Theater Farts

My Confession to Cate Blanchett’s Uncle

Okay, My Dear Darlings, today I am going to reveal something about Plastikoff, that is to say, about myself. I don’t know how many of you want to know anything about me, but the reason for my openness is not what you think it is.

I usually say something about my drinking and s**t like that at the beginning of my blog but not today. Today I want to put a Freudian hat and dissect my bitterness and itch to be inappropriate (sometimes) in public.

I should say that a part of this entry was written last summer, but I decided to release it today. I think the time is right and besides I am ready to open another bottle of Port right now (smiley face).

Cate Blanchett, Anton Chekhov and My Confession

I am sure that not so many of you were able to catch a production of “Uncle Vanya” with Cate Blanchett at City Center last summer. It ran only for a few days and, of course, the ticket prices were way too, but somehow understandably, steep for any theater lover to be able to afford it. I was one of the lucky ones who got a ticket because of my theater loving friends who let themselves splurge on theater time after time. I barely can afford to buy a chicken wing at some fried food place, so to spend more than twenty dollars on anything was just too utopian considering my today’s salary. I am actually quite annoyed that only some “privileged” people can see theater in the city nowadays. Art is an escape and art is needed for all the people. Well, but that is quite a different topic to talk about and maybe I will return to it in another entry which, most likely, will be alcohol induced… okay, okay I will not go there today, so let me go straight to describing those feelings I had when I was watching the production of the Sydney Theater Company at City Center.

Yesterday, it happened so, I sent my supporting materials for a residency in a theater. Yes, that’s right, Plastikoff sometimes sends things out like that. (Beats his fists to his chest) I am an artist who needs somebody’s approval too. You know, I can’t survive on one chicken wing a month. I need some potatoes with it. Well, okay I will cut my spending on alcohol, but (he beats his fists even greater) I need it for my creative juices to flow and who the duck are you telling me what I should and what I shouldn’t do? (Gets himself together) Ups, sorry, I got a little carried away. I hope you’ll understand.

As always, as it is with me, everything was coming down to the last minute. This whole mad rush made my concentration work to the fullest. This last minute business always feels like the last day before a show is released. It is stressful but when it’s done, it feels like I have accomplished something. I thought I did well (Update: no, I didn’t get the residency (sad face)). Of course there is always place for improvement. I also understand that my understanding of what is good not always coincides with other people’s understanding of the same. That is okay, because at the end of the day I am the one who is going to judge my work from my point of view and my point of view might be very different from your point of view, so in Plastikoff’s head Plastikoff is always right (smiley face).

So let me go deeper into that ducklingly ducked Plasikoff’s mind and see how, for example, I found myself critiquing THE “Uncle Vanya” with THE Cate Blanchett on the same day I was refused the residency.

Okay, here it is, my confession:

I don’t know what got into me, but I found myself hating the production of “Uncle Vanya” last summer. After I was awarded with a ticket, which cost close to two hundred dollars, I was farting cranberries in my seat while watching it. What “bothered” me was not the production but the fact that I was sitting in the audience watching “Uncle Vanya” while my whole body screamed how badly I wanted to be involved with the show or be the one who wrote the play. Well, “Uncle Vanya” is not my favorite Chekov’s play. Why the heck it gets produced so many times, I have no idea? I was farting pancakes and believe me nobody should be in the same room when I do that. You would understand me if you wore my shoes but since I can’t afford to buy them I’ll leave you here with what went through my mind after the show.

There were a few elements that “bothered” me when I was watching the production. I know it feels weird when I say this this way but I like dissecting myself and see who I really am when I talk about somebody else’s work. We all see imperfections in others because we have the same weak points ourselves. We discuss and hate the very thing we dislike in our work and in… well, you got the poin. I am not a saint (pffff, sorry that was Port talking) I have many problems and flaws.

Now, when I say that “Uncle Vanya” is still not my favorite Chekov’s play what I am really saying is this: “Damn, this Chekov’s thing is being produced all over the world nonstop for more than a hundred years. Why can’t I achieve this kind of greatness; instead I am sitting in the audience and watching this play which was written by some dead Russian in the nineteenth century. Are people still finding this works amazing? Just think about it, there were three productions of “Uncle Vanya” in New York City alone last year. Why? Why can’t I be the one who gets produced at the City Center? Why?”

Chekov is a case to envy about. He is a writer that every playwright dreams to become during their lifetime. I am not alone in thinking how the duck did he do it?

This was my first realization of why I was feeling angry about the production and Chekov.

Of course, the production was great, there is no question about it, but there was apparently something that blew my mind. The thing that hit me the most was the fact that I was still to achieve the greatness of Chekov (it is funny that I am already thinking about my “greatness” while I have done none of my writings I should’ve had done).

Another part of my “dissatisfaction” with the show was that I “have” or “had” problems with Cate Blanchett’s performance. Bullocks, I had no problems with her performance whatsoever. I think she is one of the greatest actresses. What bothered my psyche in this case was the fact that Cate Blanchett has already achieved a real star status with her work on film and on stage. I want to be where she is right now and that was what my eyes caught first when I saw her on the stage. My inner voice was screaming: “Why not me, why I am not Yelena?” (ups, sorry.)

