Friday, January 28, 2011
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Remember a few years ago when everybody had to switch their headshots from black and white to color?
Well, it's because acting, while a noble profession and worthy of the highest praise, is also a cesspool of the worst people in the world who think they are important.
Could it be because everyone is just too lazy to go through their files to find the same headshot you have given them over and over again?
OR maybe people are too lazy to have electronic files of headshots?
Is it possible that since everyone in ANY position of power in this business has a cell phone that can bring up any picture of you ever taken that they could do just a LITTLE bit of work and find your headshot?
Of course it is, Anderson. For example...this morning I had to run around as if it were 1979 printing things, cutting things on one of those big paper cutters that look dangerous, taping envelopes together, just to send ONE mailing to ONE theatrical agency. I also sent a corporate resume (for a REAL job) through the email to a contact I have at an office I'd be interested in working at. Time spent for the Theatrical mailing = 10 minutes. Time spent for the Corporate mailing = 0.4 nanoseconds.
Why do they do that?
In this day and age, I'm only assuming that they must exist in the past and the only way to get a headshot to them is mailing it through some kind of wormhole.
Could it be because the system has no reason to change, because they are in charge?
Anderson, I believe you are a bit too close to the truth.
Have you ever heard of an awesome job come up that you would be perfect for? I mean, just the perfect one, but you hear about it from a friend who is an actor at your same agency and not from your agent?
Yes, this happens a lot. I will hear about people going to auditions for funny big guy roles and I look at them and say "But you are skinny, and a GIRL."
Do you ask your agent and they say something like, "Oh yeah, you can go to that if you want."?
This is such a depressing state of affairs. First, you have to exist in an old world of admin work just to get an agent. Then you realize that your agent will not work for you, because they seem to care about the people that might make them money.
Really? How far would you go?
Arabian Goggles, brah.
If you would do that for them, then why won't they send you out for movie roles?
I'd be so good as a creepy basement dude who kills and eats nubile boys from the local frat house.
You know what? I think it's time that WE started an agency.
Well, we could take this shit into the future, yo. We could start a website that makes it EASY AS PIE to send in your materials.
If we are going to be taking 10% off the top, just to read a fax and call a few dudes to go into a room where they have no idea what to expect, have taken off work for the day, and are absolutely wrong for the part, that seems like the least we could do.
Right? The whole thing is unfair anyway, so why make people buy stamps?
EXACTLY! At "Eric and Andy's Talent Headquarters" you will never buy stamps again!
That's a slogan for the home page, my friend!
And at "Eric and Andy's Theatre Company" you only ever have to bring one headshot!
Nope...but we WILL scan it into our awesome computers so we can search for it later...even though we really won't do that.
Unless you are really good looking.
Then you go into the "Cast Couch.xlsx" database.
-Eric Roach, Anderson Lawfer
Have you ever heard of Mamet-Speak? It's a style of dialogue made popular by a famous playwright named David Mamet. He writes lines in the way people really talk. Some people. Not ALL people.
Most of his plays are about dudes who drink a lot and worry about bitches and have nothing on the horizon and have blown all their chances for happiness years ago at the OTB. They say lines like, "I fucking love sandwiches" and "I was fucking this girl with a broadsword" and then their lines get cut off because they are thinking of something else.
Well, the drinkinest theatre company in town, Steep Theatre, is busy doing a version of a Mamet classic called Lakeboat.
Lakeboat is about this kid named Dale (the sweet-skinned Nick Horst) who gets hired for the summer to work on a boat that goes between the Great Lakes and delivers steel or something. You soon find out that this kid is Jewish and has no business being on a boat so he gets made the cook, because the last cook died in a bank robbery the night before. Dale spends all day peeling potatoes and having homosexual undertones with other men on the boat, and talks about what he has to look forward to back in college.
The only problem is, he doesn't know that he is in a Mamet play and so his future is not looking very good.
You will also meet a jerk named Collins, who is basically the bitch of the Captain. He spends almost every scene trying to get a sandwich for him. It is played with robust gusto by the always impressive Alex Gillmor.
There's also Stan, brought to cold, stark reality by Peter Moore. Stan is a guy on the boat who drinks all day and is complaining about having a hangover all the time. He has nothing to look forward to, nor does he have a home. He pretty much just lives at the lake and eats sandwiches and drinks whiskey all day.
Let's talk for a second about these two guys, Alex Gillmor and Peter Moore. These dudes are some of the very finest actors in the city, but you have never heard of them before. Know why? Because they only work at Steep. They are the Co-Founders and Artistic Directors and don't wanna have anything to do with you or your lousy theatre so don't even bother asking them. They have made quite a nice little home for themselves over the years and continue to do vaguely homoerotic theatre for the masses.
Well, the day on the boat is going by great and everyone is doing a great job, but for some reason, nobody can be happy! There's a fireman in the galleys played by the always remarkable and rakish Jim Poole and a dude named Joe (played by the handsome Sean Bolger) that doesn't seem to do anything besides talk to Dale about ballet dancing.
FYI: This is my first time seeing Sean Bolger, but now I see what all the fuss is about, ladies.
Now let's quit beating around the bush and talk about a guy in this play named Eric Roach. Maybe you've heard of him, because he is the highlight of the show. Now I'm sure you all realize that Eric is my work husband, but that doesn't make what I'm saying less true.
