The Five- It’s TERROR-RAMA TIME

Anthony R. Miller checks in with some shameless self-promotion.

Hey you guys, so this Monday, the Horror-Theatre Double-Feature returns with the first public reading of TERROR-RAMA 2: PROM NIGHT. It’s a fund raiser, it’s a developmental reading, it’s a party. I have a million reasons I want you to be there, but I’ll whittle it down to five.

Join us on the Journey

This “Grand Unveiling” of sorts is just the beginning. TR2 will get a full production in October 2016 at the lovely new PianoFight. This reading begins our year-long effort to produce the show. Just like last time we will give you a crapload of behind-the-scenes access like photos, videos and the backstage journal known as the TERROR-RAMA DIARIES. Follow us as we fundraise, design, plan and stage this crazy, crazy show.

New Plays

I feel like we’ve really upped our game here. We’ve got two brand new plays that we’ve developing over the last 10 months and now it’s time to show you what we got. The first is “Purity” by Claire Rice, it’s a creeptastic look into the world of Purity Balls, religion and fear. The second is “Sexy Vampire Academy” by me, it’s about a coven of vampires who live the year 1996 over and over. Think “Lost Boys” meets “Jawbreaker”. Oh and it’s pretty funny, I think.

An Awesome Cast

We totally lucked out on this cast, we love them. You should come see them be great. It’s not every day you get to see fellow t-pub blogger Ashley Cowan-Leschber play a teenage nineties Vampire.

#dontmakeuscrowdsource

We’re trying something a little different for fundraising. Not crowdsourcing, not officially, not with kickstarter or indie go-go. We plan to have a “My Bloody Valentine” fundraiser in February, we have outside investors and there will be a way to donate on line, but we’re trying to do it the old fashioned way. We’re trying to grow , but in a smart way, the venue is larger, the cast is (slightly) larger and god willing the payroll is larger. So if you like the idea of one less Kickstarter campaign in the world,and giving actors and designers raises, come to the reading, make a donation in person like people did back in 90’s.

It’ll be fun Dammit

PianoFight is already a great place to see a show, awesome bar, good food and a great atmosphere. We couldn’t be happier to be partnering with them for the reading and the actual run in October 2016. Our stalwart Director Colin Johnson is back. Horror-Host Sindie Chopper is back to run the show and dammit, these plays are awesome. We’ve really gotten to focus on the development of these plays over the last ten months and it’s crazy to think how ahead of the game we are compared to the last production. So there it is, two world-premiere Horror-Plays, a great venue, the best host, an awesome cast and the promise of a very fun time. October is chock full of awesome, spooky theatre, so kick off your spooky theatre season with us! I hope you can all make it; we need your help to make this happen. Instead of giving us $10 online for a credit in the program, give us $10 in person and we’ll entertain the crap out of you.

SEE YOU AT THE FIRGHTFEST

TERROR-RAMA 2: PROM NIGHT

Reading/Fundraiser

Monday October 12, 8PM

Pianofight 144 Taylor St. SF

$10 suggested donation at the door

WATCH THIS VIDEO!

Anthony R. Miller is a writer and producer, keep up with all things TERROR-RAMA at www.awesometheatre.org. You can also learn more about his play “Christian Teen Dolphin-Sex Beach Party” at www.sfolympians.com

Hi-Ho, the Glamorous Life: Tears, Idle Tears

Marissa Skudlarek packs a hankie for the acapella bridge.

Here’s a fun game you can play with me: ask me to read W. H. Auden’s “As I Walked Out One Evening” aloud, and see how long I can hold out without bursting into tears. Or play me a recording of “Make Our Garden Grow,” the finale of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide, and see how long it takes me to start crying. This past weekend, seeing a live performance of Candide for the first time, my heart started to beat faster and my face grew hot as Candide and Cunegonde sang their solo verses… and when the chorus started singing in soaring harmony and the orchestra dropped out, the tears predictably sprang to my eyes.