While watching somebody perform on the stage, you realize that this is a real person, right now, performing in front of you. I was looking for imperfections in Blanchett’s works as if saying to myself: “See, she is not perfect too.” I was demeaning her in a certain way that satisfied my status at that moment.

There was another discovery that came to me that night. I think this one was harder to catch since it involved a great director and his production of “Uncle Vanya” I saw back at my home country while being a theater student. Eimuntas Nekrošius’s production of “Uncle Vanya” I saw a very long time ago left a deep dent in me. He was one of the first directors who put a Chekhov’s play not the way everybody used to see it. Nekrošius put his own twist on it and Director’s Theater was born. The Naturalistic Theater died and nobody showed up for the funeral. There is no way to see the production again, but if anything directed by E. Nekrošius comes to your town, go see it. There are a few clips on Youtube for you to get a taste of his genius. Go and find them!

I want to be where Eimuntas Nekrošius and Cate Blanchett are. Yes, there, I said it. That night I was watching and comparing things that were not comparable. E. Nekrošius’s production and the production with Cate Blanchett were very different but both were professionally staged. They both had amazing actors in it and none of them was me. I was ripping those productions apart as a hungry coyote in winter because they reminded me of who I want to be and what I want to achieve. Phew, that might be a little too much, but thank god I am drunk right now to fully understand it.

I applaud Cate Blanchett. She keeps herself grounded and goes to do theater while money wise she could be better doing film. I don’t believe that she is not getting at least ten scripts a day from various writers, directors, producers who want to work with her and who appreciate her talent. (Update: go and see Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine” (film by Woody Allen). Blanche = Blanchett (“Streetcar Named Desire”) – you will get the reference after the film! Terrific!)

I guess my confession is quite clear here. I am glad that I am able to say these things openly. One thing I know for sure, I don’t want to be one of those people that moan about other people’s successes while sitting and doing nothing. I like that this discovery energizes me to keep doing what I love doing, work in theater, in film and just create. So, I should say, thank you Cate and Anton for giving me the opportunity to discover something about myself.

Ah so nice, must be the Port talking (smiley face).

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Theater Farts

Unsolicited Solicitations or Unconventional View of “Light of Night”

Okay my Dear Darlings, since I am freshly pressed (read: had a few sips of my favorite cheap Port) after tonight’s performance of “Light of Night,” I am going to share with you my wisdom that only comes out of me when I am drunk. I don’t want to go into a long introduction of how I feel and do right now even though I probably should, because this particular production at IATI theater made me look for Port in the city at 11:23PM, and we all know that this is not a good idea when you are looking for a cheap wine at a store where you need to spend at least ten dollars to be able to use your credit card. What’s up with that? No, I don’t want your overpriced/overprized wine. It gives me a headache. I only drink the cheapest Port that comes from New York wineries. Thank god I was able to scrounge those nine dollars and fifty two cents, otherwise there would be no review, and no unsolicited solicitations ever.

“Friendly Notes to My Colleagues”

It feels a little weird to be writing this entry on a Thursday night, just a few nights before my next entry, which I think is going to be about Cate Blanchett and Chekhov. Oh, Cate and Anton will wait. Let me have another sip and go for those notes.

Okay, first of all I should say that I was very nicely surprised by IATI and its staff. It’s a very cozy theater with a lot of smiles. I love the fact that Spanish is spoken prominently in this theater. This makes me feel very relaxed and welcomed. I can forget about my visa situation and my accent there for at least a few hours. Love it!

Now, let me go to the very grit of the show. Yes, sometimes I like to pretend that I know more than the people who do the actual work. Just give me a little Port and ears to occupy and my unconventional theater farts are released. I usually get gas after eating some pancakes, but I digress (smiley face).

The show – “Light of Night”

Congratulations on being able to release a show in New Jerk City. I came to see the show without any expectations and was very nicely surprised and impressed. For some of you, readers, this entry might be quite boring, but for those who are involved in this particular production, my words might mean something. Take it with a grain of salt. I am only one with my opinion and take on things that I saw happening on the stage. To be angry and not agree with me is perfectly okay as long as I have my glass of wine in front of me. As soon as it finishes… well, let’s just hope that it will not before I am done with these notes. Another thing that I want to point out to you here is this; I am in this business with you. I want you to be so good that if I make a flop myself I am forgiven by the audiences; because they know that there are productions like yours. Okay, I sound almost nice here, let me pour some wine while I still am.

The playwright – Cecilia Copeland

Cecilia, you are a great writer. You don’t need my opinion to define who you are. You know your craft. But since there should always be somebody who can tell you straightforwardly what could be improved or where you lost them, I will be that messenger now. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, so if by any chance I will insult you with my notes to you, I am giving you a go card to punch me in the face if I distracted you from your creative genius. Here are my notes to you.

