Monday, December 10, 2007

Juana - Tolucan Times Review

The Tolucan Times review is online!

http://tolucantimes.com/index.php?news=2675

Friday, December 07, 2007

Juana Reviews

The LA Times review showed up online today. You can find it here. (You'll have to scroll down to locate it.)
Their fellow performers wrestle with the tricky requirements of acting through their own bunraku-style puppets, director Andrew Moore's device relating to the human monsters that inhabit Juana's dark universe. It's an intriguing approach, but one that calls for considerable refinement, as does Moore's realization of the play overall.
Not an unfair statement at all. Juana is a very ambitious production, and no doubt an extra week or two of rehearsal, as well as another grand or so in the budget would have yielded more polished results. The lesson I take from this is that I didn't go far enough with the minimalism. As a theatre maker, I believe in exploiting weaknesses, and turning them into assets. I could have gone much further.

I am happy that the Times reviewer got what we were trying to do with the puppets. That pleases me.

The Tolucan Times review hasn't yet shown up online, which is a damn shame. It's a great review!
Thoughtfully conceived by director Andrew Moore, the play employs puppets as metaphors for how others manipulated and controlled Juana's life.
Go Team Metaphor!

The Backstage West reviewer didn't seem to appreciate ... well, anything:
But director Andrew Moore has made so many unfortunate choices and has been saddled with so many unhelpful circumstances, the story of the betrayal of Juana ... over 30 years by her father, husband, and son feels exhausting.
I take that back. He raves about the very talented Phillip Kelly, as well he should.

So there you have it. Three reviews from three publications, reflecting three very different takes on our humble little production.

I remain very proud of my actors, designers and tech staff. I am deeply thankful to have had the opportunity to work with the wonderful Erin Scott, my stage manager, a complete professional in every sense of the word. She was a godsend. And I would be completely remiss if I didn't also publicly acknowledge Colleen Reilly, the true artistic producer of this play, whose tireless dedication kept me going. Write Act Rep is a great place to make theatre, no doubt about it.

So, that pretty much raps things up. The show closes on December 15th, and there will no doubt be a post-mortem at that time. For now, in the words of Dave Grohl, "done, I'm done, and I'm on to the next one."

Friday, November 30, 2007

All About Juana

I started this particular blog as a home for my theatrical musings, to keep it separate from my puppetry musings at www.thefelties.blogspot.com.

The play I directed at Write Act Rep, Juana, opened last night. As it so happens, Juana has a bunch of puppets. So I've been blogging about that show at my other blog. (Yes, I have a bit of blogger's schizophrenia.)

So here's the catch up:

I wrote a three part "Concept and Design" series. Here's part one, part two and part three.

Here's where you can read all about the puppets.

Here's where you can read all about the stained glass windows.

Here's a posting about the last rehearsal, including photos from act one.

And here's my summary of last night's opening.

Now that the play is open, I'll try to reserve any further commentary on it for this blog. Thus adding further fuel to my blogger's schizophrenia.

Pray for me.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How Much?

A recent blog from Seth Godin got me to thinking. How much should you charge for theatre tickets?

I'm not one of those airy-fairy types who believe that "in a perfect world, we'd do it for free." On the contrary, I believe that in a perfect world people would want to exchange money for content; as opposed to the current scene, where some people believe that artists owe them their content. (More power to Radiohead and like-minded artists who chose to give their stuff away. Some of us have to scrape to make a living.)

But I digress.

I've come around to the idea of charging about what you'd pay at a "premium" movie house, such as the Arclight, or the Chinese. This means $15 - $20 a ticket. It seems reasonable to me, and looking around seems to be the standard pricing for an under-99 house.

As reasonable as $15 - $20 seems to be, there are still those who balk. I've had people tell me that they'd love to see a show I'm in, they just don't have the money. It embarrasses me, but I've used the same excuse, at least to myself.

And so here's Seth:
What they are really trying to say is, "it's not worth it." As in, it's not worth reprioritizing my life, not worth the risk, not worth what I'll have to give up to get this, not worth being in debt for.
You can't beat people away who are excited about something. Witness the iPhone, an overpriced gadget that most everyone knows will be improved upon in short order, making the first model obsolete. $15 for a play ticket? The average Starbucks customer spends more than that in a month for coffee. And I bet they don't even realize it.
 
