August 29, 2010

tulpa, or anne&me rewrites and accomplishments (attention matt freeman!!!)

I just want to take this moment to say that I'm fucking awesome. As I'm completing the rewrites for Tulpa, or Anne&Me (seriously, if the current version is Windows 7, the last version - the one most of you are familiar with - is Windows XP), I've managed to get Yoda, Palpatine and a Godzilla reference into one scene!


And before anyone whines about copyright infringement . . .

Fuck George Lucas. He deserves it for that fucking Clone Wars cartoon - not the cool one on Cartoon Network, the one that sucked. The one with a baby Hutt.

August 27, 2010

Flux Theatre Ensemble: The Wider Frame

Flux Theatre Ensemble: The Wider Frame: "Increasingly, I am seeing the problems that face the theatre as woven into a larger context; and I am coming to believe that we can't talk about the problems facing the field without also talking about that wider frame.

I think we can't talk about gender equity in season selection without talking about the 80 cents that women make to a man's dollar, or the woeful 3% of Fortune 500 companies led by women.

If we want to talk about the divide between artistic and administrative compensation, we need to also talk about CEO salaries that are 344 times that of the average worker.

If we talk about diversity on our stages, we need to remember that by 2050, America's minority population will exceed 50%.

When we talk about the financial growth of theatres, we need to factor in the externalized costs of theatre production, the same as every other business striving to move from GDP to GPI.

If we're concerned about theatre's declining relevance, we need to see it as connected to declining rates of empathy and creativity; and wrestle with the rapid changes to human consciousness."

August 26, 2010

Witchsistah is right (h/t Sister Toldja)

Sista Toldja lays out something Witchsistah and I have been saying for years:

Blatant racism forgiven with the simple words “I’m sorry” brings to mind the phenomenon commonly referred to as Battered Woman’s Syndrome. The victims are unable to walk away from their abuser and continue to return time and time again, without instituting any true demands for an improvement in how they are treated or rehabilitation for their abuser. I have said it once and I will say it again: Black folks will gladly take the moral high road all the way to Hell. Saying “It’s okay” doesn’t always make you the bigger person. ("The Power of No Forgiveness")
This really does make me wonder, though: Why are Black people burdened with this particular expectation? Not just Black people - Black Americans, especially African American women. For real, no other group of people is held to such a standard. Know why? Because it's fucking ridiculous.

If Dr. Laura screamed, "Seig Heil!" eleven times on the air, do you really think people would expect Jews and other groups persecuted during the Holocaust to "just get over it"? Nope! Know why? Because it's fucking ridiculous.

If Mel Gibson yelled, "You're gonna burn in hell with the fags! You're gonna get raped by a bunch of dykes!" do you think people would dare to tell LGBTQ people to "let it go"? Nope. Know why? Because it's fucking ridiculous.

Now women - especially battered women - are at times held to this standard, especially by people who don't know battered women. Trust me, decent human beings who have known women in abusive relationships are a lot less forgiving of abuse. But the thing is - people know how fucking sick it is to ask (demand!) forgiveness for that. People know how sick it is to expect a woman who's been abused to not be fearful or distrustful of men in general because of her experience and the fact that we live in a society that requires men to prove their manhood through their domination of women and turns a blind eye to the inevitable violence that results. Nevertheless, when abuse does come to light, a position of forgiveness and reconciliation is rightly seen as unhealthy, particularly when the abuse is extremely violent.

So why are Black people supposed to tolerate bullshit 'til the cows come home without so much as criticizing - let alone retaliating - the most horrendous shit humanity has to offer? What is it about us that inspires the requirement of saintlike virtue on our part?

Truly, I want to know.

When is a Blog? (h/t SisterToulja and Matthew Freeman)

I stole the fuck outta this title.

