Thursday, November 29, 2007

lone star return

Going down to Dallas, TX tomorrow. Flight's scheduled for 7:05 AM in the mean, mean morning. Mostly going for kicks, seeing some very good old friends. Some business, meeting with Kitchen Dog Theater and maybe Undermain.

Ah, Dallas. The Metroplex. Crazy-ass transplanted Easterners dancing with the real deal, Texans, folks who grew up in the Republic of the Lone Star, a state you can't drive across in a day, a flat land underneath a blazing, watchful sky. Gets weird down there, or at least it did for me.

Good, productive day today. Started a little thing I'm writing for Melanie Stewart Dance, ten minute piece for the nEW Festival in January. Going to be fun. Think I've cast Overlord, at least for the reading on Dec. 11. Nice progress continues happening with LIT, great group of people.

So farewell, my friends. I'm going deep in the heart of Texas. Back, god willing, on Monday.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

wednesday night fights


Anyone see the Republican debates last night?

I, personally, love these You Tube debates, makes it almost feel like the candidates share a world roughly similar to mine. Anderson Cooper is probably a prick, he was born rich and he's good-looking, went gray at nineteen, so he's all serious and shit, but he always does a great job, which is just another reason for him to be a prick, but my point is...


I mean, Jesus.

Christ Almighty. Did you see that shit?

Big Fred stepped straight out and said the main focus of the party needs to be overturning Roe v. Wade. Not at all surprising for anyone who's been watching for awhile, but fuck. Nan started quietly crying on the couch next to me. I watched, silent and struck. Anderson didn't have any follow-up. On to the next question...

Mitt and Rudy wrestled for awhile, lots of elbows and slaps. Duncan Hunter ran over and built a fence between them, right there on the spot. Very impressive.

Duncan Hunter.

Did no one say to him at any point:

"Your name is Duncan Hunter. You will never be president. Stop spending people's money."?

I guess no one ever said that to Millard Fillmore either.

Anyway, holy Jesus fuck.

We're in trouble, folks.

They're running the same "crazy as a shit-house rat" shtick on Ron Paul as they're running on Dennis Kucinich, both of them have no prayer but play well on TV, they're the eccentric comic uncles in our bad national sitcom, but Paul came on strong. His slogan, right there and out in the open is Revolution. Fuck yes, Ron. You're dead wrong on just about everything, but fuck yes. Shout and sing, you crazy bastard.

Rudy, of course, scares the shit out of me. He could win and he's smarter than anyone you've ever met. And, yes, he's a Fascist. Look it up. Not on Wikepedia, do real research and you'll see, he's a Fascist. Not empty words, not a reflexive epithet, the man is a true-blue Fascist and he could win and that scares the very shit out of me, a New Yorker that lived under Guiliani and voted for him once. Absolute scream-and-yell-and-run-for-your-life terror if Rudy takes the pledge and is our President. Buy a gun and aim for the White House. We're all dead.

God No. Not Rudy. Jesus. Holy Fuck.


We need to talk about Mitt.

I'm going to go out on a ledge here. No one's really talking about this, but...

He is not of us.

I'm not talking the Mormon thing, which is weird, but I'm talking seriously, human to human here,

He is not of Us.

The dude ain't human. Watch him for awhile. Closely.

Not Us.

Everyone says "Ken Doll" but it's deeper than that. I watched him for two hours, watched him duck and dodge and smile and joke and make his points and attack and defend, and no, my friends, (I'm ripping off McCain with that one, he was great, "My friends, my friends..." he kept mumbling the words long past it was clear he had few in the house), my friends, I tell you true:

He Is Not Of Us.

I get a deep, cellular creep-out from this guy.

Synthetic. Programmed. Soothing. Handsome. Careful. Coiffed. Healthy. Beaming.

He's some kind of fucking robot is all I'm saying.

From some alien civilization.

Probably a civilization of vastly superior intelligence, sure, but my friends, an alien civilization.

Watch him. I am not fucking around.

So, I don't want no damned alien in the White House. Is all I'm saying.

Huckabee is all the rage, but I don't see it. Nice, Christian guy from Hope, Arkansas. Didn't we already do that?