The name of the show is misleading. You have a woman smearing her vagina juices on somebody’s face in the show and the show is called “Light of Night?” You lost me there and to tell you the truth, I had to look several times to my program for the name while writing this. Also, I think, the show would improve if you removed all the big words from it. This bothered me a lot, because as soon as one of your characters would say one of those words only English majors know about, I would lose that character. English is not my first language, duh, and if you go for the grittiness of the situation, everyday language might help to make those characters more believable. There is nothing wrong in using big words in writing papers and stuff like that, but when you read Tennessee Williams you barely find a big word in any of his plays. People just don’t speak this way. You have everything already there but big words and “big” issues, like governments deciding about women’s bodies, have to go. They don’t add to the experience, they distract from the emotional things your characters are going through. You lost me in the first act because of the big words and social issues. You could easily edit out half of the first act and make this show an hour and a half long: sweet, nice and to-the-point. I know it is hard to remove certain things you care about, but I am always reminded about great editing when I read a good playwright. And, oh yeah, the last monologue has to go. It’s beautiful and poetic and it just has to go. Isabel’s eating Jim is way more powerful than whatever happens after. A little “ding” from the microwave is all you need to close the show. We already know that Stephanie is free from Jim when she leaves the place, so there is no need to have her appear again for a few words on a beach towel at the end.

To end these notes to you I should say that during the show I constantly found myself thinking about Tennessee Williams and John Fowles’s “The Collector.” I am really impressed how you were able to write such great characters, especially in the second act. The scene where Isabel is smearing her blood on Jim’s face is my favorite. It has just enough “naturalism” in it to put the play on another level. Brava!

The character of Isabel – Florencia Lozano

I don’t want to bullshit (sorry for my French) around you, Florencia, and your craft, you got it! I believed you every minute! I have a little suggestion for you though to make your character more dimensional, especially in the first act. Could you introduce your character a little slower? When I say “slower” I mean that we are just learning who Isabel is, so you might consider saving strong emotional outburst for later when we truly know you. I should say here that there is nothing wrong with how you are doing your character right now, but it could be interesting for you to experiment with growing your character emotionally to the point where you explode with your blood in Jim’s face. I don’t know if I am expressing myself clearly, but because of the very high note you take in the first act I am not really sure there who you are. If you are with Stephanie all the time because you are her, that means you know her very well so your seduction scenes might gain from you getting into her from a point she is not familiar with and besides, you are tipsy there, so mellowness might work better. I allow you to punch my face too, if you feel like it. Ouch!

Stephanie – Ana Kayne

Anechka Dorogusha, I should say something nice before I give you some critique, right? Not with me. Don’t be afraid to let your character breathe. Your wine pouring business in the first act removed me from your character. I started to believe you at the very end of it. Also, you are one of the dual characters, so you should be very aware how your partner is behaving. I am not saying that you did something wrong, no. You did a great job. Enjoy your role. Let it breathe (whatever the eff that means.)

It happens so that I am living with a person who has a paranoid personality disorder right now, so yes, he is doing a lot of “business” around the apartment to distract himself, but at the same time he is very sharp at what others do around him. There are quiet moments and there are bursts of energy and action. Allow yourself to play with it. You are doing fine! We came to see you. Become Stephanie!

Jim – Ed Trucco

I just hated you from the very first moment. Yes, I was a little confused about who you really were to Stephanie and Isabel, but that is more of the playwright’s role. You did great, but I wish I knew more clearly who you were: child molester? abusive husband? kidnapper? Or maybe all of them?

From the acting point of view you did great. I hated you.

Mariana Carreño King – Director

Two little notes:

1. It looks weird when characters are trying to climb on a chair. Why?

2. Less of wine action and cleaning.

3. You can punch my face too!

Miguel Angel Valderrama – Lighting Designer

I know, not so many get to you guys, but I will. I want to encourage you to experiment more with your lights. Isolate spots more and make it more eerie or go completely bizarro with fluorescent lights flipping and buzzing all around. The characters are crazy, all of them, so why not be crazy with your lights too?

G. Warren Stiles – Set Designer

I command you, sir, to explore the dark side of human psyche more. Yes, I understand that the women are trapped in some house, so why not the basement or somewhere more sinister than that. I’m sure you watched a few horror films. John Fowles “The Collector” might inspire you too.

Marios Aristopoulos – Sound Design

I usually remember bad sound. You were good, sir. My suggestions would be very personal to you depending on where the action takes place. If it is in some cellar where you hear dripping water, then why not enhance that, but this again, should come from a director. In this case I am not the one.

Jorge Castilla – Costume Designer

I would like to hear what your inspirations were. Why the velvet dress and why Stephanie’s sporty outfits?

Nic Grelli (UncleDave’s Fight House) – Fight Director

I believed your choreographed fights. Good job, sir!

Okay, with this entry either I made friends or got at least three punches to my face. You all did a great job. I love the fact that you made me think after the show was over. The second act was the bomb. Actors were completely committed to the play. I was absolutely in. I believe that writing this entry proves that I loved “Light of Night.” Bravo! Now back to my Port and…

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Re-Views

Breaking Bad Re-View of a Mindful Masturbation

Okay My Dear Darlings, I told myself that I would not mention a glass of wine standing right in front of me while I write this, but who am I kidding, it’s Sunday night for God’s saké, everyone needs at least a glass (or two) of wine just before Monday’s madness begins and besides, I am going to talk about Breaking Bad today, so I need to get at least a little bit tipsy, otherwise how will I be able to explain the things I am going to discuss here later?

I know deep inside that this write up should be one of those entries where I actually talk about character development and s**t like that, but who knows, I might finish talking about dolphins? Why dolphins? Ask my shrink, he knows things about me I had no idea existed, but who am I kidding (“kidding” again?) my shrink is that glass of Port wine and it’s getting emptier as we speak (smiley face).

