Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Required Reading: Isaac Butler

From Parabasis:

"We have these things that we like. If more theatre is produced that is like those things that we like, we call that the theatre getting better. If fewer things are, we call that the theatre getting worse.

"But this is the thing... really, all we're asking for is that theatre conform to our prejudices, whatever they be. I'm not talking about political or ideological prejudices, I mean our prejudices of taste. Getting moralistic about this whole thing is ultimately futile, worse, it's actually harmful."

Read the whole thing here.

Whenever I've been asked what sort of plays I write, I usually answer: "I write the type of plays I want to see." It's a bit glib, I know, but it's the best answer I can offer to such a question. However, for the longest time I had enough arrogance to think (at least, in the back of my mind) that that meant other people were patently writing plays I didn't want to see.

In other words, part of me felt that, through my writing, I was somehow saving theatre.

(Yes, I know, pathetic and mildly appalling.)

This may have also had something to do with being a bit of an outsider in the theatre world (I didn't go to school for theatre) and feeling simultaneously superior and inferior as a result (that Dostoevskian vertigo, if you will).

It took me a little while to catch on what Isaac's talking about above.

But then again, we all know I'm a bit slow on the uptake, right? (Seriously, don't answer that.)

Hating all theatre that's not made by me,

James "Just Kidding" Comtois

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Monday, July 30, 2007

And Bah! I Totally Forgot!

Even though I've updated the link, I forgot to formally welcome Mr. Qui Nguyen back to the land of blogging.

What can I say? I'm a freakin' moron.

Don't say it,

James "Fine, Say It. I'm A Moron" Comtois

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Drinking With Nosedive August 10

Guess it's time to do some preliminary plugging for our fundraising party next week.

For those that missed the Nice Guy Eddie's drinkathon (or, for those that did come but still want more), Nosedive Productions, as part of its insane fundraising campaign, is having a fundraising party at the Vampire Cowboys' Battle Ranch on 111 Conselyea, Second Floor in Williamsburg (2.5 blocks from Lorimer stop off L/G train, 1.5 blocks from Graham stop off L train) Friday, August 10 from 7 p.m. until midnight.

It's a $7 cover, with $2 beers and $1 Jell-O shots.

There will also be video sketches played for your amusement and the band Aldenbarton for your entertainment.

It'll be fun. You should go.

Wanting to party,

James "Socially Inept" Comtois

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Ordinary Life in the Movies

Read Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" entry on Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep.

Ebert writes:

"Ordinary daily life is one of the hardest things for a movie to portray, because so many other movies have trained us to expect patterns and plots. In my own 1977 review of Charles Burnett's 'Killer of Sheep,' I made that mistake of expectation, in a sentence so wrong-headed it cries out to be corrected: 'But instead of making a larger statement about his characters, he chooses to show them engaged in a series of daily routines, in the striving and succeeding and failing that make up a life in which, because of poverty, there is little freedom of choice.'"

I nattered on a bit about it here.

Digging this movie,

James "Check It Out If You Can" Comtois

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Friday, July 27, 2007

You People Are Shitting Me

Are you fucking serious?

Well, we've always wondered whether it would be Zombies or Evil Robots that would take over the world.

Evil Robots. Definitely Evil Robots.

Have a good weekend, folks. Try not to be killed by Evil Robots.

The operator of the Horny Sluts Hotline,

James "Peppermint" Comtois


To The Contrary Review for NYTheatre.com

My review of the play The The Contrary is now up on NYTheatre.com.

* * *

To The Contrary, a play written by veteran stage manager Craig Jacobs and directed by James Valletti, has its heart on its sleeve and clearly loves..... [keep reading]

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Rogers Bustin' Heads

See? I told you. You all thought that Mac Rogers guy was a sweetheart, but no. He's a vicious cold-blooded killer who eats with his mouth full. He's...

...so, okay, he's adorable. It's true.

Check out his excellent blog post here.

Basking, yet wearing protective gear,

James "Vicarious Voyeur" Comtois

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Magic of Mrs. Crowling

BRIAN SILLIMAN: So you went to the [San Diego] Zoo?

ME: Yeah. The giraffes were the BOMB!

BRIAN: (Right there with me.) Can someone tell me how they can see a giraffe or an elephant in person and still not believe in magic?

* * *

The above is a snippet of a conversation Brian Silliman and I had after my recent trip to San Diego.

