Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Rehearsals have started for ASTRONOME: A NIGHT AT THE OPERA, which is a music/theater collaboration between John Zorn and Richard Foreman. Fulya Peker, a returning performer in the show, gives us her thoughts on the piece:

Silence is indeed a golden pendulum, swinging between past and future, evoking a present decision for our lost in time minds… What causes the momentum of this magical object? Is it the subtle twitch of the hand that holds it? Is it the air that comes out with each exhale? Entangled, loosened strings of stillness? The fortuitous oracle speaks thus:

The subject of the decision is never really the ostensible subject matter but an object, which liberated itself from the reality of verbs that dominate each sentence. Each object is the most important object but yet all of them moving together long enough at a certain pace establish a still image, a whole… Stillness born out of movement… Use your senses to the full! One may capture stillness by rotating the mind relentlessly towards the direction of the axle of this unstable reality… But still, the thief who steals the pleasure of punctuated stillness from a period is called “reason.”

Here and there, the expectation creates the expected and the expected creates the one who expects, i.e. “subject.” The struggle to affirm our conditional existence inflames the airways and causes shortness of breath… To access the universe of proliferating realities one sacrifices the nose first… To be able to articulate what the once not known could have been, one has to learn to look deep inside the nostrils… As a nasal reaction we have an aim to deny some substances that are breathed in… Thus, we have to be careful not to sneeze out the secret every time we inhale this dusty, salty reality… Winded… “My genius is in my nostrils…”

Were you here watching me doing this? Goodness… Do not smell my navel… Indigested possibilities of uncontrolled desires are still banging themselves to the walls of my intestines… Cover it with black fabric… Do not tell what is behind… Wait a minute! There is indeed a man who still has a nose in here, smelling me on behalf of the audience, provoking the clause “I am I am not…” Close your eyes, close your ears. Write it down:
This is a world in which one is about to experience something that is about to be experienced until the next peripeteia that takes place over and over again and each time, another switched universe is about to be revealed and all affirmations are about to break up. What would happen if I do this? Shall I do it? Maybe… Yet, it is still me… Neurosis… Tip-toe… “Tell me, have I been a bad person…” Scream in the woods.

Well, remember there is always an audience. Here chaos is about to be framed—be quiet and respect the initiations of vocalized time… Too many details all at once… Do not come forth! Do not comfort! Do not be too curious… No reason whatsoever! There is nothing important!

This unauthorized volume requires alchemy… Take a fistful of salt, circle it around your head, and throw it into the fire… The harmony of spirits will burn with the salt… Do it all over again… Do it just to try it… Just for the pleasure of decision making… Just to feel like an authority in this universal momentum… Divagating divine trials and failures… There is only one inspiration in this room. The false messiah, named not! Three more days and everything will be all right unless the resurrection of “reason” is delayed due to some respiratory problems.

The music is now solidified in the throat of a man, prophesying the rhythm of each blink… Listen! But be aware that you listen! Do not forget to exhale! I do not know how to exhale! Just hold your breath, then… Art begins with a hold! He says “Art begins with a mark…” Hold the mark!

How much does the equipment cost if one would like to switch the universes?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The theater has never looked more neon...awesome lights by Zack Tinkelman

Monday, June 23, 2008

Check this out

Sintroca loads in this week with a 2-story set. How is that possible in the cozy Ontological? You'll have to come and see, starting this Thursday. Watch their trailer to get a taste of what they do...

Friday, June 6, 2008

Bark worse than bite?

Now at the Ontological we have Witness Relocation's VICIOUS DOGS ON PREMISES, with text by Saviana Stanescu. Every night director/choreographer Dan Safer changes the order of scenes and the actors pick assignments at random.

At a certain point tonight when the four performers crept silently and maniacally toward the audience, hands outstretched, a man let loose a bark that caused Laura Berlin Stinger to scream, and then wonder from the stage, "Who is that man?"

It was Richard Schechner.

Reminds me why we do live theater.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Tiniest little festival with the biggest heart

Paul Felten & Michelle Maxson in They Are Bad People, this week at the Ontological.

AWWWWW--isn't it cute?

Actually, very little (yep, I just did that) is cute about this festival. The six shows we have lined up at the Ontological this weekend (added to the other six at The Brick) are, between them, filled with sex, murder, a real pig's head (without the body--where are we?), and even Bill O'Reilly. It's not so much cute as it is scary.

All in all, a very adult festival. Maybe we should call it the Hell Festival. No, they already did that. The Moral Values Festival? Nope, that one too--The Brick comes up with all the good names.

Tiny Theater it is.

This Thurs--Sat at the Ontological and Fri--Sat at The Brick.

Check out all the details on The Brick's website or the Ontological's.