In any case, I follow Sister Toldja (The Beautiful Struggler) on Twitter, but I should've been reading the blog all along. She brings up a really interesting phenomenon when it comes to integrating social media:
Say I tweet the name of an article or post along with a link to it (I.E. “New Post: OMG! The Black Male Marriage Crisis:  I do this, of course, in hopes that people will read said post. Seems clear enough. There’s a link. It says “New Post”. Sounds like an invitation to click said link and read, right? Well, folks will sometimes bypass that step and attempt to engage a discussion about what they are assuming the piece is about (“@ There is no Black male marriage crisis. Where did you get that from?”)

Even if they have figured out my thesis in 140-characters, why would I spend an hour writing something, only to then spend a bunch of time on Twitter debating it with people who haven’t read it? [. . .]

Another little kink in an otherwise great online existence: folks who DO take the time to read what I write (also known as the best people on the planet) will then take to Twitter and send me questions or comments regarding something I’ve taken on. And I don’t mean “@: I really enjoyed today’s post! Gave me something to thing about”.  I mean probing questions about the post or 4-tweet-long responses.  This is bothersome for a number of reasons (Sister Toldja, "The Twitter/Blogging Comment Problem")

I can understand where Sister Toldja's coming from. I've had this blog for - what? - 2 years now, and I don't think I'm popular enough to even be a micro blog. I just started using Twitter this year, and I'm still kicking myself for not doing it earlier (especially with my 70ish followers). I'm finally starting to "get" how to integrate my blog and Twitter in a way that benefits both.

While this would seem to only be a concern for the blogging Big Leagues, it does bring to mind something I might have to contend with on Ars Marginal. I'm not particularly worried about it, but it's worth sparing a thought or two. At the very least, it would be advantageous to outline the type of discourse you want to have on your social media.

For me, personally, the emphasis is on the social. I don't blog or Twitter for the fuck of it. Social media allow me to be social in a way that is comfortable for me. I am extremely introverted (not the same as shy). Being around people - especially if that means spending a lot of time around new people - is always stressful for me. I can hide this very well for a limited time, but it eventually catches up with me. Wanna see me get really uncomfortable really fast? Surround me with people I don't know, expect me to socialize, then abandon me. It takes more than a name and a pitch to warm me up socially. That "mean" or "angry" look on my face is more than likely extreme discomfort.

Social media allow me to control the pace and intensity of social interaction. They don't supplant my need for face-to-face conversation and meatspace relationships. They're simply a way for me to be social in a way that's not as taxing for me.

Which brings me to this blog and EclectiCopy. What would I like to see more of? How can I encourage that?

Honestly, I would like to see more proof that people are listening. I get comments every so often from my hardcore followers, but if they were the only people I wanted to hear from, I would e-mail them and be done with it. I post here because I want to connect with other people through mutual engagement. As you may (or may not) know, I despise debate when it comes to things that really matter insofar as it's about interpersonal relationships (as opposed to changes in policy - which is definitely worth a thorough hashing-out). But I'm always open to engagement. Fuck, the whole of Tulpa, or Anne&Me is engagement.

How do you prove you're listening? Obviously, leaving thoughtful comments is always welcome, as is writing thoughtful blog posts in response to something I said. Don't forget Twitter! As someone who lurks a lot, that's something I do pretty regularly when I don't have anything to add but still want people to know about it. If you come across a conversation where something I wrote seems relevant, post a link.

But if you want to interview me after I've been shanked by an Anne Hathaway fan, I am available via e-mail and Google chat.

(When you link to one of my blog posts, use the Create A Link function because Blogger doesn't like to leave me trackbacks for some reason)

In which I get some press

Check me out!


August 25, 2010

FringeNYC vs. the world (teehee - get it?)

There's a lot of good discussion going on in these here internets about the New York International Fringe Festival and what good it's doing for Off-Off Broadway Theatre.

Jason Zinoman made like the Black-Eyed Peas and got it started when he wrote:
Does it matter that New York has a drearily mediocre Fringe Festival?

