This is the journal of Ian W. Hill. I make theatre, and sometimes other things. You can find out lots more about me at my profile, but I needed this placeholder, post-dated entry up here until I figure out a few technical issues.
Hope I remain worth reading.
Well, back here for a moment from Facebook to post a promo for the new show... if you want to know more about this one in its past incarnations, click the "world gone wrong" tag and you'll get plenty about this show and noir in general...
|DVD -- Double Indemnity|
So I've been gone for many months from here, but intending to return. Just haven't felt like I had much to say, or rather, what I had to say fit better on Facebook. But some people might actually venture here from Zack Calhoun's blog Visible Soul, where I was just cyber-interviewed, and if so, here's the deal about this link and where it's going . . .
I'll try and get back to making this blog interesting again by discussing the process for my August season as it's going on. This year, I'll be doing three plays, Removal, a new one that seems to be becoming some kind of farce; Blvd de Paris, a classic play by Richard Foreman I've been wanting to get to; and Invincible City, a text created through improvisation by myself and David Finkelstein of Lake Ivan Performance Group, which David has already transformed into a piece of video art. The last two pieces will play on a double-bill.
So . . . as I work on these shows, I'll keep some of my process journal going here as I used to. I always seemed to work as both a place for dialogue and as a kind of promotion for the shows, so I should get back to it. The last few years, the shows have been big and I've been tired (and/or lazy), but I'd like to get back to an account of what goes into making one of these shows.
I also have some longer pieces I've been working on that might finally get done and wind up here. I've been working on something called "So Big It Can Never Be Catalogued or Appraised: Thoughts on Pieces of Citizen Kane" (which is exactly what it sounds like), and I put in a proposal that was (just today) sadly rejected for a book in the great 33 1/3rd series of monographs from Continuum/Bloomsbury Academic. My proposal was for the Mothers of Invention album We're Only In It For The Money, and I did enough research, thinking, and writing about that work (and related ones) just for the proposal that I should probably just write the book anyway and post in in pieces here.
At the current moment, I'm in the dressing room of The Brick supervising a tech for the Democracy festival that opens tonight. When not writing this I'm going through David's video of Invincible City and transcribing it, so I should be getting back to that. By the end of the weekend, I'm hoping to have all these shows cast, but that seems . . . unlikely. I'll let you know when I do. So more on the current projects soon.
Amazingly, when I went to open a new posting window here for this blog, I got a "Restore from saved draft?" window from LiveJournal. Yup, there was an old "Friday Random Ten" that I had typed up but not finished, long enough ago that the playlist of unheard songs I was working through had 9,456 songs in it (it now has 8,655). So from sometime in the past, and as a welcome back to this blog, here's a Friday Random Ten from January 6 of this year . . .
And here's a playlist of all of the above (or as close as I could find):
I did a Random Ten four or five days ago, meaning to finish and post it, but got caught up -- excitingly -- in the sudden definite go-ahead to bring back Gemini CollisionWorks's three August plays, ObJects, Antrobus, and Gone. So I've been having to work on scheduling the rehearsals and new shows, and trying to find actors to replace the ones who can't return -- 6 actors can't make it, and I have replacements for 3 of them; will be auditioning people over the weekend.
I'm going to try to keep up with updates on the shows, and with another Random Friday Ten tomorrow (well, today now), but I have to revise and get out the press releases and other stuff, and I may be stuck all day with that (as well as now having to go to the theater to meet a gas man to check our heater, which is making some impressively ominous noises.
So, in the meantime, here's 10 tracks from out of the 9,490 tracks on my ipod that haven't been played yet, with associated videos as I could find them...
And here's the whole video playlist of the above (with bonus track):
Now to give the cat his asthma medication...
Václav Havel has died at the age of 75. I was privileged to spend a little time with him in 2006, and from what I was hearing at that time, it seemed like it would be a miracle for him to live much longer, so I feel blessed that he made it as far as he did, continuing to work and speak and be a great example of what an artist can actually do for society besides make art.
