Monday, January 23, 2012

Out of Martha's House

It is hard to sum up this book with anything other than "inspirational". Although written about Martha Graham, the founder of Modern Dance, it provides many golden nuggets about art, performance and life.  The book strips away the ego and selfish reasons to do art and reveals the essence, the beauty and simplicity of art and life.

Here are just a few of the treasures within this book:

* Some people when looking at the stage see lights and curtain and a floor used for presenting 'shows'. When I look at a stage, I see the world.

*I know they are. They have had lives of their own and like anything we love we must ask of them, demand of them, and be willing to listen quietly to hear what their reply is and then be willing to give what they ask and demand of us.

*To be attentive enough to hear ourselves speak, sensitive to feel ourselves move to recognize one's self like the old proverb about a stranger at the door, knocking and being told to go away again and again until the man in the house of of desperation or exhaustion or both throws the door open only to recognize himself standing on the other side asking to come in; to battle each day.

*To stand in one place on the stage and to bring the test of the stage to me or just to walk as though one foot's fall would tell all that needed to be told.


* This work demands you to do more than listen. You must feel. It demands you to do more than see, you must taste. To know what the wind can do what the animal can do and what man is capable of doing is consuming but essential to the work. It's about artists in their own right shouldering the responsibility to discover who a character is rather than waiting ot be told. Being a part of the process of discovery.

* I love to perform a work where there is no exit until the end. But...the performer has to create this feeling for himself like taking hold of a rope at the bottom of the cliff and pulling himself up and over the top. Never letting go for a second an appointment with destiny.

*...And still they do not understand what a performance means to those of us whose performances were limited before we even started like the number of rainbows we will see in a lifetime. When i lose a performance it is gone like someone I should have met but didn't a conversation denied something I might have learned or understood but now never will.

*The animal's scream within me is never heard though it shakes my whole body dear body frail and vulnerable demanding to be strong but crying unable to respond. How long can i continue this masquerade.

*We can dream only so many dreams then we must bring some of them to reality or we stop dreaming or the dreams themselves become false and impotent, no longer as pleasant or passionate vision.

*I am an artist in a world of distraction and disillusionment To dream is to live to remain true to my beliefs, and to continue with faith and inspiration.

*But the works are not ours and never will be, except for the finite time allotted us during performance, and of course, then they are ours like our skin is ours.

* Great works take on lives of their own and have voices that need to be listened to and it's hard for us to listen when we are already demanding that they give something to us before we give our full attention to them. I did not originate many of the roles i perform...They were not comfortable to my body but i wrapped myself around them and by holding on absorbed them to penetrated them and taking the challenge worked to fill and give breath to their shapes.

* I dance for them to understand or see with their intellect I ask that they see my blood, my flesh and when they see that, I will open it so they can see my heart don't ask em to explain the doing.

*Each work is like a mountain unto itself with its own gods and devils. Here, love and hate are not separated by a fine line but are laid one on top of the other like lovers. Sometimes love is on top, much of the time hate is on top, but all of the time they are both there and the product of their union is ocean, wind, desert, plain and mountain of humanity, with with all its terrors and its devastating beauty.  

*My strength is in silence
My life is in the storm
I threw away the compass years ago
The four corners lost their meaning
Forward is my only direction
To simply continue whether inspired or not is the challenge.
Many times the goal is not the finish line but merely to 
put one foot in front of the other. 
When we go until there is no more strength and we continue 
just to continue one foot one hand
one after the other until there is no more artifice
then is when the end becomes the beginning.

*Love is not decorative
it is like nature's elements
nourishing and brutal
love is essential

Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika

11-11-11 solidified its place in history as The Best Day of My Life. It was the day we opened Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika. As dramatic and exaggerated as this may is true. It was the day all of our hard work, an amazing story and a great work of art was to be shared with the public. Now, I can't think of anything more perfect then that.

The rehearsal process and run of the show was nothing short of amazing. Day after day I would take time to just look around the room and marvel at the vast amount of talent and love that filled the space. Rehearsals were the highlight of my day. Everyday began with hugs, the occasional Tony award and the immersion into group who day in and day out rooted for the successes in each other. This is a rare commodity. Not only did we get along in rehearsals, we all became close friends outside as well. In just a few short months we went from strangers to simple cast mates to best friends. Half of the cast worked on Part One together and already had an established relationship, however, rather than feeling like an outsider to the group, the newbies (I feel like I can speak for all the newbies when I say this) were immediately questions asked.  I found a family in this group...and I hope they found family in me in return. This was not limited to just cast members, but crew as well. We were like a well oiled machine who was working on churning out an excellent product.

