Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Tonight: Pirates, Patriots, Patricides
Hey, gang. If you're looking for something to do this evening and need something to tide you over until Colorful World opens, the Stolen Chair Theatre Group, to celebrate the opening of The Accidental Patriot: The Lamentable Tragedy of the Pirate Desmond Connelly, Irish by Birth, English by Blood, and American by Inclination, presents Pirates, Patriots, Patricides, several evenings of short works of theatre inspired by the play's themes and styles.
And tonight (and May 7), Nosedive is involved.
Tonight's show features "The Adventures of Blackie Nobeard," written by Yours Truly with Kid Sister Rebecca Comtois, featuring Rebecca as Blackie Nobeard, that rascally lady pirate who’s always in a jam! With Special Guest Star Brian Silliman as "The 'Swain."
The sublime silliness is directed by Matt Johnston.
So, if you've had the hankering to see my sister's Alf impression while wearing a pirate hat, come on down tonight to the Milagro Theatre on 107 Suffolk Street.
The show's at 8 p.m., tickets are $12, which you can get here.
Tested positive for scurvy,
James "Salty Jack" Comtois
Monday, April 28, 2008
Colorful World Fight Rehearsal!
Oh yes. This show is so freakin' on!
Your drunk in shining vomit,
James "LanciBLEEEAAUUGH!" Comtois
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Colorful World in Just Two Weeks
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Finding sweetness and humor in ghastly and horrific situations is Clay McLeod Chapman's modus operandi. Stories from a doctor's genitalia being horribly mangled beyond repair by an eggbeater to a child molester with boyish looks enrolling in grade school to befriend new victims are par for the course.
So, it shouldn't be surprising that Chapman's latest, Hostage Song (in collaboration with Kyle Jarrow, recently known for the Obie-winning A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant), is a funny and touching indie rock musical about public beheadings.
And yes, it is very funny, and very touching.
As is the case with many of Chapman's longer works (like last year's volume of smoke), this is not a linear narrative but variations on a singular theme. The play centers around two hostages, Jim, a private contractor and Jennifer, a reporter (played by Paul Thureen and Hanna Cheek respectively) who are tied and blindfolded in a room and waiting to be executed.
While they await their inevitable deaths, they reminisce on their lives, which seem vague and alien (at one point Jim has an imaginary conversation with his wife [Hannah Bos], who admits she can't remember what he looks like). They flirt, pretending to be strangers picking each other up at a bar (Jim jokes about not being able to buy Jennifer a drink because their captors took his wallet). They imagine getting engaged and going home to meet the parents.
Jennifer's father (Chapman) makes the obligatory "personal plea" to his daughter's captors, which results in an actually hilarious scene where Jennifer becomes mortified (she'd rather die horribly than have her father roll out those naked baby photos, AAAAAAAAAGGH!). Jim's son (Abe Goldfarb) offers a monologue early on about surfing the Internet for porn and haphazardly finding a video of his father's execution (this shouldn't be a spoiler; the play makes it pretty clear from the get-go that there's no Deus ex machina that's going to bring Jim and Jennifer home safe and sound).
And yes, very catchy rock songs and power ballads written by Jarrow and performed by Jarrow, Drew St. Aubin, Paul Bates and Jonathan Sherrill are played throughout.
Everyone in the cast is great, with Cheek, Thureen, and Goldfarb being particularly exceptional, emoting the right blend of pathos, humor, and humanity (they're also not bad singers, either).
That Hostage Song is a musical is interesting, because its musical numbers, while both good and appropriate, don't further the story in the way most songs in most conventional musicals do. But as I've been trying to convey, this is absolutely not a conventional play or musical with a conventional linear narrative, so it's fitting that the songs are not used to push plot forward, but to add to the show's exploration of variations on a theme.
In different hands, this material could have been disastrous (which is why Chapman, Jarrow and director Oliver Butler should all be commended for keeping the tone of Hostage Song pitch-perfect throughout). It's profoundly touching and poetic, offering keen insight without once being exploitative or saccharine. Hostage Song constantly makes you unsure if you want to laugh or cry.
Hostage Song is playing at the Kraine Theatre until Saturday, April 26. For tickets go here.
James "Detainee" Comtois
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
The Blueprint, Unveiled
That Mac Rogers is sure one busy boy...