Without stating the obvious, which I state, the obvious: the series are very smartly written. I like when my brain is slightly titillated by what I see on the screen. Somebody smart has said in some smart book somewhere that thinking is more powerful than an actual physical act of sex. I don’t know by whom and how that was discovered, but one thing I want to say to this, I’ve been accused of too much thinking… Ha, I wanted to insert a smiley face here but suddenly realized that that might read a little strange for dolphins (ehem!).

There is no secret that my mind loves finding secret messages and meanings in almost anything. I can’t accuse it of having way too much… okay, okay I will not go there even though I want to oh so much… Call these entries my mindful masturbations (yes, I did say that, get over it and have a glass of wine).

Who would have guessed that I would be watching a TV series about a dying chemistry teacher who decided to cook meth till flipping over and saying “over?” I have “fond” feelings about my own chemistry teacher from high school (insert sarcasm here), but not the ones that I want to remember. But ask about those feelings later and I might tell you some stories. Let’s not get distracted by some other chemistry teachers when we have Walter White himself – our villain and a hero in disguise.

If you haven’t watched the series, I strongly recommend you do, because even Mr. Anthony Hopkins binge watched it and send a letter after he did it to Bryan Cranston congratulating him on the work he has done on the series.

I might be giving away some information and spoilers here, so read it with caution. This read though might be more enjoyable if you have already seen the series or at least have seen some of it, otherwise what’s the point of me talking about all these secret messages and meanings that I saw watching it? You know what? I will just assume that you have already seen Breaking Bad. So why do I spend so much time introducing shit I write about? (Drunken thought) Okay, I’ll have another glass of wine. Boom!

Yes, I devoted (this is not the word I wanted to use here, but I can’t think of another one at the moment) a lot of time to the series and I am glad I did. There are several reasons why I am glad about it. One – I want to consider myself a writer and this was a great study of a great writing. Two – I am also an actor/director (ha, thaz, right, I am) so character study is what drives me to do my mindful masturbations on stage, film and sometimes when I write (all of a sudden I fell like touching my nipples).

Okay, okay, I will stop with all this touchy-feely business and say that I will be concentrating (mostly) on Walter White’s character here. Oh, it is so much fun to think that you find and see things you think nobody else sees in the series till you point them out to those blind ones (ups, almost touched my nipples again), but I digress.

I just want to say it straight-forwardly or gay-forwardly or whatever-your-preference-forwardly is, Walter White’s character might seem like a good character gone bad, but reality is relative, or “is it so?” – Herr Heisenberg says and flips his hat. So –

Walter White

Walter White is a high school chemistry teacher who is affected by a cancer. Everyday life becomes his bodily illness. His days are running with no apparent change. He is a loving dad, or at least it seems so, but he is caught in a routine and does nothing to change it. His life and lives around him are gray and blunt. One day he gets news nobody wants to receive – he is terminally ill with a lung cancer. That news awakens that Walter he was a long time ago, full of energy and determination. He sets a plan of how to make enough money for his family to survive after he dies.

While driving around in his brother-in-law’s car Walter gets an idea about what could bring the needed money. Walter’s brother-in-law is a DEA officer who is closely involved in fighting meth business. Walter White doesn’t really know who uses meth and how it really works, but he sees it as an opportunity to earn some quick cash before he dies.

In every episode throughout the series there is something that changes Walter White. We might think that, oh my god, a good teacher is becoming this drug lord, or oh my god, he needs to be killed or at least to be stopped because look how many people are dying around him and he doesn’t even give a shit about it. Wow, wow, wow I would say, hold your horses and let’s see who Walter White “really” is and what he does.

Walter White cooks meth – meth is bad – he is destroying people’s lives, thus he has to be bad, right? Wrong! And this is why. Walter White from the very beginning of his meth cooking business establishes that he only cooks pure meth. What does it mean? Meth is meth? Well, my Dears, that means that whoever uses meth Walter White produces will get a pharmacy quality drug. You might say, who cares, they are drug addicts, and thus they should get what they ask for. And I would say, just look at your own medicine cabinet, you judgmental prick, and say that you are not a drug addict too. I am sure you have a plenty of pills there that make you feel good (smiley face?).

Walter White worries about a single fly in his lab while cooking his meth. Other meth cooks mix their meth with cat feces and what not. Why is it so Walter cares about the damn fly? The reappearing fly in the series has a certain meaning though. I am using the fly as an example here to prove my point how particular Walter White is about the purity of his, as he says, product. With Walter’s meth you at least will know that there was no cat piss added to the mix, so less blocked arteries and less of other infections to the users of the powerful drug. It’s almost as if you are buying another prescription drug with amphetamine in a drug store. If you would say that I am crazy talking about things like that, I would say, you are blind. Just because a prescription drug is called by some fancy name it doesn’t mean that it is less harmful to your body. And talking about the amphetamines, I was floored when I saw this advertisement on TV which straight forwardly was advertising a drug with amphetamine in even its name. Well, of course, it doesn’t matter that the advertised drug might be lethal to some people, but the point is that you will not have the AD whatever D anymore after using it. Well, of course, you will not have it anymore, because you will be dead. So there, are you ready to read the labels on drug bottles you have in your cabinets and see meth users as people like you? Bam!

