Tuesday, June 06, 2006

It's time to put on makeup! It's time to light the lights!

So Who is Aram Chaos? opened, and despite my personal doubts that folks would take the ride with us, they most certainly did.

It was very well received. A crowd of friends and fellow Sparkers asked very good questions that didn't involve, "What the hell was that?".
We now have the rest of this week to take some of their thoughts into account, polish, and present again on Saturday.

We're going to focus on toning down the shrillness of Ileana's character and on cleaning up an ending that some felt was a little muddy.
We may also reshoot some of the video portions of the show such that folks feel that we've made a stronger choice.

We have a sprinkling of video monologues throughout the show shot in the wider world, in contrast to the stark isolation of the rest of the show. Very deliberately a place outside the world of the play. It can either be read as the characters in a prior life, or simply as the actors delivering commentaries (I think they work either way) but the audience seemed to want stronger choices out of the video.

Aside from the surprise that I felt at the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the show the two most interesting things that I'm taking away from this weekend are:

  1. I'm a little amazed that there are no clunkers. There aren't any horrifically bad shows among the 5 theatre teams. I honestly never would have expected that no one would fail. No one did. Go us. Gamers don't let us down!

  2. It is very surprising to me that even in an environment when our only connection was theatre, where we were all involved doing the same exact thing it was really odd to see folks from the "office" doing their thing. Because we had never sat in on other teams' rehearsals nor read their scripts there was an odd disconnect. So seeing the guys from the office next door doing a show was a little odd. No, I have no idea why.

Another busy week ahead though. We have a writer in Denver, a show to polish and a game presentation to raid. 3 more rehearsals, a show, and an awards ceremony and this whole thing is over. If time ever passes more quickly just shoot me.

Friday, June 02, 2006

And they're off!

The festival is officially underway as Frankenstein's Monster gamely kicked us off last night with "Google Me", a comedy about a married couples' need(?) for a jump start to they're sex life. An additional ten points go to Frank's (as we've been calling them) for having overcome a very late cast change (they lost their female lead ten days ago) and putting on a enjoyable night of theatre.

And if it's indicative of the shows that are going up, we're going to stick out like a gangrenous thumb.

I fully expected the festival to be half comedies and half bitter political commentary. Even without knowing what Aristophanes, Wisconsins show is about and not having read Sidewalk Chalks I can tell you that we're not going to get half. "Handgrenade Holly" does have some light political underpining but that's not really what the show is about.

We on the other hand do muck about in politics, with a half cup of media criticism, and a pint or two of religious satire. And some songs. And some mostly unrelated video commentaries. So. Yeah.

I was impressed by the level of audience comments after the show, and I am both terrified and excited to see what people have to say about this particular stew.

Game on.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Story So Far...


Within a generation of its foundation, the mining colony of New Mars City is a corrupt and riven colony. Ruled over by the Earth Administration in league with Corporate Interests, the underclass is seething, desperate for a say in their world.

Into this mix comes Aram Chaos, an obscure musician who’s breakthrough album, “Mars Awakened”, strikes a chord in the masses and moves some to instigate a peaceful intifada against the cancerous Combine.

In a breathtaking over-reaction, the Administration forcefully targets Aram Chaos as a terrorist, hoping to stem the uprising before it begins. He is accused of killing the US President and warrants are released for his arrest – dead or alive.

Far from suppressing the uprising, the underclasses rise up in violence, riding on the crest of Aram’s stirring and controversial songs. But where is he? Nobody – not the Administration nor the Revolution - can find him.

Aram Chaos is gone.

Instead of fading away, Aram is claimed by both sides, becoming Hero & Villain. Depending on whom you listen to his exploits become grander, crueler, vainer or more noble, with each passing year that the Revolution drags on.

He is attributed with siring a million babies, collaborating with rock legends and resurrecting the dead. His music and words are dissected and re-examined ad-nauseum.

Unwittingly he spawns a religion, a war and a multi billion dollar memorabilia industry.

Many claim to be Aram – crackpots, losers and attention seekers – but none are convincing for long.

Some say he never existed, that Aram Chaos is an elaborate piece of Administration propaganda used as an excuse to crush dissent. Others, that he is a true folk hero of uncompromising integrity who has successfully eluded the Administration for almost 20 years.

Regardless, the War drags on.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Leftover Grouse

And of course because there was grouse, I will step back up to the microphone to admit that dress rehearsal was an awful lot of fun, even nine days out. InfP is truly blessed to have as capable and involved a technical staff as we do (Thank you again to Bon, Derrick, Micheala and Austin). There are still a couple of technical bits in the oven, and we, the performers, were a little over-amped and under-committed (and on book). But being on stage is fun. Period. If you don't have fun when you're out there it's time to stop moonlighting.

We will have a show.

Some of it will work. Some of it won't.
But it's all ours. What fails and what succeeds was all come by fairly.
You can still trace most of it directly back from the page to the walls.

We hope to have room to put the walls up at the theater, so that when you come to the show you too can trace the elements and where they came from.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

And tonight for dinner... Overboiled Grouse!

This has been a very interesting process without a doubt.
But there are times when the framework of the festival simply doesn't benefit the product.

