This exotic-looking egret was hanging out on the shore of the Mississippi with a bunch of disinterested (in him, anyway) seagulls. They were all looking for lunch, that’s all that seemed to matter.
I love the courtyards in New Orleans- alleys that open into courts or yards or simply another alley. They remind me of the architecture in Vienna and Budapest. There’s always the possibility of something mysterious and hidden and maybe even wonderful if you just go through one more gate.
Another thing I love about New Orleans are the bands that pick up the second-line people, as if every day is worthy of a parade. These stalwart souls were marching in the rain the day before we left.
The final full day we were in New Orleans, we took a bus tour (yeah, I know, but what are you going to do without a car?) to Oak Alley. It is one of the restored sugar plantations on the River Road (which runs along the levee), quite far from New Orleans proper. On the way there, we saw Lake Pontchartrain (it goes on and on) on one side of the causeway, and the swamp (people still live there- we saw dwellings) on the other. Like the rest of the country, there is a lot of racial baggage in New Orleans. Oak Alley has a very pretty house, very old oak trees and an overseer’s cottage. There are no slave quarters. Slaves are barely mentioned, though the guide did refer to the house slaves as “servants.” They weren’t servants, they were slaves. It was muggy there in November; Tom and I shuddered to think what it would have been like skimming sugar in August. We wished that there had been some kind of explicit reference to the lives and conditions of the slaves: it took 90 slaves to make the sugar and till the land, and another 20 to run the house. I’m not sorry we went, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. At the gift shop, I did buy a copy of edited slave stories collected during the WPA, which I am working my way through slowly. They’re too sad to read at one sitting.
The Dramahound’s been busy, as I’m sure you have. Travel, holidays, decorating for the season, music, finished a short play, started a new play, etc. But for Thanksgiving, my boyfriend and I were fortunate enough to spend a week in the French Quarter thanks to the generosity of two writer friends of ours who lent us their condo.
We didn’t see any theatre, but just walking the streets there is theatre enough. Tom and I decided that the best Bloody Marys were to be had at the Chartres House, where Tennessee Williams himself drank in its earlier incarnation. We saw the new Borders store on St. Charles Avenue, in the shell of Bultman’s Funeral Home. Not only was Jefferson Davis laid out there, but Williams set “Summer and Smoke” in its solarium. It was hard to visualize that in the mist of Borders displays, but we tried. We tried to get a drink at the Columns (where much of “Pretty Baby” was shot), but they are still on reduced, post-Katrina hours.
We also saw more of Bourbon Street at night; I think the photo’s self-explanatory. We met some very nice dogs. There was an English bulldog puppy that was ready to come home with Tom. There was lots of walking, and thereby window shopping. I loved this guy’s stone head- he seemed to me a total Roman with attitude. Photos by Tom Bovo.
My boyfriend and I just adopted a basset/beagle mix puppy. This is called a Bagel (which seems wrong). We got him from an adoption fair at St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Church in Bay Ridge. He is getting fixed, and coming home with us tomorrow night. We're thinking of calling him Augie, because his pound name (Milo) is not him.
Reminder that tomorrow is the opening reception for my boyfriend Tom Bovo's group show at the Museum of Computer Art in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Click on the link above for directions and address. The reception is at the Museum from 4 to 6.
There is a building on East 88th Street between Lexington and Third Avenues on the north side of the street. The name over the door s the Kolping Society. I have seen young men go in and leave the building; they always seemed to be German speakers. It is in Yorkville, which used to be a heavily German neighborhood. But I couldn't find any information about what it was. Until recently I was reading A History of Modern Germany by Dietrich Orlow. In the chapter on German unification, Orlow mentions a Roman Catholic priest, Father Adolph Kolping, "who began a series of shelters to provide temporary housing and support for traveling apprentices and journeymen," circa 1849. The Kolping Society has residences for men and women throughout the world.
In October, I went to Chicago for the launch party of a new literary magazine that I have a piece in (The Tale of the Duck). It was a great party, and a wonderful Brazilian actress Petrucia Finkler, performed the monologue. The photos are of her, and my cheering section- my friend MT Cozzola and her husband Dave, who were kind enough to bring friends. The journal is available on the Conclave website: http://www.conclavejournal.com. Which I have shamelessly plundered the photos from.
While I rarely agree with his politics, Andrew Sullivan has an interesting article in the most recent Atlantic about blogging, and why he does it. He endorsed Obama- he must have something going for him.