Walter applies his scientific knowledge and cooks pure meth for meth addicts who always will be there in our society whatever you say. So at least they will be using his pure meth and will have more time to figure out how they are going to get clean when they are done with it. Well, maybe Walter White from Breaking Bad didn’t think much about the drug addicts who use his product, but I’d like to differ considering how he cares about Jesse, his business partner and a drug user.

And here is the point number two: “people are being killed because of Walter – this is bad, because nobody should be killed.” Well, I agree with the last part of the sentence, but let me dissect the first part first: “people are being killed because of Walter.” It almost sounds like Walter is killing a lot of people by himself, and maybe he is, but not the way we might think he is doing it. I am not going to tell you if Walter actually kills anybody in the series, but I would like to ask you this question first: who is Walter White killing, if he is killing and with what? He is a high school teacher, who doesn’t even know how to use a gun. How does he do it?

Walter applies his intelligence and “kills” people with their own “guns.” He gets inside of the biggest drug cartel, where every DEA wants to be, and kills each and every one there single handedly. He removes these people from the streets. He goes for the core. He goes for the nucleus of meth business and destroys it. Bam! You can thank him later.

Walter uses Heisenberg’s name. Why? Werner Heisenberg was a physicist who dealt with nucleus power during WWII and was writing papers on uncertainty principle and relativity. While Werner Heisenberg was demonized as well as Walter White is during the series, he got his Nobel Prize for his science works. It is all relative how we use our knowledge and power. One sees a nucleus as a nucleus bomb that could wipe all the humanity of the Earth. Other sees nucleus as the power that could power up the entire world. So saying that Walter White kills people is relative. He destroys the drug cartel becoming one of them. He infects it with his being. He “kills” each and every one of them as a cancer kills a human body.

But how about these kids who die because of him, you ask? Well, here we come to another great discovery; none of them were killed by Walter White. They were killed by other people who instead of thinking, act first. Look at the nature around you. Not everything has a logical explanation here. Nature has some random things happening all the time. Illogical and unexplained things exist. Every scientist expects something unexpected to happen when they experiment with something. Some deaths happen in the series. Walter cannot predict how one or another experiment of his will end. He can only prepare it for the happening and then wait. Walter knows that these random, illogical things happen, because he is a scientist. That is why it might seem that he is heartless when he melts bodies of victims that others kill in the series. He is doing it because there was a failure. He didn’t want it to happen, but it happen.

Walter and his cancer

Okay now, let’s go to a very important and probably the most important thing of the series – Walter’s cancer.

Walter finds out about the cancer after he fails one of his students on chemistry. The student wanted to get an easy grade, but Walter does nothing to at least change the student’s perception about studying and importance of being educated. He seems completely absent from his and other people’s lives. Walter becomes the cancer.

Walter, after finding out about his cancer, decides to cook meth. He becomes a cancerous cell in a “healthy” body of drug business where everything seems to be working just fine.

Like a cancer cell finds a way to get into our bodies, Walter “finds his way” to the body of a drug cartel. He begins to grow there as oh so powerful and deadly tumor. Walter is able to get to the core and destroy the cartel the way chemotherapy destroys his cancer.

Walter’s cancer almost completely disappears after the whole cartel is gone and everyone is killed. The surgery on his lungs in one of the episodes is used to depict and define for us what we should expect later to happen with the cartel. Somebody is going to be cut out from the drug business the way the effected piece of his lung is cut out from his body.

Science and Humanities

At the end of the episode 8 of season 5 we are left with Hank discovering Walt Whitman’s book “Leaves of Grass.” It’s a perfect hint for us to realize that Walter might be hit from unexpected source, his humanity, where logic and science don’t apply. There is much to say about Walter and Jesse’s relationship in the series. Walter is science, Jesse is humanities. They are business partners. Who and what wins is for you to find out, because I am just too sleepy to finish this entry now.

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Theater Farts

To Crêpe or not to Crêpe or the Art of Baking Theater. Now What? A Cooking Segment?

Okay my Dear Darlings, Muffin (what?) of mine. It’s a late Sunday night or should I say an early Monday morning. I haven’t had my glass (or two, or three) of my favorite Port and the letter “t” is stuck on my keyboard. God, I am hungry! What a duck? Quack, quack!

You might ask, what’s up with all that “t” business hap’nin’ here? And I’d say, it’s never about the “t” it’s always about that damn Port. I don’t remember why I was not able to get it. Was it that I woke up too late and the liquor store was closed or was it that I had literally one dollar in my wallet when I got there? Hmmm, in any case, I am sober now and I might be not as funny as I think I am when I’m drunk. Oh yeah, definitely, this sentence, right there, would be a killer (who the ef says things like that?). I just need to hold that glass of sweetness in my haaand… Ughrr, now I need to pretend that I am drunk? How will I be able to find an excuse for my offensive diarrhea and theater farts? And I believe there will be a few folks that might say, hm-hm, you, Mister Plastikoff, are banned from theater society because of your foul mouth (god, they know that I’ve been drinking). I would say to that, you, so and so, very important theater person, must have some of that Port I just had and you will see. Life will show you how gray can become bright red and that will be just because you might be kissing some pavement after those delightful drinks you had just a few moments ago. Now see, I am not that evil anymore (smiley face).

