October 2nd, 2007


Writes of Passage

Last night I joined the small circle of theater folk at Milpitas' Calaveras Rep for some scene readings. Nine other people were there, three had script snippets and the rest of us were there to be readers and/or audience. As it worked out, I didn't read, but did get a chance to comment a lot.

First up was a scene featuring a young woman putting the moves on a young man in his room. She's a ghost, but we don't know this yet. This is the scene where we are given some heavy clues - like her appearing at his bedroom door a couple of seconds after he has waved to her from the window. And the plate of cookies which disappears without her taking them with her when she leaves. And Mom knocks on the door a second after young woman has left, but doesn't mention seeing her. A well-written scene, believable dialog, and the only flaw is on a live stage making a plate of cookies disappear isn't easy - even though we see it on TV all the time.

Second up was two scenes from a 5-act play which were also pretty well done. The five acts are because the playwright has an idea of investigating five tenets of Community. Intregrity, Honesty, that sort of thing. And showing how people are hypocrites in all these things. First scene was a collection agent calling to get $43 from a broke (lost their home to a balloon payment) couple. Second scene was two greedy women plotting a real estate scam during their Pilates session. First scene was pretty standard fare, not much to comment on (this is excellent in a scene reading), but the Pilates scene I think is a case of the playwright amusing himself at the expense of the plot. The Pilates instructor's voice-over was so hilarious against the whispered plotting that I think the audience will miss the plotting because they will be laughing so hard at the voice-over. A great Saturday Night Live skit, but not so great to move his plot along.

Final scene was about a group of 80-ish left-wing radical women who formed an Intentional Community in Seattle (more than you ever wanted to know about those can be found here) inside one of the low-rent projects. I think the author said this is the opening scene - we meet the women outside the building, in the aftermath of the fire department putting out the flames - one of the women was smoking in bed and set the place ablaze. Based on real people, but with a young woman thrown into the mix who had just moved into the projects but was not part of the Community. A good example of the challenge of trying to recreate real people, put them in a real situation, and then add a major fictional twist. It's especially hard to do when your audience is not familiar with these people.

All three offerings were well worth the trip, and I'll try to go again next month, I may even make a scene.
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Catching up on Netflix

What with my laptop DVD player not working correctly, I finally watched a couple of DVDs which have been in their little red envelopes for weeks. And was reminded that the HDMI connection on my new DVD player is not behaving. So I plugged in the component cables and the coax digital audio. It may be the cheap cables, so tomorrow I will buy good ones and try again. If they don't work, I'll have to send the player in for repair. It was a refurb anyway.

Watched about 20 minutes of Reno 911 Miami before the BS meter slammed me upside the head. I was hoping the uncut version would have some gratuitous nudity, but I was not expecting it to all be scrawny men.

Followed that with a 1983 documentary about musical schizophrenia in Thailand. It did an excellent job of showing up-country music vs. Bangkok Thai pop music, and worked in a lot of classical Thai music as well. The tack they took was that to bust out of the up-country rice farmer rut, boysae took their chances training for Muay Thai, girls for classical dance, and everyone for acting or singing stardom. The movie opens with one of the King's musical compositions, which sounded a lot like The St. Louis Blues played by a marching band, and also had a rare clip of him playing jazz clarinet (he is very very good - used to play with Benny Goodman). Lots of little details in the movie which I had not run across - it ends with a ceremony reminiscent of a Baptist "speaking in tongues" Chautauqua.

As I'm writing, the wine country and Barry Bonds photos are uploading to my howeird.com gallery. I'll pluck some wine country shots and load them on Flickr if I have time tonight.