So okay, let's say for the sake of argument that $15 is just too unreasonable. Why not lower the price?
A show I was in a couple of years back was so bad, we slashed ticket prices at the door to $5, and actively tried to get walk-ins. This was on Hollywood Boulevard on an evening with heavy foot traffic. We managed to snag four walk-ins ... who loudly demanded a refund at intermission.
 
People won't want to part with so much as pocket lint for garbage. And as the old saying goes, "fool me once ..." Nothing kills off repeat business faster than one lousy experience.

Again from Seth:
The best response is to make something worth paying for.
And there is the drum that Godin beats with great fervor throughout his work as a marketing guru. "Be remarkable."

Which brings us to a very important question: What are we doing in the theatre that can't be done better on screen, iPod to Imax?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Practicing What I Preach ...

Andrew Moore, plotting fool, at a Starbucks somewhere.

I'm working on a screenplay in my low-tech fashion. As you can see, I have two piles of note cards. The pile closest to me is the pile of blanks that I'm writing on. The other pile is where I discard them as I go. I keep a legal pad (sometimes a comp notebook) handy for any additional general notes or dialogue ideas that spring forth.

In fact, you can see I have some dialogue scraps written.

My process is a bit like putting together a patchwork quilt. It's all bits and pieces, scraps of ideas that relate to each other. Before long the bits and pieces come together in one glorious, keyboard pounding session, and voila! A first draft is born.

I know plenty of people (cough - mom - cough) who have incredible stories to tell. What's more, they have the passion inside them to tell the stories. When you hold a finished novel in your hands, or watch a brilliantly penned script unfold before your eyes on the screen or stage before you, the work can be a bit daunting. These things never (well, hardly ever) spring full born from an author's mind. It really is just putting one word after another. It adds up over time. If you never take that first step -- then the next, then the next -- you'll never get the job done.

Or, as they say, the Great Wall of China was built one brick at a time.

NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, begins very shortly. I'm not doing it this year because I'm writing a play, directing another play, and trying to crank out some spec scripts. If you're feeling stagnant and need a creative flush-out, I highly recommend you take the challenge.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Bright Ideas

I've recently come across the blog of a theatre professor at UNC Asheville named Dr. Scott Walters. He's written extensively on theatre at http://www.theatreideas.blogspot.com/, and certainly seems like my kind of theorist.

His most recent post (as I write this) really sparked off a troubling round of self-reflection:

Really? There's no similarity between the gated community dweller's quest to surround himself with others who share his values and the artist's attempt to do the same? When in the case of the gated community, surrounding oneself with a homogenized environment is a retreat, when artists do the same it is a sign of fearless originality? Just how does that work out, given that the underlying principle is the same: surround yourself with like-minded people.
Who are we making theatre for, anyway? It reminds me of Peter Brook's "why theatre?" exercise mentioned with great emphasis in The Empty Space. Programming a season because such-and-such a play would be "cool" to do, or because such-and-such play would pander to a certain audience now strikes me as deadly. As a playwright, what does this mean?

Perhaps it means a reassessment of why I write for the theatre. Do I do it to satisfy my own need to feel self-important? Or am I striving to tell honest stories that satisfy a need (still trying to figure that need out!) that exists in the audience?

And what of that audience? The theatre company I am currently aligned with lives in Hollywood, California -- just down the street from the Hollywood sign, and around the corner from Hollywood and Vine. Our home is in the old parish hall of a church built by Cecil B. DeMille. Our audience -- and I'm just speaking of those within walking distance (although who walks in L.A.?) -- our audience is potentially young actors and filmmakers, writers, musicians, punks, Latinos, and who knows what else. What are we doing for them?

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm so glad my company (Write Act Rep) is taking advantage of this recent revolution in promotion:



The idea of a commercial for a play is not a new one. The ability to reach thousands of people for free ... that's remarkable. I've seen a few other play "trailers" online. This is a great idea that is taking hold, and is a great marketing boon for small theatres.