Silliman believes in magic. Or rather, he believes in the power and importance of believing in magic in a very sad and dreary world. He, with the help of director Abe Goldfarb, a top-notch cast and original musical score, demonstrates this for us in a very sad, funny and lovely play called The Magic of Mrs. Crowling, playing at the Horse Trade Kraine Theatre.

I strongly suggest you check it out.

In The Magic of Mrs. Crowling, a young boy named Kickin is dying of cancer and has about six to eight weeks to live. Yes, he's scared of dying, but what's worse, is that he's going to die before the final book in the Henry Shield series comes out. His father, Ramsey, wants him to stop whining about (and reading) those stupid fantasy books and accept the fact that he's not long for this world.

You see, to say that Ramsey hates this sword and sorcery, fantasy and magic malarkey is kind of like saying that New York City is bigger than a cat. Also, to say that Ramsey is a callous prick is kind of like saying...well, see for yourself:

KICKEN: Can I go back to bed now?

RAMSEY: Absolutely not. You have way too much work to do.

KICKEN: I don't want to fill out any forms!

RAMSEY: Well I'm sure you don't want to die either, but you really have no choice.

To be fair, Ramsey's had to bury his wife and is still shaken up about it. Now that he's having to get ready to bury his son shortly thereafter, he does not even entertain the idea of fantasy or escapism. Hey, his son can lose himself in those stupid books; Ramsey's the one stuck with the hard, cold reality of loneliness, grief and medical bills.

I hope I'm not making it sound very cynical, or simply a depressing meditation on tragedy and the futility of wish fulfillment. It's very funny.

Plus, come on: it's got some cool fights in it.

Cool wizard fights.

To shut his son up about all this "stupid geeky shit," Ramsey calls up the "Last Ditch Wish" Foundation to invite A.R. Crowling, the author of the Henry Shield books, over to let Kickin know how the final book ends. Upon first meeting her, Mrs. Crowling is one of those whimsical, Mary Poppins-type British ladies who believes magic is all around us.

You know, the kind you want to smother with a pillow (Ramsey sure does).

Mrs. Crowling actually promises Kickin something even better than discover the ending of her final book: help her write it. Before long, the whimsical - er, insane - author moves in with Kickin and Ramsey, as do the main characters of her books.

I've seen Silliman act a number of times (in Nosedive shows as well as others), and he plays notes I've never heard him play before as Ramsey. As a writer, he's not only right at home with this script, but stretching out beyond his comfort zone, which is one of the reasons why I think The Magic of Mrs. Crowling is so good. This was the play he was meant to write, and Ramsey is a character he was born to play.

Everyone else in the cast is great, including Nosedive Central member Patrick Shearer (who also did the sound design), who plays Dazzelin, a Dumbledore/Obi-Wan hybrid; Dennis Hurley as Valiaare, the good wizard-turned-evil-turned-good again; Paul Wyatt as Kickin; Shelly Smith as Mrs. Crowling; and Ronica Reddick as the evil wizard Charcane (I get giddy whenever she has the chance to do that maniacal laugh of hers).

Goldfarb's direction blends the play's frequent use of realism and fantasy perfectly.

The Magic of Mrs. Crowling is simultaneously a satire of fantasy books and stories and a defense of them. Often, fantasy and escapism aren't enough, but sometimes they're our only ports in the storm.

The Magic of Mrs. Crowling plays at the Kraine Theatre on 85 East 4th Street until August 4. For tickets go here. http://www.smarttix.com/show.aspx?showCode=MAG1

Wielding his lightsaber,

James "Dork Lightstalker" Comtois

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007


I have to say, the turnout for our Nice Guy Eddie's fundraiser was much better than we had expected. (Yes, I know, I really am the eternal optimist, aren't I?) Many thanks to all of you who could come out and drink yourself silly with the folks at Nosedive Central. We really appreciate it.

And of course, if you couldn't make it, no worries. You can either, a.) make a donation to us, b.) come to our upcoming August 10 fundraiser party at the Vampire Cowboys Battle Ranch in Williamsburg, or c.) do both (tee-hee).

Right now the management team is locking down dates and spaces for our October Blood Brothers Present horror series and our December Christmas Carol show. As soon as we get everything set for those (we're about 90% locked), we'll let you know.

