Thursday, January 29, 2009

Just...Stuff (Though, Not Really)

Well, despite being rather productive in the script-writing department, I've had absolutely no motivation of late for blog-writing. Sorry, folks. I don't know what it is. I've started a number of entries that have more substance than, "Come see this!" but then peter out after three or four paragraphs. Some of this may have to do with several of Nosedive's and my projects are very much up in the air, so I don’t want to report on things until I get more information. Maybe I just need to recharge.

But honestly, the rest of the writing stuff has been going rather well. I'm happy with the rewrites for Infectious Opportunity, I'm happy with how this revenge screenplay I'm working on with Mr. Abe Goldfarb is going, and I'm looking forward to the informal reading we're having tonight on this other screenplay dealie I've written.

There are some fundraising happenings going on with Nosedive, but for the time being I’m going to hold off in offering information until I accumulate more said information. Fear not, cats and kittens, all will be revealed in good time.

And, whadda ya know? We’re at the fourth paragraph, and I'm spent. Stay classy, bitches. I'll be checking in very sporadically.

Needing a tissue,

James "Ewww" Comtois

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Preview to Awesome (in Comic Book Form)

Check this the fuck out: the Soul Samurai prequel comic book.

Vampire Cowboy's latest show, Soul Samurai, produced in association with Ma-Ti Theater, opens February 14. I can't freakin wait.

Shuttin his mouth,

James "Velvet Jimmy" Comtois

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

So I Guess...

...we can all feel a modicum of relief.

And joy.

Well, our newly-inaugurated President can party tonight. Starting tomorrow, he's got a lot of work ahead of him.

Feeling hopeful,

James "Fweee" Comtois


Friday, January 16, 2009

Doing My Civic Duty (Heh, "Duty")

I was away on jury duty yesterday, hence my absence. Fortunately, I was not selected, dismissed, and now free from being selected for at least eight years! I'm quite relieved. Four years ago I was selected for a jury, then had to wait in the Brooklyn court house waiting room for four days before being dismissed (the case was eventually settled out of court). So to say that I wasn't looking forward to this was putting it mildly.

And hell, I thought I made myself seem like a fair and impartial juror, and they dismissed me, anyway. Guess they could see in my eyes that I'm all for hanging (even though it was a civil suit).

The reading for Infectious Opportunity went quite well. Thanks to everyone who participated. I particularly liked what Daryl Lathon said to me after the reading: "You may have created the most despicable character for the stage ever. And I've played Mephistopheles!"

I guess I'll take that as a compliment.

I now know where to make rewrites and with a little luck, will have a revised draft that I'm happy with by Monday, if not sooner. Once the rewrites are done, we kick into high gear in making this thing actually happen in June. We have a couple options on spaces and we're narrowing them down and ready to make a decision very soon. Once we make that decision and the initial payment, I'll be sure to let you know all about it.

Anyway, that's what's going on at my end of the barnyard. Have a good weekend, folks!

Charging guilty,

James "Impartial" Comtois

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reading Infectious Opportunity

I'm off to listen to Infectious Opportunity get read aloud. I’ll let you know how it fares tomorrow, after Pete and Patrick have talked me out of jumping out the window afterward.

Okay, that's a lie. I don’t see either of them doing a damned thing to stop me from killing myself. And can you blame them?

Ready for dramaturgy,

James "Rewriter" Comtois

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Oh Good Lord...

I really didn't think I'd be referring to this, but...

Seriously, George? Seriously?

Gimme a fucking break.

Banging his head against his desk,

James "Sigh" Comtois


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Coming Soon: Bell Book & Candy

Yes, a short play of mine is featured...

Gravity & Glass Productions
in association with Triptych Theatre

a constellation of short theatrical works
because love is the ultimate paranormal experience

February 2009
in the year of the OX
week of St. Valentine's Day

Feb 10th, 11th & 12th @ 7:00pm
Valentine's Day, Feb 14th @ 7:00pm

'Dancing on Mars' by Ed Valentine
'The Vampire's Guide to Dating' by Janet Zarecor
'Goldfish' by M.Z. Ribalow
'Fitzroy' by Mark St. Germain
'Flight of the Shaman' Eric Walton
'Hagridden' by Don Nigro
'The Great Lover's Rumpus' by Jennifer Haley

