerque. Well… Ok. It might not take the gold in that particular trio, but it’s surely a strong contender for the bronze.
Our escapade began with Flamingo/Winnebago at KiMo Theatre. Composed by Lucidity Suitcase International and Le Chat Lunatique (Albuquerque gypsy swing band extraordinaire), Flamingo is a work of integrated, innovative, shimmering brilliance. The music, the dialogue, the acting, the set, the direction, the moral(s) of the story, the everything, fantastic. Someone – who, I don’t know, but someone – might remember when I said that I leapt into a standing ovation after Pollock? Well the same thing happened at Flamingo, but this time I was cheering.* I’m not the only Alibian** who loved it, either. Even sick Erin did. Since she already wrote about it, I won’t say more. Except: YAY FOR LUCIDITY-LUNATIQUE!
Euphoric from the first leg of our adventure, and thus unable to make a good decision about food, we then ended up at JC’s where we ate some slices that really weren’t qualified to be called “New York Pizza.” And then, still euphoric and unable, and after walking up and down Gold because I couldn’t remember at which theatre the next show was playing but wanted to know so we didn’t end up arriving late (before you get all crazy and critical, please understand: it’s very hard to keep all of the performance times and locations straight, no matter how often I write about them), we went into Burt’s. Thankfully, we were in and out before all the cool kids showed up, which allowed us to enjoy our pints o’ Marble Red while we waited for Kristen Simpson – Tricklock company member and my personal festival savior – to text me with the actual location of the next show.
Part of the confusion over the theatre, it turned out, was that ReSource Campus For Creativity (the location) is kind of connected to The Box, which I didn’t at all realize before we got there, which meant that without Kristen’s help, we might have missed the double part of our double feature, which would have been a tragedy of terrible proportions. Yes, I mean it: To miss something as indelible and enchanting and inventive as Countries Shaped Like Stars would have been tragic.
Created by Ottawa’s Mi Casa Theatre, Countries is the fantastical, musical tale of Gwendolyn Magnificent (Emily Pearlman) and Bartholomew Spectacular (Nick Di Gaetano). Gwendolyn is a dragon fruit farming, bird befriending, tin can telephone making beauty who enamors the mandolin playing, cumin-flavored mustache modeling, constellation adoring Bartholomew. They sing their love for one another in duets born of folk and bluegrass and rock sounds. And dance up and down the hallway (created by rows of seats on either side) that is their stage. And illuminate and darken the theatre with lights that echo their happiness and heartache.
I don’t want to ruin the show for those of you who will be there tonight, but get excited for Strawberry Monoculars. Very, very excited. And make sure you take some Kleenex with you, because though you’ll spend the first three quarters of the play with a smile stretching clear across your face, wider than you think you’ve ever felt it stretch before, you’ll spend the last with tears brimming because there’s no other way to release your unexpectedly profound sadness (the result of an unexpectedly profound attachment to the story of Gwendolyn and Bartholomew).
If Revolutions continues to move along its present trajectory, I may disappear upon its completion next weekend. Why, ask the three of you who would miss me? Because, dear ones, the festival is so fantastically exhilarating that my already very vivacious pneuma*** is pluming at such an exponential rate that it may just carry me away on irrepressibly flapping wings.
And by the way: Shame on those who think, Really? You’ll disappear? Hooray!
V.19 No.4 | 1/28/2010
Theater-Going With a Head Cold
I left the house for the first time in two days last night, despite the fact that my head felt as if ... no, you know what? I’m still too sick for similes. The only reason I went was that I heard the show was amazing and, if I didn’t, I was going to be left only with reruns of “The Millionaire Matchmaker” to watch. Have you seen that show? That is not a good show.
What is a good show is Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental’s Flamingo/Winnebago, being staged as part of the Revolutions International Theatre Festival. Together with Albuquerque’s own Le Chat Lunatique, Philidelphia’s LSI presents a show that was more than entertaining enough to make me sit for two hours, in spite of the faucet my nose had become. That’s a gross recommendation. I’m sorry. Did I mention that I was so fuzzy yesterday that I made a smoothie with vegetable broth instead of soy milk?
Flamingo/Winnebago follows a loose narrative of two people travelling cross country looking for what they believe will bring them completion. But more than that, the show incorporates a simple one-piece set that is utilized in dozens of surprising and exciting ways, as well as the music of Le Chat (not to mention the acting talents of Muni, the band’s violinist and co-singer). Is co-singer a word?