Also, the play looks wicked awesome!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Midsummer Night's Dream


I haven't been this proud of a show since college. We're hitting on all cylinders with this one; the set and costumes are lavish, the acting top-notch, and you can't get better dramatic material. Jeff Soroka has done an outstanding job assembling this group and helming this production.

My lovely wife choreographed the fairies. You can read about that at her regular blog. (here, here, and here.) Very sensual, very sexy fairies! Hell, that alone is worth the price of admission!



Oh ... and I'm in it.
 
Come see it!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What to Draw

From UNCLE EDDIE'S THEORY CORNER!: WHAT TO DRAW WHEN SKETCHBOOKING

It's a fact: You can learn much about your art form by studying other art forms.

An artist and theoretician I admire is Uncle Eddie, veteran animator and esteemed man of the world. On Tuesday he posted the above blog entry.

Here are two quotes to ponder:
"If you draw people as individuals you'll end up as often as not with cliches: the middle-aged guy with a gut, the fat woman wearing tight clothes, the guy nodding off while he tries to read his newspaper, etc. That's because ordinary people people look pathetic when you draw them in isolation."
"Where people come alive is in conversation. That's where they become psychological and fleshed out. Take the fat woman. When she's talking she's no longer just a stereotype, she's a human being with a point to get across. She's more interesting."
Hear, hear! This goes along with something David Mamet rails about, namely "Dead Kitten speeches." In order for dramatic literature to be dramatic, you must see the interplay of characters. Bad writing shuts down the forward momentum of a play so we can see just how boring a character is (i.e. a horrible monologue.)

A well-crafted monologue somehow creates the same effect good dialog creates; it moves you forward in the story.

Good food for thought!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Mad Theatrics Journal


LAST CALL FOR ARTICLES!

UPDATED

The MAD THEATRICS JOURNAL is accepting submissions for our premiere issue! I should probably post some sort of submission guidelines, but this first issue is going to be very loose. Let's just say, keep the articles a reasonable length, somewhere around 2,000 words or less. There is no theme. Anything goes! We are looking for the following types of material:
  • Short plays
  • Theatre theory/history
  • Reviews
  • "How to" articles
  • Humor/satire
  • Photographs
This ezine shall be published in PDF format, with no support for hypertext. I, Andrew Moore, shall be the dictator-in-chief. Submissions (preferably a copy-and-paste-able file type: .txt, .doc, etc.) can be sent to me at scrapsflippy@gmail.com. If you have any questions, shoot me an e-mail or comment below.

(NOTE: This will be published under a "Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives" Creative Commons license. Otherwise, authors will retain their own copyrights. I'm not planning on making any money on this venture. To read up on why I'm doing this, read this blog entry.)

UPDATE: I corrected it up above. 2,000 words or less. I don't want a novel, just an essay or article.

Monday, September 03, 2007

No Flying Monkeys ...

Seth on cheap advertising:
Mysteriously, when the ads are cheap (think banners, or cable or AM radio), the content is lousy.

A SuperBowl ad costs a few million dollars to run... so the beer companies and the dot com companies spend millions creating the ad, even if it runs only once. [...]

There's no economic reason for this. You can run that banner ad in a thousand places. You can run that radio ad in 200 cities. If the media is cheap, it might just be a good value. And if you can run an effective ad, you can run it far and wide and turn a profit.
I don't think it's that mysterious at all. When it comes to a Super Bowl Ad, there is much more money at stake. With banner ads or AM radio ads there's virtually nothing at stake.

This is true for entertainment, as well. Compare your run-of-the-mill improv show with Broadway's Wicked. It costs virtually nothing to put on an improv show; very little is invested so oftentimes you literally get what you pay for: an hour or two of diversion. Meanwhile great piles of cash are shoveled into a BIG-TIME BROADWAY SHOW. A huge investment! Also a better bet than your local run-of-the-mill improv show.

It's not just the investment of capital, and here's where the mystery truly vanishes: The artists involved understand the scope. The improv show is playing to friends and family or die-hard improv fans or folks too broke to cross the street to see Wicked at the Pantages. A small pool. The artists involved in a BIG TIME BROADWAY SHOW know that there will be lines around the block. The artists have more at stake with a bigger audience and so bring their "A" game. As for the group playing to a dozen people, half of them comped ... there is a difference.