He plays this guy named Fred that has had a rough string of luck lately with the ponies and the dames but has high hopes of getting it all straightened out.
Roach has this monologue where he talks about his first date with some skirt and he's humping her and punching her in the face or something, I wasn't totally paying attention, but the emotional investment he put in made the audience stop and cheer for him when he finished. It was truly a moment of unrivaled grace yet to be seen on any American stage this century.
Lakeboat was directed by a man named G.J. Cederquist. I've never met this dude before but he must know a lot about lakeboats because this set had me thinking that I was right there, on this lakeboat.
The only criticism worthy of mentioning is that lack of sub textual work done. There are lots of opportunities passed up where somebody could be saying one thing, and really mean something else. I don't know if it would help the play or not, but I really like to read between the lines from time to time, gang!
Go see Lakeboat and have a slice of Harsh-reality-of-men-everywhere-in-80-minutes Pie for dinner!
-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach
Monday, January 24, 2011
Sometimes, being a reviewer is super fun! We get tickets to all the hottest times in Chicago and the suburbs. Now since my partner Eric was in tech for his new show, I got a chance to go down and see the magnificent and legendary Dolly Parton at the opening of her musical 9 to 5.
The night was filled with excitement as I walked through the cold in the loop to the Bank of America Theater. What a romantic name for a theater! I mean, why get caught up in fancy names that bring mystique and delight to your patrons when you can name it after a group of filthy money lenders who destroyed our economy and sacrificed our well being for profits? I can see why you'd name it the Palace or the Majestic or the Neptunian, but I want to know where all this money is coming from.
And money there was, friends!
When I arrived, I was herded off the red carpet because Ms. Parton herself would be arriving in a moment to tempt us with her country girl smile and traffic cone sized hooters. Well, within a half hour there she was, shaking hands and talking to all of her fans, just like she is famous for.
That's what I WOULD be saying if she didn't show up and immediately go inside leaving all these crazy people with signs who couldn't afford tickets to this thing alone and sad.
Once I made my way inside and to my seat I was able to really take in the full glory of the old Bank Of America Theater.
You know how you can tell if a theater is fancy? Look at the ceiling. If the ceiling looks like a cake you would see at a King's wedding, then you are in a fancy theater. DON'T EAT THE CEILING!!!
My enthusiasm was even harder to contain when Governor Pat Quinn came on stage and named January 19th Dolly Parton Day in Chicago!! Then the Queen came out and graced us! It was incredible! We sang her "Happy Birthday" and we all cheered! The energy and excitement in the room was palpable and new! We were in the presence of a national treasure and none of us would ever forget this breathtaking moment of gaiety!!
Then the show started and all the excitement and exuberance in the whole world vanished.
It starts simple enough. There is a 20 minute version of the hit song "9 to 5" where every character (and some dudes who you never see again) come out and tell us about what they do in the morning before they go to work. Some of them go into the kitchen and pour themselves a cup of ambition. Others yawn and stretch and try to come to life. Others still, brush their teeth and put on pants. Some make lunch for their kids. Some take the dog for a walk. So many people doing such terribly uninteresting things.
After this opening number, I could hear the patrons behind me saying things like "What IS this?" and "How could this be?"
Unfortunately there was no time to answer them because it was right into another number that sounded exactly the same as the one before, except this one was about what you do when you get to work. Then after that number, there was another one that sounded exactly the same except this one was about being a new girl in an office. And on and on and on.
These songs were luckily broken up from time to time by some world class and truly incredible actors with the most astonishing voices you've ever heard giving the dullest performances of their lifetimes and saying lines that I bet they never thought they would have to say.
You see, when you are an actor and have a family and join a union, you don't get to do a lot of things for the "art" anymore. What you mainly get to do is musicals for elderly people.
This play is based on the movie "9 to 5" that was a huge hit in the 80's starring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Dabney Coleman. The movie was an important piece about women's inequality in the work place, and while that may have been the case then, this musical is not. The show is still set in the early 80's and they sure do let you know.
Imagine for a second that this production is a poorly fashioned outhouse and sitting on top of it is a 10,000 pound coffin, full of it's own irony.
Here are some of the lines you can expect to hear:
"When I was a girl, blackberries and apples were things I used to pick behind the barn!"
"My son wants something called...an Atari!?"
"They are installing something called...an answering machine!!!?"
"It sure is GROOVY to have a lot of pubes!"
I could go on about the clunky set pieces and weirdo lighting, but here's the deal:
There's a difference between art and entertainment. People don't wanna just see art.
So the next time you are thinking about doing a one man Woyzeck with a surprise ending, realize that no one wants to see it.
On the other hand a show like 9 to 5 has nothing to offer us. There is literally NO message at all and will only be authentically enjoyed in Branson.
So we need to find some middle ground where we can say what we want, but dress it up as a neat thing for people to sing along with, or at least laugh a little.
Continuing to make art for art's sake will keep us as the second best theatre town. You gotta give people a little something to be happy they traveled from the suburbs to sit in your cold and weird little storefront theatre, and while Steppenwolf can do a Sara Kane play or a Simon Stephens play about drinking yourself to death, make sure you can do it great, or we all will suffer.
Anyway, seeing Dolly was cool and in the end, I have no regrets about going. It was a chance to kind of space out and think about grocery shopping.
If you need to make a grocery list, this play is for you!