Feb 10th, 11TH & 12th @ 9:00pm
Friday the 13th @ 7:30pm (to be followed by mega party featuring THE DILETTAUNTS)

'Falling For You' by Barry Keating
'Dead Girlfriend' by Damon Heath Sager
'Relationships' by James Comtois
'Croatoan' by Don Nigro
'The Mission' by Steven Fechter
'Hela & Troy' by Kelley McAllister
'A Curious Thing' by Chris Bell

Curated by Kate Kenney and Reyna de Courcy
Solomon Weisbard on lighting design
David Withrow on costumes

48 West 21st Street, between the 5th & 6th avenues - 4th Floor
$10 in advance (avail through SmartTix soon)
$15 at the door

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Opening Tonight: Stolen Chair's Theatre is Dead and So Are You

Stolen Chair wakes the dead in Kiran Rikhye’s latest, Theatre is Dead and So Are You. A motley crew of variety show hacks are laying their MC to rest, performing his funeral live, traveling from city to city, until such time as his body is too decomposed to make the proceedings pleasant.

Their "eulogies" are performed à la classic variety, with slapstick, melodrama, song & dance, and feats of illusion and mentalism, each taking its own deadly turn as they celebrate the life and death of their dearly departed dead dead dead friend.

Even in their joyous performance, a spectre looms as each knows they've all been exposed to the fatal disease that killed their MC: Life.

Watch these seasoned has-beens kill theatre, live before your very eyes.

The run begins tonight and goes until January 31 at the Connelly Theater on 220 East 4th Street (between avenues A & B) in New York. Get your tickets here.

Slapping his stick,

James "Inappropriate Funeral Guest" Comtois

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Robot Love

A silly but (hopefully) fun comic strip I wrote and Lex Friedman drew one night. Yes, this is how I often spend my Saturday nights. I never said I was normal.

Getting cock-blocked by my appliances,

James "Microwave Fucker" Comtois

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Speed Demons Episode Five

The final episode of Speed Demons:

By James Comtois
Directed by Pete Boisvert

Leah Carrell - James Comtois - Stephanie Cox-Williams - Jon Hoche - Daryl Lathon - Nick Micozzi - Qui Nguyen- Scott Williams - Christopher Yustin

Video by Marc Landers

See the other episodes here.

Racing for pinks,

James "Daddy-O" Comtois

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Speaking of Top Ten...

...Temporary Distortion's Welcome to Nowhere (bullet hole road), which made it to the #2 spot on my Top Ten for 2007, is being remounted for a limited engagement at PS 122 for four performances during the COIL festival. According to the show's creator, Kenneth Collins, they revamped the show a bit, adding new video footage, cutting some things and adding a new video monologue. In his words, "it is the new and improved Nowhere for 2009."

Here's my original review. (Okay, so I gush a little. I'd do it again!)

And here's the information on the remount:

Temporary Distortion

Welcome to Nowhere (bullet hole road)

COIL Festival, Performance Space 122 (New York)
(limited run, four shows only!)
January 7 @ 10:30 p.m.
January 8 @ 2:30 p.m.
January 10 @ 7:00 p.m.
January 13 @ 7:30 p.m.

Seriously, folks. If you missed it the first few times, I can't recommend seeing this show enough.

Going nowhere,

James "Distorted Worldview" Comtois

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Top 10 of 2008

Well folks. It is indeed that time where I offer my list of my 10 favorite theatrical experiences of the year. I've mulled over the list and revised and shuffled and have finally come up with a pretty accurate cross-section of very good plays I had the privilege of seeing this past year.

As always, more than a grain of salt should be given, considering I missed a number of very well-reviewed and well-regarded shows (SoHo Rep's production of Blasted immediately springs to mind).

Is there any through-line with my top ten, or is there anything noteworthy in my choices? I'm not sure. When compiling my list, I didn't notice any particular trend in my playgoing, and I'm not sure if my final list makes any over-arching comment on theatre in 2008 in general. I picked some dark plays, some light plays, some funny plays, some tragic plays. Some are grounded in the real world, some most certainly not. Coincidentally, two shows that made the list featured Americans being abducted by terrorist groups, though the plays themselves couldn't be more different in style, genre, structure or tone.