(HOWEVER, the Broadway show could be a crass, mediocre piece of crap performed by jaded jerks. The little improv show could have more heart and sheer talent on display than all the theatre palaces in the world. These are the exception to the rule. Not every improv is "The Kids in the Hall" back in the day, and not every Broadway musical is "Annie 2.")

The thing to do is to bring your "A" game regardless, to not settle for mediocre, to be remarkable. There was a little show in Hollywood that opened earlier this year titled "All About Walken." It's eight actors doing Walken impersonations in scenes and monologues. The show went up the the Gleason Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard -- I've performed on stage there myself, in a show that averaged five audience members each night. Just a hole-in-the-wall storefront theatre. Certainly not the Pantages.
 

 
This play -- a play that cost next to nothing to produce (i.e. no flying monkeys) that features eight people doing Walken impressions for crying out loud -- got major media coverage. The show was consistently sold out. These same eight actors could've just done a mediocre improv show, but they didn't settle for that. They brought their "A" game, and they flourished.

So that's the lesson to take away from all of this: Don't throw away any opportunity to be remarkable, no matter how "low rent" the venue.

[Also posted at www.thefelties.blogspot.com.]

Friday, August 24, 2007

Antonin Artaud: A Poetry of Space -or- Theatrical Yoga

[NOTE: Please forgive this messy little essay. This is a work-in-progress. I was struggling with Artaud's theories back in March of this year, and this blog has been sitting around as a draft ever since. I took a break from Artaud, but I've decided to go ahead and clear out some cobwebs. As always, I'm interested to hear opinions on this!]
I say that the stage is a concrete physical place which asks to be filled, and to be given its own concrete language to speak.

... this concrete physical language to which I refer is truly theatrical only to the degree that the thought it expresses are beyond the reach of spoken language.
-Antonin Artaud, The Theater and Its Double, pg. 37

We are dominated by words. Words fill our thoughts, define our experiences and communicate our wants and desires to others. You're reading words right now, words I first wrote out on a yellow legal pad at a coffee shop at half-past eight on a cold Thursday night in Los Angeles. Words can be very precise. Words can be vague.

It has been postulated that words are the source of neurosis and psychosis. Broken words. Thought viruses spread as words.

It has long been held in some circles that only The Word can bring salvation. The divine logos. The holy word.

Words conjure magic. Words seduce and repel.

But there is life in the absence of words. There's a whole universe out there full of the unnamed. Experiences can transcend words. We may struggle with the adjectives, but eventually words can make the intangible more concrete.

If I think of an elephant I once saw, and tell you "elephant," you cannot possibly know exactly what I'm talking about. You haven't seen the same elephant. Even if we were standing side by side, you saw the elephant through your eyes, not mine.

In the theatre, we depend upon words. Perhaps too much. This is the point Artaud is making in the chapter "Metaphysics and the Mise en Scene" from his book The Theatre and Its Double.

"Western" theatre is "psychological" in the coarse, materialistic sense that deals with push-button behavior and cause/effect action. This is perhaps best executed with a heavy reliance on words. Compared to Asian traditions ... well, I'll let Artaud take it from here:
In the Oriental theater of metaphysical tendencies ... this whole complex of gestures, signs, postures, and sonorities which constitute the language of stage performance, this language which develops all its physical and poetic effects on every level of conciousness and in all the senses, necessarily induces thought to adopt profound attitudes which could be called metaphysics-in-action
-- ibid, pg 44
Hence, Theatrical Yoga: assume this posture, assume that posture -- BOOM! Here's your enlightenment/self-created truth/epiphany, etc. (Please forgive my "Little Golden Book" understanding of Yoga. I've never formally studied the subject.) I think this is a fair assessment of what Monsieur Artaud is saying: "the possibilities for realization in the theater relate entirely to the mise en scene considered as a language in space and in movement."

I suppose I could just as easily call this "Theatrical Feng Shui." The idea is the same. Arrange things just so to create a predetermined effect on an audience, independent of -- in fact, in place of -- the spoken word.

