Sunday, November 28, 2010

i love boxing -- a LOT!

i'm not sure. maybe i'm really a sadist that's found a socially acceptable way to hit people as much as i want and for as long and as hard as i can without going to jail for it. maybe i like the way everything hurts when i wake up in the morning. i like it that the only thing that gets rid of that ache is pushing my body to the limit all over again. maybe this is turning my crank because i think i'm getting better at it. i don't know. all i really know is, i love boxing.

watching it is one thing but doing it, wow. doing it is like flying.

for the next month or so, my day will be too full to have boxing for lunch. that means i have to hit it hard for breakfast and once again in the evening, to give me that boost that makes me sail home so effortlessly.

look out soon for less than 30 seconds of video of me, sparring with george and getting a royal beat down.

Friday, November 12, 2010

the second uptown/downtown performance: harlem

after a disco nap and a bowl of mexican hot chocolate, i put on a very elegant black vintage fur coat -- kangaroo! my favorite! -- and walked in the late afternoon sun through what was essentially my first new york city environs to the dance theater of harlem. those were heady times, i suppose. i was full of ideas and swimming in fearlessness. i didn't know anyone. i had no idea where anything was, or how to get anywhere. and as far as anyone was concerned, i was some new kind of idiot. every day when i left my humble abode, i would stride forth triumphantly past crackheads and drug dealers and the flotsam and jetsam that populated my uptown street life on a daily basis, and they would routinely laugh at how green i was.

good times.

it felt good to not have to take the train to where i was going. i was on time for a tech rehearsal that wasn't really a tech rehearsal at all. it was more like a "this is what the deal is" rehearsal. chen dance center was a small black box theater with a lighting grid and everything. this was a large room with brick walls and garish flosphorescent lighting, replete with a floor to ceiling mirror on one side of it all and a wooden dance barre that framed the whole thing, just in case you might forget exactly where you physically are in the course of the evening. not that there was anything wrong with this space or anything in it -- it was just so not like the space we'd just worked in. that mirror was especially daunting. so was being able to see the audience. and the sound in that room, how cavernous it seemed and the way the sound continued to echo in this endless way when anyone would so much as cough. in a way, it felt like, wow -- now this is a workshop performance (whatever that is)!

and i guess that's a good thing. it was beyond naked. it was even more bare than bare bones, if that's possible. there were no theatrical touches to get in the way of the work, or to get in between us and the audience. it made for a much more immediate, more present experience. there was something unexpectedly visceral about a lot of it, something especially intimate. like it was all happening much closer than right in front of you. it wasn't quite in your face but it was definitely in your lap.

so tech was basically figuring out when someone would flick the light switch on and off and who would press play on the cd player, and where i could put my stuff.

we all met up pre-show, asked questions and drifted around in the room like we were lost in space. everyone at dth were nice. there was seating for about 100 people. nice, wide open space, folding chairs, very basic. there was no backstage area, per se. a hallway next to an exit door from the room had been sectioned off with a curtain, and most of us piled our things there. there was a locker room but that was two floors down -- too far from the action to know what was up. if we weren't careful, we would unwittingly find ourselves amongst the audience. there was no real way of knowing what was happening onstage, unless you drifted towards an open door, the entryway.

daniel carlton (my partner in crime) and i spoke sotto voce as we drifted around the open area after the audience went inside, ran lines and cracked many an inside joke until our time was up, and then just like that our time was up.

afterwards, he stuck around for the q & a, took pictures and had mint tea with a few of us at a moroccan spot called my marrakesh on amsterdam (that i happen to love a lot) and that was decompression enough, to sit and laugh and talk about what had just happened, to begin to piece things together and such. and yet there was more.

in those first final moments, i had no objectivity whatsoever. getting through the 10 week program was overwhelming enough and finally finishing it successfully with a rough draft of the script in my hands -- way more than i was figuring on, to tell you the truth -- left something in me dazed, yet focused. i was grateful to have something to show for my time, grateful that this program dislodged something important in me creatively that would have me writing theater again, the way i used to when i first came to new york city and lived in that neighborhood and thought, i want to do solo performance art, i want to do a cheesy cabaret act, and then i would actually go downtown and do it. maybe i had to go and live and breathe and lose myself in another direction before i could come up with anything interesting. i don't know. all i really know is, i've got my mojo back. i have ideas -- i've always had ideas -- but now i want to do solo performance again, and i want to take this alberta hunter idea as far as i possibly can.