In the meantime, the official opening of Brian Silliman's satire/homage to Harry Potter and all things fantasy/fanboyish, The Magic of Mrs. Crowling, is tonight at 8 p.m. at the Kraine Theatre on 85 East 4th Street. Abe Goldfarb directs.

I was at the reading of this and can't wait to see it on its feet.

Trying to nab a copy of that final Harry Potter book,

James "Come On, Marsha! You Said You Finished It!" Comtois

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Late-Night Happy Hour With Nosedive Saturday

Hey, gang. Just wanted to offer the one last plug for our fundraiser drinkathon tomorrow night at Nice Guy Eddie's.

From 9 to midnight, Nice Guy Eddie's on the corner of Avenue A and Houston Street is charging $20 at the door and offering an open bar on beer and well drinks. The Nosedive crowd (including yours truly) will be there. Proceeds go to Nosedive.

It should be a fun, informal, laid back night of debauchery. I hope
y'all can make it.

Already drunk,

James "hic" Comtois

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Graduating From Hogwarts

I'll be plugging our late night happy hour fundraiser in a moment, but first I wanted to just offer a quick note about something happening soon that will have a few friends of mine locking themselves in their rooms and unplugging their phones.

Yes, the latest - and final - Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is almost upon us.

You'll find some very interesting essays on the series and the subject throughout the blogosphere, all of which I recommend (Scott Walters's in particular). I'm not particularly interested in speculating on high or low art in great detail, although I was pleased to hear that, before the first movie, doll, or accessory came out, the most lucrative franchise was based solely on books.

(Not that I'm really upset that they've made movies and merchandise based on the books: I mean, that was just pure inevitability. No one has a multi-billion-dollar enterprise and goes, "Yeah, we're fine where we are." And, more to the point, no company sees a multi-billion-dollar enterprise and thinks, "Nah. Don't want any part of that.")

Much has been speculated on how and why the Harry Potter phenomenon took place, but all one really needs to do to understand it is to pick up a copy of one and start reading: they're immediately engaging and fun (I actually read the longest-to-date, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in a little over two days).

I'm a late-bloomer fan: I started the series two years ago, when my friend Marsha lent me her books. I very much took to the series like a duck to water. I'm definitely a fan, although I'm not as rabid a fan as some. You could say I'm a rabid Star Wars fan - I really do like that series far beyond reason - and was a rabid Dark Tower fan (I remember panicking when I heard about Stephen King being hit by the truck: "Noooooo!! He's got to get Roland to the Tower!!). I've only seen one of the movies (the third one) and thought it was okay. Eventually I'll get around to checking the other ones out.

Why am I merely a fan, as opposed to a FAAAAAN? No idea. Maybe because I already have my favorite fantasy stories already set within me (I discovered The Chronicles of Narnia and later Sandman far sooner than Hogwarts, so them's just may be the breaks). I don't want to hear any spoilers, but it won't be the end of the world if any leak my way (I had heard the year prior to reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince about the death of a very major character and still enjoyed it).

Having said all that, I'm definitely looking forward to reading the final book. Maybe I'll borrow Marsha's copy.

I'm just kidding. She's a sweet girl, but she's also a rabid Potter fan. She'd cut my jugular without a second's hesitation if she saw my mitts edging towards her book.

Anyway, check out what the other folks around the theatresphere are saying. Maybe I'll go check out the latest movie tonight.

All smiles,

James "Sirius" Comtois

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I'm in Love With Your Wife Review for NYTheatre.com

My review of the play I'm in Love With Your Wife is now up on NYTheatre.com.

* * *

Apparently Gary's wife is one hot dish.

How do we know this? Not because we ever meet her (we don't), and not because Gary won't shut up about how hot she is, but because... [keep reading]

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Taking the Book Quiz

Mark "Mr. Excitement" Armstrong has introduced to us bloggers a quiz that asks: If you were a book, could we hear you scream?

Okay, maybe it's not that, but I've taken it and here's the result:

You're The Guns of August!

by Barbara Tuchman

Though you're interested in war, what you really want to know is what
causes war. You're out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they
really are. Nevertheless, you're always living in the past and have a hard time dealing
with what's going on today. You're also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in
the world. A fitting motto for you might be "Guns do kill, but so can

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

I guess I should read me.