Interesting. I wonder what a wordsmith like David Mamet would say about Artaud?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Artfully Delaying the Inevitable


In a way, writing is nothing more than artfully delaying the inevitable. This may explain why writers are such fantastic procrastinators.

Take me, for instance. I should be finishing up my final draft of Torrid Affaire; instead, I'm writing a blog entry -- long hand -- with my battered and red-ink stained copy of TA sitting beside me. I literally have maybe two or three pages to write. That's sick! Why don't I just finish it already?!

So we all know where most stories are heading as we read them. Harry Potter, in spite of Jo Rowling's coy statements, is not going to end with our favorite bespectacled wizard riding his Nimbus 2000 to that Great Hall in the sky. It's pretty inevitable that Harry will live, and I'm banking what little reputation I have as a plot-smith on that prediction.

However, when I pick up my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on Saturday morning, I will no doubt grit my teeth through every page, fearing the worse. All because the art of writing is the artful delaying of the inevitable.

We all know how easy it would be to short-circuit the situations our favorite protagonists find themselves in. We all know that telling the truth or opening the mysterious door or refusing to get one's panties in a bunch -- whatever -- would take all the fun out of it. Imagine "Three's Company" without the mandatory misunderstood eaves-dropping! Story over before the first commercial break.

The trick is to delay the inevitable -- the discovery, the outing, the explanation that sets all back to normal (or at least a new "normal.") The further trick is to do so without getting caught by the audience. That's where the artistry really comes into play.

This hypothesis would explain why the revelation of a "deus ex machina" is such a groaner. The writer has done a lousy job putting off the inevitable, and has wandered off to Delaware rather than a sound third act.

I hope this has been enlightening. If you will excuse me, I need to finish my play!

[Note: upon returning home, I was sure to blog this before typing up my corrections for Torrid Affaire.]

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Know How to Lie

Here's a subject for debate:

Leaving Write Act this evening, it occurred to me that one of the keys to making good theatre is know how to lie, and what to lie about.

You can get away with a whole lot on stage. The audience willfully allows the wool to be pulled over their eyes. The catch is, you have to do meet them halfway and do a convincing job.

For instance, in my play Torrid Affaire, one of the characters talks about body paint as foreplay. She says "waiting for the paint to dry was the most intense foreplay I've ever experienced." You know, I'm not certain that body paint ever dries sufficiently to enable smudge-free sex. It's a lie. No one has ever seemed to care!

The other part of this is you have to know what to lie about. You can't get away with lying about the emotional life of your character, for instance. Well, maybe you can. I've known actresses who could conjure up tears the way some adolescent boys conjure up belches. Perhaps I should say you can't lie about being in the moment. Yeah. That great, nebulous "moment" we're all striving for. You're either in it or not. You can't fake it.

So there's my latest theatrical theory. To make good theatre, you have to know how to lie and what to lie about.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Burlesque


Sometimes I feel like I've been living under a rock.

Yeah, I know. It's impossible to be "up" on all forms of entertainment. Perhaps if I were "smart" I'd specialize and just become the world's biggest specialist. Unfortunately, I enjoy a glorious variety! And so it goes that I find my self constantly amazed by all the nooks and crannies artists carve out for themselves.

Take burlesque, for example. Pamela and I took in "The Super Sexy Show" last Thursday at El Cid, and we were absolutely blown away by the performance. The lovely ladies of the Hollywood Pin Up Girls gave a spirited, aerobic performance. We enjoyed it so much, we're going back next week!

Pamela, who has been going great guns in her dance classes, has been studying a bit of burlesque of late. Her interest has led her to the utterly amazing Jo "Boobs" Weldon, which in turn has opened up this huge world of burlesque.

This is fortuitous. You see, I've been working on a new play for the past six months. It started life as "The Secret Lives of Pin-Up Girls" but has kind of stewed around in me shoulder melon without making any real progress.

Taking in the artform of burlesque, studying the history of it, has opened up my play. It's set backstage at a burlesque theatre in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, 1942. It's the story of the ladies who lifted the ... spirits ... of our servicemen during the war. It will deal with such things as the Japanese American internment, the casualties of war, and the sacrifices made in "the war at home." But mostly it will be about the ladies.