I don't think that having the technical rehearsal last week hurt the final product at all. In fact, I think it was very useful as it gave us a chance to see and be in the space, and it allowed us to see where we needed to shore up some elements on the production side. It'd be pretty difficult for that not to be helpful.

But I'm going to take my diva moment and say, point blank, having the dress rehearsal nine days out isn't helpful.

Dress rehearsal is for the actors. The tech operators get another shot at the show, but it's the actor's time to really stretch out the show in its environment with everything intact, and no (or, in the case of an invited dress, relaxed) pressure of an audience's expectations. But that's not what we're getting.

In case I didn't mention it somewhere above, we have our dress rehearsal tonight. We open on June 2nd.

We've made a lot of progress. We're finding the rhythms of the show. We're finding good, solid, specific personal movement, and we're crawling toward being off book. Speaking only for myself, I think it's very disruptive to have dress now. We have to break our momentum in creation to have a mock presentation. It will be on book. We won't be able to stretch our legs because we're still shackled.

There isn't a fix. This isn't a problem that can be fixed. The ArtSpark festival folks need to get 5 shows through a dress process in time to open the presentations next Thursday. Someone has to go early. I guess I'm just disappointed it has to be us.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Poster

Poster 1

Bad Blogger... No Pizza

Illy film shoot

Ten days in ArtSpark time is a lot. Really it's like leaving a young child alone for a week or two, they've grown noticeably when you see them again.

Since last we spoke Team Infinite Perspectives took an Austin Ballet imposed week off.
2/3's of the team being committed to other Art for the week, we went dark.
Which is what every show on a deadline really needs.

It gave us time to handle some of the technical elements in the time we normally would have been rehearsing. And work we did.
Draft 12 in hand we set forth to create the graphical, audio, and video moments of the show.

We found that it's very difficult to build those elements by yourself when you really need consensus to create a unified feel to the show. There's been quite a bit of trial and error on the graphical and audio portions.

On Thursday, Illy and I got together with the Foundation Film Squad (the Filmies) and shot our video moments for the show. This was a considerable amount of fun. Cliff and Aaron (Rhea not being available) took us for a little walk out back of the ArtSpark Compound and delivered us unto a park that apparently lives out there. We selected several shots that we thought fit the 'openness' that Dewey and Martin had requested as a contrast to the starkness of our on-stage world.

And we proceeded to shoot our monologues again and again and again. The Filmies were amazingly accommodating and we got several different looks and location for each monologue, so that Martin had something to choose from upon his return.

Human, All too Human

I myself created some of the graphics for projection during the show, and a couple of montages like so:

Oh but we haven't hit the capper my friends.
Only in ArtSpark.

With the show only mostly blocked we had our tech rehearsal last night.
You heard me.
We had our tech rehearsal last night.
Two weeks out from the show, one week from dress.

And you know what? It was 400% better than it ever should have been.

As an actor I've been through some excruciating tech rehearsals. Just hour after hour of bitchy turf wars and status games layered on top of gross inefficiency.
Not here son.
Slated to begin at 6:00, we actually got really rolling at about 6:45.
We got in 2 full cue-to-cues, blocked the cooking show scene, did notes, struck and were outta there by 10:30.
With no bitchiness. I didn't see a single person run out of the space crying.
Major kudos go out to Bon, Derrick, Michaela, Austin, Martin and ArtSpark staffers Doug and Chad. If all theatre were that straight forward we might all still have hair (well I might anyway).

So now all that's left to do?
Fill the holes we haven't yet in the technical side. (Clay has yet to shoot his monologues, and we have some audio to rework and some graphics yet to create or tweak)

And Clay, Illy and I need to fill out this show with our performances.
Two weeks.
We're on it.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

And then the Aliens showed up...

Draft 10 arrived and it was good.

And then Dan Fields reappeared to help us out.

Mr. Fields had presented a workshop earlier in this process and was able to come in and give the festival a week of hands-on help with whatever happened to be ailing them.

He had the privilege and honor of sitting through the first reading of Draft 10, the draft soon to be known as the former final draft.
The good news? We told the story appropriately. He understood the narrative. So point for the good guys.

The bad news is that we got the theatrical equivalent of a 'see me after class'. We asked for notes and he gently said that he'd give them to Dewey

He sat with Dewey for 45 minutes after the reading.

Without beer.

Not surprisingly it made an impact. There are only so many times you can see someone make the confused face before you get nervous. And (for the click averse) if the person making the confused face has big names on his resume you get that extra little bit nervous.

Dewey got nervous.

He wrote Draft 11 in 8 hours.
Draft 11 of course being a complete retelling of the story in a wildly different style. Impressive really. The show went from being "The Life of Brian: A Rock Star's Tale" to being "No Exit: Mars" in eight hours.

It wasn't what we were looking for for the show, but it showed very clearly what worked and what didn't in a straight linear version of the show, allowing us to be honest about what was working. It also show a much lighter touch with dialog in and amongst the polemic we've (where we = Dewey) woven throughout.

Which meant that the NEXT day Draft 10 ate Draft 11 and became what it ate. Keeping the bigger, more 'theatrical' elements of Draft 10, and the defter dialog from Draft 11.
Which by my math makes Draft 12 "No Exit from the Life of Brian on Mars".

Which may not be high art... but I'm pretty sure you haven't seen that show before.

If we're going to fail?
We're going to fail in technicolor.