Hating diplomats,

James "Fuck Nationalism!" Comtois

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Notes From A Grumpy (And Drenched) Playwright

It was pouring this morning in New York and since I couldn't for the life of me find my umbrella, I've shown up to work completely drenched from head-to-toe, so I'm a little crankier than usual. I'm hoping that won't come across in today's post, but if it does, feel free to add little smiley-faced emoticons, IMHOs and LOLs in the text where you feel like I'm being particularly ornery.

Though I don't actually want to get into it too deeply, I wanted to point out that I understand Patrick's (and Leonard's) frustration at this mentality. I was just a bit...let me be polite...perplexed at "Lucretia's" complaint that she hadn't won an Obie because she had received too much positive coverage from the New York Times.

Seriously. Words fail me.

I mean, there's shit you can complain about and there's, well, that.

I'm vaguely reminded of a quote from Dave Sim in regards to going into any endeavor solely for the sake of fame, fortune and glory:

"I take it as a given that people who are mindlessly obsessed with accumulating as much money and as many material possessions as is humanly possible - I would include fame here as well - are just, well, pitiable. I would assume that any reasonable person (I don't think wisdom is required) would see them the same way."

Now, I'm not so much attacking "Lucretia" as I am expressing utter bewilderment at her mindset, or more accurately, at the mindset when it comes from someone working within the New York theatre scene.

Are people seriously going into this field for the sake of winning awards? Really?

Do people who receive favorable coverage of their work in the New York Times really have the nerve to complain about not getting accolades? Really?

Again. Words fail me.

Okay, enough on that. It's time for the obligatory plug...

* * *

This Saturday Nosedive Central is having a fundraiser get-together at Nice Guy Eddie's on the corner of Avenue A and East Houston Street. $20 cover, open bar from 9 p.m. until midnight, relaxed drunken atmosphere. It should be fun.


Because the folks at Nosedive Central are fun. I mean, not me, of course, I'm cranky and rude. But Pete, Patrick and my sister (for example) are a barrel of laughs.

We hope to see you there.

* * *

I'm still working on the first entry of the promised horror film essays; I've just been a little bogged down with other things of late (including going out of town). With a little luck, I'll have my first posted by the end of this week. If you don't see it up here by Friday, well, I guess come to Nice Guy Eddie's Saturday night and give me shit about it.

Oh. Fuck. My. Ass. Is there a...? There is. There's a hole in my shoe.

God. Dammit.

Okay, that's it for me. I have to write my review for I'm In Love With Your Wife for Martin after I find a new pair of socks (and shoes, for that matter).

Stay dry, folks.

Needing a towel,

James "Drippy" Comtois

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Everything's Coming Up Rogers!

Congratulations to Mac "I'm Just A Girl In The World" Rogers for being nominated for an NYIT Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role!

We here at Nosedive Central are so proud.

Cradling our big brave boy in a papoose,

James "Creepy Metaphor Man" Comtois

Ps. Congratulations to everyone else who got nominated, too. I just thought it'd be, y'know, "weird" to metaphorically cradle (say) Boo Killebrew in a papoose. I mean, she's a very nice person and very talented, but I'm not sure that image would really fly.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Last Chance To See Robots Take Over the World

Mr. Rogers has been getting some great press for his great show, which means seats are filling up fast.

You really don't want to miss this one, folks. Get your tickets.

I'm currently in New Hampshire getting ready to head back to my fair city via train, so I'll be back to regular cybernattering tomorrow.

Tired of trees and nature,

James "Bring on the Concrete" Comtois

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Getting the Ball Rolling?

Matthew Freeman has the skinny on the meeting that took place on Sunday discussing reform of Equity's Showcase Code. I was indeed in attendance, albeit an hour late ('cause, well, I'm stupid).

Is this the beginning of having Equity fix its counter-productive and downright antagonistic code? We shall see, we shall see. Others are more optimistic than myself, but then again that's nothing new.

Tonight I'm heading off to Maine for a family affair for an extended weekend, so I will return to blather about my unfounded prejudices on Tuesday. In the meantime, check out these plays if you haven't already.

Inventor of the Bag Hutch,

James "Bags, Bags, Bags!" Comtois

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Robots, Robots, Everywhere...

"The year is 2007. The last human being died in 1961. Each year we gather together to tell the story that we never ever forget."

So a few of us folks from Nosedive Central went to go see "Bernie Mac" Rogers's latest, Universal Robots at the manhattantheatresource last night. This is not to be confused with 31 Down radio theater's production of a different play, also called Univseral Robots and also based loosely on Karel Capek's 1921 play, R.U.R.