My boyfriend Tom is in a group show at the Museum of Computer Art. He has three images in it, including these two: "B'DAZZLE" and "Bryant Park." The show runs November 4-26, 2008, and the museum is located at 139 11th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues, Brooklyn, New York. The opening reception with wine and cheese is on Saturday, November 8th, 4-6PM. And it's free. Tom's images are in private collections in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Pasadena CA, Birmingham AL, and in the Slovak Embassy to Italy and the Vatican in Rome. His website is: www.tombovo.com
I was doing research for a new play this morning, and I found a great website about New York City architecture. One page is about London Terrace, and it has links to their in-house newsletter, and a silent movie from the 30s about the building itself. It's very cool. I particularly liked the uniformed boys to run errands, and the housemaids on-call.
I will not reveal its exact location, because I wouldn’t want anyone to be tempted to destroy this Brooklyn landmark. It involves plastic animals- from the jungle, the woods and prehistoric times- and blood. It is either brilliant social commentary, or the result of what happens when someone has too much time on their hands. Here are some shots I took in the daylight: tigers and dinosaurs.
I started thinking about how to articulate this last night, when my friend Elizabeth (a loyal Dramahound reader!) and Jacob both mentioned the way that the installation worked with the play. Now in a way, that was our original intention- the night in July that Jacob, Tom and I were sitting at Cantina, and I was scribbling notes on a napkin. So I knew Jacob’s work, we talked about his favorite images, and the resonances that they have. And I lived with those images, and tied some other things both into them and relating to them, which is how I wrote the play.
What I first noticed on Thursday at the dress rehearsal, and saw again last night was how there is some kind of actual counterpoint between how the paint is used in the space and how the words are used in the play. I read Francis Ferguson’s “The Idea of a Theater: The Art of Drama in Changing Perspective” in college; I remember spending a lot of time thinking about Wagner and gesamtkunstwerk (total art work). That perhaps theatre in the last 40 years was trying to give birth to that. I can say that given Painted Space and given Brooklyn Lighthouse, it worked. I saw my work be part of gesamtkunstwerk in a way I haven’t before. Which if you‘ve being doing this for as long as I have, is pretty cool.
Here are a series of photos that take you through some of the major moments in the play. It was directed by Ramona Pula. It begins with B (Jennifer Boehm) standing in the gallery, looking out the window. A (Andrew Rothkin) sees her, and stops to check her out. They insinuate, argue, laugh, sing and dance, and finally part.
This photo, taken by the co-owner of Open Source Gallery, Monika Wuhrer, gives you a good sense of physically being in the space. I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about this. So here is the space, next is the production, and finally how they worked together.
In the midst of my rehearsal excitement, I'd forgotten that this coming Sunday, October 5th, is the Feast of St. Francis at my church, the Church of the Holy Trinity. This is the day the animals and their humans come to be blessed, from all over the neighborhood. I have seen a lot of dogs, cats, birds, turtles and some water from the East River, all be blessed by the priests. This year, there will be animal blessings at the 8AM, 10:30AM and 6PM services. I'm always at the 10:30, and it fills up fast. Holy Trinity is the most dog-friendly church I've ever belonged to- it was written up in the New York Post in the past year. For the history of the church and dogs, click on the title above to see Dr. Stephen Hamilton's insightful essay on the church's website. The address is 316 East 88th Street, between First and Second Avenues in Manhattan.
So, my script for Jacob Ouillette’s gallery opening, now called “Brooklyn Lighthouse,” is ready for rehearsal. We have a great director, Ramona Pula, who’s acted in two shows at LaMama, one of which was written and directed by my favorite dramaturg of all time, Joe Brady. She recently directed “Bubby’s Shadow,” which won the Midtown International Theatre Festival’s Outstanding Overall Production of a New Drama Play Award. She, Jacob and I met at the Gallery last night. There is Jacob, holding the door.
The previous show is over, and these photos are what we found. Jacob plans to starts painting today. And when I can get myself to go three blocks with the camera, it will record the installation process between now and October 10th.
It was so dark this afternoon, I was sure we were going to get serious weather. The Kentile sign seemed like it was glowing. But it all blew over. I know Gowanus Lounge could have gotten a better photo from the pool- I really miss it.
My work is influenced by paintings- it has been for years. And it’s always been a dream of mine to work on a play in conjunction with a living painter. And now I am.
