Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Girl Power
Miley Cyrus: Disney's Kiddie Lingerie Billboard Advertises Hypocrisy:

Disney's hypocrisy has been on display since the start of the Cyrus scandal. The company isn't against the manipulation of a 15-year-old for profit when the profit in question is its own, derived from selling a wholesome image of Cyrus to young girls through the Hannah Montana franchise. That's why Disney was so eager to tamp down Cyrus' natural and fairly tame (if unusually public) experimentation with her own sexuality, a process well under way — and heavily photographed — on the internet before Vanity Fair's Annie Leibovitz turned her lens on the star.

But this billboard is the clearest, simplest symbol yet of how Disney's beef with Vanity Fair is about business, not morality. If this sort of thing were a moral question for the company, it would police so-called manipulation of all its child icons with equal vigor, whether the kid in question was selling 10-figure TV packages or cheap underwear sets. That clearly is not the case.
Purple breeze of change
nytheatrecast » Blog Archive » Episode #215 - The Leonard Jacobs Show with Mike Daisey:

The Leonard Jacobs Show returns with guest Mike Daisey to talk about Mike’s show How Theater Failed America to discuss some of the commentary that has occured about this ‘call to action’. Martin Denton joins the discussion, also.

The discussion ranges from why large regional theatre companies are not really part of the community in which they reside, especially the theatre community, to building bigger and better theatres, to what can be done to change things, to some of the comments that have resulted from Mike’s monologue.
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Struggling Writers: James Frey Lies A Couple More Times, Because Who's Still Counting?:

Disgraced fabricating memoirist James Frey is planning to redeem himself in two weeks with a new book, Bright Shiny Morning, clearly labeled as fiction. But there's some spadework to be done first, in terms of publicity and whatnot, and it seems Frey hasn't been too careful about, you know, "the truth" or whatever, in the run-up to his literary rebirth. He granted Vanity Fair an "exclusive" interview and got in return a "softball profile... which paints Mr. Frey as a wounded victim of market forces," in the words of the Observer's Leon Neyfakh. But it turns out Frey also talked to a UK trade publication called The Bookseller, which posted its interview to the Web just a few hours after Vanity Fair. Then there's Frey's worn claim that he first submitted his memoir A Million Little Pieces as a novel but was convinced to relabel it as a memoir. Pieces publisher Nan Talese was not pleased, to say the least, to hear that Frey has resumed saying this:

"He said this again?" she said, her voice rising in indignation. "I can’t believe he said that! You’d better check that because it’s simply not true."
Dash & Blast
Wright As A Blessing?:

There is nothing to despair. The underdog HAS to take the champ to the 13th round, be beaten within an inch of his life and fight through all the dirty tricks the champ will use. Otherwise any victory will be second guessed forever. Go watch Cinderella Man.

And Obama denouncing Wright today? All part of the plan. What conversation serves Obama better - talking about religion or talking about health care? Religion. Clinton is left out of that conversation. And Obama gets to denounce a racist! How cool is that? Heck, even within the constructs of the hero's journey, Obama has now had to sacrifice a loved one. Perfect!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Review from the New Yorker:

Htfa Newyorker
The Golden Hour....
Wormbook: New business, same people.:

As with Ayun Halliday's JOB HOPPER, I found much of this book very easy to relate to from the customer-service jobs in my past -- the weird tricks one plays on oneself to deal with the onslaught of complaints, the small acts of sabotage he committed against the company (notably, amassing a large collection of office supplies and sending free books to Norway). The title comes from a company opinion that working for Amazon ages workers faster than they would do so in the outside world, and at a peculiar rate similar to that at which dogs grow old.

While this book isn't an economics primer, I have a better understanding now of how dot-com companies like Amazon become "worth" a certain ridiculous amount, only to later fall to earth. Still, it wasn't just a primer on Web economics; I laughed out loud several times while reading this book as well. If you like funny work memoirs with more than a little American satire, read this book.
Kitten justice
“Actually, I jade very quickly. Once is usually enough. Either once only, or every day. If you do something once it’s exciting, and if you do it every day it’s exciting. But if you do it, say, twice or just almost every day, it’s not good any more.”

—Andy Warhol
She's just being naked |

Talk about threats to the franchise, however, is a bit far-fetched. While soccer moms may be upset, they're pretty obviously going to take out their anger on Vanity Fair. Miley has worked hard in the past year to build her reputation as a good Christian girl. Now, the Christian pop industry has no problem kicking one of their own to the curb if she steps outside the bounds of propriety, as even Amy Grant has discovered time and again, but when it comes to precious kids, the secret desire to see a celebrity fall, which is how the mainstream fan psychology works, will easily be trumped by paranoia about the Christian-hating media. Especially with Miley issuing a "what, me naked?" statement, talk among her "safe for the whole family" fan base is pretty quickly going to turn toward denunciations not of Miley or Disney but the godless liberal media and, subtext, the Jewish lesbian photographer.