I’m not doing this justice. It was my favorite performance of the festival so far. My gentleman friend loved it. Why do you care about that? Because he likes good stuff and is not artsy-fartsy. I’m the artsy-fartsy snob. Did I mention the smoothie?
You have one, ONE NIGHT ONLY to see this panoply (I just had to think for five minutes about that word) of music, acting, movement and Journey. Tonight, KiMo, 6 p.m. Go to tricklock.com/revolutions/ for info on tickets and such, or check out our fabulous feature on the whole festival.
V.19 No.3 |
Road Trips and Workshops
This has to be a fast blog, since the fabulous Flamingo/Winnebago opens tonight at 8pm. I have some curtain speeches to write and some coffee to drink.
Today I took Nick, of Mi Casa, to his workshop in the UNM class "Performance Art". (Thanks to Kristen Loree for letting us take over her class for a day.) Nick did the briefest of intros to bouffon.. It's a difficult genre, and the class was short. It was awesome to see several students, who had NO previous idea what bouffon was, doing these really quite difficult exercises with openness and commitment.
Then some of us went to lunch. We were looking for the "best" green chile cheeseburger. I've been a vegetarian for 10 years, so had to take suggestions. We ended up going to the 66 Diner. The burger looked fine. Like a burger. (If you have a suggestion, I'd like to hear it. We have more days to take more guests out to green chile cheeseburgers.) Nick and Emily have been keeping a photo record of the food they eat on tour, with a thumbs rating system. So far everything in New Mexico has at least one thumbs-up. It makes me proud.
Tonight is the long anticipated Flamingo/Winnebago, with Le Chat Lunatique. Tell your friends and your enemies. It's at the Kimo. That place is huge!
V.19 No.2 |
Countries Shaped Like Le Chat in an Elevator
This morning was a flurry of picking up Daga and Piotr, our last Teatr Figur guests, trying to cram all their luggage into my car, driving to Tricklock Space to search for last- minute, still-missing items, transferring all said luggage into Kevin's car, and getting them to the airport.
Also today, I took some members of Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental and LE Chat Lunatique to KUNM for a radio interview with Carol Boss. It was one of the most hilarious groups I can imagine stuffing into a van, and then into a small studio. For those who didn't catch the interview: they did songs from their show, Flamingo/Winnebago, which opens on Thursday at the Kimo. One of them was a totally kick-ass version of Viva Las Vegas. Even if you don't like Elvis (which I do), I think you have to like Le Chat Lunatique backing Jeremy Wilhelm- an actor from the show who also happens to be a great vocalist. It's just really...fun. Several months ago, preparing for a tour to Serbia, Lucidity Suitcase rehearsed Flamingo/Winnebago in the Tricklock basement. At the end of the week, I watched a run-though. At that time there was no set, no lights and only partial costumes. It was still incredible. Now I imagine, with the addition of the magically transforming set, lights and video, it will be completely awesome.
Tonight is the first show of Countries Shaped Like Stars. I am so excited. Nick and Emily (of Mi Casa Theatre fame) have been baking things in our kitchen all day. Things that audience members will get to eat! I can say no more. Come to the show.
Looking For You digital print (in background) by Christina M Slyter
He's Got A Way
Chad Brummett's Four Interludes
You* arrive at 516 Arts to see Chad Brummett perform Four Interludes – a work of his creation, essentially a theatric memoir. You know that the subject matter is personal and understand that, save the expected influence of artistic narrative license, the story will be authentic. But you’re curious about just how personal and just how authentic. And because you have read all there is to read about the show, you wonder how the playwright ties together the four soliloquies – lover, mother, muse and memory vignettes – that Tricklock tells you will comprise the evening ahead. And right before the music signals the beginning of the performance, and even though you suspect that if anything makes you uncomfortable it will be the potential touchy-feeliness of it, you think, Shit, I hope this isn’t a misogynistic tirade. And you cross your fingers that it will actually be as poetic as it’s said to be, and as poetic as you imagine Brummett is capable of being. And you zap as hard as you’ve ever zapped that “poetic” doesn’t turn out to mean “cliché,” because you really really really want to love the show.