I suggest you check it out, too. (Mac's play, that is. I haven't seen 31 Down radio theater's show.)

As is the case with almost all of his plays, Mac brings a whole lot of "meat" to Universal Robots, which is one of the most dense works I've seen for the stage since...well...his play, Hail Satan. Mac doesn't just dabble in ethical, theological, spiritual, scientific, philosophical and political themes throughout; he delves into all of them.

At once.


And I mean Thor. Ough. Ly.

Mac freely adapts Capek's aforementioned play, which introduced the word "robot" to the world, but departs significantly from Capek's script. Universal Robots tells an alternate history of the 20th Century, starting with the invention of the robot and chronicling the consequences of that invention and how said invention completely and permanently changes the world's timeline, and not necessarily for the best for humanity. Ulp.

In Universal Robots, a scientist (or rather, a scientist's wife who has gone insane and believes herself to be her scientist husband, but don't worry about that) figures out a way to make automatons, which tickles the imagination of the playwright Karel Capek, who has coincidentally just staged a play about introducing automatons into the world. Since Capek has the ear of the President of Czechoslovakia, he convinces President Masaryk to mass-produce these automatons to do the work nobody wants to do.

Then things go wrong.

Well..."wrong" isn't the right word. I suppose I should really write, "Things become inevitable."

It's part science fiction, part political allegory, part thriller, part redemptive tragedy, part spiritual parable and part historical fiction run amok. And let's face it: it's also part robots taking over the world awesomeness (a lovely genre).

Mac brought an excellent cast on board for this incredibly ambitious and fascinating show. In particular, Jason Howard as the simpleton waiter named Radosh who ends up being the template for Radius, the first robot, is amazing. He makes every line he speaks sound as if it's his own, even as a robot (when he plays Radius and first gets activated, I thought: "How the hell did he do that with his voice?").

Also thoroughly believable is James Wetzel, who plays the President of Czechoslovakia. I didn't watch him and think, "Well, he's playing that role effectively." I thought: "Yes, that's the President of Czechoslovakia."

Of course, singling these two actors out may seem like a slight to the rest of the cast. I don't intend that: everyone in this show is all very good and very believable.

I really could go on and on about Capek contemplating how playwrights engage in self-marginalization, President Masaryk stuck between the rock of wanting to keep Pandora's Box shut and the hard place of scientific progress being inevitable, or wondering if it's okay for pedophiles to molest or have sex with robots designed look like children (they're technically restraining themselves from hurting real children), but I'd rather let you see it all for yourself and not ruin it.

Seriously, folks. This play is brilliant.

Universal Robots is playing until July 19 at manhattantheatresource. For reservations call 212-501-4751.

Ready to fight the robots,

James "I'll Take 'Em" Comtois

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

In Previews: The Magic of Mrs. Crowling

HORSE TRADE presents



by Brian Silliman

directed by Abe Goldfarb

The Kraine Theater (85 E. 4 th Street)

previews July 10 & 17 at 8pm

Runs July 24-29 & July 31-August 5

Tue-Sat at 8pm. Sundays at 2pm

Twelve-year-old Kicken Petchio (Paul Wyatt*) is not long for this world. Dying of "undisclosed cancer", his only escape is into the wizardly world of his favorite books: the Henry Shield adventures, written by A.R. Crowling (Shelly Smith). When his father (Brian Silliman) arranges for Kicken to meet his favorite author through Last Ditch Wish, Kicken gets more than he bargained for. As characters from the book come to life and Kicken crosses the threshold between reality and fantasy, he learns that nothing is ever what it seems. Taking its cue from the beloved Harry Potter books, The Magic of Mrs. Crowling is for lovers (and haters) of fantasy everywhere.


Dennis Hurley* as Valiaare

Ronica V. Reddick* as Charcane

Brian Silliman as Ramsey

Shelly Smith as Mrs. Crowling

Patrick Shearer as Dazzelin

Paul Wyatt* as Kicken

*Actors appear courtesy of Actors Equity Association. The Magic of Mrs. Crowling is an Equity Approved Showcase.


Lighting: Sabrina Braswell

Fights Designed by: Chris Doering

Original Score: Larry Lees

Designer: Robin Mates

Poster Art: Afua Richardson
Stage Manager: Stephanie Williams

Publicity: Emily Owens PR

Tickets are $18, $12 for students and seniors

SmartTix 212-868-4444 www.smarttix.com.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Univseral Robots Opens Tonight

Opening tonight at manhattantheatresource is Universal Robots, the new play written and directed by Mac "I Ain't Too Proud To Beg" Rogers. I'm checking it out on Tuesday.