Miley will come out of this unscathed and people will call for boycotts of Vanity Fair by people who never bought Vanity Fair in the first place.
Some quick reactions to Lee Wochner's reactions, which he posted at his blog here.

"Last I checked, the theatre had been dying for 2,000 years. For God’s sake, WHEN WILL IT JUST DIE????"

Actually, theater has been in retraction about 100 years in Western culture, but I gather this is hyperbole. I gather Mr. Wochner has assumed I'm expecting theater to "die" for some reason. I've said no such thing. I do think the institution of theater has failed to be relevant in our culture, but I think I've been clear about what I've been talking about, so I won't repeat it here.

"Whenever that finally happens, somebody will just start a new one."

That is probably true, though that won't really address the complexities of losing existing infrastructure that I discuss in brief here. Also, I reiterate, I've never expected, predicted or commented on the idea that theater will "die". This is a straw man argument.

"Eleven years ago at the RAT (Regional Alternative Theatre) Conference in New York City a bunch of attendees were offering dystopian views similar to Mr. Daisey’s of what was going to happen to theatre in America and what to do about it. Many of the prescriptions, like those of Mr. Daisey, were interesting and fun to talk about and utterly impracticable. Erik Ehn suggested trading bread for admission. Here’s what I know about bread: Most of it goes stale before anyone eats it. The birds in my back yard are well-fed indeed. Meanwhile, many of us who buy tickets find it more convenient to pay with a credit card than to carry around fresh home-baked bread. You see where I’m going with this."

Look, if you honestly equate my plans for repositioning non-profit theater development efforts to use their resources to adopt wholesale the proven university model of creating lockbox endowments for "chair" positions in order to create ensemble positions for artists with a plan to pay for theater with bread...

...I'm speechless.

"If anything, in those 11 years I’ve seen more alternative theatres pop up all over the country. They are the future. They do what they want, when they want, even in the face of great indifference or unforeseen spectacular success, and there’s no stopping them. Are the artists making a lot of money in them? No — but the actors on-stage at the Public and the Mark Taper Forum aren’t making a lot of money there, either; they tend to be movie actors on the way up or on the way down. These alternative theatres, meanwhile, have a DIY ethic that will seem familiar to anyone who produces a print-on-demand book or podcast or blog — they put product out inexpensively and often and attract niche audiences. And this is fine — because more and more, everything is a niche."

A lot of what you're saying here is true. It doesn't really have much to do with what I've been saying, as I'm concerned primarily with the state of institutional theater as I'm looking to change and challenge the culture in the largest institutions, but the rise of niche culture is very real, and I'm intimately familiar with the theaters and movements Mr. Wochner is describing here, having lived and grown up with them.

"If the main thrust of Mike Daisey’s ideas is related to audience development, then I’m with him. If it’s about finding ways to keep local artists tied to theatres, then I’m with him again — except, all over the land, they are already (just not in larger theatres)."

Well, I don't know if I want the artists "tied" to the theaters, so much as the theaters should provide homes and workspaces for ensembles to inhabit, and frankly I don't talk in any form about "audience development", though I'd argue that done correctly needs to grow out of the continuity and community of letting artists back into those buildings, but I'm not sure that's what you mean.

"Let’s make an agreement to check back in on the state of the American theatre in another 11 years — 2019 — and see how we’re doing. I say this, by the way, on the afternoon of Moving Arts’ 15th anniversary celebration."

You can keep track of this if you like, though I'm not certain what it will prove one way or another, as I'm not expecting theater to "die", as previously discussed. But I'm always up for long bets, if you can define some terms that make sense, give me odds I can get behind and so forth.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I am the antithesis of SOOC :-)
Critics Cost Muslim Educator Her Dream School - New York Times:

The academy’s troubles reach well beyond its cramped corridors in Boerum Hill. The school’s creation provoked a controversy so incendiary that Ms. Almontaser stepped down as the founding principal just weeks before classes began last September. Ms. Almontaser, a teacher by training and an activist who had carefully built ties with Christians and Jews, said she was forced to resign by the mayor’s office following a campaign that pitted her against a chorus of critics who claimed she had a militant Islamic agenda.