I have long thought not, since the annual August assembly line of toothless political parodies, dumb musicals, navel-gazing solo shows and occasional gems always seemed harmless. It gave hundreds of young artists a chance to shine and filled a niche for the press during the dead quiet of summer. As I have visited much more audience-friendly Fringes in Edinburgh and Philadelphia, however, the New York International Fringe Festival now appears needlessly bland and poorly organized. It also does no favors for the reputation of downtown theater. We deserve better.
. . . . . . . . . .
Waiting in lines, I would often overhear conversations between audience members who were excited to finally see a show away from the bright lights of Broadway. Reaching those people is important. What I worry is that while Off-Off Broadway throbs with energy, ambition and the finest low-budget experimental theater scene in the world, you would likely never know that from attending the New York International Fringe Festival. ("A Fringe Festival Too Tame? Too Bad")

Following this, quite a few folks on the theatrosphere are asking whether FringeNYC does any good for OOB theatre anymore. Isaac Butler flat-out wonders if the Fringe is bad for Off-Off Broadway theatre.
What the Fringe offers are low cost space (which is still hard to come by, I know) and a lot of press/audience attention for many of the shows on offer, particularly if they have exciting titles like Ratfucker Rapeface or whatever. But here's the thing... there's more off-off Broadway coverage than ever before. Not only are their tons of websites that do a lot of Off-Off coverage, but the Times covers a lot of off-off offerings now, and of course there's Time Out New York. 

So this raises the question... Is it a good thing that shows that wouldn't normally be getting Times and TONY and Voice (etc.) coverage get it?  And my answer is, probably not. Many of the shows at the Fringe that couldn't get that coverage normally probably don't deserve it, and they're put on by artists who haven't earned it and may not be ready for it.

The Playgoer asks:
Let's think not just whether the Fringe is worth it from the audience's perspective, but how about the performers'? The thinking used to be that doing a show at the Fringe was always tough conditions, but at least you got built-in marketing and space. But do you think that still makes it worth it, or are you better off doing a regular Off-Off B'way showcase on your own? ("Is the Fringe a Fraud?")

And Matthew Freeman says:
I'm wondering if the web has had a one step forward two steps back approach for the Fringe. Now, more shows are reviewed than ever. But does that reduce the incentive to just wander around trying shows and meeting people?
Before I get into what I see going on here, I should be upfront about my particular biases.

To a degree, I'll always be sentimental about FringeNYC. I uprooted myself from Richmond and moved here to New York while the Fringe was in full swing, and I celebrated by volunteering to see some pieces on the cheap. Since then, I'd promised myself that if time and finances permit, I would do the Fringe every year to celebrate the anniversary of my move. The idea, at least for me, was that FringeNYC would give me a good sampling of what the OOB scene had to offer - which was probably naive on my part, especially since seeing some interesting work such as Alice in Slasherland, Jacob's House, The Little One, and Black Girl Ugly.

Nevertheless, if the opportunity presented itself, I'd probably go to at least a few of the shows going on at FringeNYC. Although a lot of it is hit or miss, I still think there's a lot worth seeing.

But that's not what's going on right now.

There are at least two prongs to the FringeNYC discussion going on right now. First, is FringeNYC good for Off-Off Broadway audiences? Second, is FringeNYC good for Off-Off Broadway artists?

Of course, being me, I don't think things are that simple. For me, the questions beneath these questions are:
  • Who is best served by FringeNYC?
  • How should artists and audiences approach FringeNYC?
  • What can FringeNYC do better for artists and audiences?
One of the most consistent complaints is that FringeNYC is pretty audience-unfriendly when it comes to how they curate the shows, and I am inclined to agree. I tend to take more risks than most people when it comes to seeing theatre, but this has as much to do with comp tickets as it does with any particular adventurousness on my part. If I have to pay for tickets, I'm looking for something more substantial. Besides an interesting premise and competent execution, I'm looking for artists who have something to say. I get enough of bubblegum entertainment in film and TV. I come to theatre to witness something more meaningful. Otherwise, what's the point? A lot of times, the shows at FringeNYC are more interesting to read about in the little blurb than to see in performance. And that's just . . . hrm :-/

Does this mean that some of the shows at FringeNYC aren't ready for the exposure it brings? It depends. I believe there should always be a place for people who are just starting out, and FringeNYC can be (not saying should) be that place. But I do think a little forewarning would be nice so I don't go to a show thinking it's other than what it is. There are few theatre experiences more disappointing than misguided expectations. If I walk into a show knowing that it's a new artist working on a shoestring budget, I'm going to be more forgiving than I would be if I didn't know that. But if I see that same new artist on a shoestring budget promoted right alongside something like Alice in Slasherland, I'm not going to be a happy camper.