For those interested, the final tally of productions I saw in 2008 ended up to be 56 plays (compared to the 49 plays I saw in 2007): a little over a play a week. Of these 56 plays, two of them were Broadway shows, six were Off-Broadway and the rest (48) were Off-off-Broadway/indie.

My final tally for the top ten: one Broadway, one Off-Broadway and eight Off-off-Broadway/indie.

Okay. Let's stop stalling. My top ten list for 2008:

10. Hostage Song
(Horse Trade Theatre Group, book by Clay McLeod Chapman, music & lyrics by Kyle Jarrow, directed by Oliver Butler, at the Kraine Theatre)

An indie rock musical about hostages and public beheadings has the potential of being in very bad taste or very self-righteous, but the creators of Hostage Song avoid both of these traps to create a very funny, insightful and touching play. Then again, would we expect anything less from Mr. Clay McLeod Chapman?

9. The Most Damaging Wound
(The Production Company, written by Blair Singer, directed by Mark Armstrong, at Manhattan Theatre Source)

A group of old college friends reunite to bond and cautiously enter the threshold of adulthood. Like Hostage Song, in the wrong hands, The Most Damaging Wound could have gone horribly wrong (ending up a "chick flick for dudes"). Fortunately, the Production Company's production was well made, emotionally honest, realistic and effective. A prime example of captivating acting and storytelling set in a very real and recognizable world.

8. How Theater Failed America
(Ethereal Mutt Productions, written & performed by Mike Daisey, directed by Jean-Michele Gregory, at Joe's Pub)

Other potential titles for Mike Daisey's excellent monologue show could be How Theater Became America or How Theater Saved Mike Daisey's Life. Although Daisey points out the serious problems and flaws with our current theater model, he offers some very practical suggestions as to how to keep theatre alive and strong (or rather, he reminds us that it still is and can continue to be). It was (is) an absolute must-see for anyone who's worked - or is working - in theatre.

7. Sleeper
(Manhattan Theatre Source's PlayGround Development Series & Small Pond Entertainment, written by David Ian Lee, directed by Nat Cassidy, at Manhattan Theatre Source)

The second play on this list that deals with an American being held hostage in the Middle East. One of the things that saves Sleeper from being merely a position paper against the Bush administration's foreign policy is that it is populated with well-rounded, believable characters, not archetypes or mouthpieces. Right-wing characters are smart and sympathetic, left-wing characters are phony and hypocritical. A visceral and cerebral show that deals with the political as well as the personal, and astutely explores why and how there's often a divide between the two.

6. The Reckoning of Kit & Little Boots
(The Gallery Players, written by Nat Cassidy, directed by Neal Freeman, at Manhattan Theater Source)

This incredibly fun show about the death and legacy of Christopher Marlowe (sort of) and his failed attempt to write a play about Caligula came from the same creative duo that helped create Sleeper (Nat Cassidy and David Ian Lee). Marlowe is working on a drama about Caligula when an assassin plunges a knife into Marlowe's eye. As Marlowe dies, he revisits his own life and Caligula's (who died at the same age as Marlowe). In addition to being well acted by Cassidy and Lee as Marlowe and Caligula, respectively, with a delightful turn by Keith Foster who portrays William Shakespeare as a sweet-natured naïf, The Reckoning of Kit & Little Boots is a very inventive and funny play that gives Marlowe the Charlie Kaufman treatment.

5. The Chalk Boy
(The Management, written and directed by Joshua Conkel, at UNDER St. Marks)

If Our Town was re-imagined by Mark Frost and David Lynch. Joshua Conkel's play about the disappearance of a small town high school football hero throwing everyone's lives in disarray captures that insecurity and confusion about one's own identity and the hell of being in high school. It also gets the rhythms and speech patterns of how high school kids really talk and act, which is no small feat.

4. Rainbow Kiss
(The Play Company, written by Simon Farquhar, directed by Will Frears, at 59E59)

Simon Farquhar's brilliant and harrowing play about a young Scottish man slowly being eaten alive by mental illness and depression at first may seem like a hackneyed melodrama, but is really a play with true insight into its characters, themes, and locale. This was one of the most effective and terrifying shows I've seen in a very long time.

