November 16, 2008

Act 4, Scene 4

[Mood music: Dead Can Dance - "The Lotus Eaters"]

With the loving cruelty of a dominatrix, Seraph tears away all traces of Orixa's mundane self piece by piece. Orixa resists as though Seraph skins her alive, trying to shield herself. but Seraph persists. They writhe intertwined like two snakes on a caduceus - intimate, graceful, hypnotic. Seraph strokes and kisses and licks away Orixa's pain and injury, healing the wounds even as they are made. Orixa surrenders, allowing Seraph to strip away the last vestiges of her human form.

The seed of Orixa's being is naked. Seraph comforts her.

[Mood music: Danzig - "Her Black Wings"]

Seraph adorns Orixa with a gown like the midnight sky, glorious black wings, and a halo like a crown of golden thorns. Orixa flows into her new form like blood flows through veins. Seraph gently guides her with the fluid grace of a swimming snake, caressing and kissing and licking each part of Orixa as it assumes its new shape. Orixa is now an angel of night and dreams.

Seraph marvels at her. Orixa stretches her wings. Together they fly out of our world into the Words Beyond.

November 15, 2008

A Kick in the Pants

Over on my Etude 4 - Practical example post, Laura said:
You know what I think? I think this needs to be experienced. In this show I was watching last night, the performer told a story about how she looked out of her window and saw a rainbow that in its particular setting was so shockingly beautiful that it took her breath away, and her automatic reaction was to rush around the house trying to get a camera and take a photo of it. And when she finally found the camera, and the batteries for the camera, and pointed it at the sky, the rainbow was gone. And she had tried so hard to capture and hold onto it (when a photo would never have really been the same, anyway) that she missed the opportunity to experience it. And I thought, what a beautiful metaphor for theatre. You can't ever capture it and save it for later. It is in the moment of communion between the artists and the audience. This is what I think of when I read your work. It is intriguing and haunting, but I imagine I could never really, truly "get" it just by reading it. I want to experience it instead. Your work is clearly meant for nothing so much as experience. So there's your task, my friend. I plan to visit friends in NYC in late Feb. Think you can get up a show by then? :)
So it's official. I need to have this written, cast, rehearsed, and ready for performance by late February. So it looks like I'll actually get a world premiere.

Anybody in the NYC area who can put me in touch with actors/dancers who want to work on a movement-oriented piece?

November 14, 2008

Act 4 notes

Scene 1
We are trees in the heart of the enchanted forest. Orixa in torpor.

SERAPH wanders into forest. Gothic fantasy of a fairy tale prince. Princely woman wearing red, as though garments and makeup dyed with blood. Something slightly off that gives a hint of danger (claws? fangs? pointed ears?). Calls to mind serpent, big cat, bird of prey.

S comes upon the briars gleaming in the moonlight. Approaches briars. Briars untangle and blossom with crimson roses. They usher S deeper into the forest by sprinkling petals along a path toward O. Looks like blood raining from their thorns. S follows the rose petal path. She reaches O.

Scene 2
[Mood music: Air, "How Does It Make You Feel". Something gentle, sensual, intimate.]

Time slows to a crawl. S caresses O from head to toe, seeking signs of life. Gazes at O for a moment. S unmasks O. Very careful, painstaking. Like holding spider silk. Sets mask aside. If S had lungs her breath would catch.

Seraph spoons Orixa. (What happens before this? I think I wrote something.)

S considers for a moment. Kisses O. By turns sweet and edgy. Might involve a bit of nibbling, a hint of vampirism. (Is the kiss breaking or casting a spell?) O awakens. They see each other for the first time. Time stops.

Scene 3
[Mood music: Massive Attack, "Angel". Something intimate, sensual, hypnotic.]

Seraph fluidly removes human guise. Has 3 pairs of blood red wings. No angel of light an air, but blood and darkness. Angel or demon? S offers hand to Orixa. O accepts.

Takes flight with O. Tender yet firm grasp. Briars fall away as S jets out of the forest, taking O up, up, up . . .

Scene 4
[Mood music: Blondie, "Rapture". Something transcendent, intimate, chthonic.]

Seraph envelops Orixa in tender, protective embrace. Rips off O's human form. Adorns O with a pair of glorious black wings. Sets crown made of golden thorns upon O's head. Leads O toward heaven.

Fly around each other. Intimate, sensual, edgy. Like serpents of a caduceus. Auryn. Fluid as blood flowing.

November 11, 2008

Content is King - er, Queen

Tony has a great conversation about content going on at his blog.

Why is it so great? Because it's an actual exchange of ideas free from posturing, line-drawing, and argument. It's all about understanding and bonding with people. A breath of fresh air and a great change of pace.

[Jedi mind trick]

You will visit Tony's blog and contribute to the conversation now.

