New York is still in the peaks of a brutal summer, with suffocating heat and air. I think it’s been giving me weird dreams. Every night, they get more and more strange. Dreams about log cabins and overgrown grass and basements with upside-down doors. Dreams about performing, finger puppets, and the wind. I can’t quite put them together. Please let me know if you have any ideas.
I thought it was pretty brilliant and electric, though it did lose me a couple brief times in its second half. I loved Larry Owens (and recommend his wonderful podcast). And at this point, I would be very surprised if it did not transfer to Broadway.
In other news, we painted our apartment pretty colors! Here’s a very small preview:
This week’s notes have a lot of saved tweets. Anyway, let’s get into it:
# THIS WEEK’S NOTES
# wendell castle rules of thumb
# "do the work for yourself"
Writers have all sorts of ways we sabotage ourselves. One is to imagine the reactions to our work ahead of time. Especially the reactions of those we hoped to impress when we were young. Let those ghosts fade away. Do the work for yourself. This way, you’ll actually do it.
I have been doing a deep dive on Werner Herzog lately, and the first book he recommends over and over is The Peregine by J.A. Baker, a strange and wonderful nature book from 1967 on peregrine falcons. The language in it is just beautiful, and I’d highly recommend it:
I saw my first peregrine on a December day at the estuary ten years ago. The sun reddened out of the white river mist, fields glittered with rime, boats were encrusted with it; only the gently lapping water moved freely and shone. I went along the high river-wall towards the sea. The stiff crackling white grass became limp and wet as the sun rose through a clear sky into dazzling mist. Frost stayed all day in shaded places, the sun was warm, there was no wind.
# "the desire to be liked"
This tweet by @chris_shinn has been deleted. Argh, sorry about that!
# don’t let disney fool you
Disney treats representation like a bingo card. They're interested in the capitalism of appealing to various underseen demographics and they are exploiting that for continued dominance. It's a very obvious trojan horse plan.
# grassroots theatre criticism re-organization
Jose Solís has been killing it:
I spent the first six months of 2019 doing 1:1 outreach, emailing, coffee-ing, intermission-at-shows gabbing, DM-ing, to recruit POC to join the Drama Desk. The result is four POC became voting members for the '19-'20 season. Almost doubling the number of POC in the organization.
# a motto for theatre
“Everyone is welcome and no one is safe”
# on a strange loop and this theatrical moment
You who read the trades know I’ve been very dubious of the “Black Theatrical Renaissance ™️” that many ppl have tried to umbrella me and my contemporaries beneath.
A. Bc it flattens our work which is a tool of white supremacy and capitalism.
B. Bc I’ve read it all before.
Yet let last night while marveling at @larryowenslive’s virtuoso performance of “AIDS is God’s Punishment” I started to well and did feel that I was witnessing and a part of a rare moment in NYC theatre that feels game changing.
This moment doesn’t feel specifically black (although I think we are in a moment of artistic production wherein the leaders of the pack are primarily from the African diaspora) but it does feel specifically honest. Where individual truths inside a work take precedent over form.
It also feels like work that seems to be rebelling less against “trump” and more against the relative artistic malaise of the Bush & Obama years. (Not to say great work wasn’t made then but moreso formal invention waned). Was there something about those presidencies that allowed us to reject radical vulnerability and formal invention?
# End Note
art by Sarah Edith
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