In newspaper articles and Internet postings, on television and talk radio, Ms. Almontaser was branded a “radical,” a “jihadist” and a “9/11 denier.” She stood accused of harboring unpatriotic leanings and of secretly planning to proselytize her students. Despite Ms. Almontaser’s longstanding reputation as a Muslim moderate, her critics quickly succeeded in recasting her image.

The conflict tapped into a well of post-9/11 anxieties. But Ms. Almontaser’s downfall was not merely the result of a spontaneous outcry by concerned parents and neighborhood activists. It was also the work of a growing and organized movement to stop Muslim citizens who are seeking an expanded role in American public life. The fight against the school, participants in the effort say, was only an early skirmish in a broader, national struggle.
It can be hot in the spring.
Pay What You Want Kicks Some Ass (Theatreforte):

As you may recall, we recently produced Sheila Callaghan's Dead City here in Columbus, and we priced all the tickets for all the shows as "Pay What You Want."

Dead City was - by a long shot - the most popular show we've every produced. We beat our previous record for a run by almost 200 people. And we actually had fewer performances of this show than most. Wow.

Now, there are many factors at work here. We were in a nicer, high-profile space. We did a lot of ground-level marketing for the past 4 months. We got a good bit of nice press (though, not the most we've ever had, nor the best reviews we've ever had). We hired someone to help market the show. Etc., etc. So, I'm not saying "Pay What You Want" is the golden key. Also, we put on a damned good show.

However, we were told by a whole lot of people that PWYW was the reason they came to the show, and the numbers bear-out the fact that people were ready for the opportunity. We had a lot of people paying far below our normal prices, even down in the $2-5 area. THAT'S A GOOD THING, because, I'm guessing most of those folks wouldn't have been there if it was a $10 or $20 ticket. And, their seats would definitely have been empty if they weren't there to fill them. Balancing it out from the other end of the spectrum, we had a ton of people paying the normal $20 or even more.

A few tidbits:

# $10 was the most popular price. About 30% of our patrons chose it.
# $20 was next in popularity, chosen by about 25% of our patrons.
# $5 was next, chosen by about 15%.
# About 15% of the rest paid between $6 and $9.
# About 5% paid more than $20.
# About 5% paid less than $5.
# The other 5% fell between $10 and $20.
# One person paid $8.12 - each of the 4 times he saw the show.
# Our average ticket price for this show fell by only $1 from previous shows.
Agent Provocateur 2000
Please Don’t Make Me Go on Vacation - New York Times:

“I never go on vacation,” said Ellen Kapit, a real estate agent in Manhattan. “And when I do, I have my computer, my Palm, my e-mail and my phone with me at all times.”

Ms. Kapit’s habits are typical of today’s employees, who check for e-mail messages from work in between parasailing or floating in the hotel pool, consider a long weekend a major excursion and sacrifice vacation days by not taking them.

But even as the American vacation is dying, the anxiety surrounding it is surging, according to surveys of workers released in the last year. Employees are sweating over every aspect of their getaways, from whether taking time off dooms them to the want ads to whether the work they will face when they return will keep them from ever leaving their cubicles again. And if they finally do make their escape?
dangle dangle
Alarms & Diversions: 'The Visitor' shines light on immigrants' American hell - San Jose Mercury News:

At an average cost of $95 for each day a detainee remains in custody, the Bush administration has made for-profit prisons one of the nation's most recession-proof industries. Last year, the publicly-traded Corrections Corporation of America - from which the Department of Homeland Security rents beds to detain immigrants like Tarek - reported a 23.3 percent increase in annual earnings.

This robust rise in profitability occurred despite the company's infamous stewardship of the T. Don Hutto Family Residential Facility in Texas, where children are locked up with their parents. At the Department of Homeland Security, they believe in family values, and try to keep the kids in adjoining cells whenever possible.

Tony Snow, who was the White House press secretary when this Norman Rockwell tableau was revealed last year, said that finding facilities for imprisoned immigrant families was difficult. "You have to do the best with what you've got," Snow said, sounding depressingly Rumsfeldian.

Then, in case anyone missed the connection between the immigration crackdown and the Iraq war that has propelled it, the administration canceled a tour of the Hutto facility by a U.N. inspector, sent there to see if the children's human rights were being violated. Apparently we are all about protecting the rights of U.N. inspectors, unless the inspecting they want to do is right under our noses.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Living | Sorry, Seattle - I've found somewhere else | Seattle Times Newspaper:

I know you've been really busy lately, so you may not have noticed that I haven't been ... around ... so much. Perhaps you've even noticed that all my stuff is gone. It's true, Seattle. I've moved out, and I'm breaking up with you.