Ah the sweet smell of rejection

Saturday, May 3 we all got down and partied our sorrows away. Guests posted over 80 letters of rejection, ate wings, hamburgers and hot dogs, and danced for hours. The walls that flanked the stage/dance floor told a loooong story of attempts made and dreams reached for, reminding us that no one's in it alone, and that NY artists really are the toughest breed.

Thank you to everyone who joined us!

--OHT staff

Friday, February 29, 2008

Short Form Saturday, March 1!

The first Short Form installment in January was a stylistically diverse night --top quality experimentation with design and chock full of moments that seemed everyone in the room was holding their breath.

Short Form's second installment is Saturday, March 1, with four new 10-minute pieces by these artists:

Tina Satter
3 collaborators use one monologue to interpret the perfect human, an imperfect werewolf and doo-wop.

The Paper Industry:
In which a man (M) discovers the truth about Sir Isaac Newton, undergoes a metaphysical adolescence and becomes an existential mechanic.

Jake Hooker and Grammar School:
A solo performance/lecture with audio/visual aids on lyric Greek poetry trifurcated by personal ruminations.

The American Story Project:
The hope, grief and genius of Charles A. Lindbergh; Trans-Atlantic flights, American myths, a son’s death, a metronomic human heart, time travel, and phantoms collide in a rapidly modernizing world.

Curated by Peter Ksander and Brendan Regimbal

March 1, 10p.m.
Parish Hall, inside St. Mark's Church, 131 E. 10th St., (at 2nd Ave), NYC
$6 cash at the door--no reservations required

More info at

Friday, February 22, 2008

Tomorrow night, Jennifer Walshe!!!

Travis Just, curator of Experimental Music, interviews Jennifer Walshe, who performs tomorrow night in the Parish Hall at 10p.m. This is an excerpt:

Travis Just:
...There is something about the term 'opera' that just screams "the Past" to me... And I say this as I am working on my first. It was hard to decide to use that word for me.

Jennifer Walshe:
that's exactly why i wanted to use it, because it is so loaded. and that's why i have pieces which i call operas and other pieces which i call music theatre pieces. when it's an opera, it knows it's "An Opera" and it's aware of what's going on by being called an opera, and dealing with the past. because if you run away completely from opera, to me that seems a little like a film-maker running away from film and calling all their films videos. also maybe on one level it has to do with who commissions it and where it is being performed - the second opera i wrote [set phasers on kill!] was commissioned by an opera production company and premiered in the hamburg staatsoper, so there was never any question at any point about whether it was an opera or not. we had the full opera house treatment with all the trimmings (people to help us get dressed). but the opera i wrote after that [Motel Abandon] was for three people and it was dogme 95 style opera in an apartment in berlin, and it was important to me to still call it opera. otherwise it's like saying that you can never write one, that an opera is always in the hands of these massively-funded organizations.

that's true. i mean it's already an act of outrageous insolence in our culture to call oneself an artist. the decision to define these terms for ourselves as composers isn't that much further along that road.

i think you just have to decide to use the terms and not let them be taken away from you.

how does the music-theater idea work itself into your music? does that mean something in particular in your thinking?

music theatre is just how i think. the cage quote which i use again and again is "what next? theatre. because we have eyes as well as ears." you can't divorce the theatrical/scenic element from the sonic in a performance unless you are brought to the theatre in a hermetically sealed car, manage not to see/hear/smell/touch anything prior to the concert, and then leave immediately without even listening to the applause. you listen to mahler 2 on CD, and it's great. then you go to carnegie hall and you see all the brass players shuffling and re-arranging themselves just before they come crashing in with a huge chord, you see the choir sitting there all quietly waiting til they come in, and it's amazing and exciting. i think a lot of the interest in the theatrical and visual elements comes from two sources for me - one is that my mother is a writer, and when i was growing up she considered beckett, pinter, tennessee williams and other playwrights an important part of my education. another important factor for me is that i was a trumpet player for a long time, and when you play in an orchestra a lot, you look around constantly, you are very aware of what is going on visually. you know when people are nervous, you know when they're about to play loud or soft, you know when they haven't practiced, you know when they are nailing it, you know how different it can sound in heldenleben when the first violinist is having an affair with the first horn.

right, the difference seems to be that now we work with those ideas directly in the score. instead of having those be (probably undesired) accidents or exceptions, they become specified material that is written in or given explicit space. At some point, something changed.

i make a differentiation in my work - there's the type of music theatre pieces where people are doing certain theatrical things, along a continuum from explicitly playing a role through to perhaps making simple scenic gestures like building blocks in between phrases. then there's instrumental theatre, which is very involved with the performers being performers. and so i end up in these situations where i write scores which are very complex, where the notation of everything from breathing, gesture, when the pages of the part are turned, when a brass-player releases their spit valve is all locked down. [they could laugh smile]

i guess one question is, what keeps it music as opposed to performance or text? does it matter even? at what point could you simply take away the brass-player and still have a music-piece?