-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
I awoke on the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. (observed) with a radiator hangover, somewhat regretful that I hadn’t answered Michelle Obama’s invitation to volunteer at a Literacy Fair for the day. Man, feeling pretty worthless about my contribution to the community.
Grumble-cursing the dehydrating nature of the elements which keep my apartment cozy and warm (and ignoring any notion that all the wine I drank last night has ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT) I flung my arm over to my nightstand to grapple for my smartphone. I had to check my email--I mean, I may not be volunteering today, but I’m still an AMERICAN.
But what’s this? A message from Anderson Lawfer? Inviting me to write for the Iews? Is this my chance to redeem my lack of community involvement? To reach outside myself, and put a little elbow grease into making the world a better place? To carry on Reverend King’s dream into 2011? Wow, that’s insulting to the legacy. No, of course not. He’s asking me to review a theatre show. I could have been handing out books to kids who don’t know how to read, or painting a school lunchroom. And I could have been doing that DURING THE DAY, and still been able to review the show at night, and feel really great about all the work I was doing out in the world. But this is what I get for being an inactivist.
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY: A+
CHRIS’S MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY: F
But let’s not let the significance (and accompanying guilt) of the holiday eclipse the fact that when Andy Lawfer calls, you answer! And the answer is “YES!”
He gave me his digits.
I called them.
And then this is where things got really cool.
He proceeded to give me the details of my evening’s charge in a low, serious voice that made me feel like I was a spy setting out on an important, secretive mission. I think that this is actually because he was probably at his day-job where they frown upon his outside blogging ventures because they know where his real passions lie, and know that in the love contest between Iews and Day-Job, Day-Job just doesn’t light the coals. And so they are over-bearing and possessive, but only as a prideful mask of their jealousy, and sadness. We all need to cling to our integrity.
But really though, that guy should do more voice-over work, cause then everyone would feel like spies, which is a really cool feeling and makes me want to buy more products.
ANDY LAWFER’S SPY VOICE: A+
So then, after looking at the Google Maps to find out where the hell I was going to have to route myself to get to Prop Theatre, I discovered my journey would take me to a stop at Western Ave & Addison St. !!! That’s where there’s a POPEYE’S CHICKEN! I will eat there!
And so I did.
I got a 2 piece mild combo with mashed potatoes and a Pepsi.
It was delicious and filling, but otherwise entirely unremarkable.
Well, I guess the restrooms were clean, and that was a nice surprise.
POPEYE’S CHICKEN: B+
But let’s get to the point, shall we?
So I’m attending the debut work of a new band of gypsies who call themselves THE WHISKEY REBELLION as part of the annual fringe-luxe RHINOCEROUS THEATER FESTIVAL. I’m not sure what this name brings to my mind, nor what the intent is. I mean, I bet the intent is to sound like a cool name, which, I think they are succeeding at. But I don’t drink a lot of whiskey, and I haven’t been a part of too many rebellions, and I’m not sure if I can recall a 7th grade historical reference (wait, let me check the internet real quick)--Nope, yeah, totally a historical reference to the time George Washington had to put down a bunch of whiskey distillers for not paying an excise tax (what does that mean?), proving that the U.S. government had the beef to put down a violent uprising of tax evaders. Or maybe they’re calling upon the evaders themselves who felt like they were being unfairly targeted because they lived in Western Pennsylvania and preferred to drink whiskey rather than pay taxes on it. And so maybe it’s the spirit of the rebellion itself. Historians and Wikipedia cite this event as being a significant contributor towards the formation of the political parties which continue to fuckle our nation today. (The new Republican party eventually repealed the tax, branding themselves as guys who don’t like taxes.) Or maybe it’s alluding to the aftermath: ratification by the citizenry of the constitution and acknowledgement of the opportunities and responsibilities that government representation offered, recognition by the Federalists that a government for the people could be fairly challenged by the people. Hm.
But the rebels at one point tarred and feathered officials of the government who were sent to collect the tax.
... I’m not sure this is striking the proper tone for a theatre company.
THE WHISKEY REBELLION’S CHOICE OF NAME: ?
Look, let’s be honest about what you’re going to see here. You don’t go to one of these festival things expecting to have your mind blown by a newfound re-invention of theatricality, or to be shaken to your emotional core in a way that’s going to make you finally pick up the phone and call your dad. I mean, if that happens, Great. I dare not say that such experiences are precluded by the nature of the thing itself. But attendance of a “festival” is an investment in voices that might matter tomorrow. You’re going to see some (typically) young theatricians sharpening their skill sets and learning their vocabulary. Maybe you’ll get to see some “risk-taking” or “experimentation” that you’re not going to see elsewhere--and some of that’s gonna work and some of it WON’T. And maybe there’s some intellectual stimulation up for grabs by participating in such a process, by listening to the ideas that are being batted around. But at best you should simply hope to just not come out HATING the fact that you just spent your time there.
So by that measure, SIGN OF RAIN wins.
The show opens with a pastoral little folk song that reminded me of the score to “The Princess Bride,” which is never a bad thing. The ensemble sings about how they’re going to take our gold, and I think something about how they’ll rip apart our limbs once we’ve died. Okay. It’s pretty clear this play is going to be some kind of downer. But here’s the only note I have (actors love giving each other notes): I just kinda wished they were smiling. I think this would have welcomed me into the story in a warm way, help to “set me up to knock me down.” Cause if you start the play with it already being a downer, and then the play’s a downer, I didn’t really go anywhere. But if you “trick” me into thinking things might not end up all bad, I might be sad when they do. Anyway, that’s all I got on that one.