Since my good friend tractor (about him a little bit later) woke me up early this morning (yeah, I started writing this in the morning, can you believe it?) with his laud bangs into the pavement right outside my windows, reminding me that I still live in New York City, as if saying, how dare I sleep past 8AM when everyone is rushing but nobody knows exactly where, I decided to use this time, disturbed from my three and a half hours of sleep, and write. If my friend tractor doesn’t care about my sanity and bangs the pavement like some kind of lunatic who escaped from an asylum after a weekend of partying with his buddies, I will not care about Monday too and talk about… food. Yes, that’s right, about food and theater at this early hour. A little confused? Don’t be! You probably slept enough!

I realized that it helps to be awaken by the City’s tractor this early in the morning, especially if you want to write a critique or a review about something artsy. It really doesn’t matter what you write about. You need to be affected by an uncomfortable thought that just would not leave your head till you put it on a piece of paper, or, in this case, in the oblivion of pixilated something that my mind refuses to understand at this hour. Today, it happens so, I am going to talk about crêpes, pancakes and blintzes and… theater, of course. Go figure why. Maybe I am hungry or maybe I am just plainly disturbed by the loud bangs outside my windows or maybe my downstairs neighbors are cooking something that got me into thinking, why do researchers “find” that early birds are happier than the night owls? But I digress. This might become a series of “early-with-no-sleep” blog entries into my slogosphere that everyone is so eager to never read. That’s right, I get this sarcastic on myself (and my writing) time to time, especially when I am disturbed by my friend tractor’s banging this early in the morning.

Well, as you already, perhaps, and most likely got it, this night owl of yours is very disturbed by these early birds digging something outside my windows on this gloriously nice morning (ha, just look at this, a nice weather again!). If not these early, happy birds digging some holes in the pavement, I wouldn’t be telling you about things I am just about to tell you. Bang!

My friend tractor decided to shut up and move away as if sensing my hand’s movement toward my, supposedly angry, pen. My dead end street became the quiet street I always knew again.

As if pretending that I am some kind of cook this morning I am going to talk about crêpes, pancakes and blintzes and compare them, that’s right, to theater and performing arts.

Let me just get a little bit more comfortable in my chair that has sensed quite a few farts of mine. Ups, I meant… oh never mind “arts,”“farts” it all rhymes and I get confused sometimes. When you’re finished reading, just call it an “f” word, if you wish. I am leaving it open for interpretations. I have no idea what that means though, but just remember the key words – tractor, Monday morning and farting loud sounds outside my windows.

Let me just pretend that I, for a few moments, become the lovely Julia Child who said: “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” Paraphrasing her I would say: learn to find differences between crêpes, pancakes and blintzes and apply these differences to your art.

(In the voice of Julia Child) “…no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” So what are these differences between crêpes, pancakes and blintzes? They all are made from the same ingredients: flour, milk and eggs and are baked on fire. But why do they have different names then?

Back at my parents’ house, in the native land of mine, we had a great tradition, to eat blintzes every Sunday morning. This tradition was not really a “tradition” as per se. It was born from our love to blintzes or pancakes, as Americans would say, or crêpes, if you feel like speaking French all of a sudden. An amazing thing about that tradition was that we never knew what kind of blintzes we were going to have one or another Sunday. My mother was very creative about them and would change things around while making them. One Sunday we might eat blintzes the original way: plain with sour cream and homemade preserves on top. Another Sunday we might get blintzes stuffed with farmer’s cheese, apples or even meat. Sometimes the type of blintzes depended on the harvest we were colleting from the fields or ingredients my mom would find in our fridge. Blintzes and my mother’s mood were also sometimes interconnected. The flour based blintzes would become potato blintzes if my mom, of course, felt that she had more time on hands to work on those potatoes. If she just made fresh cheese from our home made sour milk, our blintzes would turn into tasty gooey-cheese filled delights. The quality and flavor of those blintzes depended on the ingredients that were purely grown on our farm. Blintzes were so rich nutritionally that we, after eating them, would have energy for the whole day. Considering that we usually had blintzes on a Sunday, we would eat leftovers throughout the day with no complaints whatsoever.

I know I know you want me to get to the point faster. It is a little too long winded for the New York type of speed reading, one might say. But bear with me, that’s exactly why it is the way it is.

Forwarding a few years to the point when I was introduced to American pancakes for the first time, I was amazed that in America to make pancakes you needed only one ingredient, a box with a premixed stuff. I just needed to add some water and voila I had fluffy brown pancakes on my plate in almost no time. Pretty soon I forgot my old ways of making my blintzes and was baking pancakes in no time from boxes bought in supermarkets.

Forwarding a few years to now, just recently I was invited to have some food at a crêperie. The name sounded very exotic and expensive. We ordered crêpes with cheese. The price was quite steep so I expected something very special to come on my plate. To my surprise I was presented with blintzes with cheese my mom used to bake at home and since I knew how much one spends making them, I was looking at my bill in awe and disbelieve as if somebody wanted to rob me in the bright day light.

