Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sodom by the Sea

I love Coney Island. I can’t remember exactly the first time that I went there, but it must have been to go to the aquarium. Either with my brother and his family, or with my ex-husband, who’d amuse himself by threatening to feed me to the sharks. He found that hilarious.

It actually did used to be an island (it was filled in during the 19th century) inhabited by coneys, relatives of chickens. At the beginning of the 20th century, outraged moralists dubbed it “Sodom by the Sea,” because the working class was dating, dancing and God knows what else there. Eddie Cantor got his start in show business in Coney Island as a singing waiter. There’s the boardwalk, the sand, the Atlantic Ocean. People of every age, race and ethnicity that you can imagine lying in the sun, playing Frisbee, eating Nathan’s hotdogs. The beach does tend to draw an inordinate number of elderly men wearing Speedos who should emphatically Not be wearing Speedos. There’s the ballpark where the Brooklyn Cyclones play (the team’s named after the rollercoaster). There’s a Coney Island Museum, sideshows, games, and fried clams. What tastes like summer more than fried clams? And after years of telling myself I’d go, I may actually make it there for the Annual Mermaid Parade this year. For details:
http://www.coneyisland.com/

An old friend of mine is coming in from Chicago that weekend, because he wants to see Coney Island before the wrecking ball goes at it. The games and booths are all going away this fall. The land has been sold, and a luxury high-rise is going up in its place:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/29/nyregion/29coney.html?_r=1&em&ex=1180584000&en=b12c9fa827e07be3&ei=5087%0A&oref=slogin

God knows New York can’t always stay the same. If it did, it wouldn’t be New York. But there are so many condos going up so quickly in so many neighborhoods, it seems a shame real estate developers couldn’t spare the sideshows.

The Drama Hound is going on vacation, so there’ll be no new blogs for awhile. But check out the Mermaid Parade on June 23rd.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Gracious Living

As befits a Drama Hound, my idea of fun things to do are read, write, sing, go to the theatre and eat. Rehearsing can be a lot of fun, too, as can writing songs. Writing itself is solitary, until you get to the point where you’ve got enough of a play that you can show to a director or a composer without blushing to the roots of your hair. Sometimes a play never gets to that point, and you move on to the next one.
I recently moved, which is never easy, and in the process of moving I realized that I had thrown a total of one party in the apartment that I was leaving, and that was nearly four years ago. So it is time to throw a party again. I really enjoy parties where I know more than one person in the room. Parties where I know no one I tend to get overwhelmed, and lapse into high school dance thought processes: but what if nobody talks to you the whole night? What if you have a giant chunk of spinach stuck in your teeth, and toilet paper hanging off your shoe? Not a good place for your mind to go. But if I’m throwing the party, all that goes away.
I know a few NYC party-throwers- my sister did an amazingly elaborate sit-down Christmas dinner for ten last year. One friend of mine threw an Oktoberfest party last fall, which I thought was a brilliant idea, and he’s not even German. His St. Patrick’s Day party, which my boyfriend and I went to, was wonderful (and no silly green beer). He made the waterchestnut and bacon canap├ęs that I don’t think I’ve seen since 1975- they were great! However, he and his partner are party-giving exceptions. Most of my friends never throw parties; others will have a few people over for dinner (as will I). But mostly, we meet up at a restaurant, or for a drink, at a bar, or go see a show together. The mass and scope of party-giving that I remember my parents’ generation indulging in I simply don’t see anymore. Because life is so much less leisurely? Because if we email eight times a day we don’t need the face-to-face contact? Because our creative energies are focused elsewhere? Or some combination of all of the above?
I have staked my party claim- I sent out the “Save the Date” E-vite. I’m mentally composing the invitation, something like “Thrill to watching the sunset over the Gowanus Expressway, and the moon coming up over the BQE.” Does that make you want to come or what?!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

My First Drama Hound Experience

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. My great uncle Walt had gone to the local Jesuit college, and had helped raise money to build their then-new theatre. When I was six, my family took me to see a touring company there. The show was “King Lear” (just what every six year old wants to see). I don’t think I understood much of it, and I vaguely remember napping- it was way past my 8 o’clock bedtime. But the design was amazing. It was “Lear” set in the Great White North- all the actors wore Eskimo dress. In the scenes that weren’t brightly lit, they looked almost like bears. The set was a series of free-standing Gothic church windows, almost like six-foot shadow puppets- the frames were matte black and the panels were colored pieces of something translucent. The set was lit with a palette that suggested the aurora borealis. Even the movement of light suggested the aurora borealis. It wasn’t watching like tv, or going to the movies. It was this larger-than-life thing, and I was there watching it happen. Forty years later I still think about it.
I think that I keep going to the theatre because I want to be amazed again, the way I was when I was six.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Welcome!

I'm Anne, the Drama Hound.
Don't be shy, read on!
I'm a writer (mostly plays, but other things, too). Whenever I say, "The glamorous life of the theatre!" that means I just did something really unglamorous. Like hunt for an actor to cast at 2AM the night before a reading, or help the costume designer haul 15 pounds of sweaty clothes to the drycleaner after a show's closed.
This blog won't be all theatre all the time- there will be other things (life, books, daily annoyances, etc.), too.
So far as I can tell, this is the first Blogspot theatre blog. I feel like a pioneer!