So THENNNN, there’s like a little puppet show introduction of our main character, Bly, telling a bedtime story to her little sister (dexterously marionetted by Alexandria Frenkel). Here’s when we learn some things! One of the things we learn is there are RAINCROWS who will punish THIEVES! It’s a pretty exciting fairy tale that also involves a golden potato! We also learn that Bly and her sister share a magic gold amulet that plays music when you open it, and that Bly’s sister is a little frail. I really enjoyed the fact that the Bly puppet had a Princess Leia haircut.
Then the real journey begins! Bly steals away (note theft, remember the Raincrows?) on a locomotive bound for the open freedom of the West! She meets another stowaway named Lee (played with urchiney affection by Courtney Kearney), and they start to bond over their poverty and mischief. But it soon becomes clear that Bly might not be running toward the West so much as running from the East. Hmmm... what happened back there, Bly? And remember the Raincrows? Why are they haunting you? HM??? It also becomes clear that that magic gold amulet Bly is wearing gives her special premonitory powers--and everybody wants to hold it LOTR-style. And didn’t those guys earlier say they were going to take our gold??? And remember the Raincrows???
And you know, some stuff happens, I don’t wanna give anything away, but it’s a pretty enjoyable ride even though ultimately the story evokes a sadface. The scenes are broken up and interspersed with songs that are pretty lovely. Jordan Stacey does a good job of singing and playing guitar on them--and sometimes he plays his guitar like a drum--WHAT!??? The modest little set design is pleasing to look at, and complimentary to the action.
You know, another part of the “festival experience” is seeing what creative folks are able to do within the limitations of budget and resources. And let me just say, these guys are succeeding. The show is well-designed and inventive in that handmade kinda way. There’s some pretty cool projectionist work that creates neat little special effects in answer to some of the script’s more demanding visual imagery. Like RAINCROWS. (What the hell even are those?) Again, don’t expect some kinda gd magic show, but y’know, good job.
THEN, there’s Dana Dardai, who, in my opinion, has “it.” She plays the violin and leads the Raincrow chorus. She does not take this responsibility lightly. She is “invested.” I mean, I’m not slighting any of the others, they’re all in it and great, but Ms. Dardai is selling it. And she plays the accordion. Always impressive to see someone who’s actually spent the time to learn that weird thing. In that way that’s simultaneously impressed by the skill and quizzical of that skill’s development.
The script is a pretty good poetical little yarn. Jessica Wright was brave to have her crippled character declare, “I’m lame,” and other characters to ask, “Why are you lame?” Man, that could have backfired. But it didn’t. So, kudos!
And I guess I should say that the whole ordeal was well-helmed by director Aileen McGroddy. Way to be smart about what you can do and what you can’t.
Overall, if I were you, I’d look forward to the work of THE WHISKEY REBELLION. They clearly seem interested in things other than American History and alcohol-fueled dissent. Interdisciplinary, ensemble-esque type stuff, which I heard Aristotle said was important once.
SIGN OF RAIN: A
Monday, January 17, 2011
Yesterday, while you were all watching the Bears play the Dolphins, I was getting ready for my favorite night of the year! The Golden Globes! It's the one time a year when ALL the best celebrities come together and cut loose. Everyone is drinking and doesn't care what they look like, they just wanna have a great time without any implications in the morning.
Ricky Gervais hosted the event. Did you know that hosting means making 5 jokes at the top of the show and then making 3 other jokes during the show? It seemed like that was their main advertising campaign. "Watch Ricky Gervais lampoon Hollywood all night long!" But then he called John Travolta and Tom Cruise gay, and that was it.
Shit, I could do that.
Speaking of Jews...
See, one thing we know is that Jews control the media, but one thing we didn't know is that all celebrities are Jews also. For instance, did you know that Winona Ryder is? Here real name is Winona Horowitz.
Still don't believe me? Here are some Jews you can Iews:
James Franco, Andrew Garfield, Natalie Portman, Isla Fisher, Jonah Hill, Selma Blair, Elizabeth Banks, and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Now you always thought that Jewish chicks worried too much and went crazy when they have sex, but that's not entirely true. They are also capable of living regular lives and being famous, so there's something for you to look forward to. It's nice to see that after your people kill Jesus, you can still be successful.
The Golden Globes are my favorite awards show because they combine the best of both worlds! Television and Movies (which you can also watch on television). Sometimes they nominate movies that haven't even been out yet, which is confusing because I can't cheer for those movies because I haven't seen them.
To be Frank with you, I haven't actually seen ANY of the movies that were nominated except Inception so I was cheering for Inception to win. Either way, nobody saw "The King's Speech" so nobody was cheering for that piece of garbage.
What was that even about?! A King? With a lisp or something? What a stupid idea for a movie.
What if the King was really black or something? I would watch that movie because I love to watch things about royalty and they could get Idris Alba to be in it and he. is. hawt.
Let's get to the biggest category of the night: Best TV Show!
There were lots of options this year, so I was excited for this one. I've been having a hard time this year finding a job in the theater, so I've had LOTS of nights free, and have watched most of these shows. The contestants for Best TV Show were:
The Good Wife- This Chicago-based show features great acting. In it are a guy from Dead Poet's Society, the lady from Men In Black, and that horrendous monster looking lady Christine Baranski.
