Oct 30, 2006

A dark day for Seattle theatre

I heard about this while I was driving and I almost had to pull over. And I'm a pretty good driver.

Despite the diplomacy and thoughtful blame-skirting that is going on and will likely continue to go on about this, it pisses me the hell off. How much longer are we going to let boards of directors drive theatre into the ground in this city? ACT (still alive, but really, why?), ConWorks and now Empty Space. The divide between business and art grows wider now as the divide between fringe and so-called professional theatre grows ominously wider for young actors.

Here's who I blame:

The Board, - Non-profits operate in debt as a matter of course. This is not a red-flag like it is in the corporate world. The point (no matter how saddening) of a non-profit is not to make money. Seems obvious. This particular non-profit showed promise - something corporate investors should know how to spot if they're worth their salt. Shame on this board for its apathy and lack of vision.

The Non-Profit Model - I don't pretend to know the details of how these work (perhaps that's the problem, maybe I should. Maybe we all should). But it seems that artists are kept in an endless cycle of begging for money and then pouring it into a model that has zero return. Then we fill out mounds of paperwork to prove that we didn't make any money, then we beg for more with the promise not to offend our benefactors. Meanwhile, the self-worth of an entire arts community continues to erode. Why can't art be part of the marketplace? Let's have this discussion more often. Shame on us for believing that taking money equals selling out.

The Arts Community - Including myself. As stated above, we perpetuate a belief system that becomes a self-fulfilling cycle. I am an idealist, admittedly, largely due to the fact that I am physically unable to hide my frustration and anger behind apathy and cynicism anymore. It makes me ill. We all have the chance as artists to change what we do. To make it work better. The resources are there, the enthusiasm, the talent. We should be tarring and feathering these people for retarded decisions like this. Instead we cower and say "thank you sir, please don't yank my funding..." The Stranger is killing theatre?! Wrong: The Stranger has given more ink to Seattle theatre than any other paper in the city. Their criticism hasn't always been just, but I'll take it over Adcock's pointless ramblings any day.

Grow a spine, Seattle artists. Be brave and passionate and angry. Give the Stranger a reason to hate you and the other papers a reason to poo-poo you.

And raise a glass to the Empty Space, you ungrateful bastards.

Oct 12, 2006

Put it on. Put it all on.

Is it just me, or is this new Burlesque Revival thing just... well... not very exciting? All due respect to the folks I know who do it and like it.
I don't know, it just doesn't seem to spin my pasties as much as everyone says it should.

[Insert your own "Emperor's New Clothes" reference here.]

Oct 8, 2006

David Caruso, J'accuse!

There's been a lot of fun-making around Beetsland lately regarding the unconventional and questionable acting ability of one Mr. David Caruso, better known as Lieutenant Horatio "H" Caine of CSI: Miami.  

Let it first be said that Ida and I guiltily adore this show as well as the entire CSI series - (favorite imaginary subtext in CSI:NY scenes featuring Gary Sinise -  "I'm Gary Sinise, by the way, so f*ck you.").  

Back to Caruso in Miami, though. We've spent many an evening trying to make sense of the train-wreck that is often the ex-NYPD Blue star's palate of acting choices.   Being theatre people ourselves, we spend a little more time on this than others might, however it is a constant and delightful source of speculation for us in the league of, say, our favorite jigsaw or crossword.  You know, if we actually wasted our time on those kinds of things.  Ida can often be found staring at the television, slack-jawed and mumbling: "How does he get away with that crap?".  For, in truth, he is gloriously terrible.  Indeed, friends, he is not Gary-Sinise-by-the-way-so-f*ck-you.

After last night's episode, though, I think I may have come closer to making the case for the Defense of David Caruso's Acting Career - how, in fact, he does get away with that crap...
I submit that David Caruso is a scene partner's DREAM! 
Any actor who's ever endured trying to tap-dance their way out of a bit of terrible writing knows how it feels to be abandoned by their scene partner. One who either A) actually likes the terrible writing and makes it their own personal audition monologue, leaving you to look pretty along with the other set dressing, or B) flaccidly submits to the horrible text and forces you carry the dead weight of everyone else in the scene.  I myself have often silently begged actors, "Good choice, bad choice, just MAKE A CHOICE, for the love of all that is holy!" 
Well, Mr. Caruso doesn't know me, so I can't expect him to cater to my individual needs as a viewer, BUT I will allow that he always makes some strong choice or other given the underlying fact that the writing on the show is a true suck-fest.  Come on, it's Jerry Bruckheimer, after all.  
Caruso always gives his scene partner something strong (sometimes strong-smelling) to work with. Whether it's an obtusely growled threat or his ubiquitous "friendly chat with a child victim that always ends up looking creepy" scene (about every other episode), our red-headed Irishman in Miami never leaves his co-stars lacking for something, anything, to which to react onscreen.  It's not the best formula for success, but it sure can be fun to watch.  And there's all that lush Miami scenery to chew on.  

The real tragedy here is that Caruso, by all fourth-hand accounts, is a Grade-A Diva on the set, or else a stone-cold weirdo.  Or perhaps both.  Though this is America, where I suppose it's just unrealistic to expect that an actor have the depth of personality to play the Weirdo on TV and be somewhat Normal in Real Life.

Because, let's face it, only the British can pull that off.   

Oct 5, 2006

Overheard Conversation #12: Boomin' Grannies

(In a coffee shop, two elderly women and one elderly man at a nearby table.)

Older woman #1: "I heard him say, 'your skin is so pale you should color it'. And I said, 'I'M FROM FINLAND!'..."

Older woman #2: "He's trying to tell you you're too good for your husband?!"
Older woman #1: "That's exactly what he told me! He said, 'You're better than him. You are too good for Mitch'. That's what he said."
Woman #2: "I don't believe it..."
Woman #1: "I am serious as a NEW YORK HEART ATTACK."

Man: "He doesn't even speak English, does he? He's from Finland too."
Woman #2: "No, when he speaks English, it's like a manner of speaking. A figure of speech."
Man: "Oh, I see."

Man: "Anyway, it will make a good story. (long pause) A story without a hero. Except for you. (long pause) You'd be the hero of that story"
Woman #2: "Well, thank you for that."
(long pause)
Man: "You're wasting your time with those cats!"
Woman #2 (laughing): "I know it!"

Woman #1: "I have to wear this hat in the sun. Doctor's orders. Otherwise my skin gets very red."
Man: "That's okay, it looks good."
Woman #2: "Yeah, it looks very mysterious"
Woman #1: "Mysterious! Like a fart in a movie theater!"
Man: "Well, I guess that's mysterious too..."