Gideon Productions presents The Blueprint Project, a unique spin on that beloved old workhorse, the evening of short plays. We picked four diverse playwrights (Mac Rogers, August Schulenburg, Crystal Skillman & Catherine Trieschmann) with distinctive voices, styles and predilections, and we provided them with this plot:
A Body lies on a bed. A Longstanding Friend surreptitiously examines the body. The Spouse enters and confronts the Friend. They argue until the Coworker enters to announce that the Medium will arrive soon. One of the three tries very hard and almost succeeds in convincing the others to stop the Medium from coming. Two of them have a confrontation that injures the third. The Medium enters and animates the body, which reveals the secret. Someone tries to leave. Others try to stop the departure.
Even though the writers all worked from the same blueprint, the results are astonishingly varied. We've got a modern reimagining of Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, a Sci-Fi thriller, a comedic reunion of the "Fab Four of Psychictry" and a blank verse exploration of a messianic cult. Each piece is wonderful on its own merits and the evening as a whole is a fascinating glimpse into the writers' process.
Directors John Hurley and Jordana Williams have assembled an amazing cast, featuring Clay Adams*, Claire Alpern, Jason Howard*, Erin Jerozal, Tom Knutson, Anna Kull, David Ian Lee*, Rob Maitner*, Michelle O'Connor, Alex Pappas*, Vinnie Penna*, Zack Robidas, Vanessa Shealy*, Isaiah Tanenbaum, Jennifer Gordon Thomas and Cotton Wright*
*appearing courtesy of Actors' Equity Association
Seating is limited.
The Blueprint Project, Part I: The Medium
Wednesday April 30-Sunday May 4 @ 8pm
Total Running Time: about 90 minutes
The Puffin Room-435 Broome Street
R/W to Prince St., 6 to Spring St., B/D/F/V to B'way/Lafayette
Monday, April 21, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Branchin' Out With Colorful World
With rehearsals for Colorful World now underway, a bunch of us from Nosedive Central plan to shill a bit at this weekend's New York ComicCon with the hope to entice some comic book fans to see the show. We'll of course see how that goes.
For anyone who reads this that's in the New York area and attending the convention, you may also want to check out Vampire Cowboys' exhibition booth and fight show.
Isaac Butler also wisely suggested we hit up a lot of the major comic book stores (such as Rocketship in Brooklyn), so I guess that's how I'll be spending most of my evenings next week (amidst catching some of the shows previously mentioned). Though I know a few people who would find hopping from comic book shop to comic book shop all week to be a fate worse than hell, somehow I suspect I'll find the will to go on.
Damn, I'm such a geek.
Hitting on the chick dressed like Catwoman,
James "Total Fucking Nerd" Comtois
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Aeros Review for nytheatre.com
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Openings and Closings
It's looking as though April and May are going to be super-busy months for the theatre world (at least, for me and most folks I know on the scene).
As we begin rehearsals for Colorful World, I wanted to take some time to point out some shows of note that are both coming our way in the Rotten Apple and going up to the Great Production in the Sky.
Nunchuck Ninja Nuns. For her onstage writing debut, Lauren Cavanaugh has created a funny and oddball collection of loosely-connected sketches and one-acts about faith (or the lack thereof), spirituality and morality. Sort of. You really should see for yourself.
There are some scenes in particular here that show such unfiltered craziness and silliness - such as a bunch of white chick rappers, a "performance artist" smearing chocolate sauce and eggs into her hair at a poetry slam for shitty poets, and of course, some dance pieces featuring nunchuck-wielding nuns - that it reminded me how fun and refreshing it is to see unfiltered/uncensored creativity (read: barely restrained madness) coming from a new/young playwright.
Anyway, Nunchuck Ninja Nuns, playing at the 13th Street Repertory Theater, is a good deal of fun. It closes this weekend, so get your tickets soon.
Also closing relatively soon is Working Man's Clothes Productions' 37 Stones, a play about a man who not only has problems with women, sex, and intimacy, but with (according to the press notes) "a love/hate relationship with [his] dick." I see. Written by Mark Charney and directed by Will Neuman. It plays until April 26 at the Looking Glass. Get your tickets here.
When Is A Clock? Matthew Freeman's latest show, described as "surrealistic detective story," just opened yesterday and runs until Saturday, May 10 at the Access Theater. According to the press notes, the play is about a guy named Gordon taking off to a strange Pennsylvania town to search for his missing wife while being pursued by the police as a potential homicide suspect and perpetually nagged by his teenage son. Frequent collaborator Kyle Ancowitz directs.