Modern Family- A very funny show about different kinds of families who are all in the same families. The only person you would know from this show is Ed O'Neil who was probably most famous for his role as the FBI Team Leader in The Spanish Prisoner. Because there aren't many celebs in this, you probably didn't see many of the cast there, because the Golden Globes are for stars, not for jerks like us.
Boardwalk Empire- This show is on HBO so it was a clear favorite because on HBO there are boobs and people can say the word "Cocksucker". This show was made by Martin Scorsese and features Steve Buscemi as this gangster guy...I haven't seen this one, but it's about boardwalks and cocksuckers, I bet.
Glee- This seems to be everyone's favorite show except for me. I think it sort of sucks, honestly. I think the acting is terrible, the style of dialogue and range of issues jumps too frequently for it to ever be interesting, the music choices are too safe, and for a while it co-starred a person who in my opinion is the fucking bane of entertainment, Kristen Chenoweth.
I mean, if God offered me an opportunity to be homeless for a year, but then Kristen Chenoweth would be gone forever, I would take it.
Her voice and stupid haircut and... you guys know she's like, 60 years old, right?
As far as entertainment goes, my burning and undying hatred for her is only eclipsed by Robert Plant's comeback album.
Anyway, Glee is pretty stupid, and if you ever say this to someone who likes Glee they say this:
"I know it's stupid, but it's fun!"
That means they don't think it's stupid.
Anyway, I forgot who won in the category "Best TV Show" because "Burn Notice" wasn't nominated. AND THAT SHOW IS THE JAM.
You wanna know something else about me? I get blond women confused. Like this lady here... I don't know who she is, and in Hollywood, all blond women can be interchangeable so why get attached? They all look the same and they all play girlfriends in romantic comedies or Russel Crowe's wife. I seriously couldn't pick Kate Winslett out of a line up until she got old looking.
For some reason people think this dude is really good looking even though he looks like he has a glass eye and is a foreigner.
Everybody went home a winner this year, except for Johnny Depp who lost for everything he was nominated for. I think that is good because he seems like sort of a jackass. Always wearing lots of bracelets and sunglasses at night time. Plus, he won the award of marrying a french model and living in a castle in France, so let's not encourage him.
Great job, Hollywood!
Friday, January 14, 2011
Hey Iews Fans! We got a chance to sit down and dish with avant-garde wunderkind Sean Graney about food, sex, acting, and The Hypocrites!
We met at a place called Filter, which was a coffee house that had been infiltrated by horrible hipsters in their Chuck Taylors and Elvis Costello glasses. We knew we were in the right place, and once we braved the hipster tide to find our man of mystery, Sean Graney, we settled in for mochas and gossip! Let's take a look at what this darling of the Chicago storefront theatre scene had to say!
Nice to finally meet you. So you are a vegan?
What do you eat?
Sean: A lot of tofu and fruit.
I can tell you eat a lot of fruit. Why you so vegan?
Sean: I love animals. I guess it's a spiritual thing.
Whatever, fag. Let's talk for a sec about your home life.
You are married?
Sean: Yep. Her name is Vanessa Stalling and she is beautiful and great.
Who are some actors and actresses you really love in Chicago?
Sean: Jude Law?
Sean: Any of The Hypocrites and Erik Hellman.
What is the biggest problem you run into in non-equity theater?
Sean: Well, by far it's the fatigue. You have people giving all they can, and usually working another day job also.
Eric and I aren't afraid of looking stupid, why don't you cast us more?
Sean: Well, why don't you guys audition for me more?
Audition? No thanks. Let's talk about the value in your work. What do you find value in?
Sean: I find a lot of value in breaking the normal ways if presenting plays and doing the unexpected. I like to challenge audiences sometimes. I also like to satisfy the work ethic of Chicago theater. Chicago has this, blue collar/ hard working way of looking at the world, that I've always had. But I also like to do weird artsy things every now and then.
Do you feel like you have a certain style?
Sean: I don't feel like I do. I try to challenge myself with every show, and make it different from all the others. But I do have a big fruity toolbox that I draw from, every now and then. That means, when faced with a road-block I look at what has been successful in the past. And then I also draw from criticism of my work.
Sean: Yeah, it's never really from "critics" per se, as much as from audience feedback. For example, Comedy of Errors or Pirates [of Penzance]. Some feedback that I've received has basically been, you know, "You ruined this play" which I take to heart. I understand people's frustration, because they think I offended a basic rule of life, that a play is made of words on a page. But I think a play is an experience that unfolds in front of audiences. So to the people I offend, I really am sorry, but they should know, it's not like I go to the library and burn the Comedy of Errors, it's not like other artists can't do it in more traditional ways.
How many tattoos and piercings do you have?
Sean: 4 tattoos and 1 piercing.
Eric: (sotto voce) This is getting a little heavy, brah. Shall we get a drink at that place that looks like a bar next door?
Andy: (sotto) I think we should. Do you think Sean can hear us whispering right now?
Eric: Nah, he's scoping hot chicks to be in his next promenade style play.
Then, as if guided by the voices of a thousand angels, Eric and Andy snuck out through the bathroom window into the night.
Eric: Woooooo! That was a daring escape! This is Steve McQueen shit, yo!
