Monday, August 31, 2009

Current Member and Youngblood Alumni Take Part in the 3rd Annual New York One-Minute Play Festival

The 3rd Annual New York One-Minute Play Festival
80+ plays. 40+ writers. 2 days. 1 minute.

September 12th and 13th 2009, 8:30PM at HERE Arts Center
145 6th Ave, (between Spring & Broome, enter on Dominick)

Tickets are $15 dollars. For tickets: Visit or call 212-352-3101.

The smash-hit short-form theatre festival returns for the third year as part of HERE’s Autumn Artist Lodge! Curated by Dominic D’Andrea, the two-program event will present over 80 plays all under sixty-seconds by some of the most exciting emerging and established writers in the American Theatre.

Produced by Toby Knops & Dominic D'Andrea. Directed by Dominic D'Andrea, Gyda Arber, Brian Rhinehart, Jordan Young, Nicole A. Watson, & West Hyler.

Program A (Sat Sept 12th): plays by: Ashlin Halfnight, Emily Conbere, Bixby Elliot, John Devore, Michael John Garces, Jakob Holder, Jessica Litwak, Matt Olmos, Saviana Stanescu, Kyle Jarrow, Ken Urban, David Zellnik, Lanna Joffrey, Megan Mostyn-Brown, Liz Meriwether, Mat Smart, Mac Rogers, Andrea Thome, Matt Freeman, James Comtois, anton dudley, Christine Evans, Robert Kerr, Callie Kimball, Sam Forman, Rajiv Joseph, Padraic Lillis, Trav SD & more!

Program A directed by Dominic D'Andrea, Gyda Arber, and Brian Rhinehart

Brogram B (Sun Sept 13th): plays by: Callie Kimball, Clay Mcleod Chapman, Dave Anzuelo, Bixby Elliot, Kris Diaz, Christine Evans, Jeff Lewonczyk, J Julian Christopher, Courtney Brooke Lauria, Adam Szymkowicz, Migdalia Cruz, Chiori Miyagawa, Ian Cohen, anton dudley, Michael John Garces, Matt Olmos, Saviana Stanescu, Crystal Skillman, Liz Meriwether, Matt Freeman, Matt Schatz, Caridad Svich, August Schulenburg, Chris Harcum, Daniel Talbott, Trav SD & more!

Program B directed by Jordan Young, Nicole A. Watson, and West Hyler

*Please note that each program presents an entirely different evening of one-minute plays

This production is being presented through HERE’s Autumn Artist Lodge, which provides artists with subsidized space and equipment, as well as technical and administrative support

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

News: Alick's ARDOR DUTY ~ 9/8 - 9/13

Go see the world-premiere of ARDOR DOODY, co-written by YB Jesse Cameron Alick, as part of Subjective Theatre Company's 09/10 season launch:

In a cold prison cell, in an anonymous totalitarian country, two political prisoners debate guilt vs. innocence, happiness vs. productivity, honesty vs. betrayal, art vs. duty - all while wearing big clown shoes and rubber noses. ARDOR DOODY is a satirical comedy about two circus clowns and one mime fighting the government the only way they know how - but which one will have the last laugh? Co-produced by Mighty Little Productions and written by Mighty Little’s Lucile Scott and STC’s Jesse Cameron Alick, directed by STC’s Steven Gillenwater.

Inspired by the popular American standard of the same name, IN THE BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN invites us into the world of a hedge fund manager and his wife as they ride the rails in search of jobs. Cushioned from any real hardship by their wealth, they lament their fate while trying to avoid the licorice handcuffs of the ineffectual SEC. IN THE BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN is a biting musical satire about corporate bailouts and the eschewed realities of the wealthy. An original musical, with the book by STC’s resident playwright Julia Holleman, music by STC’s Emmy award-winning Resident Designer, Lucas Cantor. Lyrics by Julia Holleman and Lucas Cantor. Directed By Emma Givens.

As a part of Subjective Theatre Company's residency with Horse Trade Theater Group, these shows will be presented at THE RED ROOM at 85 East 4th street (between 2nd and 3rd ave), third floor.

Limited run!! 6 performances only! September 8th-13th

Sept 8th – 8pm
Sept 9th – 8pm
Sept 10th – 8pm
Sept 11th – 8pm
Sept 12th – 8pm
Sept 13th - 3pm

Ticket Price: 0.00$ - FREE!!

Please make your reservations today!!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Moench: Notes from the Road ~ 4

Anna Moench:

I've succeeded in seeing four performances in the past four days! I doubt I'll find my way into the underground experimental scene while I'm in Beijing, for several reasons: 1. it's August, and groups seem to be on hiatus until the end of the month, 2. things are pretty disorganized and I don't know how events are publicized, and 3. even if I did, I couldn't read the listings. The shows I've made it to have all been at theaters funded by the government, and although they weren't controversial in the slightest, some interesting themes popped up.