So let’s talk about theater and performing arts now. What do crêpes, pancakes and blintzes have in common with it? We have a few sayings in my mother land that describe somebody’s work using blintzes as a reference. When somebody is making a lot of work and is concentrating in quantity rather than quality we say: “he’s baking (stuff) fast like blintzes.” When somebody is unsuccessful in making something, we say: “he burned his blintzes.” And when somebody is very generous, successful and in other ways extravagant with their work and effort, we say: “he baked a cake instead of a pancake.” Well maybe the last one I made it up myself just to prove a point I am going to discuss next.

Living and creating in New York City have its own cons and pros. The City is big and it is in a constant demand of everything. You don’t need to travel anywhere to be able to see and experience the world and its cultures. The world comes to you and explodes in your face with all possible colors. You say, “great!” and I agree with you. New York City is changing every minute. It is much easier to bring a finished product than produce the product in the wilderness of super-talented and great people in New York. But let me explain something here. To be able to survive in New York City is an art form in itself. Nobody got a “how-to” book for how to actually create art in the City. That’s why this line “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” rings so powerful and true.

Here you can find every type of theater: from sparkly Broadway to dungeons-filled-with-fake-blood-splashing independent performances. It is very easy to lose yourself in the jungle of all this madness. The selection is huge and sometimes you might feel like you are in a big supermarket surrounded by all these sparkly packages that contain something that you want to try. It is endless. There are literally not enough days in a year to see all the shows in New York City. You might decide to buy an experience or a few regardless of the price though. After opening “a package” suddenly you might realize that what came out of it is filled with fluff and artificiality. Mui expensivo and no bueno.

I am not a big fan of big Broadway shows. I don’t know why but I find watching a cabaret or burlesque show more exciting and inspiring than, let’s say, watching the Spiderman on Broadway. I am here not to say that one show is better than the other, no. I’m here to draw some tendencies and make notes for myself.

Even though I find Broadway shows fluffy-out-of-a-box-full-of-artificiality I should also add that I like pancakes too. Yes, it might not always taste like real pancakes and you might need to put a lot of syrup and butter on top of them, but it is what it is, and it’s usually called pancakes.

Here is Broadway and there is independent theater too, where artists shed blood and flesh to be able to perform in front of a handful of people. There is certain “sickness” going around in these circles. A tendency to make a lot and cheep art and not to give the time needed for this art to grow and to be more flavorful is present. There are too many pancakes made and a lot of them are burned.

There are a few people who disregard the pace of the City and allow themselves to give that precious time for their art to mature. These artists usually leave New York City for a few days or months in need to collect the energy and ingredients for their pancakes, ups, I mean art. Their recipes are exquisite, natural and very “organic.” It’s always a huge pleasure to see a show created by an auteur or a group of people who say “no” to artificiality and are giving their time to grow their art naturally.

What I see in New York is that a lot of talented people and their art suffer just because they take shortcuts using too many gimmicks. Their pancakes become chemistry filled cookies or something you could use to kill people instead of giving them the needed juices to energize their being.

Coming from a theater tradition where directors spend almost a year, if not more, developing and putting a show on the stage, to me, it seems, that this “cookie making machine,” like, let’s say, Fringe Festival, is quite drastically foreign. Of course there are some good things about the festival, but I truly believe that an artist needs to give enough time and energy for their art to blossom. There is no need to make everyone run like headless chicken picking up stuff on the way out after performances. Why run like some lunatics from a mad house as if the mad house is just about to explode. The only thing that is not exploding there is the quality of work produced during those runs.

Yeah, one might say, but there are so many theater groups in that festival, there is no time for more elaborate shows. This is an excuse that never ever should come up. This making of all these half-ass-baked shows hurts everyone in this business. An audience member who catches a show like that will think twice about spending their time and money on another show in any theater.

But there are other problems. Let’s take a look at Broadway shows. “Spiderman’s” being on Broadway is the epitome of all clichés that are put in one place to get an audience member to pay for the show. Somebody very thoughtfully developed ingredients to make this show a “success.” There are so many scandalous stories that follow this show that one could write a whole book on how to make a show without making it… Oh wait, there is a show… Oh never mind, just add some water…

Producers spend tremendous amounts of money to make those artificial ingredients. They put it in a box, attach some sparkly ribbon and voila – ze show! It is sad for me to admit, but I have absolutely no interest in seeing “Spiderman” on Broadway ever, so let me leave this box of mix for pancakes on the shelf and move on to shows that need my and your attentions.

It is always an event in my mother land (of course in my mother land, where else?), when somebody releases a show, almost any show. Creators spent at least six months or more on it growing their own natural ingredients that need time to ripe. The blintzes made from these ingredients are full of nutritious goods. There are quite a few burned blitzes too and I am generalizing a lot again, but for my comparison I like when I say, blintzes are tastier at the party you weren’t invited to.

Just a few days ago I read a blog entry by a director whose show was in the Fringe Festival. She was sharing her experience and what she learned from being there. She gave me all the answers to why I am not interested in the Fringe, even though that’s a platform for a lot of unknown artist to be discovered. Do we need to be discovered to be successful in this business? I don’t quite understand why artists have to be put in extremes. The quality is what I am looking for in a show, but it seems that Fringe is more involved in baking as many pancakes as possible “to feed the crowds.” Every half baked show I experienced makes me think twice if I want to spend my money on another one. Who can I trust when even reviews are bias, because someone is being paid to review a show in a “good light,” putting that sparkly cellophane on a substance that is… well you decide yourself what.