Below is the info.

Wanting to see robots blow stuff up,

James "Megatron" Comtois

"The year is 2007. The last human being died in 1961. Each year we gather together to tell the story that we never ever forget."

The Great War has just ended. Czechoslovakia is a Republic with an elected President and a thriving artistic community that includes celebrated playwright Karel Capek. But history cracks wide open when a young woman walks into Karel's life with a strange mannequin in a wheelchair...a mannequin that gets up and moves all by itself!

UNIVERSAL ROBOTS tells the compelling, alternate history of the Twentieth Century, starting with the invention of the robot, and chronicling the extraordinary consequences of that invention, which changes the world forever.

A science fiction thriller. love story, political allegory, redemptive tragedy and fast-paced entertainment, UNIVERSAL ROBOTS freely adapts Czech playwright Karel Capek's seminal 1921 play R.U.R., which introduced the word "robot" to the world. UNIVERSAL ROBOTS departs significantly from Capek's script, offering a meaty and riveting story of war, love, faith, technology and the power of art to change the world, for both good and ill.

manhattantheatresource and Gideon Productions present

as part of the "Straight from the Source" Summer Showcase series


written and directed by Mac Rogers

Inspired by the play "R.U.R." by Karel Capek

Assistant Directors - Shey Lyn Zanotti and Sandy Yaklin

Featuring Esther Barlow, Jason Howard*, David Ian Lee*, Michelle O'Connor, Ridley Parson, Nancy Sirianni*, Tarantino Smith*, Ben Sulzbach, Jennifer Gordon Thomas, and James Wetzel*

Mon - Thu, July 9 - 12 at 8pm

Mon - Thu, July 16 - 19 at 8pm

tickets $18


177 MacDougal Street

A, C, E, B, D, F, V to West 4th Street

For reservations call 212-501-4751

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Upcoming Fundraising Event - Open Bar at Nice Guy Eddie's July 21

Well, as previously threatened, Nosedive Productions is having some fundraising events take place both this month and next.

The first one is Saturday, July 21 at Nice Guy Eddie’s on 5 Avenue A (and the corner of East Houston Street). It’s a $20 cover for an open bar (beer/well drinks) from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Hope you all can make it!

Still ogling the pictures of Katharine McPhee that MattJ sent me from her photo shoot in “Stuff” Magazine,

James “Let Me Be!” Comtois

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Sunday July 8 gathering - AEA Showcase Reform

From the Coalition for Code Reform...

Sunday, July 8, 6pm-8pm

A community gathering in support of

AEA Showcase Reform

Classic Stage Company

136 E. 13th Street (between 3rd/4th avenues)

Join the conversation and help build a stronger, more united Off-Off community.

Stop by for 5 minutes or an hour

Learn about the ART/NY White Paper on AEA Showcase Reform

Meet Off-Off-Broadway organizations united in support of code reform

Sign the petition (if you haven't yet done so at www.nyc99.org)

Show that the broad and diverse membership of the Off Off Broadway community -- actors, producers, directors, designers -- welcomes a new approach to code reform, one that sidesteps the culture of complaint to articulate points of mutual benefit for actors and producers.

An Off-Off-Broadway that gains the flexibility to operate at its full potential will be the foundation of a theater community at large that is artistically and economically healthy.

Learn more at www.nyc99.org.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Interview Extends

Hey, folks. Hope everyone had a fun Fourth, despite the not-so-great weather in the New York area.

It looks as though Matthew Freeman's hilarious An Interview With the Author is extending past the Pretentious Festival. So if you missed it the first time around or just want to see it again, now's your chance.

Seriously, check it out. It's some pretentious funny.

A fancy prostitute,

James "Ruby Red" Comtois

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Pre-Order Suburban Peepshow!

Well, here's one of the things going on that I had to be hush-hush about:
Original Works Publishing has decided to publish my play, Suburban Peepshow. It should be available for reals in a couple of weeks, but you can already pre-order copies (and read an eight-page sample) here.


Yeah, I suppose I'll milk this, "I'm Actually Feeling Good About Myself" sensation for at least another day or two. Yes, that's me. The Harvey Pekar of the New York Theatre scene...