I’ve loved the score of Candide since I was in high school, so that song has been making me burst into tears for over ten years. I am both surprised and pleased that its power has not diminished for me. While I love art that makes me feel intense emotions, I always worry that over-indulging in it will ruin it. Besides, is it quite healthy to wallow in melancholy, to become an emotional thrill-seeker? Basically, I feel torn between the Enlightenment and Romantic definitions of art: is it meant to be experienced rationally, or irrationally? Should we value it more for how it makes us think, or how it makes us feel? (Maybe this is one reason I love Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia so much: it deals with the conflict between Enlightenment and Romantic values. And its final scene has the power to make me cry in much the same way as the finale of Candide does: both feature the moral that we must strive to “do the best we know” in a harsh and unforgiving world.)

Still, I’m enough of a Romantic that plenty of works of art make my eyes well up. This might come as a surprise, since people don’t tend to think of me as a weepy person. When, a few months ago, I wrote about a staged reading that left me sobbing in the back courtyard of the EXIT Theatre, several friends expressed surprise that it was me who had cried. I have always admired my blog-colleague Ashley Cowan Leschber for so openly admitting that she is an emotional person, easily moved to laughter and tears. Me, I keep my emotions closer to my chest. When I read or watch Sense and Sensibility (there’s that Enlightenment-versus-Romanticism conflict again!), it is stoic Elinor whom I identify with, not the passionate Marianne.

When it comes to tears, though, no work of art has ever made me cry as much as the movie of The King and I did, when I saw it as a five-year-old. I’d seen death in movies before, but it was the simplified, Disney kind of death, where Gaston dies by falling off a tower and Belle’s love heals and transforms the Beast. Come to think of it, The King and I plays like a live-action version of Beauty and the Beast for most of its running time – but its final scene offers no such salvation.

Consider the parallels: in both movies, a gruff and moody nobleman shuts a woman up in his luxurious palace, where she quickly befriends the other inhabitants. Though the man dislikes the woman’s feistiness at first, he eventually warms to her and gives her property (a house for Anna; a library for Belle) as a token of his esteem. Then comes a gorgeous scene where the man and woman dance together in an otherwise empty ballroom, his big hands on her narrowly corseted waist.

Even as a five-year-old, I had seen enough movies to assume that this indicated that Anna and the King were falling in love and were destined to end up together. Instead, jarringly, the next scene shows the King on his deathbed, and nothing can save him: not Anna’s love, not the love of his wives and children and subjects, not medical science, not the rule that Rodgers and Hammerstein musical comedies need to have uplifting endings. For perhaps the first time, I was witnessing a character die onscreen whom I desperately wanted to live… and when the movie ended, I was inconsolable. Never have I cried so much at a film, and I doubt any film will ever make me cry so much again.

Nowadays, the playwright in me thinks that the ending of The King and I is just bad dramaturgy – sure, Oscar Hammerstein hints that the King is internally tormented, but this foreshadowing wasn’t strong enough for a child to pick up on. (Besides, lots of people are anguished; very few of them die from it.) I cried so hard at the King’s death because it came as such a shock; but now I feel like this shock is a cheap and manipulative way of ending the story.

All the same, The King and I made me cry even though I had never experienced the death of a loved one (or even a beloved pet) in real life. Somehow, this seems like more of an accomplishment than making someone cry who is already susceptible to pain. They say that when you have a child, it means that forevermore you will have a part of your heart walking around outside of your body – and the grief of losing a child may be the worst grief of all. Such is the theme of David Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole. When I saw this play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, I think I was the only person in the audience who wasn’t crying by the end. I could tell it was a good play, the actors were skillful, the story was certainly sad… but it did not touch me at a profound, tear-jerking level. With the arrogance of youth, I decided that you probably have to be a parent in order to cry at Rabbit Hole – and that this indicated a certain weakness in Lindsay-Abaire’s writing. If he were a great playwright instead of a good one, I thought, he’d have been able to make me cry even though I did not have a child.

But these thoughts reflect an ultra-Romantic ideal: that the only real emotions are universal, and anything else is selfishness. If Rabbit Hole makes parents cry because it makes them imagine what they’d do if their own child died, but (because I am not a parent) it does not make me cry, is that so bad? Which are better: the tears we cry for rational reasons, or the tears that arise from emotions we do not understand?

Marissa Skudlarek is a San Francisco-based playwright, arts writer, and emotional thrill-seeker. Find her online at marissabidilla.blogspot.com or on Twitter @MarissaSkud.