Friday, July 11, 2008

I hate Chicago! No, I like it! No, I hate it! No, just minorities! Shit, wait!

Fuck this town! I'm out like a trout. I'm gone like a faun. I'm fixin to leave on a fine summer's eve, and you best believe I'm sure to bereave when Chi and I cleave.

I'm sick a this place. The unrelenting flatness. The unconditioned air. The constant struggling on the lowest echelons of a career which climbs so high that those who work at the top are called stars without intentional hyperbole. Either having an absurdly sweaty back or feeling like I don't have my seat belt on when I bike backpackless. The shrieking drunks, the rictus-grinning old people and the Asians who obviously learned how to run in another culture, all thronging my neighborhood - I tire! I am sick of Chicago like I am sick of bobbing my head while I wait for a song I can dance to. Hootenany already.

Nah nah I'm just foolin. I still like Chicago a lot! But I'm going to North Carolina in less than a week for less than a week and I am absurdly pumped. We arrive, functionally, on the 17th, so the trip is called NC 17. You can't tell me that's not a winner.

Oh yes, for all my bitching, Chicago is a fine place to raise a me. Two weeks ago I was honored to be invited by my friend "Donny" to participate in a cabaret. The event took place on the roof of a building downtown. The owner of the place - an absurd old man who dismissively disavowed ownership of his building to anyone who asked - has tricked the place out real nice. Trees, little gardens, art, built-in bars and a stage - perfect for little benefits like this. (Not that we were really benefiting anyone other than ourselves, I don't think. I never saw any money from it, but in principle I prefer art for personal profit far above art for AIDS and such. Those feel like an apology every time - no, it's not good enough to make money on its own, but it'sfor a good cause so, please. Honestly: enough with the money for AIDS. AIDS owes US.) People sang, my girlfriend most beautifully. Sorry, guy who sang the hilarious original banjo tune "Too Many Women In The House (A Hot Summer Jam)."
For my part, I was told a few hours befre showtime that the professional burlesque act which had committed to "Donny" had bailed, and could I write a sketch or monologue somehow burlesque-themed? Also, keep in mind the theme of the event, "Garden of Earthly Delights." Also, maybe you could use all those clothes you picked up off the streets of Chicago last winter?
So, for six hours I sewed nasty torn clothes together. I made a lace-trim-and-glove-finger bandolier, a discarded-little-girl-panties-and-mittens hat for the brave, and an enormous codpiece of a sweater sleeve and elastic. These and a few other creations, along with most of the unmodified found items, I scattered over the greenery and art and invited visitors to find their own, don them, wear them throughout the evening and, at the climax of the show, perform their own brief striptease. I don't want to say it went great, so I'll just say that I am an amazing genius.

I have been devoting much more of my time and energy to Though our online news show still usually falls short of truly perfect, the level of improvement during our run has been remarkable. (I am only affiliated with DFT News. The rest of the site often, and regrettably, requires apologies.) The process of learning how to be on camera has been gratifying. I am reminded of the revelaion that I must have had many years ago, when first acting in shows - the WORK of performance is the way in which it is an exception to normal life. Talent, then, is involved in the degree to which you can bring that closer to normal life while still fulfilling the requirements of the form. I think that in general I disagree with the sentiment behind my most recent acting class, that every effort should be first directed towards capturing "real" human moments - for what are those? - and denying that what makes acting an art form is the way it, like all art, is dictated by its constraints. There is no frameless art, Daryl "W" Cox!

The rest of this blog devolved into a bitch session about the classes I've taken in Chicago. You can find that below if you're interested. I get amusingly upset, and I use a hilarious number and extent of parentheses, but I imagine it's otherwise pretty lame for anyone who's not also taken the same classes.

When next you hear from me, no doubt I will be glad to return to a city which is relatively parent- and humidity-free, where I spend my time making things and promising others that I will watch them make things and then never do (Sorry, "Sam Booties," for not coming to see you naked after you came and saw me naked). But for now, popsicle stand, meet huge explosion.

Shouting With The Sincere Belief No One Can Hear Me: A Quick Bitch Session Re: Profiles and "i"O

Also, "Daryl" "W," don't send me an email for your two-day audition workshop (which costs $225 despite your very real attempts to make the class "as economical as possible given the current economy" - let's think about that realistically. Are you saying that you did your best to keep it low, given OUR financial situation? Or are you saying you made it as high as you thought you could get away with, given your OWN? Let's say you assume you'll get 10 students in the class. That means you're making $187.50/hour. And it's not like you booked it into YOUR OWN theatre space on a day when you could have been having shows, so you're not LOSING audience revenue.) which tries to spin the absence of the expected and oh-so-oft mentioned Erica Daniels (casting director for Steppenwolf and Christ, you would not believe how aware I am that she's not REALLY famous given how much we talk about her in my circle of friends) as a positive! You are a ridiculous man, and admitting to being "chaotic" does not excuse being a loon.

And speaking of expensive wastes of time: "i"O enjoys twisting the knife. In level 3 of their 7-level course of study, they told us that there would be an additional level being added because people were graduating without being comfortable with their native longform form "The Harold." First of all, that is because you teach Harold in level 4 and then have three more levels to go through before you're expected to be able to play it very well, so it's a matter of FORGETTING, not not having learned. To fix a problem like that, build in a refresher on Harold near the END of the training program, not immediately after you just learned it. Secondly, I don't care if you define "Harold" as "any longform which succeeds dramatically." It does not take four months to learn a form. If it does, I am retarded or you can't teach.
As it turns out, they are tacitly admitting the latter is true. Jason Chin, with whom I took level 4 and who I liked well enough as a teacher (a little too prohibition- rather than exploration-based, but I didn't have strong objections) is being forced out of the teaching process at "i"O after more than a decade. Level 4B, meanwhile, feels much more like remedial Harold rather than "continuing" Harold. Things we were told in 4 are consistently specifically contradicted, and though the teacher, Bill, is a skilled diplomat and never steps over the line of overt criticism, it's clear that the real issue being addressed here is that they realized they were teaching improv poorly at "i"O and slapped a bandage over the wound.
Third (yes, I had established a first and second, though it was a while ago - simply scroll up the page if you don't believe me!) it's terrible to accept a class of new students into a program and then, when they are a little less than halfway through, allow word to circle around that two more mandatory months would be added to their curriculum. Not through official channels, oh no - in fact, let most teachers believe that they would never be so required. Just let some people have heard, and then, when they're ready to sign up for the next level, reveal that there is no such level being offered, just a better rehashing of the shit you just did.
I resent being made to pay for a bad class and then another, better class to reeducate me. And I don't even pay, I intern. So I'm really getting indignant on behalf of others. Should I take a deep breath? Only if, upon exhalation, I scream at horrible profiteers who benefit by identifying my demographic (confused, young, ambitious, overwhelmed and without a clear understanding of how to make our way) as overburdened with exploitable intentions and possessed of disposable income who can be made to drop a few hundred in exchange for a brush with slightly-closer-to-greatness and the incessant repetition of famous names. It is so much like church that if I had faith in my eventual salvation it might be worth it.

Aww yeah it's a Fuck You Friday.