I met Jacob Ouillette at the Edward F. Albee Foundation (aka The Barn) in 2003. He was a great fellow Fellow; we spent many happy hours going to the beach in his truck for afternoon work breaks, and hanging out and playing poker (I lack poker skills) after dinner. Two of his paintings (a water color of Gays Head and an oil of a sunset of the ocean) hang in my living room.
We lost track of each other for a few years, and recently via Google found each other again. Jacob is having a show in a gallery in my neighborhood which opens October 10th. The show is called “Painted Space,” and it’s at the Open Space Gallery (255 17th Street, Brooklyn NY). The painting above is reminiscent of what the installation will be.
So one night, Jacob, my boyfriend and I out went out for dinner. We were talking about the installation, and decided that if I wrote a play for the opening, that would be a cool thing. I’ve written the play, called “Brooklyn Lighthouse,” and have a meeting with the director on Monday. The link above is to Jacob’s website.
The play will be performed during the opening on October 10, 7:00-10:00 PM. More details to follow.
For more information about Carole Lombard (Lubitsch directed her final film, “To Be or Not To Be,” the stage version of which is about to start previews in New York), check out Vincent Paterno’s site: http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/ He very kindly forwarded it to me while I was in Italy. There’s even info about Clark Gable and Loretta Young’s love child! Not to mention some great golden age Hollywood photos.
This is what I see out my livingroom window. Sums things up, some how. I thoughtlessly didn't credit the photographer on my original posting of this photo. It's vaduzuvunt from the Gowanus Lounge Flickr Pool. Always happy to plug gowanuslounge.com
Last night, my boyfriend Tom and I took our friend Mark who’s in town from Chicago for the week to see “The Marriage of Bette and Boo.” We thoroughly enjoyed it, being lapsed Catholics to varying degrees, and Mark and Tom had never seen a Durang play before. Bill Irwin was in the audience. John Glover, Victoria Clark and Julie Haggerty were particularly funny.
But the treat of my evening was when I came by at 7 to pick up the tickets. This man in his 70s held the door to the lobby for me. I went to one window to get my tickets. He went to the other. For a moment I thought, “You know, if he’d had a haircut lately I’d think it was Steve Sondheim.” And the man says to the box office person: “Name is Sondheim, first name Steve.”
Check out the July 28th issue of The New Yorker. There’s an article by Jonah Lehrer about how the brain arrives at eureka moments. He interviews Mark Jung-Beeman who’s a neuroscientist at Northwestern University. Two of their finding really resonated with me. That there is indeed a reason you get ideas in the shower- relaxation is key. And that your brain half-awake, first thing in the morning, is “open to all sorts of unconventional ideas.” I’ve always felt like I write better earlier in the day. The above link is unfortunately only to an abstract.
Our big LaMama Umbria field trip was to Assisi. We started at the hermitage where St. Francis would go to be alone to reflect, pray and interact with the forest animals, whom he called his brothers. We then went further down the mountain to the town itself, to a huge piazza in front of the Church of Santa Chiara (St. Clare, St. Francis’ contemporary and the founder of the Order of Poor Clares). There is a huge church dedicated to St. Francis with beautiful frescoes by Giotto. They were damaged in an earthquake some years ago, but you sure can’t tell.
Finally there is this lovely little church that looks like a Greek temple. It is Santa Maria supra Minerva.
I went to Spoleto three times. The first was to take a tour that David Diamond led. The basilica, to San Salvatore, has beautiful frescoes by Fra Filippo Lippi of the life of the Virgin. The coronation of the Virgin over the high altar is particularly striking. One night we went in to see a dance presentation- high school students who competed to be included in this evening called Speranze & Realta: Gala di Danza. It was held in a second century Roman amphitheatre.
We also had visitors at LaMama. Bong San Mask Dance Drama came- they performed on the stage in the field and stayed for dinner. There was also a very nice puppy who visited that night, and nearly came home with me!
My only disappointment was that Ellen Stewart was not present- she was teaching in the townships in South Africa. You can’t really argue with that, can you? But she bought this villa and the land around it with her MacArthur Genius grant. And she created this haven for theatre people. There are individual artist residencies, and a directors’ symposium.
Here are some more photos: the room I shared with another playwright; the view out our window; the view out the refectory window where we ate breakfast; and a fine-looking shaving stand, looking as if it's ready for the first chapter of "Ulysses."