As a new artist on the scene, if I participate in a festival, I want that to be an opportunity to find my audience. Although plenty of people are giving me support for Tulpa, or Anne&Me, that's not the same as building an audience for Crossroads Theatre Project. Is FringeNYC the best vehicle for that? Honestly, probably not. My energies are much better served by a situation where I can distinguish myself as a brand new artist creating work that doesn't happen very often on the OOB scene.

Should FringeNYC be that best vehicle? I'm not certain. What do you think?

August 20, 2010

You have been brainwashed

Unlearning Racism presents a working framework of liberation theory. While the original context is racism, it can also be applied to sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other -isms.

As this is a work in progress (as all social justice efforts are), what would you add or change?

Go read: Theatre for social change (h/t: Mariah MacCarthy)

Check it out over here.

Ars Marginal: arts and entertainment for the rest of us

I've started up a new blog, Ars Marginal. I'll still be posting here, but I'll be active there too.

Right now I'm looking for other people who'd want to contribute. Don't worry. It doesn't have to hurt.

August 19, 2010

Can your art be your living? Should it?

Don Hall says you can't make a living off your art. Guy asks whether we should. What do you think?

Frankly, I'm veering toward Don's POV. And it's not because of little things like reality, probability and so on. It's because not making a living off theater makes my work better - because real people live in the real world and as a theater artist, that's where my focus needs to be. Even if I do something completely surreal and fantastical, the core will be about life as it is lived today. I can't get that if I'm a sort of secular monk who can't be bothered with the lives and concerns of laypeople.

Dear Tim (and other White anti-racist activists) . . .

Hey, Tim.

This has been building up for a while, so forgive me if I get emphatic with my statements.

I usually think you're on point about a lot of things, and I've often pointed people in your direction about a breakdown of how racism works in a way that White people can understand (or, shall I say, are willing to listen to). I got a lot of love for you, Tim.

But right now you're fucking up.

What I think a few comments were getting at is the irony of POCs being forced to do for free what White people get paid to do - even though POCs, by virtue of being POCs in a White supremacist society - are more qualified to talk about it. Not to mention, the risks for us are greater than they are for any White person. I've been a queer Black woman in America for 30 years. I attended an HBCU. I'm writing a play right now that dramatizes what this is like for a real live human being. I've been told that I'm extremely intelligent, that I say a lot of things that need to be said in a few words, yet no one is paying me despite what it costs me to do this.

No one is arguing that the work White anti-racist activists are doing is worthless. But what I see is that the work of White anti-racist activists is treated as more valuable than anti-racist activists of color from the get-go. The problem is not that White anti-racist activists like you get paid to do your work. It's that POCs are expected to do the same shit for free. And I can't pretend that it doesn't piss me off. Even guests on Jerry Springer and Maury Povich get better treatment - at least they are financially compensated for destroying their own dignity.

Here I am - with all my intelligence, all my passion, all my creativity, all the people who "value my input" and "learned so much" from me about the same shit White anti-racists are talking about, all this that is so remarkable about me, all this that is worth so much - flat broke, unemployed and genuinely apprehensive about my immediate future. And I'm not the only one like me.

Believe me, that's bad enough. Yet your knee-jerk defensive responses to such critique are so predictable in their irony that I almost want to cry. Seriously, it's almost like you really want to say, "Aren't I doing enough for you people? What more do you people want from me?" You're so busy trotting out your anti-racism cred (really, you're not that far from "I read a book/took a class/asked my Black friends") that you don't see the irony of you making a career out of something POCs are expected to provide as a community service.