Most of the brief four or five times I got to speak with him was spent with Pilsner Urquells in our hands, with me leaning in to try and make out his soft-spoken words, and him seeming embarrassed by his perfectly fine English (I'm sure, of course, a man of his precision in thought would have preferred to be as precise in his speech). I still treasure those times. With all the great tributes going around today, the fact of him as "STATESMAN" suddenly struck me again as it hadn't since I first met him. My talks with him had very much been conversations between two theatre professionals talking shop (he SO obviously loved being around actors, directors, and all the people, places, and paraphernalia of theatre!), and I had gotten so used to thinking of him as a playwright first and foremost again that his other great accomplishment had comparatively faded for me until now.
Which was, to no small extent, the purpose of Edward Einhorn and Untitled Theater Co. #61's Havel Festival at The Ohio Theater and The Brick -- to remind everyone of Havel's work as writer. We presented his complete work in that festival, including some previous unproduced works, and a number being presented for the first time in English (and some in new, improved translations). I was lucky enough to direct Temptation in the festival, and do a pretty spiffy job of it with a terrific cast.
I am still, to this day, stunned, confused, and angry at the lack of press attention for the Festival. Every press outlet in the city KNEW about this, and apart from a preview piece in the Voice -- mostly a general summary about Havel, somewhat boring and not a great promo -- and some reviews at nytheatre.com, there was next to nothing in the press about the Fest. There were, to be sure, a couple of dud productions in there, but otherwise it was work of high quality, and, again, the man's COMPLETE goddamned works were all being done.
I know Michael Feingold at the Voice was told personally four times about the Festival, twice before and twice during, and on each of the last three occasions he said he'd never heard of it and why hadn't he been sent something? Strange.
In any case, the Festival was still a marvelous time for us, and provided one of the most special nights of my professional life, when Havel came to see Temptation on the 17th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.
My original post about that special night is HERE.
That's the personal stuff. For more on Havel . . . well, my Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of tributes and links to tributes, quotes, and speeches. You can find plenty out there.
But most of all, READ HIS PLAYS. Please. If you care to, and you can, PRODUCE THEM. I'm not sure any more of them are right for me (unless I restage Temptation sometime), but one of them must be the right one for everyone out there. THAT is the tribute he deserves most, to have his work live on, and alive, onstage.
Thank you very much, President Havel, it was an honor.
A quick update as I have to get out the door and to The Brick ASAP.
Tonight we have a year-end party at the theatre for our community, and the installation of some more of the super-secret Master Masons of The Brick (so secret, it cannot be talked about, merely written about on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and in program bios). As Master Tyler of The Brick, it will be my duty, as always, to cleanse the sacred brick. Berit, as Sister Bailiff, will ensure order in the sacred ceremonies. But now, I've said too much...
So here's the weekly Random Ten again (with associated videos), from the 8,439 as-yet-unplayed songs in my iPod . . .
A mixed bag today -- classic, loved tracks from Roxy Music, X, and Polyrock, some pleasant ones I didn't know from known and unknown artists, a really great local garage track I didn't know (The Fewdle Lords one), and a truly horrific Serge Gainsbourg piece including some rap parts. Ugh. Here's the playlist:
Now to quickly make a party playlist for tonight (someone on staff already has one made, but it harms none to have a second ready) and get ready for the "sacred ceremony."
Reading, researching, wasting time on internet, waiting for B to wake up.
Today, more of the same. Plus, as mentioned, preparing a script for online publication. There are events and shows I'd like to get to, but I don't think that's going to happen. So it goes. I think today's westerns to watch (if we can get them all in) will wind up being Support Your Local Gunfighter, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, and maybe The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, none of which I've seen.
Still waiting to hear back from the casts of our August shows, ObJects, Antrobus, and Gone, about whether they'd be available and interested in coming back and doing the shows again sometime early next year to make up for the performances we lost with Hurricane Irene. So far, 11 of the 21 actors have responded, and those positively, so that's a good start. Maybe this will actually happen.
There's 24,779 tracks in my trusty iPod. And yet, even after 5 years of using it constantly, there are 8,483 tracks in it that haven't been played. Here's a random playlist of ten from among those unheard tracks (with links to online versions of the songs, where available).
Hey, cool -- for the first time in doing one of these Random Tens, I was able to find a YouTube for every one of the songs (okay, the Julian Cope is a demo version, but close enough). Here's a spiffy playlist of all the above (with bonus 11th track):
Okay, back to figuring out how to make NECROPOLIS 3: At the Mountains of Slumberland read like a real script.