Babylon Babylon. Piper McKenzie Productions' insanely ambitious 30-cast project chronicling the fall of an ancient civilization opens this Friday at The Brick. This really seems to be something most people in the New York indie theatre scene are either a.) in, or b.) absolutely fascinated to see. Written and directed by Jeff Lewonczyk. For tickets go here.
The Accidental Patriot. Stolen Chair continues its Cinetheatre Tetralogy (four years, four productions, four classic film styles adapted for the stage) with "an original 1930s-style swashbuckling adventure (as Sophocles might have written it if he'd been under contract to Warner Brothers) set against the tumultuous backdrop of the American Revolution." Hell, even the folks at Nosedive Central are participating in the company's dark night series. Jon Stancato directs Kiran Rikhye's original script. The show goes up at The Milagro Theater in the CSV Cultural Center from April 25 to May 17. For tickets go here.
And again, although the comments section isn't usually a place for blatant plugging of non-Nosedive shows, if anyone has or knows of a show going up or closing in the New York area that deserves attention, by all means, plug, plug away!
Trying to catch up on his playgoing,
James "Wait Up, Guys!" Comtois
Friday, April 11, 2008
Weekend Viewing: Sweded Star Wars, Sweded Empire
The first video is a Sweded version of Star Wars. The second is The Empire Strikes Back in 60 seconds. They both made me smile. I couldn't find a comparable video for Jedi, unfortunately.
Clearly, I don't do a whole lot of work at my day job.
Anyway, enjoy. And have a good weekend, folks.
Wasting your time with impunity,
James "Office Dullard" Comtois
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
Pulitzer Prize Winners Announced
And August: Osage County wins the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Adam? Refresh my memory. Don't you owe me, like, money or a quiet romantic evening in a back alley or something?
Somehow, I recall that you do.
Annoyed with welshers,
James "Jam-Lover" Comtois
Rehearsals for Colorful World begin this week as Pete does the final touches on the postcard image. It's lookin' like this shit be really happening, which of course makes me as happy as a pig in feces. Woo-hoo!
In the meantime, I'm working on two writing projects right now. One is with my sister for Stolen Chair as part of their dark night program that should be finished in the next day or two. The first phase of the other project (which I was hoping to have finished a solid month ago, GAH!) should be done pretty damn soon.
And of course this.
James "Happy Piggy" Comtois
Friday, April 04, 2008
Superheroes Are Fun, Dammit!
Since rehearsals don't start until next week, I have little more news to report on Colorful World, aside from reminding you tickets are available now. In the meantime, I wanted to direct your attention to this excellent entry by Mr. Matthew Freeman and this brilliant op-ed by Ms. Jamie G (in case you haven’t already checked them out).
It's funny, although I grew up on superhero comics and I still enjoy seeing well-made superhero movies and plays, I never seem to be able to write a conventional pulpy-fun superhero story of my own. I mean, I know the basics of the convention and know why I find them fun, but whenever I start writing one of my own, I end up going down these weird dark tangents.
This has been the case with the two plays I've written that tackle the superhero genre: Captain Moonbeam and Lynchpin (a one-act that was staged at Vampire Cowboys' second REVAMPED show) and Colorful World.
Instead of the characters having fun dressing up in colorful costumes and fighting crime, I end up thinking that there’s something fundamentally wrong with their psyches to do such a thing (even though I don't think while watching Spider-Man 2: "Peter Parker needs psychiatric evaluation if he’s going out in public dressed like that.").
Just as I'm starting the story, I have the costumed hero addicted to painkillers and suffering from some sort of mental imbalance and I have to tell myself, "Okay, James. This isn't how you do it. Right out of the bat your hero is an emotional cripple and pill junkie. If you really need to see how it's done, go reread Men of Steel."
So of course I reread Men of Steel and say to myself, "See? See! That's how you do it! There are the offbeat origins and fun characters and fun Lego interlude and all of it has the slight undercurrent of sadness but now here’s the kickass fight! C'mon, this is how you do it. Give it a try."
So I do:
The scene opens with our hero in full costume finishing off a fifth of bourbon and blowing his brains out—
"—Okay, James. Fuck are you doing here?"
Yeah, I don't know what my problem is. I guess it's no fun bein' a superhero in a Little Jimmy Comtois play.
The supervillain of the indie theatre scene,
James "Lex Luthor" Comtois