Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hey, all you blog readers! Check out our new Kickstarter campaign to save Lents Commons and the performing arts in the deep southeast of Portland, OR. Any and all contributions will be greatly appreciated!


Sunday, February 26, 2012

The LC Experience Wrap-Up

So, fair blog reader. Thanks for coming back.


I hope it has been clear since the beginning of my blogging about my experiences in building, abandoning, and returning to with gusto the LC, that I do not consider myself infallible.

I specifically have written my story about the Commons in a way that keeps you from thinking too highly of me. I did this as a sort of caveat to my gonzo telling of it; a way for you to hear my side of the story without thinking you necessarily have to be on my side in it. (You don't get the other side, and so I'll act like a jerk so you can be mad at me too.) Intention quote.

And someone reflected that back to me today. Either an intimate of the parties in question, or perhaps just a moral compass, passing by on the turbulent seas of the blogosphere, I don't know which, graciously reminded me of something that I ignored in order to get the story out. This person, who remains anonymous, not because I want to keep him anonymous necessarily, but because he keeps himself so on the interweb, I assume to remain infallible, said that he was disgusted by my tone.

And I realized, that I too was disgusted by my tone. I was disgusted by so much over the last two years, and I purposefully let that disgust come through in my tone on my blog about said disgusting events. I make no apology for my feelings and statements regarding Army and Army Jr. Everything I said was true. But I started thinking about myself, and what standard I hold for myself. Do I consider the story more important than my own sense of ease and self-respect? Do I want to wallow in the failures of myself and others? Do I want to explore negative themes and seek catharsis and freedom from my memories by airing the laundry?

And upon careful thought: YES! I do want the story to be more powerful than its characters' egos! Goddamned right I do. Because we don't grow as individuals by holding onto our courtesy. It's easy to be courteous and diplomatic. We're always sweeping the dust under the rug; and the rug grows a mound, and then we trip over our own dead skin under a heavily worn comfort blanky. What really happened, really happened. And it's a great story! It's a story that deserves being told. Not for my ego to feel like I am right, I fuck up daily, just ask my parents, my friends, my kid and my wife. I have no illusions that there's a perfection to be attained. My ego is battered and bruised as a lifestyle. It's a letting. And yet, I only have my side of the story to tell.

Nevertheless: I did take the posts down.

Why did I do this if I stand behind my telling of these events? Because it feels ssso durdy to tell durdy little sssecretsss... It's a Christian problem. I'm not a Christian by faith, and yet its dogma pervades my cultural identity. EEEK! Maybe some day I'll get past that one.

Everyone who knows the parties in question knows the story, and understands what went down. They don't need a retelling. And as for the momentary joy of a laugh at mine and Army's expense for having created this scenario, it's a shallow win for me because in order to get the great story out, I have to relive it again and again. And I want to focus on the positive now.

So on to bigger and better things. I won't be brought down by a Redwood tree.


I get the shop back from Army, and start digging myself out of a literal and psychic hole I dug for myself 2 years ago. And as the story continues to unfold, there will be unsavory characters involved, including myself at times, and I'll talk about it here, probably in an uncouth way that'll ruffle someone's feathers and strike a chord at their Christian sensibilities. The story is bigger than I am, or any of the characters in it. The story is the oral tradition of how we made our world what it is. And the story will always be too big to be constricted by our comfort zone.

To Be Continued...

Friday, February 10, 2012

High Fructose Corn Syrup

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Theatre Arts In America

Hello, Theatre Arts Blog Reader. I've started this blog to talk about the theatre in America in general, from my perspective as an actor, writer, musician and venue owner in Portland, Oregon.

SHORT RESUME TIME: I've worked at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in the Bay Area, and at Seattle Public Theatre; in Humboldt County, CA at about all the community theatres, and here in Portland for Staged! Musical Theatre and others. I've lived west coast theatre, and experienced east coast theatre as audience member primarily. I've performed in over 50 productions, played music professionally, and directed/produced 5 or 6 independent theatre shows. I've been in the theatre since I was 11 years old.

Because of this experience, and my natural alignment toward the communicating arts, I'm worthy of shouting my strong opinions on the subject of live performance; but more accurately, I'm a ball of opinion because this is my passion. It is who I am. When everything else has distracted me for too long, the theatre is home, where I'll always have a room, and my posters haven't been taken down.

As part of my goal in establishing a web presence for my theatre discourse, I am also working on seeing more shows, not being so insulated, and haughty. My general sense is that theatre in America sucks ball sacks. Dry, with no sauce or anything to make it any tastier. I'm really trying to take the perspective that all theatre has something to offer me, even if I know that's bullshit, that theatre arts never got traction in our culture, and that that's fucked up.

When I see shit that's inappropriate on stage in front of me, I am offended. It's like when I'm having dinner with my little Norwegian mother and I forget to keep my elbows off the table...She gets this look of disgust on her face that would level a pope. Then quietly, she says, "Zachary. Is that proper etiquette for the dinner table?" This is how I feel when I see tool-bags spewing drivel on a proper proscenium. I spill my rancid, cool enough not to cause a lawsuit starbucks in my lap, and leave at the act cursing the Artistic Director for preventing him/herself from ever taking a risk since 1987 when they finished their thesis.

With this caveat, let me begin:
The last good show I saw was in 2008 at a little upstart theatre in Portland called the Portland Playhouse, which, appropriately, has since lost its space because the artists inhabiting the old church forgot, or didn't care, to get permitted to perform in the space. A shame because it was a great little space for theatre artists to abscond with. The play was called "Bingo With The Indians". It was an actor's allegory about commitment to a role and the death of theatre due to the LACK of commitment on the part of the creators of the work. It had a well-articulated thesis and an actual metaphor that required involvement from the audience. It also had a cocaine-driven monologue in the end that raised the roof--the only place left for the actor to go was to heaven after such a performance. Now this is the shit I want to see. It had its problems, but over all it was rather epic, and it wasn't self-referential to the point of gaggature like some film awards show.

Before that, the last great show I saw was in 2001 in Seattle at another defunct theatre, the Empty Space, called "Texarkana Waltz". That show was fucking brilliant. It had a prisoner in a huge cage who got rolled onto the tiny stage in this massive cage for his scenes, and it had a retarded cowboy who was a soothsayer--of course--and it was all about finding a form of theatre that actually appeals to you and I! It was modern, new theatre! What a fucking novelty. The setting sun was a little light-box up center. Just a small, innovative show. I looked for the script a couple of years later and couldn't find it anywhere. if anyone knows the writer or where to find a working copy, please email me!

The point is: These are the two shows I remember. I've seen probably 40 shows between 2001 and now. Last year I saw Long Days Journey with Billy The Hurt at ART in Portland. William Hurt was great! But what an albatross, that show! Who is picking this shit to produce? Half the cast didn't even know what they were saying! The other half was so busy reading lines that they forgot to breathe. Oh the fuck Christ.

Is there a vital theatre in America? If so, where the fuck Christ is it? Is it in the dirty alley behind the Mark Taper Forum, hemorrhaging due to a lack of adequate medical treatment? Is it in a dive bar in Lents in SE Portland playing to an audience of ten SSI ex-loggers a la "Tombstone"? How does this theatre happen? Where does it grow? Is it necessarily relegated to non-profit status? How does it realize itself in a country that calls Asstown Kutcher an actor?

These are just questions. They are the musings of a man in need of a proper theatre in the only country he's ever called home.