The Capital Theatre:

The first show I saw was "Niao Men" (Birds), at the Capital Theatre. It was a stage play, with very little movement and lots of talking. I made a serious effort to try and figure out the plot, and I managed to glean that the main story line revolved around a group of old men who sit in a park with their caged birds (a common sight in the public parks), and that one of them was a big Peking Opera star back in the day. Some guy comes in and threatens their idyllic lifestyle by trying to make them give up their birds and get real jobs, and the old guys get upset. One of them is particularly enraged, and kills a couple birds. An American tourist (played by a Chinese actor) appears and is a total idiot who makes stupid tonal malapropisms, and everyone laughs at him. Then the old Peking Opera star appears in full Peking Opera regalia, and acts as a judge in a sort of informal trial. The big moment at the end is when someone pulls a cloth covering off of a birdcage, revealing a turkey. Then everyone leaves except the guy who came in to ruin everything, and he has a long silent moment with the turkey as 20 women in matching outfits march slowly through the park in unison, waving scarves and shaking little maraca things.

Clearly I didn't fully understand this one. But it was unexpected that Peking Opera played such an important role to the characters and to the plot and structure of the play, considering that most Beijingers do not regularly go to see Peking Opera. It's a cultural legacy that exists more for tourists than for its people these days, though I think people are proud of it in a museum-y kind of way. Its presence in this piece seemed very symbolic of the traditions and heritage that many people are concerned about losing as China hurtles into the future.

The National Center for the Performing Arts:

The next show I saw was "Red Classic Dance Drama: Ode to Red Chinese Plum", which was exactly what it sounds like: a dance drama extolling the virtues of Communism. It was performed at the National Center for the Performing Arts, the most beautiful building I've ever seen. As I expected, the dancing was technically stunning (the Chinese give a new meaning to the word "unison," and at one point a dancer ran across the stage on the tops of her feet...think about that for a second) but the choreography was pretty mawkish and uninspiring (lots of lovers or mother/child pairs going in for the slow mo hug, pausing, then clutching each other in a desperate embrace to show their passion). There were some interesting visuals, mainly featuring large red pieces of fabric and lots of chains and prison bars, though I wish they'd stopped before busting out the fog machine and huge tilting prison door effect.

These two pieces presented different perspectives on China's political and national identity, but shared a central belief in China's greatness as a nation, and their central protagonists' love for their country. In "Red Classic Dance Drama," all the virtuous characters suffer in prison but are happy because they are embroidering a huge red flag. So no matter how bad things are for you in your day to day life, if you use that life to stand by your country, you will have a kind of happiness that transcends suffering--the standard Party line. In "Niao Men," the protagonists struggle to reconcile elements of their cultural heritage with life in the modern world. As evidenced by the portrayal of the bumbling American tourist character, people don't want to make China into an imitation of the West. They want to find a way forward on their own terms.

Both shows were sold out, and the audiences were of all ages, from children as young as 7 or so to people in their 80s. They responded strongly, with standing ovations and many shouts of "Hao!" ("Good!", the Chinese equivalent of "Bravo!"). Regardless of my political opinions and my discomfort at the portrayal of Americans in "Niao Men" (I sunk lower and lower in my chair as people erupted in explosive laughter at his ineptitude), I came away impressed by the level of interest in the performing arts in Beijing, and local artists' ability to tap into relevant issues despite strict government censoring. I also have the strong conviction that as I write my play, my interest in the theme of reconciling China's past with its future is both timely and pertinent.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Moench: Notes from the Road ~ 3

Anna Moench:

Name duo mafan! So much trouble!

Medusa had the best intentions at heart. I really do believe that. But despite this fact, yesterday was a vortex of frustration. Due to a booking glitch, I was kicked out of my hostel to make room for a boisterous bunch of French people. I was calling up other hostels in the city center, searching for a free bed, when Medusa swooped in and said "Anna! I have found you a beautiful hotel!" I think that every savvy traveler has a visceral negative reaction to sentences like this. The last time someone said something like this to me, it was three years ago on a bus on the outskirts of Yangshuo...but that's another, similarly irritating story that ended with a 3 mile walk to get from the shady hotel to the legit hostel I'd booked. So I said thanks but no thanks, I prefer to find a place myself.

Never underestimate the persuasive, almost hypnotic power of Chinese helpfulness.

Half an hour later, we're on the subway. I'm carrying my big backpack, which is pretty much the equivalent of a neon sign flashing the word FOREIGNER, and Medusa is revelling in all the attention I'm attracting. "Everybody is talking about you! Those girls next to you, they're saying how strange you look! You look so strange, do people think you look strange in America? We all think so." Very few people have seen a half-Chinese, half-white person here, and it's an endless source of curiosity and spirited speculation. I try to tell myself this must be what celebrities feel like. The alternative is that this is what the Elephant Man felt like.

We get off the subway after two transfers, and Medusa hails a taxi. Three subways and a taxi? Where is this place? We stop at a grim high rise hotel. Behind the desk are four wall clocks, displaying the times of different cities around the world. The New York clock, which should read the same as the Beijing clock, is about 8 hours slow, the second hand ticking two seconds forward in time, then one second back. Turns out Medusa chose this hotel because it's near her friend's medical school, where she plans on staying for the remainder of her week in Beijing. "Now we can spend more time together!" she says, taking my hand and pulling me to her side. Unfortunately, it's near nothing else of interest. Medusa does the talking, and after a couple minutes hands me a key and says, "I booked you five nights here."

