ellenkushner: (Thomas the Rhymer)
Hmm. I kind of need an icon for Performer Ellen, don't I? Here are two upcoming shows I'm doing in Michigan & Ohio (plus a signing). If you're in the area, please come, and don't be shy to introduce yourself!

Sunday, Nov. 9th KALAMAZOO, MIRead more... )
Tuesday, Nov. 11th MARIETTA, OHRead more... )
ellenkushner: (DREYDL)
What a week this has been! What a rare mood I'm in! Why, it's almost like being . . . .

OK. Yeah. I'm officially in love with the Theatah. With my director and with Vital and with the whole process of Putting on a Show.

On Weds. (yeah, just a few hours before Kol Nidre), a bunch of talented young drama students from Pace U. came to Vital and did a read-through of the entire show for us, to hear how my latest set of revisions sounded live. Pretty good. There's still some stuff to clarify and tighten, but we're all pretty pleased. Here is one of the photos I took of the read-through. Choreographer Dax Valdes tries to find the right music on his laptop while Sara & the Peacock discuss being admired . . . and Director Linda considers all things.
Readthrough Photo )

Today we began casting. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., we watched and listened as people read parts and improvised being demons snatching children (on "8 counts", whatever that is - our new line is: "Snatch me, baby, 8 to the bar!") I'm too tired now to give you all the details - but all I can say is, there is so much amazing talent on the streets of New York! We're not even an Equity show - though getting cast with us will, I guess, help these amazing folks to get their Equity cards, and richly deserved! Below is a photo I took from the back row, and, as bonus, the Rundown that the actors saw ahead of time. When I had the temerity to complain to the director that not every character was accurately described as written, she kindly explained to me that they were designed to elicit a variety of acting styles. Like I say: learning, learning, and loving it! Tomorrow, we have dance-and-movement callbacks with Dax, and a few more auditions. I will, I think, be going to sleep now. Did I mention that my brother & sister-in-law arrived from Cleveland for the weekend around 6?
Audition Photo )
Audition Breakdown )

If all this has you dying of curiosity to know the full story before the show opens on December 6, I make so bold as to remind you that I recorded an album, and also wrote a book.
ellenkushner: (TPOTS SmallBeerPress (Clouet))
Good news from Bantam/Spectra: The Privilege of the Sword has just gone back to press for another printing (again)!

Does anyone live in or near Marietta, Ohio? I might be doing my Esther: the Feast of Masks show at Marietta College in November, and am trying to figure out if it's worth coming in early to do a bookstore signing. Any good bookstores in town? And would you come?
ellenkushner: (IAF)
Just got back from seeing Laurie Anderson's new piece, "Homeland." I didn't find it as engaging as some of her other stuff (Strange Angels is still in my Top 10 list) - but as she said in the program interview, "[We're] living in a culture where it's a given that there is something wrong with you. People feel that they need to be fixed and that sort of thinking sometimes manufactures problems.... It's claustrophobic. It's a niche thing. Artists suffer from this niche thing as well. 'What's your niche? Stay in it!' This is another reason I experiment with other perspectives. For me it's hard to stay in that one little place. There's just not a lot of room in there."

No wonder [livejournal.com profile] melodican thinks she's the ultimate Interstitial artist.

My favorite line was: "You know why I love the stars so much? Because we can't do anything to them."

Her band was terrific, too: the hard-working glitterati of the New York new music scene (including one of the founders of Tin Hat Trio) . . .So we notice there's an empty chair to one side, with a guitar next to it. And sure enough, 3/4 of the way through the program she stops to introduce the band, and then brings out "special guest LOU REED." Oh yeah. We were in Row Q, so I didn't get to look up his nose or anything, but it was a thrill anyhow. Turns out they've done this before, and it's up online on her website, a song called "Lost Art of Conversation" - only he actually sang; they did it as a duet tonight . Audience went nuts, of course - she may be a hero to us, but he's a genuine celeb and Figure of an Age. (They've been married for about 10 years.) So during the riotous applause that followed, it was especially nice to see the way he looked at her like, "You are just amazing."
ellenkushner: (IAF)
Fingers crossed for Passing Strange to win lots of Tony Awards on June 15th! If the Interstitial Arts Foundation had an award for Interstitial Theater, I'd vote for it.

NYTimes review uses classic "if only the word 'interstitial' were in common use for arts reviewers" language: “Call it a rock concert with a story to tell, trimmed with a lot of great jokes. Or call it a sprawling work of performance art, complete with angry rants and scary drag queens. Call it whatever you want, really. I’ll just call it wonderful….The story of a young man achingly out of place in the world, trying on poses and assuming new guises in his quest for an identity that, as he will ultimately learn, many artists can only find in their art.”

Kinda like Bordertown, actually. Maybe that's why I love it so much!