The biggest thing I can attribute to this immediate bonding and togetherness was that we all stood behind the story we were telling 110%. We knew we were a part of something bigger then ourselves. We had a job to do everyday: to tell this story in the best, most honest way...and because of this, the day to day B.S. and other things that were fighting to keep us down  physically, mentally, or emotionally just melted away.

Here are some photos!

Not only were we proud of each other, we received great reviews as well!

Angels in America - Perestroika

Corn Stock Theatre
November 11-13 & 18-19
By Douglas Okey

“God is dead,” Nietzsche wrote in The Gay Science in 1882.  One hundred years later, Prior Walter discovers that God, in fact, has merely wandered off. 
This celestial factoid is revealed to Prior in the second half of Tony Kushner’s iconic Angels in America.  The latter half of the seven-hour “Gay Fantasia on National Themes,” titled Perestroika, is currently on stage at the Corn Stock Winter Playhouse.  Those who saw the first half, Millennium Approaches, last season will find a satisfying conclusion to the saga.  Others who may be new to the story will have to work a little harder to catch up, but there’s much in director Dani Keil’s production to reward the effort.  
Perestroika picks up pretty much precisely where Millennium Approaches left off.  It is 1986 in New York.  Prior Walter lies sick in his bed with AIDS.  His former partner, Louis Ironson, continues to develop a new relationship with Mormon Republican Joe Pitt, who has left his emotionally unstable wife, Harper.  Joe’s boss, McCarthyite demon Roy Cohn (inspired by the real-life closeted homosexual), slowly dies of AIDS in his hospital bed, attended by nurse and ex-drag queen Belize, while Joe’s Mormon mother, Hannah, fresh off the plane from Salt Lake City, works to bring her son and Harper back together.  
Oh, and there’s the Angel that smashed through the ceiling of Prior’s apartment in the closing image of the first part of the play.  And the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg haunting Roy as he dies.  And figures from a diorama at the Mormon Museum who stroll out of the display to talk to Harper.  And the fascinating, bird-like Principalities of the Earth whom Prior, apparently a Prophet of the Old Testament stripe, encounters when he visits Heaven with the Angel.  No attempt to explain these bizarre elements will fit them neatly into any preconceived idea of drama.  It helps if you don’t ask a lot of questions, or at least ask them later, when you have time to reflect.  
Corn Stock’s production emphasizes the restructuring implied in the title: of society, of politics, of lives, of relationships—of, seemingly, the universe as God created it.  The play finds its fundamental chemistry in the volatile and riveting reactions in the unlikeliest pairings: Verbal jousting between Roy and Belize, played here with fierce intensity by Clark Rians and Eric Gore; socio-political and emotional fencing between Louis and Joe, performed by Andrew Rhodenbaugh and Aaron Hoover; and the surprising and moving spark of affection between Hannah and Prior, in portrayals by Rebecca Frankel Clifton and Jacob Uhlman.  Sarah Tilford has a surprising amount of fun with Harper, while Natalie Patrnchak turns in a dynamic and athletic performance as the Angel.  
Overall, the performances are electrifying.  Clifton, Uhlman, Gore, and Rians shine in their reprisal of roles from last season, while the newer performers slip seamlessly into their parts and inhabit them fully.  The play can confound at times with its multiple levels of reality and the fugue of parallel scenes, but the cast never misses a step.  It is in part a tribute to the design work of Liz Tanner and the direction of Keil that the evening proceeds so smoothly.  If the piece drags at times, it can be attributed to Kushner’s style, which has been described as “overwrought.”  
Theatregoers up to the challenge can see Angels in America: Perestroika at the Corn Stock Winter Playhouse November 13, 18, and 19.  Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and are available by calling 676-2196 or online at

Posted November 16, 2011

We were also mentioned in the PJ Star's Remembering 2011 in Entertainment. 

GRANDPA even came to see the show!


It has been a real honor getting to know and work with a group of talented, loving people. I thank my lucky stars everyday they found me. My life has been so enhanced and changed for the better. They make me strive to become a better person and artist everyday...and for that, I am eternally grateful.