After U2’s opening serenade dies down, and within a few lines of the prefatory monologue, you recognize that you do love it. Already and immediately, you love it.** You’re surprised by just how personal and just how authentic it is; indeed, you find Brummett’s sincerity, honesty and openness refreshingly disarming. You’re taken aback by the vast array of emotions he shares and by how beautifully he portrays them – particularly, those throughout his mother-centric recollection. And you’re only really made uncomfortable by the use of the word “lover,” which gives you the uh-oh feeling every time it's uttered and simultaneously brings to mind the Will Ferrell SNL skits centered around it (particularly the one guest-starring Christopher Walken). "Lover" bombs taken out of account, the poeticism of Four Interludes is as exquisite as Tricklock promised you it would be; descriptions like “ferocious way she decided to live her life,” “glass door separation from death,” and “silently gives nourishment to the roots of the gorgeous” run the course sans cliché and, at fairly regular intervals, make you wish you’d written them.
You come to see Four Interludes as a glorious confession. Without the guilt. With a reverence to Brummett’s subjects and a sense of respectful responsibility in his remembrances of them. Defined by the insightful guidance of Director Elsa Menendez and Dramaturge Kevin R. Elder. And lovable because of everything it is at its core: Genuine, reflective, lyrical.
The show’s run at Revolutions is over, but it appeared as part of the Excavations New Works Series – a platform for works in progress, so it will surely (and luckily for the yous who haven’t yet seen it) return to an Albuquerque stage soon. In the meantime, go see the festival performances that have yet to begin. Starting tonight at ReSource Campus for Creativity with Countries Shaped Like Stars, an original work by Ottawa’s Mi Casa Theatre.
Welcome and Goodbye
Revolutions Week Two
As I write this, I'm listening to Czesław Spiewa.
This is my most recent favorite anything. A lot of people have come up to me since Nasze Miasto to ask what all the music was. There were several different artists we used, but multiple songs were Spiewa. It's incredible stuff: theatrical, ominous and exciting. This is the simplest definition of cultural exchange, the platform Revolutions is built on: Some people come from other cities and show us what they think is cool. We show them what we think it cool.
Last night was the second welcome dinner of the Revolutions festival. It was a little melancholy because, although we had 3 new companies of guests, it also marked good-bye (do widzenia) to Teatr Figur artists. However, it was amazing to have a huge group of artists, from 6 different companies, representing 4 countries, hanging out eating Billy Brown's dinner. Did I mention that Billy Brown, our friend from Cuisine Del Corazon, has been feeding us throughout the festival? He makes delicious everything. He asked Filip what kind of Polish food he would like. I think Filip said "Uhhhh". Billy showed up the next day with bigos.
This afternoon I watched a rehearsal of Countries Shaped Like Stars. I wondered, before it started, if it would be as amazingly beautiful as I remembered it was in Ottawa. Perhaps my brain had been exaggerating the show's power over the last 5 months. Maybe I'd been crazily hyping a show to anyone who would listen without due cause. Oh my god! It's still amazing. It's one of the loveliest shows I've ever seen. I was feeling pretty embarrassed to be tearing up at the end, when the lights came on and I saw Daga and Piotr wiping at their eyes.
Four Interludes is totally sold out tonight, but I'm going to squeeze in the back and watch standing. I expect the show to have a long life, so anyone who missed it this time around will have other chances to see it.
The Closing of Week One
Most of today's blog will be silly pictures. The first week of the festival officially ended with karaoke night at O'Neill's, which was awesome. Isaac Kappy has some sweet songbooks. Thanks Isaac! I still have this stupid cold, so didn't sing. I mouthed the words as a lot of other people sang.
Reptilian Lounge and End of Week One
Holy crap! The line for the Reptilian Lounge started forming before 9:15pm last night. I got a text when we got off stage to let me know there were already people showing up at the Filling Station. The Lounge was crazy- the Squash Blossom Boys were our house band and they are a favorite of mine. There was some good poetry, some bad poetry, some totally rad lyra performances, and a naked guy covered in cottage cheese. I won't tell you more, you'll have to come to the Lounge. But thanks, Adam, for totally making my night. Oh, and Buddy was there! He's a Lounge icon. But this time he did this incredible thing where, instead of singing songs, he had people hug him. It actually worked. People lined up and hugged him! Like 50.
Saturday Night Revolution
Last night was great. The house for Nasze Miasto/Our City was, indeed, sold out last night. The energy of the audience was incredible and much appreciated. As frequently happens, there were tons of places where people laughed unexpectedly- we hadn't previously thought the show was funny. Although, as Kevin (R. Elder, the director) pointed out, people sometimes laugh when they see something clever, or surprising. I do think there are a lot of surprising little moments in Our City. We did get a standing ovation, and at the reception afterward, everyone seemed to have really enjoyed it.
Mediumship Demonstration at Garduño’s
Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography at Barnes & Noble, Uptown
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