Wow. These things are never easy. Look, I know you're very caught up in ... whatever it is you're keeping yourself busy with these days (Viaducts? New sports facilities? Perhaps another round or two of meetings about school closures where everybody screams and cries and is as noisy as possible and then complains they're not being heard?), but I really want to make sure you hear me. I want to end this relationship on a good note and not have it be weird between us.
Gothamist: Did Police Union Harrass Family of Sean Bell's Fiancée?:

The NYPD's Internal Affairs Bureau is investigating allegations that just hours after the not guilty verdict was issued in the Sean Bell shooting trial, a number of crank calls were made to the home of Nicole Paultre Bell's parents by someone connected to a police union. The calls were both hang-ups or someone laughing--"Ha ha ha"--on the other end of the line.

Caller ID identified their source as a line at the Sergeants Benevolent Association's Manhattan offices. Nicole Paultre-Bell's father Les said "The guy was taunting us, laughing. It was horrible because we had just come back from the court and the cemetery." And Paultre-Bell said, "It was just horrible."

Ed Mullins, the head of the SBA, told the Daily News "We'll cooperate with any investigation. If ... it came from here, I want to know."

Gin, Television, and Social Surplus - Here Comes Everybody:

This hit me in a conversation I had about two months ago. As Jen said in the introduction, I've finished a book called Here Comes Everybody, which has recently come out, and this recognition came out of a conversation I had about the book. I was being interviewed by a TV producer to see whether I should be on their show, and she asked me, "What are you seeing out there that's interesting?"

I started telling her about the Wikipedia article on Pluto. You may remember that Pluto got kicked out of the planet club a couple of years ago, so all of a sudden there was all of this activity on Wikipedia. The talk pages light up, people are editing the article like mad, and the whole community is in an ruckus--"How should we characterize this change in Pluto's status?" And a little bit at a time they move the article--fighting offstage all the while--from, "Pluto is the ninth planet," to "Pluto is an odd-shaped rock with an odd-shaped orbit at the edge of the solar system."

So I tell her all this stuff, and I think, "Okay, we're going to have a conversation about authority or social construction or whatever." That wasn't her question. She heard this story and she shook her head and said, "Where do people find the time?" That was her question. And I just kind of snapped. And I said, "No one who works in TV gets to ask that question. You know where the time comes from. It comes from the cognitive surplus you've been masking for 50 years."

So how big is that surplus? So if you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project--every page, every edit, every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia exists in--that represents something like the cumulation of 100 million hours of human thought. I worked this out with Martin Wattenberg at IBM; it's a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but it's the right order of magnitude, about 100 million hours of thought.

And television watching? Two hundred billion hours, in the U.S. alone, every year. Put another way, now that we have a unit, that's 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television. Or put still another way, in the U.S., we spend 100 million hours every weekend, just watching the ads. This is a pretty big surplus. People asking, "Where do they find the time?" when they're looking at things like Wikipedia don't understand how tiny that entire project is, as a carve-out of this asset that's finally being dragged into what Tim calls an architecture of participation.
Quiero viajar
Harlech lights from Portmeirion
Armchair Actorvist: Requiem For the Regionals, part one:

Again referencing the New York Times article, most major theaters confronted with this reversal cite diminished funding as their reason for discontinuing the practice of the resident company. Yet, as Mike Daisey, the star and creator of How Theater Failed America, points out, these theatres have huge marketing and development departments, peopled with employees well-paid and well-insured. Actors' salaries, (on the rare occasions actors have work) remain at union-mandated minimums.

The response to this show from the artistic directors who have examined it is predictable enough. In a nutshell, the actor has no idea what it takes to run a regional theatre, and has no business lecturing administrators on how to run their organizations.

Nicholas Martin, a high-profile director who has lately been running the Huntington Theater in Boston, sniffed, "Go run a theater and get back to me."

At the end of my current gig, I will be back on unemployment, at about 200 bucks a week. I have a request for Mr. Martin:

"Come be a regional theatre actor and get back to me."
Two Towers
I saw something really special tonight.


The brainchild of my good friends and colleagues Kyle Jarrow (best known for the SCIENTOLOGY CHRISTMAS PAGEANT and his kick-ass band THE FABULOUS ENTOURAGE) and Clay McLeod Chapman (best known for the PUMPKIN PIE SHOW and his books) joined forces to create the musical HOSTAGE SONG.

I won't belabor the plot and circumstances: read about it here, here, and here.