3. August: Osage County
(The Steppenwolf Theatre Company, written by Tracy Letts, directed by Anna D. Shapiro, at the Imperial Theatre)

Hey, it's the play that won the Pulitzer this year. I'll assert that Tracy Letts' drama about the dysfunctional Weston family that has to reunite after the death of the family patriarch lived up to the hype. It was three hours long and I wouldn't have minded if it was another 20 minutes. The acting was excellent, the story was captivating and compelling, the set was amazing. Ultimately, I felt like I was watching a marathon session of a really good HBO series.

2. The Angel Eaters Trilogy (Angel Eaters - Rattlers - 8 Little Antichrists)
(Flux Theatre Ensemble, written by Johnna Adams, Angel Eaters directed by Jessi D. Hill, Rattlers directed by Jerry Ruiz, 8 Little Antichrists directed by Kelly O'Donnell, at the Wings Theatre)

Hey, if film critics can count The Godfather and Godfather Part II as one entry on their "Best Of" lists, I can do the same thing with Johnna Adams' Angel Eaters Trilogy. I decided to put the trilogy under one entry because all three plays would have made it on the list individually. So, rather than crowd out other worthy entries for the list, I figured that listing the plays as a trilogy would be the best course of action. Adams' ambitious genre-bending generation-spanning trilogy about a family that has the blessing/curse/blessing of resurrecting the dead was truly a thrill to witness. In particular, the second piece, Rattlers, was one of the best plays I've seen in several years.

And the number one play I saw in 2008...

1. Fight Girl Battle World
(Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company, written by Qui Nguyen, directed by Robert Ross Parker, at CenterStage NY)

This was a very close race between my favorite Vampire Cowboys show to-date (which is really saying something) and the Angel Eaters Trilogy. Both were very much up my proverbial alley and gave me an incredible amount of excitement to go to the theatre. But ultimately, Fight Girl Battle World ended up being my most favorite theatrical experience of 2008. Constantly and consistently fun and funny (which I of course expect from a Vampire Cowboys show), FGBW upped the ante on stagecraft and storytelling by staging some seemingly unstageable things in amusing and inventive ways (hey, I never thought Star Wars would make a good stage play; Robert, Qui & Co. have proven me wrong). Everyone on board brought their A-Game to the show, which, from the fights to the puppetry to the soundtrack to even the hilarious opening PSA with Boba Fett and a tauntaun, is pure fun from start to finish.

So, there you have it. My "take it or leave it" top 10 list for 2008. Let's see what 2009 has in store for us.

Listing his ailments,

James "Chronic Whiner" Comtois

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

This Saturday: The Final Episode of Speed Demons at the Saturday Night Saloon!

Yeah, we're not wasting any time in 2009, are we?

Well, my lovelies, we're working under the impression that by this Saturday, you'll all be rid of your New Year's Eve party hangovers and ready for some free entertainment.

So, this Saturday, Vampire Cowboys presents its fifth and final (in this series, anyway) Saturday Night Saloon at the Battle Ranch in Brooklyn, featuring the final episode of our five-part 1960s road trip meets Faustian tragedy, Speed Demons.

Below are the details.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 3rd, 2009 at 8pm

405 Johnson Avenue (East Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
(2.5 blocks from Morgan stop off L train)


Featuring six all-new exciting serialized plays including:

SPEED DEMONS by James Comtois
Co-Artistic Director of Nosedive Productions
Author of Pinkie; Colorful World; The Adventures of Nervous Boy
Directed by Pete Boisvert

KILL YOUR MESS by Megan Mostyn-Brown
Member of LAByrinth Theater Company
Author of The Secret Lives of Losers; Girl; Going After Alice
Directed by Josh Hecht

RED ROVER by A Rey Pamatmat
Member of the Ma-Yi Writers Lab
Author of Deviant; Beautiful Day; Thunder Above, Deeps Below
Directed by Dominic D'Andrea

Co-Artistic Director of Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company
Author of Jimmy Starshooter Must Get Laid & Confessions of an Undead Actor

ASSYMETRIC by Mac Rogers
Member of Gideon Productions
Author of Universal Robots; Hail Satan; Fleet Week
Directed by Jordana Williams

Member of LAByrinth Theater Company & Developing Artists Theatre Company
Author of Patsy Stufflebean meets The Kentucky Demon; The Fairy Tale Project; Billy Sleepyhead
Directed by Jill DeArmon

MC'd by Lynn Berg, Hope Cartelli, Audrey Crabtree, & Jeff Lewonczyk

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