Discount tix are available at TDF, BroadwayBox.com and day-of-show for Under 25's. The website has cool stuff, including some of the music. And there's an album coming eventually....
ellenkushner: (Default)
At the Book Fair I picked up a postcard with this rather arresting image, notifying us all of an exhibit at the Grolier Club (a little gem!): Facing the Late Victorians Read more... )
The show is "open to the public free of charge" through April 26th. They're also offering a book of it, if you long for it but cannot come to E. 60th Street.
ellenkushner: (Default)
Wonderful day yesterday! Our friend Hillel Bromberg came down from Boston the night before, to accompany us to the Horace Mann School in Riverdale for their Book Day - this year's book was Alice in Wonderland; we were presenting, but the keynote speaker was to be Marina Warner! So we all got up at the crack of dawn and rolled into the car the school sent and up the Henry Hudson Parkway to Riverdale in time for Opening Assembly and a terrific speech by Warner, thoughtfully illustrated with slides. The thing that struck me the most was her suggesting that Alice Liddell looks like a rather sad and withdrawn child in the photos, and that maybe Lewis Carroll, who loved making children laugh (and remembered his own childhood miseries), had made it his particular mission to cheer her up. Read more... )
More of the poem, and many of Dodgson's photographs - including some of Alice - are here. [And here I cannot help pointing out that there are images of Dodgson's actual glass-plate negatives up at the National Portrait Gallery site. One of the lectures we wandered into pointed out that Dodgson's own negatives were a backwards/inside out "through the looking glass" version of our world.]

My dream was to shake Warner's hand, tell her how much I admired her work (From the Beast to the Blonde and Joan of Arc: the Image of Female Heroism being 2 notable examples), and maybe to listen to what pearls might drop from her lips at lunch - instead, we ended up bonding over being the day's outside guest speakers, as one sometimes does, and running from classroom to classroom together trying to figure out what was what! We had a great talk at lunch about contemporary novels - which she also writes! Delia got to tell her how much she'd admired The Leto Bundle - and she seems to feel the same way we do about current novels that are nothing but a collection of place names, brand names, and loathsome characters - she actually called them "costume dramas" (I think! lousy no good memory!) which I love.

Now that I'm looking at all her achievements on her website, I can't believe I even had the nerve to speak to her - but she truly is a remarkably warm and pleasant person. I loved spending time with her.

Delia & I gave a talk about Alice's influence in our lives and writing, and about how Carroll's book both is and is not like the kind of fantasy novel we write, with copious examples and free advice given to the young writers & readers of Horace Mann, who are a truly engaging bunch. (Warner came to our talk and sat on the windowsill of the crowded classroom. Intimidated much? Good thing we're both old troopers.)

Then we all went to our friend (& former English Dept. head) "fabulist" Tom LaFarge's workshop on surrealist poetry, and wrote some very silly stuff together. (Tom will be at Wiscon - maybe we can convince him to lead us in something similar....)

Then a car drove us home ("I could get used to this!" said Hillel. We explained that in our looking-glass life, some days it's like this, and others you're hauling groceries home on the bus....), and we took a nap, and then went out to Broadway to see Curtains, a musical with cheap tix available and that was about all I knew. Wow!!! Total fun, hilarious, huge stellar ensemble cast - I'm a sucker for Backstage Comedies, and the lyrics were smart and funny and even, dare I say it, literate - one of my favesRead more... )I know I'm always recommended pointy-headed stuff - or stuff that's about to close - so this one's for you!

We came home. We went to sleep.

And now we are going out to buy a new mattress.
ellenkushner: (Default)
Apparently it was sold out! But "A limited number of tickets have just been released." Did you see it? What did you think?

NYC Opera

Mar. 7th, 2008 11:04 pm
ellenkushner: (Default)
We saw Barishnikov at the opera again tonight. I guess we've got the same schedule; he was walking around at intermission about 5 feet away from us; so close I could have reached out my hand to introduce myself. As Delia put it, "That's two for two": we saw him last time we went to Lincoln Center for ballet - I think it was last June for her birthday, and there he was picking up his tickets in the line ahead of us. (Well, they ushered him through the line, actually, but there he was.) This time we walked out into the big lobby at intermission, and practically walked right into him. We locked eyes, for a moment, before politely looking past each other as good New Yorkers do. We were right behind him heading out afterwards, as well. He's tiny! Little & lithe and somewhat serious. Wearing a leather jacket, with 2 friends who didn't look at that exciting or excited. I hope he liked the show: it was Mark Morris' adaptation of King Arthur by Henry Purcell (& John Dryden, except Morris cut all the dialogue, so it was just all the great songs & instrumentals, well-played and -sung (Early Music style with no vibrato, [livejournal.com profile] larbalestier, don't worry!). I do love Mark Morris! He is my Other Brother (after Neil, of course - not that I've met Morris, but all his interviews and all his aesthetic choices so speak to me. He loves Lou Harrison's music, and Michelle Shocked, and baroque, and gender confusion.....
(The NYTimes review online also includes video performance, interviews and slide show, if you're curious.)

Farnsworth

Feb. 28th, 2008 11:49 pm
ellenkushner: (Default)
We just got back from seeing The Farnsworth Invention, and loved it. [livejournal.com profile] deliasherman promises to be profound about it, so I'll just say that I wanted to see it because it was co-written by Aaron Sorkin (whose original West Wing is one of my favorite treats ever), despite the fact that various respected friends have said it was dull, too talky . . . yeah, well, Tom Stoppard is talky, too. I adore stuff you really have to listen to in order to follow. Plus, I thought the staging was pretty absorbing & theatrical. You know what was boring? 300 was boring. We tried to watch it last night, but after about 20 minutes of "Ooo! Pretty!" it got pretty, well, boring. Except for the giant exploding rhino. We did like that. Farnsworth had no giant rhinos, but 300 did not have lines like "Music is what Mathematics does on Saturday night." FI is closing March 2, so grab tix if you're interested; it's on TDF and BroadwayBox.com. Can't go? There's a trailer on the website.

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