Have a happy Fourth, everybody.

Being SUPER irritating with the ladies now,

James "Did I Mention My Play Is For Sale, Ladies?" Comtois


"Even the lawlessness was lawless"

From Salon.com's War Room:

Even the lawlessness was lawless

The Department of Justice maintains published standards for clemency orders like the one George W. Bush gave Scooter Libby Monday.

Under those standards, a request for commutation is supposed to go the Department of Justice's "pardon attorney," who "initiates and directs the necessary investigations and prepares a report and recommendation for submission to the president in every case." As part of those "necessary investigations," the pardon attorney "routinely requests the United States Attorney in the district of conviction to provide comments and recommendations" on the case. As the DOJ standards explain, "The views of the United States Attorney are given considerable weight in determining what recommendations the department should make to the president."

The standards also state that that the pardon attorney "routinely requests the United States Attorney to solicit the views and recommendation of the sentencing judge."

Oh, and as for timing? The standards are very clear on that: "Requests for commutation generally are not accepted unless and until a person has begun serving that sentence. Nor are commutation requests generally accepted from persons who are presently challenging their convictions or sentences through appeal or other court proceeding."

Did the president follow any of these guidelines in commuting Scooter Libby's prison sentence Monday? Not so far as we can tell. He didn't refer the case to the Department of Justice pardon attorney, who therefore didn't consult with Patrick Fitzgerald and didn't ask for an opinion from Judge Reggie Walton. And Bush granted Libby's request -- wait, did Libby even make a request? -- before Libby began serving his sentence and while he was still challenging his conviction.

Why didn't Bush follow the guidelines set by his own Justice Department -- guidelines that were meant to put into action the rules laid down by presidential executive orders? Maybe he didn't know they existed. As the Washington Post reports today, the president's gift to Scooter Libby represents the first time he has ever commuted a sentence without consulting the Justice Department at all.

-Tim Grieve

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Goings on at Jamespeak & Nosedive Central

There are some neat goings-on with myself and with Nosedive Central, but for the time being, I have to be hush-hush on them. I know, I know, I'm being insufferably coy. Please forgive me. Have patience, my young Padawaans.

For the next few weeks on Jamespeak, I'll be periodically posting essays on some of my favorite horror films. These may be of no interest to the theatre-folk out there, but then again, maybe they will be.

As I think I've mentioned on this site before, I've always been impressed with artworks that combine high art with popular entertainment: works that can be enjoyed on an intellectual level as well as on base ones. William Shakespeare and to a degree the Greek tragedians Aeschylus and Sophocles were very much providers of populist entertainment in their times. They aren't now, or at least rarely are now, but were when they were writing.

(I'd assert that Sarah Kane's work demonstrates this, although the discussion and analysis of her work in the theatre realms seems to either avoid or understate the purely visceral and graphic nature of her plays.)

Although I don't think this ability or intention is completely lost in theatre nowadays, I get the impression that there's a disparity between populist entertainment and intellectual art and that chasm is getting slowly and steadily wider. I very much could be wrong, but that is the impression I'm getting.

(In other words, for example political theatre often - not always, but often - wears its intentions on its sleeve and is therefore less interested in engaging its audience so much as lecturing at it.)

So, my hope with these ensuing essays will be to provide an explanation as to not only why these films tickle my proverbial fancy and succeed on delivering scares, but also why I consider them to be, without any sense of irony, art (or Art).

The horror film, when done correctly (which, let's face it, isn't too often), is a prime example of a genre and medium where lowbrow and highbrow can meet. As John Carpenter mentioned in his interview in the Onion AV Club: "Because [B-movies are] supposed to be about horror and blood and all that horrible stuff, it's easier to sneak in little subversive messages."

Of course, I don't want to get too ostentatious about what ultimately boils down to a bunch of monster movies.

Most of the films I'll be writing about will not be big surprises or particularly "oddball" choices. I have some oddball tastes and appreciate movies that are unapologetically trash, but I have a suspicion that I won't be spending a great deal of time on them.

Then again, who knows? Maybe I'll pop in Russ Meyer's Mudhoney again and find that I have 1,500-3,000 words to expound on it.

The first one should show up on this site as soon as my typing fingers can dance. Stay tuned.

Ruining his already nonexistent reputation,

James "Middlebrow Dolt" Comtois

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