i mean, musicians aren't the best actors always...

i'll answer your questions in order - the first one is what i think people find very problematic. is it still music if the performer doesn't play for a while and reads text? it is if it's called music. is it still music if the trombonist makes air sounds instead of pitched sounds? is it still music if the piano is prepared? i think if you call it music it is, otherwise we'd all be writing for classical ensembles, with no microphones, pitched and traditionally notated music. with the instrumental theatre pieces i write, i'm not trying to get the performers to act, which gets around the problem of musicians not always being actors. i'm just bringing gestures that are a part of performing for them into the piece. it's very normal when you're a brass player to position and re-position your mutes on the floor next to your chair. but when you get someone to do that over and over in a performance, it becomes something else.

For the entire interview, check out the Object Collection blog

The Program:
same person, not the same person
samples/sine tones/harmonica, violin/harmonica, viola/harmonica, bowed electric bass/harmonica, voice

a sensitive number for the laydeez
alto saxophone (with radios, cigarette lighter, glass bottle, wool, film canister and pebble, spray cans), percussion (with shoelaces, paper, sugar, ruler, tin whistle in D, toy keyboard, vitamin, water) piano (without piano; with shoelaces, paper, sugar, radio, ruler, mouth-blown melodica, toy keyboard, vitamin, water, notebook, spray cans), viola (with card and dictaphone), and video

3 recipe pieces:
Nursed Demulcent Cake
Layered Trifle (viola/objects)
Stellar Casserole (clarinet/objects)

performed by:
Eric KM Clark, Kara Feely, Travis Just, James Moore, Quentin Tolimieri, Jennifer Walshe, Harris Wulfson

Saturday, February 23rd 10pm
Ontological Theater (Parish Hall)
at St. Mark's Church in the Bowery
131 E. 10th Street at 2nd Avenue
New York City

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

My No Rehearsal Blog

I'm not going to Richard's rehearsal. I don't want to.

Maybe I want to.

Ok - here's the thing - when I was rehearsing with Richard
I hated when people dropped in for a rehearsal.

for what? I wondered.
and who the hell are you?
and what do you think you are watching?
and what are you judging?
and I don't give a good god damn who you are
or what you think
and I wish you would just leave. Now. So we can get to work.

And, frankly, I don't want to be that guy, that stranger, that intruder for the actors. Or the stage manager. Or the interns.

As a performer I almost hate to admit it -
I, too, almost resented the fact that we had to perform his play in public.


I didn't want to hear what people thought. I didn't want to know what they found funny or sad or this or that.

I just wanted to show up every day at that theater and work.

Working with Richard is work.

Good old fashioned, blue collar, show up, roll up your sleeves

get tired
keep working
get aggravated
keep working
the focus growing narrower and narrower everyday.

Do your job.


And then a stranger would come in...

A stranger taking notes (perhaps a possible preview story about the show, perhaps someone writing their thesis, etc etc)

and I wanted to smack 'em.

I don't go to construction sites to watch men work.
Sit around and watch.

Just not natural.

Not human, really. Is it?

Anyway. I like reading what people write about his rehearsals. I am reminded as I read these blogs how strange and funny and wild those rehearsals can be.

Maybe Richard's next play should just be one long 12 month rehearsal
and people can come and go as they please
take notes or not
watch some of it this monday
some next tuesday

and to hell with the one hour event.

just then
maybe I'd go to a rehearsal or a few.

DJ's latest project is an internet soap opera that can be watched at

Friday, January 4, 2008

Trying to make sense; a.k.a. Sarah's big leap into the light

When moving images first appeared on screens, audiences were amazed by the illusion of a three dimensional space on a two dimensional surface. (Famously a short film by the Lumiere Brothers L'Arrive d'un Train en Gare (1895) apparently caused audiences to run out of movie theaters fearing to get run over by the train coming at them from the screen.)

During rehearsals of Deep Trance Behavior one particular scene struck me. It involves Sarah jumping at the screen, as if she was trying to enter the screenal reality ( the reverse effect from the Lumiere Brothers' train). I would like to expand on some aspects of this scene here, and explain why to me it stands at the center of this new
performance by Richard Foreman and simultaneously gives one explanation of how his plays are to be viewed.

For one the scene is very violent (loud thuds and flashes as well as shrieks accompany each of Sarah's attempts to jump into the screen); this violence to me evokes a feeling of struggle and urgency for Sarah to enter the screens. Secondly Sarah seems to be checking in with the audience members on whether or not she should continue trying; between every jump she looks back at the audience with a questioning

Richard Foreman's plays, due to their lack of narrative structure, invite the audience to ask questions. Initial questions might be "What the hell am I watching?" or "What is the sense of all this?" but in my experience and especially after several weeks of watching rehearsal, I feel that these questions become more personal as well as existential (Liz commented on a similar notion in her earlier blog entry). Sarah's scene seems to stand at the core of these questions, strangely suggesting that the answers might be found within the screens.