For now the working title is simply "Pin-Up Girls."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Writing like Beethoven, Writing like Mozart

[NOTE: Back before I started this blog with my lovely wife (and co-conspirator,) I posted a little think on www.thefelties.blogspot.com entitled "Writing Like Beethoven, Writing like Mozart." I'm going to repost this here, edited and slightly expanded to better elucidate my meaning.]

Here are a couple of observations on the nature of writing for performance.

MOZART:

Some years ago, I found myself taking a summer course in playwriting from noted playwright Allen Partridge. I was toiling away on what was to become Diving In. We students would turn in our pages each day, and receive his teacherly criticism the next day.

One day, Partridge handed back my pages and he had written in red ink on the top page "Too many notes, Wolfgang!" It was the only note. I queried him and he responded "Watch Amadeus." So I did. Near the beginning of the film, Emperor Joseph II give Mozart some helpful advice:
"My dear young man, don't take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It's quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that's all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect."
So I took this up with Partridge, and received the best piece of writing advice I've ever been given. Essentially, why use a paragraph when a well wrought phrase would accomplish the same thing? Economy of word leads to greater emotional impact.

The analogy is a bit off, because one should strive to write like Mozart. In Mozart's work, every note is in its proper place. There is nothing superfluous. Or as Mozart retorts to the Emporer:
"Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?"
Of course, he was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and I was just a snot-nosed young playwright. Indeed, Diving In had a few too many "notes." It's a lesson I'm still learning.

BEETHOVEN:

The way I learned it, when Beethoven went deaf, his music went nuts. Musicians complained about the difficulty of performing his music. The notes were too high, too difficult to reach; his passages were far too complex to play with human hands. And yet, the music is beautiful, challenging and nuanced.

Well, I try to write like Beethoven.

Oh, I don't get too ridiculous with the demands I put on a performer. I don't expect them to sprout wings or bleed tapioca pudding.

However, I may write a character who makes an emotional turn "on a dime." I have a certain fondness for repetition in monologues that makes them difficult to memorize. I may even force a performer to say words and relate experiences that are horrible, embarrassing, disgusting, etc. It's only because I respect actors enough to bring my "A" game as a writer.

Mamet does this. Read Oleanna sometime. It's perhaps the most infuriating piece of dramatic literature that I've ever thrown across the room (several times.) The more I read it, the more I grow to appreciate it. It's compelling, subtle, nuanced. It's also two actors with their asses glued to furniture blathering on and on in a repetitious verbal tennis match. On the surface, nothing really seems to happen. I had the good fortune to direct the final scene of the play for an acting class, and I really began to get it: The slow burn, the psychological chess match.

I do try to write like Beethoven and write like Mozart. Because if I'm not going to really put forth the effort, what's the damn point?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Ball's Backwards and Forwards

I recently re-read David Ball's "Technical Manual for Reading Plays" (see link under "Required Reading" to the right.) Great book!

On its face, it is a book about play analysis. In truth, it's a handy guide to what makes good dramatic literature good (not to mention what makes it dramatic.) As such, it is a wonderful source of insight for dramatists, actors, designers . . . anyone who has anything to do with theatre.
"Inspiration without technique -- if it exists at all -- is merely flair."
There is no such thing as "post-production" in theatre. There's no shooting "pick-ups" or saving a play with "creative editing." As a director, once you put a group of actors in front of an audience, all bets are off. They live or die based on the choices you made in the weeks leading up to the debut.

Thus the importance of a director's analysis. On a show like Juana, a sweeping epic that deals with suppressed history and the conspiracy to depose an intelligent, powerful woman, the more I have figured out going into production the better. Ball's approach is action oriented, dealing with what happens in the play rather than what the play means. Meaning evolves from an understanding of action.
"The simultaneous communication of both understanding and emotional experience is the domain of art."
It's a very practical approach to a very practical art form. The bonus for me as a playwright is that re-reading Ball's Backwards and Forwards has helped me crystallize my thoughts on creating dramatic literature.