Now how about those crêpes, you ask? Do you have a recipe?

Here it is. To have an expensive and successful show you need:

1. A star that would bring audiences

2. A venue that is in the City and is very expensive and hard to get

3. Reviews that would be smashingly great and most importantly in New York Times

4. It is almost always better if the show has a foreign name attached to it

Now mix it all up and you’ll get the overpriced crêpes.

P.S. Thank you very much! Gone to feed my chicken.

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Theater Farts

Theater in Times of Cholera or the Beastly Baby and a Chainsaw

Now now, My Dear Darlings, Muffin Tops of mine, I don’t know if you are aware but we are living dead. (Pff, first sentence and I’m already using “The Living Dead” reference. Whatever!) Dead or alive we all suffer from lactose induced farts, so who cares? Cholera!! Cholera is everywhere! – somebody screams. It’s here and there are mere times when I ask – do I care? In times like these we’re all better off… oh, that’s right, I said that already. Must be the cheep Port I am drinking now that affects my d(r)eadliness.

What is all this nonsense? – you ask.  Well, my Dearests, since we are still alive and kicking (so cliche of me, even the spell check doesn’t want to put the “`” above the “e”), why don’t  we discuss the pointlessness of theater? See, I am confused and perplexed again. Do you spell “theater” or “theatre?” Oh so Russian of me, I know, but it seems like my spell check is all disoriented about it too. Whoever decided to play with my emotions changing that last letter and the “`” (whatever that called is), is going to get my word. What word, I haven’t decided yet, but, I believe, it will be a word that describes that beastly (sorry for my French) baby outside my window. Yep, there is a baby and it is screaming, if you haven’t understood it yet.

See these “lovely” babies sometimes grow into, well, let’s just say, into somebodies like me, artists, who write about things that make absolutely no sense whatsoever (I just wanted to use “whatsoever” in this sentence, forgive me my abundance). One of them is now exercising his vocal cords (oh, how lovely!) and do I hear the sound of a chainsaw accompanying the high G? No, I am not going to give it up to hate, but I am going to say this, we all were babies, at one time (or another), I should add, some of us still are, but that’s not the point. The point is that that time was lost long ago (À la recherche du temps perdu, Le Proust and la croissant (see I speak French too), by the way he started writing those “temps” in 1913) now its 2013, if you didn’t know that already. So here we are, all bitter and full of lactating gas, still spending our hard earned money for those coffee lattes, sitting in some God forgotten offices and waiting, because there is nothing more satisfying than a fart after being yelled at by (insert a name), but I digress. I will be doing that a lot, as you can see or rather read already (smiley face).

Okay, what was it I was going to talk about with you today? Oh right, theater. I don’t know if it is ever a good idea to start a theater business anywhere in the world, but from the looks of it, we decided to do it. Oh duck it, one day we’ll all die anyway, so why not. Reading books about successful theater companies doesn’t help, because, first, you don’t know if you are going to be successful and second, well I haven’t thought about the second yet. At the end of the day we all need to pay rent and make sure that we put chairs in front of our doors for them to make some noise when our crazy roommates decide to kill us (oh, how I feel like reading some Agatha C. right about now). I am not sure if I should be discussing this with you here, but since I am hearing some strange noises my roommate is making at the moment, I say, why not? You will be my witnesses (of course, if this blog has more than one reader, that is, otherwise I will disappear with other written mumbo-jumbo in the digital oblivion).

Oh no, one might say, another blog about starving theater artists, paranoiac roommates and hard times living in Nueva Jerk. And I say, have you heard the baby outside my window, the saw and the hammer at seven o’clock in the morning? Ha, the sun is still shinning (even though it seems quite cloudy today) and I am still breathing. So go and grow your own veggies  somewhere in the country (hmm, I actually though about doing just that) and leave me and my hungry city rats (oh no, not rats again!) alone. If the rats can survive in the city, so can I. If not, there is always a public library somewhere. Why the public library, you ask. I don’t know, maybe that’s the last place hungry rats go to feed themselves?

Damn, what an uplifting first entry on this fabulous Monday morning (even though I am writing this on Sunday, but who cares). I don’t even remember (again!) what I was going to tell you here, my beastiful and chic readers, but one thing I am sure about: at this very moment, this baby outside is going to start screaming again as soon as it hears that saw and the hammer, but I am going to forgive it all. It is rehearsing  something, mind you. What is it preparing for us, I’m not sure yet. The saw is still running but the baby (for some reason) is quiet. Everybody expects some kind of disaster anyway, but, I guess, anything can become entertaining in these times of… ah, forget about it…

So, Darlings, My Muffins and Stuff, who can tell you what you should and shouldn’t do? Pursue whatever duck you want, just ducking do it, because who else is there left when everyone’s running with diarrhea? You! You, who, against all odds, uses their diarrhea to entertain others (definitely somebody had way too much Port or was it coffee?). I have to use my bathroom now. Ta-ta and read you next time.

Your Splastikoff or is it?

P.S. Oh my goodness, so many words and comas. I am getting dizzy!!

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