We went to the closing tonight, and it was absolutely riveting. So often I see very good downtown shows that celebrate language and structure over passion, that embrace image and motif over the vibrant human stories of our times—this is a production that swims against the tide. The actors have their hearts in their hands at every moment on stage, and it's fantastic to see their real, raw risk—the risk they take that they will look like fools as they pursue this conceit down to the end, and it is because of their dedication and determination that they triumph.

We both gave a standing ovation at the curtain and I couldn't have been more moved by this pocket musical—incredibly tiny, but bursting with a life and vital joy that reminded me why I'm doing this.

Thank you.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Willamette Week | Saturday, April 26th, 2008:

PICA has announced the headliners for this year's Time-Based Art Festival. When I spoke to TBA Artistic Director Mark Russell last month, he described this year's lineup as "very sexy." There's a lot to like about the plans for this year's Fest. Many of the performers are imported from France, home to a vibrant contemporary arts scene of which we see relatively little. Tiny TBA is back. The Works is moving from the horribly inappropriate Wonder Ballroom to a more flexible and centrally located venue (we don't know where yet). And Reggie Watts is back. Speaking of which, here are the headliners:

Mike Daisey (USA) Monopoly! and If You See Something Say Something—Monologuist Daisey is best remembered in Portland for 21 Dog Years, his solo show at Portland Center Stage. He's since acquired an international following, and he'll be bringing us two pieces about Nikola Tesla and Homeland Security, respectively. Expect hilarity and pathos.
through my sunglasses.
"It was bad of me to call you a cunt, whether we were in the Albertson’s or not. | Slog | The Stranger | Seattle's Only Newspaper:

Fischnaller is the engine behind the production, which features good directors (Allison Narver, Peggy Gannon) and good actors (Trick Danneker, Shawn Belyea, Angela DiMarco). And they did the whole production for under $1,000, even with equity actors. (Fischnaller got a special dispensation from equity, whose rules tend to keep union and non-union actors apart, to everyone’s detriment.)
El origen del universo
How long will women shoulder the blame for the pay gap?:

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, already passed by the House, would have reinstated the law as it was interpreted by most appellate courts and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, i.e., that every single discriminatory paycheck represents a new act of discrimination and that the 180-day period begins anew with every one. Yet 42 members of the Senate—including Majority Leader Harry Reid, but only procedurally to keep the bill alive—voted to block cloture. How can that be? As Kia Franklin notes here: Women in the United States are paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men; African-American women earn only 63 cents, and Latinas earn only 52 cents for every dollar paid to white men. Yet the Ledbetter decision tells employers that as long as they can hide their discriminatory behavior for six months, they've got the green light to treat female employees badly forever. Why isn't this problem sufficiently real to be addressed by Congress?

All of which brings us to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who skipped the vote on equal pay altogether because he was out campaigning. (Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both showed up to support it.) McCain's opposition to the bill was expressed thusly: He's familiar with the pay disparity but believes there are better ways to help women find better-paying jobs. "They need the education and training, particularly since more and more women are heads of their households, as much or more than anybody else." As my colleague Meghan O'Rourke pointed out yesterday, all that is code for the obtuse claim that the fact that women earn 77 cents on the dollar for the same work as men will somehow be fixed by more training for women as opposed to less discrimination by men. Wow. Hey! We should develop the superpowers of heat vision and flight, as well.
ET Bird Fisheye Holga
How Theatre Failed America:

When Daisey is describing his Seattle experimental and Maine summer stock days is there a spark of real love and ad lib mischief in his voice and eyes. He loved those salad days and his fellow actors. They put on plays with no budgets, made no money, were almost starving. His memories are hysterically funny, told with an engrossing raconteur's verbal and physical energy.

Even if you've never been that poor, or that creative, Daisey transmits the inner high that working artists feel when it all goes right on stage. That memory of spontaneous electricity remains forever, driving artists to continually seek unstructured stages, stages without strict direction and money goals. It's what keeps underground artists giving their time and talent, always seeking the personal and experimental moment, avoiding high budget, crowd pleasing rote productions. Daisey is an example of the successful, self produced, opinionated, memoir driven actor, fed up with the casting game, out to talk his own talk.

Perhaps what Daisey is really talking about is how competition between actors and directors, instead of reliance on the collective troupe mentality, have destroyed much of what was idealistic in the early, wacky experimental days. Only the remarkable San Francisco Mime Troupe has continually lived up to its political agenda. Nowadays even they must accept partial funding from government grants and corporate sponsorships to continue their free, open air shows. They haven't totally lost their critical edge, but it's a far cry from R. G. Davis's original intention of a free guerilla theater for the people, by the people and of the people unencumbered by potential strings from “The Man.”