They wandered next door to what appeared to be a bar. They trounced in, shook off the cold and noticed that this was nothing but a stupid bicycle store!
Eric: This is a stupid bicycle store!
What would they accomplish here? Sean Graney was no doubt becoming aggravated by the boys' tardiness.
Bicycle Store Guy: Hi, dudes! Are you interested in any retro bicycle seats or handmade cigar box dioramas?
Andy: Ummmm... I don't-
Bicycle Store Guy: This diorama is an exact replica of the set of MASH, final season. Here's Hawkeye telling that lady to kill her chicken...it turned out to be a baby though. That was sad.
Andy: Well, I guess we could use one of those.
Eric: What's this bicycle seat with a picture of Justin Bieber on it go for?
Bicycle Store Guy: $409.99. Would you like it to go?
Eric: Bag all this shit up, hipster! I'll be paying by check!
Then, Eric and Andy slunk off, creating distractions to fool Sean Graney.
Sean: Where did you guys go?
Eric: Andy's jacket was on fire.
Andy: I hate this jacket.
Ok, let's quit fucking around and talk about what we need to talk about. We have heard on the streets that you are stepping down as Artistic Director of the Hypocrites. Is this true and why?
Sean: I am leaving the Artistic Director position for The Hypocrites. Helena Kays will be taking over. It's time for me to go, although it's not like I have anything better lined up..The company needs a strong active Artistic Director, and I just couldn't make that re-commitment .
I had one major question...Do I want the company to go on? The answer was yes. Next thing i had to ask was, how can it go on without me?
Not too many companies make theater like we do (for better or worse). I would be heartbroken if the company didn't go on, if we closed the doors and didn't give it a chance to survive beyond me. But we need an AD who is fully committed to the business as well as the art.
Do you feel like it was too much of a business?
Sean: When we first started, it was so exciting! The challenge of running a small business, but we reached a point where the business was moving but there still wasn't money coming in. We had to continue to APPEAR like we were growing and it was hard, because no one was getting paid but we had to keep growing somehow.
So how did you do it from a business standpoint?
Sean: In the early days, sheer will, determination and insanity. When business started to suffer, I had to start programming plays I thought would sell well. We started doing safer plays.
Sean: Sort of. That was just a play I felt like we should do, but I didn't really want to do that.
How did Our Town effect your bottom line?
Sean: Besides our productions of it at the Chopin, which did very well, we didn't make anything on the New York production. The work on the stage is the intellectual property of the director, so we had to let it go.
That sucks. Do you get along with your board and managing director?
Sean: I do, but we need a board that brings in money. I don't wanna kick in my own money any more. I'm also bad at raising it, so to grow, something needed to change.
Will you still be involved?
Sean: Yes. I will direct 2 shows a season for the next 2 seasons. This will give Helena a chance to find her own voice and direct 1 show a season while figuring it all out.
What are you gonna do with yourself? Do you have other things lined up?
Sean: Nope. I have been directing 7-8 shows a year for the last 3 years, and now, when I decide to leave to free up time, I've got nothing lined up. Hopefully some one will hire me for something. I can direct bar mitzvahs.
Maybe you need a new career. If you hadn't gone into theatre, what would you have done?
You would be a weird lookin' math guy. What are your favorite companies in town?
Sean: You know, when I first came here, I was hugely inspired by the Factory Theater and still hold them among my favorite companies. Also Strawdog and the Neo-Futurists. Court and Goodman are good too.
Give em Hell, Sean Graney. We love you so very much.
-Eric Roach, Anderson Lawfer
-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
"Wow maybe you should go see the show again and pay attention this time. You seem to have missed alot. Too many drinks at the bar before the show?This was posted by the famous internet commentator "Anonymous" yesterday in response to my friend and fellow rapscallion Andy's brilliant review of Boho's The Elephant Man.
Cameron Feagin who plays a whore with a heart of gold-she plays an actress hired to be Merrick's friend who actually becomes his friend and cares for him deeply. The elephant man is not playing with cardboard houses and they actually did get into that-you obviously must have been playing with your ice during most of this show.You as a failed actor must have nothing better to do with your time than post inaccurate and silly blogposts."
We all know that the internet, if it were a real place, would be the Mos Eisley Cantina: A wretched hive of scum and villainy, and we must be cautious. Of course, the Mos Eisley Cantina isn't a real place either, but wouldn't you like to hang out there? Just once? I would, and there'd be a sweet limited edition action figure released of C'wan Lathteth...that's my bad ass Star Wars name. I'd be a smuggler with Jedi powers!
The internet makes fools and morons into actual "people." It makes a guy who couldn't pass English 101 into an art critic who gets all kinds of free tickets to shows and gallery openings, it makes a redneck into a disaster film director, and it makes Neil LaBute into a thin male model who gets laid all the time. What I'm saying is: the internet is perfect for those of us with delusions of grandeur. You can take nothing and create anything.
Unfortunately, most people just end up showing their true colors on board the web express. What could be a wonderful place has turned into a cave where a bunch of neanderthals throw rocks at each other because no one can make fire the right way. You've heard the saying, "Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one?" Imagine an infinite number of assholes spewing the foulest, smelliest excrement all over the universe. That's the internet.