If holding a Platonic opinion on two-dimensionality vs. three-dimensionality, one might argue that the two-dimensional world is inferior to the three-dimensional one (as in Plato's allegory of the Cave in which the shadows are only cheap renditions of what is truly real); thus suggesting that since Sarah is already part of the three-dimensional world and she has no reason to wish to be two-dimensional. However, within contemporary society is not the two-dimensional, screenal world becoming more and more superior? Computer screens, T.V. screens, advertisement billboards, movie theaters, Blackberry cell phones; all these two-dimensional illusions of three- dimensional spaces (hyper-textual spaces), are becoming crucial in our everyday lives. They provide information, communication and identity.

The possibility of short cuts in these two-dimensional places (in Deep Trance Behavior we move in a blink of an eye from Japan to England; within the World Wide Web a mouse-click gives us access to infinite information) have become central to the hypertextual, postmodern society. I would like to suggest here that Richard Foreman's
non-linear plays only represent an expanded version of these fast changing worlds. As if he were pointing at the ambiguous places in between the one piece of information and the next. (Is not the real world in between two mouse clicks? The cables, the electric signals— are these not more "real" than what appears on the screen?) Richard Foreman introduces one narrative and before the audience can start to follow it replaces it by another, which is unrelated to the first. An audience member used to a narrative structure thus feels lost and deceived (becomes aware of the gaps), as if given a promise of logic that the performance does not live up to ( strangely this kind of feeling does not seem so far removed from real life.) Sarah's attempt to enter the two-dimensional screens thus can be interpreted as a postmodern cry for enlightenment. Enlightenment to a higher consciousness, trance maybe? Sarah is hoping to "make sense", see further, see more (flashes illuminate the stage; too much light can make us see less). And so we are back at the projections, two-
dimensional illusions of three-dimensional worlds, light-beams less enlightening or more enlightening? A voice in the performance explains: " The great giants of mysticism (The Lumiere Brothers maybe?) and the ancient deep thinkers (Plato maybe?) did not say this exact thing." But they said it almost, or maybe they were just being

Anna Friedlaender is a Production Intern on DEEP TRANCE BEHAVIOR IN POTATOLAND.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


I have a secret, but I will not tell it....

It is none…

Close up to “none”… On the one side there are solidified and congested figures trying to sneak out through the cracks of their circular existences towards the other worlds; on the other side there are the liquefied ideas seeking a form to their selves, dripping down from the membrane of fear…Staggering… It is quite real, and really quite…Trance behavior is a close up to “none”… A dust ray along the path of a spotlight illuminates the intellectual abruption in the presence of immediacy… Flashes, one more time, wipe away the screen of reason, yet the scream of reason remains. In the most intense expression of the form lies the perception of retinal explosion. What not what… Each color is created by evaporated intentions. Image of forgetfulness fades away in a certain period of time, until it is black and transparent enough to sense beyond silence… Gentle notches of mysticism… Incomplete sentences drag punctuation marks along the rotation of transmitted fear…Neurosis… Look! When I say… You understand me…

You may leave the door open…there is no thief here… ok…

This “disinterestedness” opens up the realm of observational involvement and lets the objects appear without objectification… It happens now… Meaning is lost… Bleep! ...
There is always a mask behind another that is not yet revealed… Who am I? One has multiple non-identities. One remembers and forgets immediately. In those moments of remembering folded identities circle outwards and inwards from the same center, without touching one another’s skin. Eternally dis-intersected… What not what… When the aimless striving pauses for a moment, in that very moment, a flash of memory which many may lay claim to, lets the multiple forces of multiple choices sparkle…Empty…

A canvas painted white reflects upon and bounces back from the haunted mind. Since the canvas was white before it is painted white, nothingness was the truth before truth became nothingness. Observe the unavoidable… In this dizzying and tilted realm of meaning-itis, man with a desire to grasp harmony, falls on the ground of dissatisfaction and fails to his inertial resistance… Mostly forgotten premises…Damage…Cover your face…Imagine a pill…

Where you look at is not where the truth is hidden, it however exists in another folded time and space… In that performative dream, space affirms its deformation and the brain becomes elliptical because of the pressure of liquefied reasoning…The symbols, the real and the imaginary encircle this other world, curving together but yet not touching one another…

I was a part of concaveness last year and now I am a part of convexity in the world of FOREMAN OPTICS…Real…Click…

I have a secret…But I will not tell it…

It is none…

Soon “a door opens”