So, no music update today, as promised, and it's not even the "today" I promised to update on anymore. Friday went by with me taking most of the day to prepare two of my scripts, Spell and Spacemen from Space! for the site Indie Theater Now -- since I write the plays to direct myself at The Brick, I sometimes write in a chatty manner that's specific to the actors and space, and won't read well to others. Tomorrow I'll try and fix up At the Mountains of Slumberland for the site, but that one will take a lot more work.
Also spent time today answering some more congratulations on the nytheatre.com thing and running errands -- post office, library. I'm getting in daily trips to the library, mostly in dropping off and picking up books in Richard Stark's Parker series, which Berit and I are going through like popcorn, though I don't think they'll have any immediate influence on any work I'll be doing.
By chance, I've been reading a number of memoirs, mostly of actors -- apart from Patti Smith's excellent Just Kids. That was the first one I read, and unfortunately it was so much better than the rest that the remainder of the memoirs have not looked so good. I've recently gone through Hal Holbrook's, Jane Lynch's, John Lithgow's, Diane Keaton's, Kristin Hersh's, Roger Ebert's, Tina Fey's, and the journals of Spalding Gray, as well as a combined bio of Carole King/Joni Mitchell/Carly Simon. Now I have a new one from Judi Dench. It wasn't intentional, but this will come in handy for my work on next year's play Removal, which is about a writer (or so it seems) looking back on his life and trying to revise it through obsessive revisions in his art. So these will be good to see how some artists do it, even when they aren't so enlightening or entertaining. Also, we've been watching Ken Russell's films in order, so I've finally gotten to see most of his early composer biographies for the BBC, which will also be a good source of inspiration.
I also have a nice stack of library books on branding, which are needed for research on another upcoming show, Invisible Republic #3, but I really need to get into those, and I probably won't be able to until after Xmas.
Tonight's viewing, while I was working on the scripts, was Sidney Pollack's Jeremiah Johnson -- meh; nothing wrong with it exactly, just . . . didn't grab me; Vincente Minnelli's Two Weeks in Another Town -- fun big Hollywood camp, with a great crazed car ride through Rome sequence (Berit, familiar with the automotive fatalities of Contempt and Toby Dammit, now calls out, "No, you're making a movie in Rome in the 60s, don't get into that car!" when the convertible shows up); and Robert Aldrich's The Legend of Lylah Claire, which was almost disappointing, though entertaining, in a bad-good movie way, until it got to the ending, which nearly made the whole thing a masterpiece -- I had heard that the last 2 minutes of this film were NUTS and either ruined it or saved it, depending on your point of view, and the psycho ending isn't even that long actually, but for me it made everything before it worthwhile. But whoa, is it nuts. Then it was the last of the available BBC Russell bios, the amazing Song of Summer. Really some of his finest work, though I still prefer the operatic, perverse Russell of 1970-1977.
Then, while internetting my merry way and enjoying some hot tea and cold aquavit, back to some of the TV shows we cycle around between on Netflix Instant. Tonight, a second season Mission: Impossible episode, a recent 30 Rock and now, as usual, several How It's Made episodes until sleep finally comes.
Tomorrow, fixing scripts, researching, and finally getting back to the Weekly Random Ten lists. And maybe some first words on Westerns. Berit and I have been watching American Western movies chronologically, starting with Stagecoach from 1939 and planning on ending with The Shootist (1976). We're up to 1972, and 134 movies of a 147-movie list, and I'm still not sure what I might do with what I've learned, or even what I've really learned. I just knew that it was important to know these movies better if I really wanted to GET movies and America and the 20th century in some important ways, but it's not something that can be intellectualized or verbalized so well. Or maybe that's the point.
Well, it's a little dusty in here...
I haven't touched this blog in 8 months, it appears. I think I'll be changing that soon.
