And, you know, while you're there, you should really check out my Dinosaur Comics Reading Party. Because it was awesome.
I've been very busy with theatre lately! I'm currently in Pint Sized Plays at San Francisco Theater Pub. I play a guy who is just trying to read The Hunger Games and enjoy his beer while incidentist tries to get a pesky word out of his head. It's been fun to finally act with Dan, given that he was my in into the Bay Area theatre scene. It's also the first time I've been in something that wasn't a reading in a long while.
Look, I even got interviewed! Sort of. Like Sarah, I also love getting to hang out with some of the most talented and gorgeous human beings in the universe. There are various actors I've seen in other shows (like Sarah, for instance) that I've enjoyed getting to know better. Look at me, adding more Facebook friends to my "Bay Area Theatre" group. In other news, this post continues to hold true.
I auditioned for this year's San Francisco Olympians Festival. Last year, I read a monologue from Jaws, and none of the directors asked for more, and I got to do stage directions for Hephaestus. This year, I read a monologue I didn't even recognize. In fact, it was for a woman. But I did my best, and Megan asked me to read some of my piece as if I were a heroin addict jonesing for a fix, so I, uh, did that. With a rapid-fire stutter or something. And then a woman I didn't even know—what!—asked me to read a line as if I were admonishing my overprivileged teenage daughter. I felt like I could have done better on that one. Months ago, when I ran into Megan at a play, we were talking about Olympians, and she said that she would love for me to be in hers, reading stage directions at the very least. But, in fact, I got a real part! As said heroin addict! So come October 7, I'll be a thieving heroin addict named The Rabbit in a 1970s cop-noir take on the Orion myth. How cool is that?
I also auditioned for Theater Pub's first musical/folk opera, based on the Faust story. I had been invited to participate in an early reading of the play, and I asked Dan along as well. Both then and now, people have amusingly commented on how much chemistry we have, how believable we are as long-time friends. Heh. At the actual audition, I did my monologue, which I had learned in a few days, and sang a minute of "Welcome to Paradise." I didn't sound half-bad, actually. I read a side that was an expanded version of a scene from the initial draft, twice as one character and once as another, and that was that. I didn't get a role in that one, though.
Finally, I'm writing again! Ever since I ran lights for Picasso at the Lapin Agile, I've had a whole nother theatre crowd on this side of the Bay. I'm working with a new theatre company that combines scripted and unscripted theatre. I provide the beginnings of a scene, one or two pages, and they improvise the rest. It took a few tries for the actors to get used to my voice—apparently, my Voice is "cerebral, sarcastic, and witty"—as they had been working for two months with a playwright with whom they could very quickly go to the dark, dramatic places they wanted to go (as Sarah [not that one, I know a lot of Sarahs] described it, "I had 900 miscarriages and now I'm gonna commit suicide and also I'm actually your dad"). But once they got a handle on it, it was neat to see them do their Thing with my Stuff.
I'm more comfortable with short stories, but for the last year, I've thought that I should really branch out into playwriting since I have a much higher chance of people's actually seeing my work. And already I've got great actors saying the words that spew out of my head! It's been great to let the creative juices flow once again, and I hope to learn how to do this thing right. It's a challenge to write pieces that are specific enough to define characters and relationships but vague enough to allow the actors freedom to choose a direction. The cool thing about this company is that both the writers and the actors get to hone their craft. If all goes well, they'll do a night showcasing my work and then the magical endgame where I write the first act of a play, and they improvise the second act, not having a clue about the set, costumes, props, or anything until the night of the show.
This was going to be the section where I complain about my parents, but, really, aren't you tired of that? Do you want to hear the umpteenth iteration of the phone call where my parents tell me they don't like something, I say everyone else likes it, and they say I think I'm better than everyone and mine is the only opinion that matters and they are the only people who will tell me the truth and why am I so ungrateful after all they've done for me and even white people respect their elders, and then they hilariously ask if I can rearrange my travel schedule so that I can see them AS IF I WOULD WANT TO IN MY CURRENT EMOTIONAL STATE OF INCREDIBLE RAGE?
After taking the Jack the Ripper tour in London, I was inspired to soon read From Hell, by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. First of all, the art is terrible. I hated it. Half of it looks unfinished, and the other half looks like something Campbell sketched on his lunch break. It's atmospheric black-and-white, and I could almost never tell who a character was by looking at him or her. The most impressive aspects of the art are the background, the architecture of the buildings and all.
From Hell takes as its starting point the notion that Jack the Ripper was Sir William Gull, a Masonic doctor ordered by Queen Victoria to silence some prostitutes who could expose the prince's illegitimate child. This sounds very exciting, but it's not! It's incredibly hard to follow the story on the page, as Moore seems to assume the reader is familiar with everything that ever happened in the 19th century. While it's not a particularly gripping tale, I have to admit it's a fantastic piece of historical fiction, as the forty-page appendix that painstakingly details the sources of information for every page can attest to.
Moore's take is interesting, however, for the way that it portrays the Ripper murders as a pivotal moment in history, connecting it to violence past and future while giving a picture of the present in all its uncensored dirtiness. He gives Gull supernatural visions, which seem to be the extent of his character development, as the real motivations for taking the murders as far as he did isn't clearly explained (his misogynistic monologues are uncomfortable to read). There are many cameos from important figures like Yeats, Wilde, and Crowley, among others; some of these are more fictionalized than others, simply in an effort to tie as much as possible to the Ripper murders and present them as a herald of the twentieth century.
All in all, I think I found From Hell a little too intellectual and esoteric for me, but I do respect the amount of work that went into it.