Mike Daisey is a powerful storyteller who cares about his subjects. From his high school one act play competition student-actors, to his on-the-fly rural Maine summer stock to college theater education, regional theater funding and audience development he speaks from the heart. He is another a mirror of our discontent with creative mediocrity and the corporate art establishment's ego driven need to ever expand arts facilities.

Friday, April 25, 2008

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Scrappy Jack's World-Wide Theatricals and Dime Museum: back to school:

Here's the Artaud quote I'm bringing in to the room on Monday morning as a way of focusing the workshop, (emphasis mine):

Is our goal clear now? It is this: with every production we are playing a very serious game and the significance of our efforts lies in the very nature of this seriousness. We are not appealing to the audience’s minds or senses, but to their whole existence. To theirs and ours. We stake our lives on the show that is taking place on stage. If we did not have a very deep, distinct feeling that part of our most intimate life was committed to that show, we would not think it necessary to pursue this experiment further.
Audiences coming to our theater know they are present at a real operation involving not only the mind but also the very senses and flesh. From then on they will go to the theater as they would to a surgeon or a dentist, in the same frame of mind, knowing, of course, that they will not die, but that all the same this is a serious business, and that they will not come out unscathed. If we were not convinced that we were going to affect them as deeply as possible, we would think ourselves unworthy of this, our highest task. They must be thoroughly convinced we can make them cry out.
Rock of Love
Parabasis: Total Intellectual Property Insanity (2 for 1 deal!):

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, a guy named Steven VanDer Ark is a big Harry Potter fan, so big that he created a comprehensive lexicon of the Harry Potterverse so detailed and well-organized that Rowling herself has consulted it in order to make sure she had the continuity of her world straight while writing the later novels in the series.  Well,  now the lexicon is set to be published and Rowling and Warner Brothers are suing.

Her claims on this one are nuts.  She claims that the lexicon lifts sections of the Harry Potter books without adding original thought or interpretation, but she herself has consulted it for her own purposes. This is becasue its added value is not in new information but rather in organization of the information. That's because it's a lexicon. He didn't claim her words or ideas were his own, he's written a tool to help others access the world she has created, one she herself finds useful but doesn't want distributed.

Far smarter for Rowling and Warner Brothers would've been to buy the rights for the Lexicon and distribute it themselves (with, if she wants, possible additions or reworking from Rowling).  They have the money to do so, rather than sue an independant press over this.. But because we have this nut-ball emphaiss on creative content as physical proprety, that kind of flexibility is unthinkable.  What matters to them is property rights, and the assertion of territory and power, rather than what might be best of the series, or readers, or even Rowling's legacy.
This is my apple
Arts institutions feeling impact of ailing economy - Yahoo! News:

Like homeowners and stockholders, museums, concert halls, dance companies and other arts organizations are feeling the pinch from the faltering economy.

Museums and symphony halls that financed renovations with seemingly safe municipal bonds saw interest rates spike in recent weeks; other arts institutions are suffering from low returns on investments; and some arts executives are worried that recession fears could take a bite out of donations and ticket sales.

"What turns my stomach every time I turn on the news is the current perception of what's happening in our economy and whether people will get nervous and cut back on their charitable contributions," said Charles Thurow, executive director of the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, which used a $5 million fundraising campaign to renovate in 2006 an old Army warehouse into its first permanent home since opening in 1939. "That would affect our annual operating budget."

In New York and Los Angeles, well-established institutions including Carnegie Hall, the Museum of Modern Art and the Getty Center are scrambling to refinance their debt after interest rates climbed on so-called auction-rate bonds. The interest on auction-rate bonds is reset as often as weekly at auctions where investors set the rate through bidding.
Pensé que las patas de ranas eran solo de ranas
113/365 aloha! ugly couch surf's up dudes!
The slipperiness of truth (

For me, this is the central mystery of the Bush administration. There has been demonstrable legal wrongdoing on the part of this administration and through some magical process, they've charmed the country and managed to sidestep not only legal action (including impeachment) but even the threat of legal action and -- this is the best part -- get fucking reelected in the process. With Bush's disapproval rating at an all-time high (for any President since Gallup began polling), it's not like people aren't aware and the 2006 elections clearly show the country's disapproval with Bush et al. Maddening and fascinating at the same time.
[mostra_reload_01] ombrelli
Daughters of Catastrophe: American Theater, DIY, & Me:

Plenty of people in theater will tell you the DIY approach is silly and won't make you rich. Ask them if they are rich. Ask them if their house or car is paid off. Ask them if they have health insurance. Ask them if they're offering you a job when they mock your plan to bypass their theater.