Five nights. Five nights here. The phrase is like smelling salts. This is where the madness ends, damn it, right here in a shabby hotel on the outskirts of an anonymous Beijing suburb. I will once more assert an active voice in the direction of my careening, slippery life.

I dropped my stuff in the clinical-feeling dorm room, nodded to the Korean girl dozing in the other bed, and took Medusa out to lunch as a thank you. I then politely refused her enthusiastic invitations to tour her friend's medical school campus (though I couldn't escape a cell phone photo shoot, the results of which were texted to her mother), went to an internet cafe, and booked myself into a hostel in the center of town. This morning (after the staff came into my room on the hour starting at 6:00AM to stare at me while I slept) I checked out, got in a cab and arrived at a beautiful, charmingly crumbling traditional courtyard house in a quiet hutong. Literally down the street from where I was originally staying.

Sometimes it takes 24 hours to go five minutes. And I guess I just have to be okay with that.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Moench: Notes from the Road ~ 2

From Anna Moench, yesterday:

Beijing is crazy hot and humid and I sweat more than I pee. So far I've done a lot of walking around looking for theaters that no longer exist, calling dead numbers, and very little (read: zero) seeing of theater. China is a very confusing place for a foreigner with the language skills of a nearly mute baby, and not a good environment for people who want to get things done quickly. But I've made a bunch of hilarious Chinese friends at my hostel. One of them is named Hui Wen, but she chose an English name to make it easier for foreigners. "Medusa." I'm serious. I asked her if she knew the story of Medusa, and she said yes, and that she chose the name to be different and memorable. Mission accomplished, though she's quite memorable as is. The other night I was in bed, falling asleep, when she came in from the bathroom and insisted that I sit up to take a picture with her, because she loves me so much and needed to remember this moment. This is after knowing me for about 20 minutes. In the morning she gave me a very strange looking piece of fruit with a very long Chinese name, and insisted that I eat it immediately, because, in her words: "whenever I eat this fruit, I fill with happiness and I wish you to fill with happiness with me." The fruit was weird and delicious, and I'm glad to report that it did fill me with happiness.

Yesterday I went to the famed 798 Arts District, an enormous factory block that has been turned into artist studio, gallery, and living spaces. That concept is pretty familiar to New Yorkers, but there's something wonderful about these old weapons factories being used by artists, many of whom create work that is subversive and critical of the government. There were several exhibits that featured artists who are exploring how to reconcile China's long, rich history of traditional art techniques with modern, experimental aesthetics. Imagine hot pink inkbrush landscapes (featuring burning mountainsides and lounge chairs by the water), and intricately rendered mountainside oil paintings in which the rocks and waterfalls, upon close inspection, turn out to be painted fabric studies. Part of what I plan to explore in my play is the tension between tradition and modernity in contemporary China, and it's fascinating to see how other artists are grappling with the same concept.

Okay, I'm out. Gotta go back to the Peking Opera theater that was closed yesterday and try to finally see a show.


Monday, August 03, 2009

Dispatch from the Department of Non Sequiturs‏

Dispatch from the Department of Non Sequiturs‏, headed by Jon Kern:

So this is a random thought that leaped into my head today. The top five current Youngblood members whose names would be fun to say as SNL announcer Don Pardo. In order.

#5) Anna Moench

#4) Mira Gibson

#3) Sharyn Rothstein

#2) Kyoung H. Park

and the #1 current Youngblood member name that would be fun to say as Don Pardo . . .

#1) Delaney Britt Brewer!


Moench: Notes from the Road

Anna Moench is in China this month and will be be filling us in on her adventures... This is from early Saturday morning:

Ni hao! This August I'm missing out on the excitement of the Youngblood retreat, the NY Fringe Festival, Eli's reading, and countless Central Park picnics. Thanks to suppport from the generous people at the Jerome Foundation, I'm going to be in Beijing and the Loess Plateau researching Chinese burial practices and performance forms in preparation for my next play.

I flew in to Beijing last night after a long and relatively smooth journey. I didn't end up getting quarantined by health officials seeking out swine flu carriers, thank god. In the Shanghai airport, where I had a layover, some guy from Afghanistan spent 20 minutes telling me about his 2 wives before giving me a handful of unshelled almonds and asking if I'd like to come with him to Dubai to sell some cars. If I weren't a writer on a mission, the answer might very well have been yes. Who doesn't want to go to Dubai and sell some cars?

Now that I'm here, I plan on seeing a bunch of Peking Opera, traditional and modern dance, puppetry, and maybe even a drama, although I won't understand it at all. I'd love to tell you more about my morning exploring Beijings warren-like hutongs, but there is a World of Warcraft addict incessantly pummelling his keyboard next to me in this internet cafe and I am filled with the desire to do the same to his face. I need to leave. I'll do my best to keep you guys in the loop. Zaijian!