what's especially cool is that i don't have to be a lone wolf about this anymore. the downtown alternative theater scene isn't necessarily dead creatively. there are still agencies hard at work that are in place and ready and willing to help develop an idea. i just never tapped into them before. that's the sad part. i never had to be alone -- development and production-wise, at least -- in the first place.

the problem isn't that there isn't any money in this town to develop an idea. the problem is that most artists can't afford to live in new york city.

more on that later.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

the first uptown/downtown performance: chinatown

last night was some kind of wunderbar.

zipped to chen dance center, for the first night of uptown/downtown in no time at all: fully made up, fully dressed up and ready to rip it up. i looked like a drum magazine pin-up girl -- actually, i look like an african pin-up girl no matter what i wear. i stopped fighting that one a long time ago. i made a pitstop in a chinese bakery for tea and a sticky bun of some sort. while i was in there, i watched a bunch of ultra black folk who were shopping for a ton of fortune cookies explode with glee as they recognized some pastry from a jackie chan/chris tucker flick. is it true that most people seem to learn about other people and other cultures from movies and television? from behind the counter, the chinese baker's puzzled but somewhat bemused expression seemed to mirror my thoughts.

chen is a hoot. lean and strong and really up and interesting and kind of a prankster. he's one of those dancer/artists that's seen and done everything. some rock n' roller's name will come up and he'll go on about how he stood in the mud and saw them at woodstock and someone will go, you were at woodstock and then we're off to the races. it was nice, watching him walk through the place, greeting people, making suggestions, hanging out.

we had a brief meeting at 6:30pm and somewhere in there, my permanent boyfriend shows up along with daniel carlton, who gives him a digital camera to shoot our segment. (yes, they're shooting everything -- but i'm paranoid.) i'm bobbing in and out of the holding room that's filled with everyone's personal effects, actors chatting sotto voce, someone putting on makeup here, setting props up over there -- and of course, dancers in varying stages of dress, warming up.

it's a small black box situation and i had a short tech rehearsal earlier in the day so everything is well-lit and mood inducing. amazing, the way lights can create a set. daniel and i were in the second half of the evening, so we could take it easy sort of, run lines, whisper. once the audience is seated, the 40 inch plasma screen in the vestibule comes to life, and everyone gathers around it quietly and watches and observes, occasionally nodding at each other and smiling with these knowing looks. it's all very relaxed and serious and fun, with a high degree of that flying by the seat of your pants sensation buzzing in the air.

and then all of a sudden, it was over. (and coming soon to my youtube channel!) daniel and i are a real gang of two -- and he is the king of props.

there was a talkback afterwards that felt awkward because we couldn't say anything while the audience shouted all this stuff off the cuff. we seemed to glide out of the place, lost in thought. one of the coolest things about being married to an artist that's also an intellectual (why he won't cop to that last part, i'll never know) is that i can talk to him in depth about what i do. as we walk along, we unhinge all of it from the inside out and share ideas. he has a lot of insight.

of course, all of that is predicated on the fact that he is a safe place. but that's a whole other conversation.

and so, as my permanent boyfriend and i noshed on vietnamese food afterwards and traipsed westward through the narrow streets in the dead of night, we held hands like lost toddlers and somehow managed to simultaneously float down a sun drenched memory lane that was flooded with sweet loving moments from our earliest days as a twosome.

happy days.

Friday, November 05, 2010

The Uptown/Downtown Works-In-Progress Performances -- 11/10 & 11/11

for the past 10 weeks or so, i've been concentrating on an idea i call the alberta hunter project through the uptown/downtown series, sponsored by the lower manhattan cultural council, harlem arts alliance and the field. the piece has become a pretty cool melange, really -- part cabaret act, part performance art piece, part musical -- and i'm happy to say that i'm just about done with that pesky first draft and have moved on to wringing out specifics as i eagerly apply for more workshops and development opportunities. it's growing and changing with every rewrite. i can't wait to see what this becomes.

a ten minute section will be performed on the days outlined below. (yeah, i know -- ten artists, ten weeks, ten minutes.) space is limited so reserve your seats now. hope to see you there.