Why do I feel like I'm repeating myself? Oh yeah, because I am! What was that brilliant shit I said all them months ago?

What I was thinking is that there's nothing wrong with White anti-racist activists doing their thing. Nothing wrong at all because, as POCs already know, White people listen to other White people (at least when they're in the Completely Clueless phase).

But as I was saying to another blogger, it would be nice if these White luminaries would use their White privilege for good by providing opportunities for other POCs to rise to their level of prosperity.

It's not enough for a White activist to say that they got all their ideas from POCs. That's just being honest about stealing our shit and profiting from it. "I got some of my best stuff from these particular people of color. They are alive right now, and you can talk to them today." Or, better yet, "Everything you hear today has already been said by a person of color. As a matter of fact, they probably already told you what I'm going to tell you today, but you ignored them."

Put the money where the mouth is. Literally. What good is all the talk about anti-racist activism if the people getting most of the book deals, speaking engagements, and accolades are White? What good is all the talk about dismantling White supremacy when the anti-racism industry is dominated by White faces and White voices?

Anti-racism credentials are for shit if most people benefiting materially from it are White.

Does it make more sense now?

August 16, 2010

For my straight White male friends re: Ramona Flowers (may contain spoilers for "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World")

(H/t: neo_prodigy, re: "What If Scott Pilgrim Wasn't A Straight White Male?")

Dear Straight White Guy Friend:

Are we friends? I mean friend-friends? Like we can be honest with each other about things?

That Ramona Flowers girl you keep ogling as soon as her scent is in the air? Can't stand her ass. I hate her guts. I hate her fashionably pale, barely legal-looking, wig-wearing, roller-blading, spiritual-but-not-religious ass. Seriously, whenever I get a whiff of her, I'm like this:

It's enough to make me forget I like women! And considering my taste in women, that's just wrong.

I hate Ramona Flowers for what she says to the rest of womankind. She says to us, "Don't take responsibility for your life. Cultivate worldly innocence and play muse to some random lowlife instead." She says to us, "Don't fight your own battles or use your own strength. Pretend to be helpless and get some pathetic slacker to do it for you." She says to us, "If you're cute and skinny and White enough, you won't have to do anything for yourself." She says to us, "Don't make choices and accept consequences! Wait around for the right people to pick you and feel like the victim for not getting the life you wanted." She says to us, "If you want to be loved, you must first and foremost be a fantasy. You are not allowed to be a complete and complex human being."

Simply put, she's a fake, a phony, a passing fancy. There's nothing real about her but the damage she does. I could almost respect her game if there was anything new in it, anything of substance that would make her appealing besides not being like your parents. I won't even say weird. Wednesday Addams is weird. The Ramonas of the world are merely quirky.

Speaking of damage, what kind of person has seven evil exes? I'm not going on that "What did she do to turn them evil?" nonsense. For real, what kind of person would choose to have a relationship with somebody evil who has superpowers? Not just once - seven fucking times!

Let's take the superpowers out of it. As a matter of fact, let's flip the script and make it your mom or your sister or some other woman you care about but don't want to sleep with. If she were seeing someone who had seven evil exes, wouldn't you be just a little bit concerned about her? Let's take this to the real world where instead of seven evil exes with superpowers, it could be seven evil exes with hardcore underworld connections. Would your assessment of the situation be different? I'm not saying you should judge people by who they used to date, but you should wonder about the company they keep, especially if said company will fucking kill you!


File this under Dumb Shit Guys Do They Wouldn't Let Their Mom or Sister Get Away With.

The next time you see Ramona Flowers, wipe the pixie dust out your eyes and take a good hard look at who you're with. You might not feel so enchanted when you realize the hell you'd be putting yourself through for something that's really not worth it.

Yours truly,


P.S. For my feminist and womanist sisters, the next time you see Ramona Flowers, kick her in the cunt and beat her over the head with bell hooks until the words sink into her brain.