I love the internet, actually. I can have food delivered, stream movies into my TV, and write my incredible missives that thousands of people choose to read. It is an amazing tool...but it has been misused. Our technology has FAR surpassed our humanity. We're barely out of the ocean as a species, and we have access to a network of computers that can control a fucking SPACE STATION? Show the internet to King Henry the Eighth and he'd have you burned at the stake and then ask his men to figure out how to use it to destroy France. (Side note: You can totally destroy France with the internet.)
Here's some new rules for the internet:
- You want to post anything? A blog, a comment, a video you made? You have to sign in with your full name and your social security number...no exceptions.
- You want to post anonymously? OK, but it costs $5...reasonable, but you have to decide if your bullshit is worth a fin.
Why NOT be held accountable? You've got something to say, great, say it all you want, but hiding behind an Anonymous post is a coward's way out. You want people to take you seriously, to really listen...put your name on it. Then we'll know if you're Jon Stewart, Bill O'Reilly, or just a cracker who likes big asses.
For lunch today I treated to myself to an Eating Right Cheese Ravioli frozen meal. This meal was on sale for two dollars at Dominicks; that means I had to work for roughly fifteen minutes to pay for this culinary drek. It was not worth it. The "marinara" sauce tasted like the tears of out-of-season tomatoes. The ravioli were stuffed with a meager amount of cheese and overcooked to a rubbery consistency. Not only that, but there were only six or seven meager ravioli in the dish. It's like that joke from "Annie Hall." You don't know what I'm talking about? Ignoramus. Add it to your Netflix queue. Sorry, I'm just grouchy because I'm still hungry. This meal made Chef Boyardee canned ravioli look like Mario Batali-level cuisine in comparison. Seriously, this was Barf City, U.S.A. If this is Eating Right then I don't want to know what Eating Wrong is. *ba dum ching*
Monday, January 10, 2011
My friend Anita and I went to see The Elephant Man at the new Theater Wit space, but first we stopped off at The Gondola. The Gondola is the new restaurant across the street there, where Joey's Brickhouse used to be, and let me tell you, it was hoppin'!
We didn't have tons of time, so we settled on an order of baked clams and a conversation about our lives.
When the food came out, Anita put a whole clam in her mouth. She bit down and with shock and despair in her voice she shouted "They left half the goddammed shell on this thing!"
Yes, Country Mouse, they sure did.
After we figured who to blame for leaving the shells on the bottom of these baked clams, we told the waitress we would only be paying half price, because you could only eat the top half of these things and we also suggested that the chef should, perhaps return to cooking school and take a class on mollusks.
After dinner, we wandered over to Theater Wit. What a great new theater! The box office was friendly and the concessions area was clean and bright!
I ordered a ginger ale with some ice for the show. I saw that it was about 1:45 without an intermission and I knew I would be thirsty.
Why do shows go that long without intermissions? Can they not afford one?
I wanted to let them know that over at Steppenwolf they have a show with 2 intermissions, and maybe they would be willing to donate one. This seemed like it might come off as a little sarcastic, so I just let things be and found our seats.
What do you know about the play "The Elephant Man"?
Here's what I knew.
John Merrick was this real dude that had some crazy weird growths all over him. I had also surmised from this that the play was about acceptance of others no matter what their appearance is and that people would probably have accents.
I was right about both of those things.
The play is directed by June Eubanks, and one of the tricks she uses is, she projects the scene number and name up across the stage (like Frazier), and then an actor comes out and reads it. This device is used sometimes to make scene changes seem less utilitarian and add a touch of whimsy to the thing. Now, there are like 57 scenes in this play, so needless to say some of the scenes are very short, so sometimes it would go like this:
A scene would end, and a new scene would flash across the stage. For example:
There Is Only Darkness In This Room
Doctor: What are you doing here?
Merrick: Catching lightning bugs. I use this for light.
Doctor: What for?
Merrick: There is only darkness in this room.
So there were like, 80 scenes like that. Now, to the directors credit, it was easy to follow everything, and you were always rooting for the Elephant guy. You want him to live or whatever he wants to do, and he also builds little cardboard houses or something, they never really got into that, but I bet that's what it was because once he was taken into captivity, he was probably pretty bored, just like elephants at the zoo.
Well at about scene 37, I was running out of ginger ale and so when I put the cup to my mouth, the ice would slide all the way down and when I put the cup back, the ice would crash at the bottom of the cup. At first I didn't notice, but as I kept doing it, I started to notice a certain set of eyes on me. Those eyes belong to a certain reviewer in town with a name that rhymes with Rom Rilliams. He was looking at me like he wanted to rape me in the alley. Well, you can bet that that was the last time I tried to drink any ginger ale!
Anyway, the acting is pretty good I guess. Here's the thing. Remember when you where in high school and everyone made fun of you for doing faggoty plays with British accents? This is one of those plays. The guy who plays the Elephant man is named Mike Tepeli. He's pretty new I think, but he's good. He's sort of like Will Allan I think.
Then there is Cameron Feagin who plays a whore with a heart of gold. She is REALLY good, but they don't do the topless scene for everyone to see boobs, only the Elephant Man gets to see them. Feagin has been doing a lot of plays lately and you can see why. She's very natural and has a nice speaking voice.
Zach Bloomfield is this guy who plays weirdos and he doesn't disappoint here. He plays a really creepy dude that ends up looking for some forgiveness, but is really just a douche.
