Monday, April 18, 2011

Blogging Bloodworks: Dufault Edition

Get ready for an onslaught of theatre, everyone. Bloodworks is banging on your door. Nineteen Youngblood full-lengths read by terrifyingly talented actors in a beautiful seaport vista. Prepare yourself for a series of blog-worthy wonderings, ramblings, and other shit related to each reading. I’m up for Day One.

Wow, right?

Let’s be honest: I’m fairly certain cockfighting has a larger fan-base than theatre. So it makes sense to learn what we can from it. In fact, I think the qualities that make people enjoy cockfighting are the same as those that interest people in theatre: spectacle, drama, escape, a community to be involved in, and an efficient way to waste all of your money. Yeah, at the end of the day, both a good cockfight and a good play are the same thing: a good story.

“Year of the Rooster” is all about cockfighting. I first became interested in cockfighting when I read the book:

Good title, right? It’s in Chapter Four, maybe, where the author (Hal Herzog) argues, amongst other things, that the life of a battlecock is substantially better than the life of a chicken slotted to be turned into a mcnugget. In other words, it’s more moral to support cockfighting than to support Mickey D’s.

But don’t worry! This play isn’t a preachy treatise against McDonald’s! Even though it does prominently feature McDonald’s!

In fact, in a perfect world, this play would be sponsored by the McDonald’s Corporation, and they’d run a promotion where Happy Meals would include plastic toys of famous battlecocks throughout history. Speaking of famous battlecocks throughout history...

This play is about a sad sack McDonald’s employee with a near invincible sociopath of a battlecock. Sometimes I think of it as Greek Tragedy set in the world of cockfighting. For a while I was even thinking of adding a Greek chorus made of hens or something, before I realized that I actually wanted people to enjoy the play. In many ways, it’s a classic underdog sports story, except with a talking rooster.

I grew up surrounded by animals, and I think they’re equal parts hilarious and incredibly strange. Our relationship with them is especially complicated. In fact, that’s the subject of “Some We Love...”, and maybe “Year of the Rooster.”

The idea of “pets” is very odd, huh? Sometimes I think the love a person can have for a pet is the purest sort of love there is. It’s like the love a child has for their stuffed animal.

When I was young, a few houses down from me lived a lady who kept a couple dozen chickens, and one fierce goddamn rooster, as pets. In the summer the rooster would have to do battle against the baby snapping turtles that would migrate up from the pond. A whole horde of little dead snappers would litter her lawn. One thing that’s especially true of roosters, I think, that’s not true of other birds, is that they never seem to notice the human beings living next to them. Very self-absorbed.

Other animals don’t love in the same way adult humans do, though we like to convince ourselves otherwise. I think most animals love the way that infants do. Maybe that’s worth more or less? But I have trouble believing my neighbor’s asshole of a rooster could love at all.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about cockfighting (mostly from reading too many cockfighting message boards) it’s that cockers love their birds. Say what you will about how they express this love, but they love them.

The play isn’t a treatise for or against cockfighting, though it’s certainly a brutal, age-old sport, illegal in all fifty states, with its share of very vocal fans and foes.

I was reading up on Christopher Guest on IMDB when I read a quote of his that I really liked, that I think applies to these groups.

“I am interested in the notion that people can become so obsessed by their world that they lose sense and awareness of how they appear to other people. They're so earnest about it. But that's true of so many things.”

But forget all that shit. Ultimately, I hope this is nothing more than an entertaining story that makes you care about the people involved. In other words: a good cockfight. Fingers crossed.

Please For The Love of God Come See “Year of the Rooster” on: Monday, May 2nd, at 8:30 PM at the Algonquin Seaport Theatre, on Pier 17 – South Street Seaport.

Admission: free as the fucking wind.


joshcon80 said...

Someday theater historians will look back on the talking chicken oeuvre that youngblood birthed.

hal herzog said...

I am delighted that my book was the inspiration for the play! I never anticipated this when I was writing it.

Hal Herzog