Oldie but goodie (7 Reasons Why Indie Theatre Rocks)

Just in time for the New York International Fringe Festival, I'm linking to this gem I came up with a while back. I can't believe I wrote this 2 years ago. I was testing out some stuff I learned about SEO and keywords, which I applied to this article I wrote just for the hell of it. Even to this day, when you Google "indie theatre," this shows up on the first page. So check out 7 Reasons Why Indie Theatre Rocks.

August 13, 2010

the n-word train is never late

After saying fucked up homophobic and misogynistic shit, it was only a matter of time before Dr. Laura started saying fucked up shit about Black folks.

What gets me is how people are actually defending this bullshit. Seriously, how is saying "nigger" 11 times in 5 minutes (without being in a Quentin Tarantino movie) not racist? As a matter of fact, since even screaming "nigger" on air or in public doesn't count, when do we get to say something is racist? Does it have to be something like, "I hate Black people because they're Black"? Would it count then?

What a mind fuck.

August 12, 2010

manifestos and new models for theatrical communities

Over at 2AMt * Travis Bedard linked to Mariah MacCarthy's Theatermaker's Theatergoing Manifesto. Let me make it short and simple: Read. That. Shit. Right. Now.

Go ahead, I'll wait.

Welcome back.

You know what I like most about this list (besides the fact that I agree with almost every one of the items on it)? Because it puts a name and a face to the anonymous blob known as "the audience" and sets up a process for being accountable to the people we make theatre with and for. Several of the points the manifesto brings up touches on one of the most persistently frustrating aspects of making theatre: the insularity of the theatrical community.

Insular is perhaps the wrong word. But I often sense a very strong unspoken opposition to the idea of mutual cooperation and uplift. It's particularly puzzling for me because in a medium such as theatre, which depends so heavily on cooperation, there is a sort of - unwillingness? - to expand that cooperation beyond our own productions.

Part of what attracted me to WOW Cafe Theatre was this idea of a more collective model of making theatre. It simply makes more sense to me than constantly competing over scraps. Don't get me wrong, collectives come with their own idiosyncrasies. Nevertheless, I find it confusing and sad that we don't see more efforts similar to WOW happening here. I could understand if there was a shortage of talent or ability, but that's not the case. We can take four walls and create another world but we can't take an hour or two of our time to improve our own community. What does that say about us?

If you agree that our theatrical landscape is too White, too male, too upper middle class, what are you doing to fix that? This discussion happens all the time. It's like clockwork. Every couple of months, someone will go, "OMG! Where are the women? Where are the people of color? Why is everything by and about White guys?"

I'm not talking about Broadway. Fuck Broadway. I'm talking about us little guys, us rinky-dink no-name folks in our tiny little corners of Theatre World.

I don't have a full production at the moment (lack of funds and shit), but I've done readings, and sent out copies of my script (*clears throat at James Comtois*). People have given money - more than I expected - for which I'm grateful (and waiting to be made available so I can do a fundraising thingamabob in the near future).

What would help me right now? If people (besides me) would engage with my work. It'd be nice to start a conversation going about the work that goes beyond your typical film or theatre review. And I do try to put my money where my mouth is. I do go to see shows that have nothing to do with my own, which is my way of supporting other theatermakers.

What about you? What kind of support could you use right now? What kind of support can you offer?

* "Rainy Days and Glass Ceilings Always Get Me Down"

August 2, 2010

Nice Guys and Heartless Bitches (that's sarcasm, btw)

A Rehearsal Room of One's Own spells out the plot of the Story That Needs to Die Like Yesterday:
I'm not the only one tired of the "manlier than thou"/"women have hurt me" plays. And within this niche, there's one storyline in particular that bugs me, and it goes like this: Nice Guy meets Hot/Quirky Girl. Nice Guy falls for Hot/Quirky Girl. Hot/Quirky Girl cheats on/leaves Nice Guy for Nice Guy's Incredibly Douchey Best Friend.
Since that blog post sums up my feelings about it quite succinctly, I'd rather point some of you in another direction. This direction can be summed up as - Stop Fucking Making This Shit!!!