But I think the BEST performance of the night goes to Steve O'Connell. He was great as the doctor on the edge and I have high hopes of never auditioning against him. That will be hard, since we are both tall and handsome leading men.
Go see this play, it's got a minimal set but I hear Bohemian Theatre is a great company to watch in the future, so get in on the ground floor!
-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach
P.S. After the play, I saw Rom Rilliams order a ginger ale, so maybe he was just looking at me like that because he was jealous.
Friday, January 7, 2011
Q: What is the last bastion of male white America?
I recently returned home from the clutches of the dreaded beast known only as the family vacation. Looking back, I truly shudder to think about the direction our trip could have taken if we had gone anyplace other than Disneyworld. The Magic Kingdom. Where dreams really do come true. Where the patriarch rules supreme, and comes home after a long day at the office to find a hot dinner waiting for him on the dinner table, cooked by his loving wife, while his kids happily flit about and show him their completed homework. Then they all sit down at the dinner table for a wonderful meal right before an early bedtime. That is...unless "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is showing on ABC Family. (FUN FACT: Did you know that movie was the 5th-highest grossing movie of 1996?)
Disney markets itself as The Happiest Place On Earth. That's no joke. Exhibit A: On New Year's Day at approximately 6:30 a.m., I began to load our family wagon for our trip home after a magical few days of standing in line and eating cheeseburgers. (NOTE TO THOSE ABOUT TO BE MARRIED OR HAVING KIDS: This is what New Year's Eve/New Year's Day becomes.)
On my way back from our car to our Disney hotel, I passed a white, 40-something Disney employee who was emptying one of the 3,873,000 trash bins located on the Disney property. This particular garbage bag was pretty large and unwieldy, and was giving her considerable trouble. She saw me, and her face instantly lit up into a smile.
"Good morning! It's going to be a beautiful day, isn't it?" she chirped happily, dumping the garbage bag into her motorized Disney mini-garbage truck.
"Happy New Year," I mumbled.
"Oh!" A momentary look of fear crossed her face. Fuck! I forgot to wish him Happy New Year! What if this guy is a DISNEY SPY? I will be MURDERED, just like Denise over at Sir Mickey's Hut! She left that that spilled popcorn on the floor for more than 30 seconds, and got an ax buried in her SKULL! FUCK-FUCK-FUCK-
Her Prozac-induced look returned in an instant. "Happy New Year to you as well!"
"Thanks," I waved.
"Have a magical day!"
I really do suspect that all employees are strongly encouraged to take their Disney Happy Pills before beginning work at this 47-mile Plexus Of Dreams. Nearly every employee at Disneyworld is 100% in character. In fact, they are not even referred to as "employees". Instead of signs that read "Employees Only", they read "Cast Members Only". I would estimate that 90% of all Disneyworld cast members are under the influence some kind of Mickey's Happy Medication, which make those 10% all the more jarring.
Exhibit B: We signed our children up for a little Disney Extreme Makeover, which consists of them going into a makeup and hair studio -- then participating in some magical advenures with REAL Disney characters. My 8-year-old son was dressed up as a pirate from Pirates Of The Caribbean, and then was allowed to have a plastic sword fight with JACK SPARROW HIMSELF, in front of hundreds of spectators. The pirate makeup artists, photographer and cashier snarled "ARRGH" with gusto, and my son was properly cowed and impressed.
My 5-year-old daughter was taken to the Bippity Boppity Boutique (located inside Cinderella's Castle), and given the full JonBenet Ramsey treatment by a REAL FAIRY GODMOTHER, complete with hair extensions. Then she was hustled down into the castle for a photo shoot with Cinderella, then hustled upstairs for a magical lunch inside the castle, resplendent with foie gras and ALL THE DISNEY PRINCESSES. But whoever was playing Princess Ariel ("The Little Mermaid"), had skipped her Disney Medication that day. My daughter was struggling with her crown, which was jammed tightly around her skull along with about a pound of hair gel.
"Let's go, YOUR HIGHNESS!" snarled Ariel. Not in character. By now, I am sure she is enjoying her new job -- AS FOOD FOR THE LIONS INSIDE DISNEY'S ANIMAL KINGDOM!
There is no smoking at Disneyworld. Wait a minute, I'm sorry. There IS a smoking section at Disneyworld, located conveniently behind a Disney Trash Dumpster near the Disney Janitor's Broom Closet. It measures approximately 2 feet by 2 feet, and you can find at least 35 smokers squeezed comfortably inside this area, enjoying their cancer (All those who step outside this line are tased by Cruella de Ville).
The rides are pretty much what I remember as a child. The Haunted Mansion is a total disappointment, as they have incorporated "The Nightmare Before Christmas" into the ride, and substituted candy canes and Christmas presents for the "ghost" who sits beside you in the haunted chair that you see in the mirror. BOO! "It's A Small World" is as cloying as ever, with Christmas music weaved seamlessly throughout the famous theme song that makes one The Happiest Person In The World. Favorite part of the ride: The Santa figure perusing a gigantic list of names, which started out with the following names: Tyrone, Shawonda, and Raheem. Clearly, this was the "naughty" list.
I'd say more, but my time is limited and my thoughts on Disneyworld could truly fill pages and pages. I should really give two reviews:
FOR CHILDREN: A+++++++
For Adults: B (and a definite F if you are a smoker)
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Who's our first unlucky murder victim, Eric?
That's your assignment, chilluns!