None of this DIY stuff is from Daisey's monologue. I don't want to put words in his mouth, especially since he is so eloquent.

This is what I have come to realize after twenty years in theater: You won't get anything from regional theaters, other than a come-on and (at best) a staged reading. So while you have the joy and enthusiasm for this art form, just go for it.
Gothamist: Mike Daisey, How Theater Failed America:

In the past several years, writer and performer Mike Daisey has become widely known as one of the most compelling artists working in the solo monologue format first trailblazed by the late, great Spalding Gray. If you're not familiar with Gray's work, you'll be forgiven if the word 'monologist' makes your eyelids droop, but in the right hands the form is as riveting and rewarding as the best ensemble theater. And Daisey's hands are assuredly right; typically seated at a desk with just a microphone, Daisey has a knack for disarming his audience with an approachable persona, incandescent wit and a gift for virtuoso storytelling.

His enthralling new play, How Theater Failed America, is at once a rollicking and dismaying backstage tour of the highly dysfunctional "machine that makes theater" in cities across the nation. It's an exhilarating show, as Daisey deftly coaxes the room from raucous laughter to hushed contemplation with personal accounts of an art form that's dying and being reborn across America on a nightly basis.

This short review is followed by a pretty extensive interview, which covers a lot of ground that hasn't been touched on, including my plans for a new show this summer, a strange journey I'm taking to a distant land, and a response to Nicholas Martin. It's a good one.

Two oustanding new one-man shows—both directed by Jean-Michele Gregory—are on the boards in NYC this month. Wanderlust, written and performed by Martin Dockery, is a captivating chronicle of a trip to Africa that leads to a kind of epiphany. Read Martin Denton's rave review....And How Theater Failed America is Mike Daisey's newest monologue, at Joe's Pub; it's a compelling call to action, and not just for folks who work in the theatre. Read our review.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

No Petrol UrbanEye:

Attention sci-fi geeks, multimedia freaks and cutting-edge theater lovers: “Untitled Mars (this title may change),” running through Sunday at PS 122, may be your kind of show. Created by Jay Scheib with help from his M.I.T. colleagues and the Mars Society, it’s set on a space station on the red planet. With video projections, Skype chats with astronomers and text borrowed from Philip K. Dick, it’s meant to bridge “the hard science of how we get to Mars and the science fiction about what happens when we get there.” The singular performer Mike Daisey loved it so much that he agreed to appear tonight as a Mars expert (yep, he’s a nerd); Scott Shepherd of the Wooster Group performs on Sunday.
Il filo dell'orizzonte
Newbie NYC: Mike Daisey Never Fails in 'How Theater Failed America':

Frankly, Daisey doesn't point out anything new. Let's face it, the death bell for theater has been ringing at a deafening pitch for decades now. But the sign of a great artist isn't always exploration of the next new thing, but rather the uncovering of a universality through startlingly fresh means. As a performer Daisey delivers, diving in with everything he's got - intellect, humor 'til it hurts, hulking physicality and sweat to the point of dehydration. And as an audience, we sit transfixed and wondrous.

Armed only with a water glass, Daisey's armchair philosopher orator has so much heart we willingly partner on his rant. With everything you expect in a one man show - personal humiliations, suicidal tendencies, and nostalgic role play (his actor portraying a masturbating bishop being the most memorable) - Daisey is entertaining to be sure. But that isn't enough for a master artist, so he just doesn't stop until he makes you think. And lament. And leave the theater changed.
Puss In Boots - 4-20-08
Mike Daisey - How Theater Failed America :: EDGE New York City:

Ticket holders at actor and author Mike Daisey’s one-man show How Theater Failed America ought to have expected to be challenged, but they probably weren’t all prepared to hear his opening salvo, "You shouldn’t have come here." Daisey, who has taken on, James Frey and Wal-Mart, is on the offensive with his newest monologue, which appeared earlier this year at the Public’s Under the Radar festival and, like a stubborn nettle in a rose garden, has grown back twice as large.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Daguerreotype circa 1895 (possibly water damaged) from the private papers of James Gordon
outside of wilbraham, mass.
Teen Beat - Measure for Measure - Opinion - New York Times Blog:

But back to the teenage formula. Usually I would get say 80 percent of it done on Saturday night. I would work until about 1:00 in the morning. Most of the time there was a piece eluding me that I would sleep on. Maybe it was a final lyrical detail. Maybe it was a chord in the bridge that had to go somewhere unexpected. What I found was that by sleeping on it, some dream logic would creep into the song and give it an extra sparkle.

Now it’s different. I don’t have the hours at home that follow one after the other. I can’t imagine working from 8:00 until 1:00 in the morning without some kind of interruption, and when I wake up on Sunday morning I am not running over to the guitar to see what the missing piece was. Usually I am thinking, “Where’s Ruby? What does she have to do today?” (Ruby is my daughter.) Or answering the phone or staring at my husband in his sleep.

What worked for the last album was getting out of the house. I was having so much trouble concentrating at home (”I need to clean the closets!”) that I hired an engineer (Britt Myers) to come to my house to work with me for three hours a day, three times a week. Those first days were agony, and when I sang the opening lines of “Bound” to Britt for the first time, I felt as though something crazy and weird were coming out of my mouth, like snakes. Now it is a real song, and though I still sing it with heartfelt emotion, it feels finished. But any song in the beginning is raw and uncooked and wobbly.
Police State
RetroVision Media » Blog Archive » How Theater Failed America: Reviewed and Recommended:

Mike Daisey, monologist extraordinaire delivered a passionate solo performance of his insightful work, How Theater Failed America at Joe’s Pub in The Public Theater. With passion for his chosen vocation and with just as much compassion for those struggling to survive a diminishing desire for regional theater as an art form, Mr. Daisey, through a series of anecdotal tales and personal explorations, delved into the deep seated reasons theater is losing it’s audiences.With dwindling interest, as a result of a corporate bottom-line mentality infiltrating the art of theater, according to Daisey, all parties concerned are suffering. From theatergoers, to actors, directors, and the unsung techies that make things go smoothly behind the scenes, all are being short changed by a system that is more interested in perpetuating it self as an institution, than providing adequate support for the very art form it’s supposedly existing to support.
I'm doing a reading tomorrow for my friend Greg Kotis, the writer of URINETOWN, who has created a delightful new play for the holiday season.

Below is the message we've been sending out to folks, courtesy of the playwright's charming wife, Ayun Halliday (I have added the coarse image, as it makes me laugh):

Will the death of Santa Claus bring on the Apocalypse as imagined in the Norse Poetic Edda?

Will the elves escape the cruel lash Mrs. Claus?

Is Jesus really the reason for the season?

We're banging together a reading of Greg's new play, Bad Christmas, because, hell, what else can we do with the kids out of school for a week, but rehearse for 3 hours and pray that Milo keeps it together, though admittedly, it's sometimes funnier when he doesn't.

Won't you please come? It won't cost you a dime and it may lead to a full production somewhere down the road.

When: Wednesday, April 23, 7pm

Where: The Barrow Street Theater, 27 Barrow Street, at 7th Avenue (south of Christopher)

What: An under-rehearsed reading of Bad Christmas by Greg Kotis, directed by John Clancy

Who: in alphabetical order
Bill Coelius
Mike Daisey
Ayun Halliday
India Kotis
Milo Kotis
Ben Schneider
Paul Urcioli
Nancy Walsh

How much? Free, damn you!

Bring all your theater-loving, Christmas-hating, open-minded friends, but leave your children at home, please. First come, first served.
Dark City

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 How Theater Failed America:

Daisey's reputation as perhaps the finest monologist of his post-Spalding Gray generation (he is just 35 years old) precedes this piece; seeing Daisey on stage for the first time in How Theater Failed America, I now understand how he's attained that reputation and glowingly endorse it. Even though the only instruments he really uses here are his voice and his expressive hands and face, this is acting, not public speaking; Daisey's is a rare talent, able to plant vivid pictures of places, people, and events that we've never seen before squarely within our mind's eye, so that we aren't just hearing narrated stories but are experiencing them as near to first-hand as it's possible to do without leaving our seats.

The cumulative effect of all of these tales is to remind us of the powers of theatre: transformative, redemptive, and otherwise. Daisey is deeply concerned that theatre and its inherent powers are being squandered by a culture that values money and things more than art and principles. He sees, in the corporatization of theatre (especially large regional theatres), a reflection of a general trend in America away from the energetic individualism that characterizes our idealized vision of who we are and why we're great and toward a passive consumerism that's antithetical to that vision. He sees not just the distressing surface of facts and figures indicating diminished attendance and rising costs, but the more disturbing anomie below. The artistic and managing directors who can't find their way out of the capitalist grind their mired in are the very same citizens who can't seem to elect a government to get them out of a war they don't support.

Which is why Daisey's call to action, no matter how naive you might judge it to be, is vitally important. One of the things he urges in How Theater Failed America is to reverse the failure through individual action, i.e., at the indie theater level. He knows that the impulse to make theatre will no more die than our innate need for freedom.