"If your theater has to take pains to clarify themes for you audience on the lobby walls or the program cover, then you have failed to make the play a working stage piece."
I feel better armed, going into my director's analysis. I really can't recommend this book enough!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Micro Hysteria

Marketing guru and unknowing theatrical genius Seth Godin coined a new term last month -- "micro hysteria."
Far better to obsess about owning the micro audience, at least for a moment, than to waste your energy trying to be everything to everyone.
It's a sentiment that is at least as old as Aesop: "If you try to please everyone, you'll wind up pleasing no one." Seth is taking a moldy old law "everyone" knows and turning it into an active rule of thumb with micro hysteria: "Go after the niche."
To find packets of the population that interact with each other and create [micro hysteria].
In the theatre, the problem of promotion is how to fill seats. The most common form of promotion out here in Los Angeles is the color postcard, stacks of which litter cafe counters and theatre lobbies and laundromats all over town. This is stupid promotion, equivalent to a street preacher yelling at passersby from a megaphone. There's no connection, no conversation.

Well, no surprise. There's no audience, just random strangers.

In a town as fractured and spread out as Los Angeles is (and here I mean the whole of Los Angeles County taken as one megalopolis) random shouting is lost among the din of all the other random shouting going on. The theatres that thrive seem to have a strong subscriber base, or at least dedicated regulars. The community is there, it just needs to be nurtured.

Food for thought.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Proverbs of Theatrical Hell
(with a wink to William Blake)

Timidity is the death of theatre.

Life in art and art in life are one.

The audience is judge, jury, executioner, and unindicted co-conspirator.

A personal statement crumbles mountains.

A self-indulgent statement brings laughter and derision.

A blind man hearing color is art.

A deaf man seeing music is art.

Fire of passion heals.

An actor on stage is more honest than an actor in the house.

Tragedy is primer.

Comedy is relief.

Conviction is godliness.

Lazy playwright, lousy playwright.

Acting is total awareness and no awareness.

"Enough! Or Too Much!"

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Mad Theatrics Journal

"... [creating theatre] is not just a question of wooing an audience. It is an even harder matter of creating works that evoke in audiences an undeniable hunger and thirst."
--Peter Brook, The Empty Space
The MAD THEATRICS JOURNAL is accepting submissions for our premiere issue!

I should probably post some sort of submission guidelines, but this first issue is going to be very loose. There is no theme. Anything goes!

We are looking for the following types of material:
  • Short plays
  • Theatre theory/history
  • Reviews
  • "How to" articles
  • Humor/satire
This ezine shall be published in PDF format, with no support for hypertext. I, Andrew Moore, shall be the dictator-in-chief. Submissions can be sent to me at dalmotion@sbcglobal.net. If you have any questions, shoot me an e-mail or comment below.

Friday, January 12, 2007

I am pleased to announce that I (Andrew) have joined Write Act Rep!

Later this year I will be workshopping Torrid Affaire for the company. I will also be designing and overseeing the construction of a full cast of puppets for an exciting period epic.

The theatre has always been square zero for me. My home. When Pamela and I produced Torrid Affaire last year it just felt right. Sitting in the darkened house, making notes during rehearsal, coming down to the line . . . I actually felt relaxed. That's just crazy.

I wanted more of that feeling of -- dare I say "completeness?" -- so I had planned on self-producing Sonny this year. And then Pamela joined Write Act. I tagged along to work calls, took in a few shows, and just fell in love with the whole thing. The facility is capacious yet cozy, and the people are dedicated and so very talented. The concern I felt about taking on (again) the awesome task of self-production eased off. There was no longer any need to "go it alone."

I've found my group!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Here's an Idea ...

I was reading over Andrew Rhodes' great comment to a recent post, when the thought occurred ... why not do a quarterly "Mad Theatrics" journal/magazine? An e-zine about theatre from the trenches? Sort of a bruised-knuckle, roar-of-the-greasepaint/smell-of-the-crowd take on "American Theater Magazine." The content would be assembled from general submissions from whoever wants to submit. Articles can be written by theatre professionals or theatre fans. We can print reviews, theory, short play scripts, etc. And the whole thing is a free download available seasonally.

The editorial board shall consist of me (for right now.) If this thing turns into something interesting, maybe I'll expand the board and get more sophisticated, but for now it'll just be a Rough Theatre e-zine lorded over tyrannically by me.

Thoughts?