[/Jedi mind trick]

November 7, 2008

Notes on Masks

I've been on a strange wavelength lately when it comes to theatre. I've been devouring resources about physical theatre and acting that takes actors beyond humanizing (or rather, beyond interpreting/creating characters in a purely socio-psychological context). There is a deeper reality I want to show through my work, a reality where logic and reason don't necessarily function as they do here. Peter Brook may call it the Holy Theatre, but I'm not sure how squarely that fits what I'm working on.

I was in my favorite public library the other day (aka Barnes & Noble), and I came across The Moving Body: Teaching Creative Theatre by Jaques LeCoq (trans. David Bradby). He says a lot of intriguing things about masks and theatricality, especially what the neutral mask does for actors. Here are a few things I jotted down . . .
  • Neutral mask - face is neutral, perfectly balanced mask which produces physical sensation of calm
  • When placed on face, should enable one to experience the state of neutrality prior to action, a state of receptiveness to everything around us, with no inner conflict
  • Something Japanese about it - calm, lack of expression, equilibrium
And some quotes . . .
"Essentially, the neutral mask opens up the actor to the space around him. It puts him in a state of discovery, of openness, of freedom to receive. Itallows him to watch, to hear, to feel, to touch elementary things with the freshness of beginnings. You take on the neutral mask as you might take on a character, with the difference that there is no character, only a neutral generic being. A character experiences conflict, has a history, a past, a context, passions. On the contrary, a neutral mask puts the actor in a state of perfect balance and economy of movement. Its moves have a truthfulness, its gestures and actions are economical."

"Beneath the neutral mask the actor's face disappears and his body becomes far more noticeable . . . Every movement is revealed as powerfully expressive . . . The neutral mask, in the end, unmasks!"

"The natural world speaks directly to the neutral state. When I walk through the forest, I am the forest."

"In our way of working we enter a text through the body . . . working through movement, we ask the actors to get to grips physically with the text, its images, its words, its dynamics. Relating to it does not mean interpreting. To interpret means to shed light on its different aspects, such as its period, context, society, psychology, or morality. It is the director's responsibility to decide which aspects to emphasize. My teaching method steers clear of any interpretation, concentrating on the constant respect for the internal dynamics of the text, avoiding all a priori readings."
I'm skewing toward using Transformational Acting to develop this piece, although I may just trust the director enough to bring those aspects to life.

November 6, 2008

More Strange Things About RVCBard

I know I was only supposed to list 7 things, but here are some more:

I "discovered" algebra when I was in 5th grade.

I was doing some kind of math problem, and instead of doing it the way the teacher told me to (too slow and completely inefficient), I used variables for solving the problems. But instead of x, I used a simple question mark.

To this day I've excelled at more abstract, complex stuff and struggled with rudimentary basics. For instance, I did better in trigonometry than algebra or geometry, and better at calculus than at trig. Not sure why.

I was in the gifted program.

Between 5th and 8th grade, I was part of the gifted program at school. Keep in mind that this was a relatively conservative, partly rural district on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia. If I was so smart even these provincial White people had to recognize it, I often wonder if the true extent of my abilities has been hidden or at least downplayed by myself and the world around me (including the educational system). Probably has, and it's a struggle not to be bitter about it when considering my lack of worldly success.

November 5, 2008

7 Strange Things about RVCBard

Matt Freeman tagged me for the 7 Strange Things meme, so if this is Too Much Information, it's all his fault.

1. I have dreams about dead people and the future.

Yes, to the skeptic a lot of shit's just unavoidable, but my dreams are often pretty specific. I generally know the person(s) involved and the context under which the events happen. For instance, right before the first time I went to China, I had a dream that my dad (who has systemic lupus) was hospitalized for a related illness while I was there, and I was rushing around trying to get a plane ticket to go home but no one would help me. After I got back, my mother told me that my dad was hospitalized for a lupus-related episode that probably could've killed him.

I often dream about dead people or people who die in my dreams. The death dreams usually focus on members of my family, and they often creep me out because I'd have no reason to suspect they would die soon. I had a dream of my paternal grandfather that involved him giving me a cherry red bicycle (I think I was about 9 or 10 in the dream), and I remember asking him if he's the same grandpa who died, to which he flat-out says, "Yes."

As a corollary to that, from time to time a song gets stuck in my head and later on I hear it somewhere. No, not stuff they play all the time on the radio (I don't even listen to radio nowadays). Not stuff where I expect it to happen (like I'll think about a disco song and go to a disco club and hear it). Just completely out of the blue. What sucks about it is that it's a rarely a song I actually like.

2. I'm double-jointed in my thumbs.

3. I play (and design) tabletop role-playing games.

And not just the mainstream shit like D&D and World of Darkness. I have quite a few indie/experimental/fringe games that I'd really like to play. I even made one called Kathanaksaya that was a hit with my gaming group back in Richmond.