With Facebook, Twitter, and other online media becoming such an immediate and satisfying way of communicating with vast numbers -- and where more often you are responded to, and you can SEE the responses, as opposed to a blog, where you often feel that you are sending messages out in bottles from a lonely island, most of which are going unread -- and given that a lot of the communiques I send are more suited to the shorter, telegraphic styles of those spaces, I've forsaken my LJ for Facebook, and to a lesser extent, Twitter. However, sometimes I've been thinking about something longer I'd like to say that doesn't fit those forms, and it seems to be time to get back to longer essays on theatre, film, art, music, and life in general. I have some longer thoughts about my own work, about my improvisational work with David Finkelstein of Lake Ivan, about Citizen Kane, and about the extensive watching of Western Movies Berit and I have been doing, that I've been working VERY slowly on, but which will show up here eventually, so I better keep the place alive for when they do make it to this location.
Also, Gemini CollisionWorks just received the honor of being named one of nytheatre.com's PEOPLE OF THE YEAR for 2011, which you can read about HERE, and as GCW doesn't have a website as such, I found myself linking here once again, but with nothing recent to welcome someone. So, I'll move back in with my weekly Random Friday music posts, and some updates on the works in progress for August, 2012 -- as well as any progress that's made in bringing back our shows from August, 2011, which has their run cut short by Hurricane Irene, leaving a depressing, unfinished quality to the remainder of the year that has only been alleviated by this nice recent honor.
So I'll be back tomorrow with SOMETHING. Now I have to go run errands after watching all the reaction to the honor on Facebook, and be ready to do a staged reading down at Coney Island tonight. See you soon.
Not much to blog about, or maybe too much. Still at work on my own new plays for August -- ObJects, Gone, Antrobus, and Invisible Republic #3 (which needs its own damn title but nothing has come up yet) -- as well as memorizing Mac Wellman's Terminal Hip. And keeping on top of things I'm needed for at The Iranian Theatre Festival at The Brick.
Berit and I have had a couple of useful dinner meetings to toss around the direction of ObJects and Invisible Republic #3. While I'm writing only fragments of these before going into rehearsal with the casts (once I have them), I need to understand the basic framework of each show, and the worlds they show and are, before creating them around the actors (also, I need to "see" these people in the world before I cast any actors for sure). So B and I have a diner meal (for some reason, sitting in a diner/coffee shop of some kind always works best for these meetings) and she helps pull out of me what I'm trying to do with each show, and then we throw ideas about the landscape of each play back and forth until it becomes more and more complete. Once I see the world, the characters, and the overall tone (and have some idea of the structural framework), I can bring the actors in and the incidents begin to show themselves properly.
The older plays Gone and Antrobus are more traditionally written -- Gone is finished as well; Antrobus needs a bunch of work and maybe some rethinking, but I pretty much know what it is. Gone, which I wrote from 1990-2005, is short and difficult, but now has a cast of two of my favorite actresses, Alyssa Simon and Ivanna Cullinan, which pleases me greatly. Alyssa agrees with me that the play is "impossible" but is equally excited to jump into this impossible work as I am. So with this and the nearly-as-impossible Terminal Hip, two of the five plays for August are cast and can proceed.
There have been a couple of Theater-blog-related items that have come up -- that is, debates, discussions and such in the other blogs -- that I thought of jumping in, but my blood boils easily, and my private responses thus far have tended to be merely unpleasant and unhelpful. Rather, Matt Freeman has dealt, as usual, far more fairly with the issues brought up in posts by playwright Mat Smart and CATT (Collective Arts Think Tank) and is able to express pretty much the same feelings as I without using phrases like "they should drown in their own vomit like the stinking dogs that they are." Thanks, Matt.
That's more than I've posted in a while -- my weekly postings have not been happening as they should. In any case, from now on I'd like to at least keep the weekly Random Ten going to make sure I always check in that often. Here's ten tracks out of 2,463 in the iPod playlist of songs not listened to yet on that device:
Here's the full video playlist for the above (with bonus track and a couple of substitutions where there were no YouTubes of the track I needed). On Facebook, this won't embed, so you can either see it at my original LiveJournal post or by going HERE.
Tonight, off to board op at The Brick again for the wonderful Something Something Über Alles. Tomorrow, same thing in the morning, then seeing my mother-in-law in the afternoon, then a party in the evening. Sunday, weekly improvisation work with David Finkelstein. Seems like a lot in between the times of figuring out what to do next.