I think it comes down to Big Fred and Rudy, maybe there's a Christian Soldier who fights it out with them, but I can't see him yet.

Fred is Freddy from Nightmare on Elm Street. He's got the charm and style and intelligence (my father will kill me for using that last word) of Reagan.

Totally dangerous dude. Just because he's good on the little screen doesn't mean you want him deciding whether or not your daughter or niece should bleed to death in some corporate park sub-basement when they've outlawed legal abortion in your state. That's not a flight of fancy. That's what will happen, to someone in your family, mine, or someone none of us knows. Doesn't matter.

This is America. Goddamn it. Hard to believe it lately, I know. But this is America. Let's please stop fucking around.

I want you to envision a sweet little female face, someone born now or a year ago. They're your blood or they're not, again, doesn't matter. They're born in America. And fifteen years later they fuck up, as we all have or could have, and that sweet little person is pregnant. And they have no choice. There is no legal, protected above-board place for them to go to do the most horrible thing they have ever done in their very young life. So they go to the guy who does the thing at the place and they give him the money.

Like it's nineteen fucking fifty five or something.

And the Guy who does the Thing is a criminal, as he would have to be, if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Now, a word or two in defense of criminals:

Full disclosure forces me to admit here and now that I have broken federal, state and local laws in my life and I have thankfully gotten away with most infractions. My total time behind bars is only about three days if you add it all up. You can technically call me a criminal but my crimes were virtually all victim-free and can mostly be chalked up to youthful or chemical exuberance. But my life experience has allowed me to live, work and socialize with many low-level and perfectly harmless criminals, people who have to make their money beneath or outside of the law, and I can tell you this,

most criminals are simply business people providing a service who happen to be poor. And usually, they are under-educated. And usually, in my experience, they are high or not far from getting high.


Is that the type of person you want to have aiming a sharp object at your niece or daughter or step-daughter or any other American's reproductive organs?

Think about it.

That's what they're talking about. It's not an abstraction. It's young girls dying. It's horrible. I know. I wish every baby were wished for and planned for and welcomed. But it's not true. We have to deal from where we are, not where we'd like to be.

So, Jesus.

Jesus Holy Fuck on High.

Vote Democrat. Vote for whatever pathetic corporate whore they nominate. I'm an Obama man, of late. If they nominate Hilary, I'll swallow it and vote. If they nominate Edwards, I'll pretend that the corn-pone horseshit doesn't physically cause me to wretch and I'll vote. If it's a write-in and it's Ronald McFuckingDonald on a platform of forced French Fries for all, I will fucking well vote for the clown.

If it's Rudy, we're all deeply, deeply fucked. Look above, we'll live under a Fascist government. It will be extremely well run. Every train will arrive on time. It will always be sunny and quiet. You will never have to see anyone who is not hard-working, tax-paying and scared out of their poor fucking mind. You will live in constant, unrelenting fear. That's how those boys play and they play like a Vegas casino. The house always wins.

If Rudy wins, goodbye U.S.A. He'll take everything the Idiot has done and run it like a corporation. He is so fucking smart.



Had a good day on the art side. Signed a new client to consult with, had an outrageously good meeting with Eric Sanders, cast Overlord, great morning meeting with the LIT crew, all that. But, man.

Night ended heavy watching those sons-of-bitches stand there pretending to talk to me. I like and respect McCain. I voted, once, for Guiliani. I bet I'd have a perfectly enjoyable conversation with everyone who stood on that stage. But if any single one of those motherfuckers wins the Big Prize, we as a nation, we as a world, are immediately endangered. Like they talk about species.

total indifference and other great traits

Struggling through Hans-Thies Lehmann's Postdramatic Theatre. Alternately crystal clear and baffling, often within a single paragraph. Reading along, nodding my head and then stuck staring at a string of words for thirty seconds, trying to figure out which one of them is the verb. Love this bit, where he's talking about the historic shift away from drama and towards theater, sometime in the early 20th century:

The French director Antoine Vitez, someone who stages classical texts with sparse and functional theatrical means, knew what he was talking about when he said that since the end of the nineteenth century all great works written for the theater were marked by a 'total indifference' towards the problems their texture posed for scenic realization.

I know some of those writers. Used to piss me off, but mon ami Antoine has a good point. Writers should just write and leave it to the directors and designers to figure the rest of it out.

Meeting with Eric Sanders today, he wrote Ixomia which just played at the Crown Point Festival. He demonstrated absolute, total indifference to the staging and design when he wrote it. I read it, loved it, told him "I have no idea what to do with this." The production at the festival worked, his director and design team solved a lot of it. Might be another way to do it, but without having seen an attempt, I would still be clue-free.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

triumph on the Bowery

Bad Christmas burned down Dixon Place last night. Stellar performances, as usual, from Urcioli and Coelius, Ayun rocked it and those Krazy Kotis Kids, India and Milo, not only nailed every line and entrance, they charmed the bejesus out of the crowd. We're bringing it back on Thursday, playing at the PIT. Seven minutes of holiday heaven.

Looks like a public reading of Captain Overlord's Folly is in the works at the Ohio Theater, some time in December. Need to hear the words coming out of actual human mouths before any more rewrites.

Real thrill last night for me, met Jeff Jones, author of Seventy Scenes from Halloween, a favorite show from my youth. Saw a production of it at the Undermain Theater in Dallas about twenty years ago and it gave me hope that the theater could be strange and funny and fast. David Lindsey-Abbaire was also in the house, got to shake his hand. And Tom Murrin, the Alien Comic and other good friends I hadn't seen in a while.

Love these short little projects, one rehearsal and then toss it up on the stage, see what happens. Hones the directing skills, you have to be clear and pay attention to the basics.

India and Milo in their little jammies! So cute.

Monday, November 26, 2007

bad Christmas

Hilarious rehearsal for Greg Kotis' Bad Christmas yesterday at the Atlantic's new second-stage space. Nice rehearsal space, by the way. The show is up tonight at Dixon Place and then again on Thursday at the P.I.T. space. Come one, come all and see Bill Coelius get smacked in the face with a pan and then get his sternum all splintered up by Paul Urcioli while Paul strides around in the full Santa regalia: wig, beard, glasses and the requisite big red suit. We got cute li'l children who know most of their lines and Ayun Halliday, wielding the aforementioned pan. Solid holiday entertainment and at seven minutes, it's over before you get bored.

Working on the Code of Ethics for LIT this week, have to show folks something by Wednesday.

Strike still going on, starting to seriously freak some people out. Nancy and I have a handful of friends, all actors, who are losing good money.

Flying to Dallas this Friday to see some old friends and pitch some shows to Kitchen Dog Theater, so it's a short week here at the Dime Museum. We shall endeavor to work industriously.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

little break

We're off to the wilds of New England for the Meal of the Giving of the Thanks. Much to be thankful for this year and much to mourn. May not be posting until Monday, may start jonesing before that.

For what it's worth, why would Isherwood spend precious ink directing people to watch a television show, Friday Night Lights, instead of to the hundreds of Off-Off shows completely unaffected by the strike? And note that in his universe "downtown" is 23rd and 10th. Around these parts, East 4th between 2nd and 3rd is a considerable walk uptown.

Easy to indulge in the time-honored sport of Times-bashing. But, seriously. The second-string Times critic should have a little more sense than that.

Enjoy your bird, all. Give thanks for what you have and bitch and moan for what you don't. It's America, after all.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

magic night

Spent the evening out in Red Hook with the fabulous and ever-resourceful Ben Schneider and his beautiful bride and super-chef Sohi Kim. Finally met their pride and joy, the 3 month old Jasper Dae. For all of you out there with children, I hate to break it to you, but we have a winner. She is hands down the cutest thing in jammies.

We were scrambling to find a time for a last dinner for David Calvitto, who is expatriating on Friday, moving to the Big Smoke to chase his dreams. Middle of the afternoon yesterday we realized tonight's the night and two phone calls later, Bob's your uncle and we're all having dinner together. Dave and Ben did Horse Country for me back in 2002, went on to tour the UK with the show for months.

Very sad to see Dave go, but then again we get over there often, so it just means we have another friend in London.

Maintenance day today, wrapping some things up so we can eat the big bird in peace. We're going up to Nancy's ancestral home, Greenfield, MA for the holiday. First Thanksgiving without Jane, so it might be rocky. But as Nancy pointed out, Jane always hated Thanksgiving. No prizes. We all get together, we sit around, and no presents? What kind of holiday is that? She loved her prizes, that girl.

Monday, November 19, 2007

new LIT statement of purpose

Here's what we came up with at the ungodly hour of 8:30 AM. Come on, if you were God, would you get up that early?

The League of Independent Theater (LIT) is the association of theater professionals working in New York City theaters of up to 99 seats. LIT's mission is to organize and protect its members to ensure that independent theater is economically viable for all of its practitioners. We will advocate on behalf of the decades-old tradition of off-off Broadway theater to ensure that it remains, and grows, as a thriving artistic and economic sector in New York City.

Pretty sure that's it. Please commence throwing the brick-bats if not.

On the art side, had a first reading of Greg Kotis' Bad Christmas , a seven-minute thing we're doing at Dixon Place next Monday as part of an evening called Little Theatre. Greg, being Greg, has cast his own brood as the little children eagerly awaiting Santa on Christmas Eve. India is Honey and Milo is Nick and goddamn are they adorable. Bill Coelius plays the part of the drunken (and wronged) husband, Ayun Halliday (Greg's wife) plays the wife and Paul Urcioli plays Santa, but it's a Kotis piece, so the stage directions read:

(Santa enters- a grim, avenging Santa.)

And we're off.

Lots of stage combat, Urcioli in full Santa regalia, a surprising and quite disturbing twist at the end and lots of shouting and wailing throughout. Just like any bad Christmas.

Friday, November 16, 2007

scrappy jack's random Friday thoughts

Sxip Shirey (that's Sxip with an "x") is some kind of genius. Kind of known him for years, he played at the Theatorium and we have a lot of shady friends in common, but only sat down and talked with him a few days ago. He gave me his eponymous CD, put it on late last night, left it on for about an hour. Crazy-ass musicianship. Here's my pull-quote,

If Ry Cooder were a little crazier and Tom Waits had never been discovered, they both would have been lucky to have become Sxip Shirey.

At the Mayor's Awards for Arts and Culture Wednesday night, Big Mike listed the three reasons that culture is important to New York. Look for the one that triggered an internal double-take in Scrappy's immortal soul:

Culture is central to our quality of life.

Culture is central to our brand identity.

Culture is central to New York City's economy.

That's right, folks, apparently I'm living in the great brand of New York, New York. The brand so nice they named it twice. I'm going to stop calling it "the city" when I'm out-of-town, which is a pretentious and snobby thing to do anyway. I'm going to call it "the brand".

It's going to be great to get back to the brand.

Look me up when you're in the brand.

Can you believe this brand?

Definitely has a 21st century ring to it.

In art news, C.J. Hopkins sent me his latest, America the Beautiful. Holy fuck. We might just have us a thing here. Ostensibly set in an underground interrogation room at an American airport, we see the Smiths, a nice upper-middle class American couple returning from London as they answer questions and comply with requests coming from Jack, a government official. Probably. Maybe. Jack's assistants, the beautiful Ingrid and the stolid, handsome Otis are there as well. And...

Well, it's Hopkins, so things get reliably strange, comic and ultimately just god-awful. Very excited about this one.

C.J. and I are also talking about a Woyzeck collaboration. May spend some time on that this afternoon.

That's me. New laptop just arrived, Nancy's monkeying around with it behind me. She's a monkeyer, that little monkey-girl.

Let's all pray she never reads this post, she'll hit me for that one.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

cool public art project

Went downstairs to get some cigarettes at the bodega and looked across the street at the ugly plywood fence surrounding the Theatorium. Sixty feet across and about eight feet high. Blocking what was once the nicest piece of graffiti in the neighborhood. Thought about all of the shows that went up in that place once and all of the posters, postcards and other imagery associated with those shows.


It's a temporary surface, will only last until the demolition is over and the construction starts most likely. And it's nasty weather, so anything not securely attached will get blown off or fucked up in the rain. But still...

Imagine the color and the living history and the memorial for what the neighborhood used to be, right there on the site where they're hammering in what is pretty much the last nail on the casket.

Could be cool. And would give me something to look at when I buy my cigarettes.

I feel a draft

I think this is what we came up with yesterday as a draft Statement of Purpose for the League of Independent Theater.

My uncertainty stems from the early hour in which we drafted it and the difficulty in reading my own handwriting after 24 hours. Seriously, I have notebooks filled with writing from years ago that, without remembering the context, may as well be Arabic.

Some things we considered in the drafting of this:

1. This is for the ages, should make sense and be appropriate ten years from now.
2. Rhetoric and stirring imagery are not necessary for this document; that language is for the Manifesto and anything else the League decides to put out.
3. The Statement should make clear who (or whom, I guess) the League is being created to serve.

Here goes, draft draft drafty:

The League of Independent Theater is the association of Off-Off Broadway professionals working in New York City theaters of up to 99 seats. Its membership comprises every aspect of the theatrical trade. The League's mission is to organize and protect its members and to advocate on behalf of the artistic and economic sector they have created.

Last sentence seems a little weak and clunky when I look at it now, but like I said, big draft draft drafty. Think we're close.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

wild, wild life

The Orwellian moment this week comes from President Pervez "How Do You Like My Suit?" Musharraf, our man in Pakistan.

Explaining why he suspended the Constitution, dismissed the Supreme Court, silenced independent news stations and arrested at least 2,500 opposition party workers, lawyers and human rights advocates, Prez Perv said, with what appeared to be a perfectly straight face,

"To ensure elections go in an undisturbed manner."

Undisturbed by, say, opposition.

But don't worry, Condi's on it, vowing to shake her finger at him for several minutes and then smile at him with her big weird teeth until she has blinded him with the righteousness and justice of her American smile.

So everything's going to work out fine.

Great Steering Committee meeting early this morning for the League, even though I slept through the first half, awaking to find the room shouting at me, waving their fists in the air, demanding more coffee. A spirited group.

And tonight one of those strange, dressy events. The New York Fringe Festival is receiving the Mayor's Award for Arts and Culture, along with Anna Deavere Smith and five other folks and organizations. Elena is thrilled, naturally, and Nancy and I will be there to bask in the reflected glory of our Big Monster Baby. Might shake Mike's hand, ask him for some money.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

R.I.P. Theatorium

Bring down your flowers, ticket stubs and empty champagne bottles to 196-198 Stanton Street and throw them over the wooden fence. After four years of sitting empty the Theatorium is being torn down to make way for another apartment building on the Lower East Side.

We live just across the street so I was walking by yesterday and they had the roll gate open. I peeked in, hadn't seen the inside of that place for about five years. I told one of the workmen I used to work there when it was a theater. He said,

"It was a theater? We heard it was a strip club."

I thought, well, we would have made a hell of a lot more money.

Anyway, goney-gone now.

In its brief life it witnessed the first stagings of Tiny Ninja Theater, Rich Maxwell's Boxing 2000, Leigh Silverman's Brandon Teena, C-R-E-P-U-S-C-U-L-A-R ( which went on to become the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee), Greg and Mark's Urinetown and about 500 other beautiful, shaggy shows. Usually when people talk about the place now, they talk about the rats and hell yes, there were rats, we even named one Gus we got to know him so well, but come on folks, it's Manhattan and we were always broke when we had that place. When I think about it, I think about the people who worked there and came in and out of the doors. I think of that crazy spiral staircase you had to navigate. I think of the look in a designer's eyes when they first caught sight of the large, open space. No columns? they'd ask and I'd nod happily.

But mostly I think of the good people who came and stayed and I wish I could thank them all again for their work and good humor. We never made a dime down there, but we made a lot of good shows and we almost always had a good time by the end of the day.

League meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning. General agreement that the draft SOP posted below is actually a Manifesto and should be reworked and titled as such. Working on a simple, clear SOP.

Excellent meeting last night with Dave Weems, Del Pentecost, Curtiss I'Cook and Nancy. Weems and I are going to write a multiple Emmy award-winning television show for Del, Curtiss and Nancy and we are all going to make, conservatively, eleven jillion dollars. Not bad at all.

All right. To work.

Monday, November 12, 2007

while the iron's hot

It was ugly, folks.

Citing the protection of a "vital national interest", Mayor "Gentleman" Mike Bloomberg after an all-night closed door session with Jerry Schoenfeld and Richard Frankel, ordered the New York City Mounted Division to break up the rabble and roustabouts calling themselves "Local One". The horsemen rode into the crowd, flanked by mysterious "Pinkerton" agents, all wielding batons, shouting "The show must go on!" The ragged men and women scattered, some tripping over their home-made "Mo' Dough or No Show!" picket signs as the tear gas eddied and drifted over Times Square.

The battle was fierce, but one-sided. The "stage-hands", as the strikers call themselves, could not organize a coherent counter-attack, due to what appeared to be some sort of internal disagreement about how many men should be on the left flank and for how long. One striker inexplicably pulled out a stool and sat on the sidewalk in the midst of the battle, reading a newspaper and claiming to be "leading the charge".

The producer's squadron of mounted goons were swift and brutal, using both batons and what appeared to be enormous sacks of US currency to bludgeon all who stood in their way, strikers and innocent citizens alike.

As the smoke and hyperbole cleared, the Rialto seemed to this reporter to be a deserted and damned place, a graveyard of all that once mattered to the Republic. The lights of the marquees blinked back on, hesitantly at first and then, gaining confidence, blazing in the cold November night. Hushed tourists slowly filed through the doors of the great Broadway houses and the immortal music of Mama Mia, Young Frankenstein and Legally Blonde struck up and could be heard, dimly, playing bravely once again.

Like I say, ugly.

Friday, November 09, 2007

gray day made bright

Cold and raining and the sun going down at 5:00 today. Saw it all driving back down from Albany. Safe and home on the Lower East Side.

Nancy and I both picked up the same cold last night at the Quality Inn, Nancy much worse, sneezing and hating life, asleep on the couch. I have a weaker or just earlier strain of the bug so I'm the designated caretaker.

Such are the balances of marriage.

This dark day made brighter by three anniversaries:

My little sister, Mary Anne Schwartz nee Clancy born today many years ago, bringing us all untold hilarity,

her daughter and my goddaughter Elizabeth Rader Schwartz, born today nine years ago, our miracle child

and also nine years ago, on the very day little Elizabeth came to us, Nancy and I moved into this apartment. Developers and bohos and bars have descended in the last long nine years, but we're still here.

So happy birthdays all around.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

family business

My sister-in-law's house is closing tomorrow. Nancy is in charge of all things Jane since Jane died back in May, so we're driving up to Albany today. Tomorrow we'll sit in a lawyer's office and talk to strangers about money.

We miss her so much.

Probably no posts until Monday.

Everyone, call your family and tell them that you love them.

It's a simple thing to do and it's the only way to insure there will be no big regrets when somebody calls you with the bad news. It's a pretty short ride, makes no sense to waste time fighting with the other passengers.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

first lap

Finished a draft of Overlord. Sat here typing all goddamned day. And now I'm typing some more, but I have a glass of Scotch next to me.

Hallelujah. It's not done, but I think I've got it finished.

On the New York Times website they have this headline:

Michael Jackson Ignores the Gossip

Isn't that the kind of headline you could have safely run any day since 1977?

Just asking.


Had a breakthrough on Captain Overlord last night. May have found a way to end the thing.

Going to go deep-sea fishing in my head and see if I can haul the bastard aboard today.

Always great when you've been working on something for awhile and you catch a glimpse of the exit light.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

corrupting the youth

The draft SOP below for the League focuses on funding, real estate, union Codes and contracts and a code of ethics for our territory. These are long-term issues and vital areas of interest.

I don't want to forget another one, though, which is harnessing the power of the university resources and student population of New York City and directing those resources and that audience to our theaters.

It's like we're living next to a reservoir and we're all still digging our own little wells. Imagine an organized, unified approach to the New York University theater department and the Columbia University School of Journalism. And those are just two departments in two institutions.

I'm not talking about conjuring up a hail of interns that are usually twice as much work to monitor as they're worth, I'm saying what if we could sit down with a dean or two and say we represent forty theaters and theater companies here in the city and we want to educate your students about the new works being created right now and we want to invite your class to an open rehearsal and talk-back and we want your arts administration class to use our theaters as their residencies, etc.?

This would take some serious organization and thinking through before we pick up a phone and call a professor, but man, we could catch those kids now and expose them to the good stuff and hook them for life.

Monday, November 05, 2007

draft Statement of Purpose

Just a draft, but how does this sound?

Statement of Purpose

The League of Independent Theater is the trade association for all entrepreneurs and artists working in theatrical venues with less than 100 seats within the five boroughs of New York City. "Indie" theater has an enormous cultural and economic impact on New York City and, by extension, the American Theatre; as such it is a national treasure and must be recognized as such. It is the de facto Research and Development wing of American theater, incubating and training the next generation of American masters and nurturing and sustaining the experimentations and new techniques that will perpetuate the discipline. It must be recognized, respected and funded as the vital resource it is.

Today, the indie theater artist is faced with unprecedented challenges, both economic and cultural. Practitioners of the theatrical arts have always honed their craft far from the bright lights and living wages of the commercial sector, eking out a livelihood while finding, establishing, and exploring their creative voices in basements, attics, converted lofts, parking lots, and found spaces throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and even Staten Island.

Entire neighborhoods have been saved by the contributions of indie theater artists who attracted audiences to once dangerous streets; those streets now host boutiques, bistros, and bodegas, and the indie theater artists who made possible the renaissance of the City are now transients in our own communities; from Greenwich Village to the Lower East Side to Williamsburg to Long Island City we have moved like peasants fleeing in slow-motion from the smiling, inevitable pogrom of urban gentrification.

Recent economic and political trends have decimated the public funding of the arts in America. A cultural war was fought and our side lost.

We reject out-of-hand the peace treaty offered; the League is our response.

The League is explicitly artist-centric. It is the individual artist, the writer, actor, director, designer and choreographer; that is the source of all economic activity in our industry. It exists, first and foremost, to fiercely advocate for its members.

We can no longer tolerate the incalculable loss of time, talent, and effort that is ensured by the volatile real estate environment in the city: a migrant community is a disposable one. Working with city officials and enlightened realtors we will secure the existing indie theater venues and make it stated public policy to create new arts centers whenever and wherever new residential and commercial building occurs.

In our sector the artists are more often than not, by choice or necessity, the ones doing the bulk of the producing and managing. The traditional barriers of labor and management are much more fluid and nominal than in the industry at large. Recognizing this, we call for a complete re-working of the existing union codes and contracts that operate in our sector. We call for this in the spirit of progress and with the clear vision and knowledge of how things actually work on the ground. The AEA Showcase Code is an anachronistic relic, doing far more harm than good to our community and by extension, to the industry at large. We will partner with AEA, in good faith, to address this vital issue. We see the Showcase Code as the single, most onerous burden that keeps our community, a community of both artists and producers, from flourishing

Our industry is Art; without the artists, no industry. Recognizing this, the League has introduced a Code of Ethics that all members must agree to and practice. The code ensures that artists, both union and non-union, are treated professionally and respectfully. It is an agreement between equals, a self-policing instrument to help guarantee a productive and positive working environment in our theaters and rehearsal halls.

The arts are the final fruit of civilization and a civilized society recognizes their centrality and insures their growth. The League will work with local, state and federal governments to create a $300,000,000.00 annual fund for the indie theater sector.

Three hundred million.

This fund will be used to secure and improve the infrastructure of our territory, enable the preservation of real estate so vital to our survival, subsidize the salaries and artist fees of our members, and train and support the next generation of American theater artists and administrators.

Every generation of indie theater artists has been forced to create a new network, find and build new spaces, move to a new neighborhood, adapt to mercurial and unforgiving economic conditions. Today, we come together to make a stand.

The League of Independent Theater welcomes artists, companies, venues, audience members and service providers to join us. If you are invested or interested in theater that occurs in venues of 99 seats or less, we are invested and interested in you. It is in our theaters and by our members that the future of the form will be forged. It is in our theaters and by our members that the future of the industry will be determined. An organized and unified approach is the only way to assure that that future will be a bright one, benefiting all.

tell me why

I don't like Mondays.

Actually not true anymore. Many good projects and little gigs make the start of the work week something I look forward to nowadays. I'm sure the drought will come and the cupboard will go bare again, so I'm enjoying this now. It's an Irish thing, I think. Certain of impending doom, we take the days of sunshine, skittles and beer and hold them tight.

Big League meeting at the end of the week. Steering Committee will see if we can get the thing out of the harbor and into the open seas. Incorporation, by-laws, all that sexy stuff.

Helping an old friend with a screenplay. I should be a board-certified script doctor, I am that good. I can cut and graft and make a dying story sing. In the immortal words of Alec Baldwin in Malice, the greatest B movie of our time:

"I don't have a god complex. I am God."

No problems with self-image to report on this Monday morning.

Friday, November 02, 2007


I was looking at the first act of Overlord last night and trying to figure out what I was doing.

Challenge is to build a very compelling and well-constructed play and then destroy it with the intrusion of the clowns. It's a lot of fun watching this slightly creaking but still servicable vehicle go off the rails, but like I say, I was trying to figure out what the point of it is.

Came up with this:

You have to think of it like you're in a zombie movie. Dead things still walking around have to be killed. They may look like living things, living things you used to know, but they're not. They're dead and they shouldn't be walking around. They have to be killed. It's as simple and as terrible as that.

And, like most zombie movies, sometimes it can be as funny as that, too.

Saw a preview of The Seafarer, Conor McPherson's latest a few days ago. Free tickets from Rachel, an old friend on the producing team. Amazing performances, especially Conleth Hill and Jim Norton, David Morse always great but with kind of the stiff, tough/silent role to carry.

It's at the Booth Theatre, my favorite Broadway house. And I don't go up to Broadway much, but when I do, the best part is still walking into the theater. Looking around, sitting down in the nice seat. As soon as the lights go down and the thing starts, the thrill inevitably starts ebbing away.

Seafarer should do well. Despite the zombies.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

goodbye, Tom and thanks for everything

So things are starting to come to a boil with the Captain Overlord project.

Great phone meeting with Robert Lyons, the tallest man in show biz, yesterday. Might be able to throw some space at us, loves the script so far, we'll talk next week.

Hilarious and very productive meeting with my old combat buddy Elena K. Holy on Tuesday. We have seen and done things that will bind us together forever, the dark and terrifying early days of the Fringe, when financial ruin and physical collapse seemed the only plausible outcomes. Elena knows every possible stage in Manhattan, she has to score twenty or so theaters every August for the festival, so she's on the hunt for Overlord.

Going down to Two Rivers Theatre tomorrow, somewhere down in Jersey, where my old friend Aaron Posner runs the show.

We're looking for two weeks in the winter to workshop, pure development time, need to screw around with the clowns and come up with a better ending. Or any ending at all, at this point. Then a weekend or so in the spring, again some space to see what we have.

Also think I've got a workable first draft of this one-man, self-reflective, arty-as-all-hell piece. Think its funny and has a point, so I'm happy.

And in a great new development, found out last night that my old collaborator C. J. Hopkins knows how to work a video camera and might be able to help with Woyzeck. Would be great to work with Chris in a new capacity, we trust each other implicitly and he's one of the very few artists I know who actually knows what he wants to do with any given piece. Takes his shit very seriously. Might even be able to help out with the text since he's living in Berlin and speaks German now.

All very good.

League is popping as well, more on that soon. Drafted a Statement of Purpose, felt like Thomas Jefferson. Might have been the powdered wig and the big-ass quill pen I was using, don't know.

And in the news today, Tom O'Horgan, famed director and father of us all, has sold his apartment on 13th Street to Zach Braff for 3.2 million dollars and is moving to a condo in Sarasota, Florida. Tom is 83 and has Alzheimers.

Tom's gone and we get Zach. Nothing against Zach, I laugh my ass off at Scrubs, but that's a sad trade.