I used to have an extensive collection of stuff, and I've done a Great RPG Purge at least twice for store credit or cash at the local gaming store. But I kept the good non-mainstream stuff.

4. I loathe purses.

I really, really hate them! I don't like having them or carrying them. I'm sure I'd seem more feminine if I had one full of a bunch of crap I don't need (like makeup and shit), but I refuse to sacrifice comfort for appearances. Do you know how fucking heavy purses can get? For all that, I can carry a backpack, which I do.

5. I have a terrible bug phobia.

Roaches, praying mantises, cicadas and other big bugs (ie - anything bigger than a bee) terrify the fuck out of me. It's really bad. I can't even stand being in the same room with one of these suckers, alive or dead (Who are we kidding? They're never dead. They just play dead). I only kill them because that makes sure they won't crawl on me. I can barely move, and if they come near me I'll run away as far as I can. If I can't run, or if the fuckers touch me, it's over. Really. It's pretty traumatic for me.

Spiders are OK, though. I don't care if they're poisonous. I don't care if they are poisonous. I'd sleep with a black widow in the room before I would a cockroach.

I know what you're thinking, "Why the fuck did you move to New York?"

Because New York roaches aren't Florida roaches. New York roaches have the good manners to run when you cut the lights on. Florida roaches fucking attack.

6. I have an active and overcharged erotic imagination.

Especially around my period. For some reason they often involve hardcore gay sex, incest, or sometimes animals (or part-animals, like this guy).

It's no secret that I'm a kinky pansexual pervert who could've been a temple prostitute in a former life. But still.

7. Sex motivates me to learn.

I took up Chinese because I was deeply in lust with Jet Li. I went more deeply into Judaism because sexual pleasure is the woman's right instead of the man's. I'm almost a lot more interested in veganism because I heard meat makes your stuff taste nasty (and Anne Hathaway being somewhat vegan doesn't hurt either).

I'm passing some Chocolate Salty Balls to Isaac, Devilvet, and Laura. And if you don't do it, you have to pull your pants down, stand on your head, and tell everybody that you're a big, fat, naked chicken!

A Story I Like - The Sky Maiden

I first read this story in Harold Kushner's "Who Needs God?" It's what I most remember from the book, and it resonates so much with what I'm consistently going through now:

The members of a certain West African tribe tell the legend of the Sky Maiden. It happened once that the people of the tribe noticed their cows were giving less milk than they used to. They could not understand why. One young man volunteered to stay up all night to see what might be happening. After several hours of waiting in the darkness, hiding in a bush, he saw something extraordinary. A young woman of astonishing beauty rode a moonbeam down from heaven to earth, carrying a large pail. She milked the cows, filled her pail, and climbed back up the moonbeam to the sky. The man could not believe what he had seen. The next night, he set a trap near where the cows were kept, and when the maiden came down to milk the cows, he sprang the trap and caught her. "Who are you?" he demanded.
She explained that she was a Sky Maiden, a member of a tribe that lived in the sky and had no food of their own. It was her job to come to earth at night and find food. She pleaded with him to let her out of the net and she would do anything he asked. The man said he would release her only if she agreed to marry him. "I will marry you," she said, "but first you must let me go home for three days to prepare myself. Then I will return and be your wife." He agreed.
Three days later she returned, carrying a large box. "I will be your wife and make you very happy," she told him, "but you must promise me never to look inside this box."
For several weeks they were very happy together. Then one day, while his wife was out, the man was overcome with curiosity and opened the box. There was nothing in it. When the woman came back, she saw her husband looking strangely at her and said, "You looked in the box, didn¹t you? I can¹t live with you anymore."
"Why?" the man asked. "What's so terrible about my peeking into an empty box?"
"I'm not leaving you because you opened the box. I thought you probably would. I'm leaving you because you said it was empty. It wasn't empty; it was full of sky. It contained the light and the air and the smells of my home in the sky. When I went home for the last time, I filled that box with everything that was most precious to me to remind me of where I came from. How can I be your wife if what is most precious to me is emptiness to you?"

November 4, 2008



Now everybody do a fist-bump for President Obama.

(And pray that nobody kills him.)

Favorite Online Videos - Chocolate Salty Balls

I'm working at now, and I'm loving it! I basically get paid to look at online videos - most of them funny as hell - and write descriptions for them and tell people (like you, dear reader) about them.

I'm taking a note from Devilvet and posting my favorite videos as I find them on the site. I'll try to focus on the new stuff unless it's a really good video from a few months back.

In light of the strong possibility of Obama's victory, I really found this song to be an appropriate follow-up to the announcement that Obama wins: