The Five- Final Thoughts

Anthony R. Miller checks in one last time.

Hey you guys, so here we are, my final post for Theater Pub. Some posts have been good, some not so much. But let’s not mire ourselves in introductions, I have some final thoughts to share with you, and as a surprise to no one, there are five.

For God’s Sake, Go See TERROR-RAMA 2

Of course I’m starting with one last shot of shameless self-promotion. Promoting this show has been my obsession for weeks, and since we open THIS FRIDAY, why stop now? So here’s the deal, I want to tell you exactly why I think you should see this show, call it my final plea. We have spent the last 2 years preparing this show. After the success of the first Terror-Rama, we knew we wanted to do it again. In part because it was really fun and we were super proud of it, but also because there were things we knew we could do better. So now we’re back, we have two brand new shows, a super cool venue and a team of crazy-talented people that have been working their asses off. And you know what? It’ll all be worth it, because the show is great.

Purity is going to mess you up. Claire Rice has written a freaky-ass play, and it will make your skin crawl. Not to mention, it features two brilliant performances by Adam Niemann and Laura Peterson. As for Sexy Vampire Academy, I’m biased, because I wrote it. But this fantastic cast has done amazing things with it; I have been brought to tears in rehearsal by how funny this play is. You may even find a few poignant moments (maybe).

As I spend my day staring at box office reports, sweating, drinking, and praying, I take comfort in the fact that this show has been blessed by some many happy accidents, whether it was the random conversation that led to hiring Jess Thomas (who has been killing it as SM), or finding out we had unwittingly cast a great props person, a licensed fight choreographer and dance choreographer whom have all added so much to the show. All led by Colin Johnson, my Artistic Soul Mate, my man fifty grand, my brother from another mother, I could not be prouder of his work as a director. So there you go, Terror-Rama 2 is the culmination of some really brilliant people working their asses off. When we first sat down to plan this show, we didn’t want to just put on a good show, we wanted to put on a great show. I think we’ve done that. So go to www.awesometheatre.org and get your tickets for opening weekend. It’ll be a bloody good time.

Like Whatever You Want To Like

So if I have any parting words to my 6 or 7 loyal readers, it is this: Like Things. And unless you like things that are hateful and cruel, feel no shame for liking it. There are people who want to judge you for liking something they don’t, because they are miserable people. (More on them later.) Life is too short, our times are too troubled and empathy is in short supply. So like things, like the shit out of them, squeeze every ounce of happiness from those things and don’t let anyone make you feel bad for liking them. There are no guilty pleasures, if something in this godforsaken world makes you happy, do your thing. Whether it’s super popular or you feel like you are the only one who has heard of it, it is equally special, because it is special to you. Any time you spend worrying about what other people might think of you for liking something is just time you could have spent liking it. So like things, like them pieces, like them like you have the freedom to like them, because you do.

Don’t Define Yourself By The Things You Don’t Like

We’ve all been there, our early 20s, sitting at a coffee shop, judging people into the ground for their taste, feeling a sense of superiority because you have the high-minded taste to dislike something. “Of course I don’t like (insert thing here), I’m not a plebeian.” Here’s the thing, it makes you sound like a dick. It’s OK to have an opinion, it’s OK to dislike something, but when disliking something becomes as much of a part of your personality as the things you do like, you’re defining yourself with negativity. You’re not a smarter person for disliking something, or a better person, there’s just this thing that you don’t care for, that’s all. Maybe it’s something super popular and the fact it’s not your thing makes you feel alienated, so you lash out, you say snooty shit like, “Well, that’s fine for the masses.” Or “I wouldn’t be caught dead seeing that show.” What’s really being said here is, “Everyone else is part of something and I’m not, and it makes me feel left out.” That is an honest, normal way to feel, and I think sometimes we get “snobby” because were too scared to admit we feel left out. Let the things that bring you joy in life define you, not the things that just aren’t your cup of tea. You’re a good person because you are kind, empathetic and generous. Not because you think something sucks, and certainly not because you shame people for liking something you don’t. It is the things you love that make you interesting, not the things you detest.

I Am Full Of Shit

Over the years in this blog, I have made some bold statements, and I’ve also bit my tongue a lot. I try to stay away from “bomb-throwy” articles, despite the fact that they get lots of hits and stir things up. That is because of one simple fact; I am nobody. I am not famous, or crazy successful or seen as an expert in anything. I’ve done OK in my life and I’ve had some great adventures and wonderful experiences. Sure, I’ve learned a few things along the way and I’m to share them, because they worked for me. But if you ever find yourself reading something I said and you think “Oh, who does this guy thinks he is?” I’m nobody, just a dude with a day job, a great daughter, two cats and a wonderful partner. But by no means an expert. I am “that guy” just as often (if not more so) as I am not. So if you disagree with me, that’s fine, because it’s just my opinion, an opinion no more valid than any other. We are all full of shit in our own special way.

So Long, and Thanks for All The Fish

This blog is not always good. For every insightful reflection of why I do theatre, there is a photo essay featuring my cat. For every cool rundown of an event I attended, there is some random list of whatever was on my mind. My favorites? Well, I will always cherish the two stories I co-wrote with Allison Page, whether it was drinking cheap whiskey and watching beefcake wrasslers pick up Allison at Hoodslam, or singing Blink 182 songs while a greasy muscly dude in a G-string dances 4 feet away from us at “Thunder From Down Under.” Those were adventures, a total pain in the ass to write about, but adventures. I’ll always remember my semi-existential crisis at the first TBA awards, which became one of my favorite articles. But I am thankful for the opportunity to write all of them. 5 years ago I left a job I thought would be my future, but it wasn’t. It was a horrible, depressing, and disillusioning experience that made me spend a year questioning whether or not I wanted to do theatre. But it is the Theater Pub world that helped me get up and brush myself off and get back to what I loved. The Olympians Festival, Theater Pub shows and meetings, play readings at Stuart Bousel’s mountain chalet, are so important to where I am in life. Surrounded by people with the same passions I have, people with hustle, and people with ideas. Theater Pub gave me a foundation to stand on, a place to rebuild, and great people to work with. I am so excited to see what everyone goes on to do because I know it’s this crazy thing called Theater Pub that helped make it possible. It’s sad when a band breaks up, but sometimes the solo albums are the best work they ever do. So thank you to Stuart for hiring me (twice) and thank you to all my fellow T-Pub writers.

Tl;dr Go see Terror-Rama, Don’t Be a Dick, and I’ll miss you T-Pub, thank you for everything.

Be Excellent to Each other,

ARM

Anthony R. Miller is a Writer, Producer and Educator, keep up with him at www.awesometheatre.org and on twitter @armiller78.

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In For a Penny: I Die a little Inside

Charles Lewis III, waiting to be picked.

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“The problem is that those of us who are lucky enough to do work that we love are sometimes cursed with too damn much of it.”
― Terry Gross, All I Did Was Ask: Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists

You ever get the feeling that you’re the one kid on the playground not picked to play kickball? Never mind the fact that they actually need you in order to have an even number of players on both teams; or that you’ve been practicing by kicking pinecones and have gotten pretty good at it; or that you’ve run around the yard just to prove you can run bases. No, all that matters is that the self-appointed captains have filled each of their teams with all of their friends. They don’t even pick you last, they just don’t pick you at all.

That’s what it feels like trying to find a good job these days. My skills are honed and demonstrable, colleagues (to my knowledge) all vouch for me, and I have at least twice as much experience as most of the folks who already work at the companies for which I apply. But clearly I’m not kissin’ the right asses because there’s no reason for me to have been without a full-time job for this long. The only thing more frustrating than not getting a response to my application is to get so far along in the interview process that they’re practically dangling the job in front of me, only for them to suddenly send an automated rejection letter. (I know they’re automated because every company sends the same damn one, word for word.)

I got several such letters this week. I know they shouldn’t get me down, but in addition to having been at this for quite a few years, they were altogether a helluva buzzkill for what was otherwise a week of good news. I stared at my laptop wondering if perhaps I were victim of a previous employer badmouthing me to other companies, maybe my lack of college degree being an immediate turn-off, or if maybe the fact that I have been out of work so many years (minus some part-time copywriting) means I’m somehow unworthy to work for this or that company. Whatever the answer is, I’m no closer to being hired than I was before applying.

“But, Charles,” you ask, “what has any of this to do with theatre, as suggested by this website being named ‘SF Theater Pub’?”

Well, imaginary-reader-with-whom-I’m-apparently-on-a-first-name-basis, that’s the good news I mentioned above. I’ve suddenly found myself with an overabundance of theatre projects to serve as a distraction from my lack of gainful employment. As I was awaiting the reactions from all of the “real world” jobs to which I’d applied, I’d gone through two incredibly brisk rehearsals of my Olympians play; I’d spent several weeks rewriting it for fear that it was too long, only for my actors to read it well enough that it clocked in at 25 minutes. I did some rehearsing at the SF Opera and got swept away in one of Verdi’s loveliest arias. I submitted to audition for the generals of a major company only to be told it wasn’t necessary because they know what I can do – for once, I took that as a compliment. On Monday, I auditioned at another major company only to get an e-mail the next day saying they’d love to have me understudy in their new show (I said “yes”).

In addition to that, I caught up with several acquaintances, tried processing Stupid Ghost more than a week later, and began checking my calendar for when I could get away to see fellow ‘Pub writer Anthony Miller’s show Terror-Rama II (co-written and directed by ‘Pub all-stars Claire Rice and Colin Johnson, respectively).

All of this has proven to be wonderfully fulfilling artistically, but such fulfillment does little to keep one financially stable. Would that I were as able to find myself in a cubicle (offices still have cubicles, right?) as I often as I find myself on stage, I’d feel as if I were appropriately balancing the “adult” side of my life with the “childish” part. Instead, it feels like I’m letting the kid take over as the adult refuses to speak to me. An oversimplification, I know, but I need the fulfillment (as well as the security) of a job as much as that of an artistic venture.

And yes, I’ve often thought about a line of work that does both – especially since my new understudy role will be the second to give me a significant number of EMC points. Right now, just getting a regular job is my goal; making a living as an artist is my dream.

During a few hours of downtime this week, I sat down to rewatch the documentary Listen to Me, Marlon, using personal recordings and home films from Marlon Brando. At several points he waxes on about the “value” of an actor, both in terms of contracted salary as well as how they function in society. In regard to the latter, he says that an actor’s ability to become anything makes them invaluable to people who believe they are only one thing, namely their job. The audience can live vicariously through the actor or curse their actions to the high heavens, but the ability to take an audience member away from their life and stir up such emotions is a skill to be valued.

Sometimes when I wonder what good I’m doing for the world as a writer, actor, and director of theatre, I think back to my first major role: I played Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Actors weren’t exactly the most valued of citizens in Shakespeare’s time and Bottom is part of a troupe of terrible actors who put on shitty shows. But he still finds himself part of a whimsical scheme involving supernatural beings and ends the play bringing joy to newly-married royals with he and his troupe’s terrible performance. Even pawns are valuable in a game of chess.

I look forward to the day when I can fully support my artistic endeavors with an appropriate level of income. Until then, I’ll have fun occasionally playing rich guys since I can’t be one myself.

Charles Lewis III touches on the “work vs. art” theme in his Olympians script.
You can see it tonight 8pm at The EXIT Theatre. Tix are $12 online, $10 at the door.
Raffle prize tix are $5

The Five: Falling Short

Anthony R. Miller checks in with…some stuff…I guess

Hey you guys, for whatever reason, I’ve been struggling to come up with any epic 5-part articles about anything important, or anything. I’m very good at talking myself out such things. Every now and then it’ll occur to me to make some grand statement about the state of theatre or what we can do in the Bay, but then this voice in my head injects. It always says the same thing, “Who the fuck are you?” Sure, I could write some kind of manifesto and use this blog as a soapbox for bomb-throwy articles, but like who am I? I’m just some dude who puts on shows, I’ve never really considered myself an authority on anything. Most days I lack the hubris to criticize anyone with the gumption to produce theatre in this town, If you’re doin’ the damn thing, I support you. So here’s the truth, I got nothin this week, I mean, I have things but not five things. It’s like two things, but they’re quality things. So, yeah, I apologize, I’ve let you all down. I will make a concerted effort these next two weeks to have an opinion on something that I can express without sounding a like a dickhead. Or at least I’ll think of five interesting things to say.

Go See “Over The Rainbow”

Last night I caught the newest Theatrepub show, “Over The Rainbow”, a bizarre sort-of tribute to Lisa Frank. It closes tonight, and you should really see it. Tonya Narvaez has outdone herself as the writer and director of this crazy-ass drug addled fairy tale. Not to mention Andrew Chung’s greatest performance to date as a beleaguered frog king who drips with genuine pathos. (I marvel at how legit that last statement sounds, considering I am talking about a grown man portraying a stuffed frog come to life.) So do yourself a favor, go to Pianofight tonight, order a few beers (it helps) and a basket of fries, kick back and go on a magic carpet ride of weird, it’s an hour well spent.

SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION
In the last two weeks a whole crapload of information for TERROR-RAMA ii: PROM NIGHT has come out. It’s all on the website and you should check it out immediately. There’s the hilarious video “Stoned Horror”, our completely rad poster and AUDITION SIGN UPS!!! Yes, yes, yes, you can audition to be part of the fun and join our cast of creeps and weirdos. Auditions are March 20 and 21 at Pianofight, so go to www.awesometheatre.org RIGHT NOW and pick an audition time. Or tell someone about it, spread the word.

Anthony R. Miller is a Writer and Producer who usually has more to say, follow him on twitter, @armiller78.

The Five: Spring Can’t Come Fast Enough

Anthony R. Miller checks in after coming out of his winter doldrums.

Hey you guys, so despite the United States Senate not being able to agree that Scientific Reports of Global Warming actually have merit, everyone seems to be fine with a giant rodent popping out of the ground and telling us when spring is coming. Thankfully , the magic groundhog has determined Springtime is on its way. That’s fabulous news, because this rain was killing me. Not to mention there have been some big events lately and some cool stuff to look forward to. Put it all together and there’s a lot discuss, but today let’s just do five.

Wintertime Really is Friggin Depressing.

BAH GAWD, the sun is shining again! Look, I know we need the rain, and were still in a drought, but I need a break here. Like a lot of you I’m sure, the wintertime can really bum me out. This year winter has been pretty wintery for a change, lots of rain and cold and 5pm sunsets, I can’t handle it anymore. This weekend was honest to god 70 degrees and I nearly pranced around my backyard naked in glee. Between the weather, late thirties ennui and an endless parade of celebrity deaths, I’m ready for some friggin sunshine, the literal and metaphorical kind.

My Bloody Valentine

This Valentine’s Day is going to be a busy day, not because I have a hot date or I have flowers to buy, but because TERROR-RAMA is rolling out a metric butt-ton of information. We’ll be announcing auditions, releasing our poster and other promo materials, and a very special video. So keep an eye on the Awesome Theatre Facebook page and our website at www.awesometheatre.org. It’s gonna be a fun day.

Go See Shotz!

Have you been to Shotz at Pianofight yet? Well it’s time to do something about it. Shotz is a monthly one night only short play festival featuring all sorts of great local writers, actors and directors. This month’s theme is “Some Like it Shotz” and all the plays have some kind of gender-bending theme. Wouldn’t you know it I have a play in this month’s installment. So c’mon out and see my new short play “Countess Walter” the story of a man who believes he’s the Dowenger Countess from Downton Abbey. It’s directed by Colin Johnson (who also wrote a play in the show.) and stars Aeron Macintyre. These are two of my favorite people in the world to work with, and it’s a pretty swell play. So COME TO SHOTZ TOMORROW NIGHT ( February 10) at 7:30 PM at Pianofight!

#Dorkswholikefootball

So last Sunday was the Superbowl, and it was a crappy game, but that never stops my annual Superbowl Party from being a fun time. It’s true that “Superbowl City” in downtown SF was a big pain in the ass and really just highlighted the liberal divide in SF. Because in SF there are Liberal Liberals and Capitalist Liberals, while both sides are generally progressive thinkers socially, one side has no issue whatsoever with making money. So people who don’t like the Superbowl probably felt more imposed upon than usual. But despite that, I had a party anyway, because Superbowl parties are one of my favorite things ever. Now here’s the thing. When a lot of you think of Superbowl parties, you think of a room full of loud bros drinking Budwieser and high fiving. But my crowd is a little different, it for nerdy artist types who despite probably being beat up by a football player in their youth, still really like Football. So instead of high fiving, there was live tweeting. The only moment of hushed silence was when the new Captain America Civil War trailer came on. Which bred a 30 minute discussion on how to properly use Spiderman. The smart ass comments flowed like craft beer and this year I actually remember what happened after the game. My point is this, if there is one thing that drives me artistically it is a kind of “Artistic Populism”, the idea that anyone can create, enjoy and appreciate Art because it is a subjective term. So I try to make theatre not only for people who see theatre, but theatre for people who regularly would not see theatre or thing they would enjoy such a thing. Thus, I try to throw a Superbowl party for people who regularly wouldn’t go to one or think they have a good time. I mean, who doesn’t like Snack food and Beyonce?

Thank You Daniel Bryan

Last night one of my favorite Professional Wrestlers/ Performers retired due to concussions. It caps off an amazing career that changed the industry. Daniel Bryan is not your prototypical champion. He is 5’8, 190 pounds and has a big beard. But the crowd loved him. His fans changed how professional wrestling is booked (Written) because instead of accepting what was given to them, they DICTATED what the product should be; they dictated who they wanted to be their champ and would accept nothing else. It was a great example of the “meta” era that Pro-Wrestling is having. Where we all know that it’s a pre-determined, scripted TV show, but that’s part of the fun. This was the story of an unlikely underdog who rose to prominence because the fans demanded it, because we saw ourselves in him. On and off camera he was the nicest guy ever, he grows his own food, shops locally, and is generally a big hippie. He was easily one of the most exciting, captivating, and talented performers pro-wrestling has ever seen. The storyline he was involved with stood out because it was so easy to become emotionally invested, no one had to tell you to like him, you just did. Seeing 70,000 people all do his signature “Yes” chant is still one of my favorite things ever, to see such a well done, emotionally effective story told so perfectly is lightning in a bottle you just don’t see. Concussions are no joke, and the more we learn, the more we realize just how serious the long term damage can be. So he’s doing the right thing, but I will miss him. There hasn’t been a performer like him before or after and there probably never will be again.

Anthony R. Miller is writer and producer who clearly watches too much tv. Keepo up with everything he does to www.awesometheatre.org

Theater Around The Bay: The Great Blog Recap of 2015 Part II

Today we bring you three more annual round ups from three more of our core blogging team: Ashley Cowan, Will Leschber, and Dave Sikula! More tomorrow and the Stueys on Thursday!

The Top Five Thank Yous of 2015 by Ashley Cowan

1) You’re inspirational, Molly Benson
Aside from the incredible PianoFight mosaic we all continue to marvel at each time we’re in its proximity, you’ve managed to continue bursting through the creative scene while balancing parenting a small child (which I’ve personally found to be an incredibly difficult thing to do). You’re acting, you’re lending your voice to various projects, you’re making art, and you’re out there inspiring me to keep trying. So thank you and please keep it up!

2) You’re so great to work with, San Francisco Fringe Festival
2015 was the second year I had the chance to be a part of the SF Fringe Festival alongside Banal+ with Nick and Lisa Gentile, Warden Lawlor, Dan Kurtz, Tavis Kammet, and Will Leschber. (And this year, Eden Davis and Katrina Bushnell joined the cast making it even stronger!) Now, I always love working with this dynamic bunch but this time around, I was returning to the stage after a two year hiatus and straight off of having a baby and returning to work full time. Thankfully, everyone was so flexible and kind that when I had to leave a show immediately after my performance (skipping the other pieces in the lineup and curtain call) to relieve our babysitter, I was greeted with support and understanding. It made all the difference so thank you again.

3) You trusted me to be a 90’s (Rose McGowan inspired) teenager, Anthony Miller
Last year when I had to back out of TERROR-RAMA, I was pretty crushed. I don’t totally know how I lucked out in getting a second chance with this October’s reading of TERROR-RAMA 2: PROM NIGHT but oh, man, I loved it. After feeling a bit rusty and uncomfortable in my post baby body, Anthony Miller and Colin Johnson let me play this sexy queen vampire 90’s teen. And I had the best time. Anthony’s script is truly hilarious and under Colin’s direction, the reading was a great success. But I was also left with that electric, “yes! This is why I do this!” feeling after I had the chance to be involved and for that, I’m super grateful. Thank you, Anthony. And thank you Rose McGowan.

4) You Made Me Love Being an Audience Member Again, In Love and Warcraft
One of my theatrical regrets from this past year was not singing praises or appropriately applauding creative teams when I had the chance. In this case, I didn’t really take the opportunity to give a shout out to all involved in Custom Made’s recent show, In Love And Warcraft. I was unfamiliar with most of the cast but, wow, they were delightful. The script was smart, sweet, and funny (and totally played to my nerdy romantic sensibilities) and the whole thing came together into such an enjoyable theater experience. I had such fun being in the audience and invited into a world of warcraft and new love. Thank you, thank you.

5) You Make Me Feel Tall and Proud, Marissa Skudlarek
In our two part Theater Pub blog series, Embracing the Mirror, Marissa and I uncovered new heights. Or, really, uncovered the heights that had been there all along and allowed us to kind of honor them. I’m so thankful that Marissa suggested this collaboration because the topic allowed me to reconnect with tall actress friends from my past while reevaluating my own relationship to my height. Plus, getting to do it with Marissa was a treat in itself. So thank you, Marissa for continuing to positively push this blog forward and allowing me to stand next to you!

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Top Five 2015 Films That Should Be Adapted Into A Stage Play by Will Leschber

Hi all! Since I spend most of the year trying to smash together the space between theater and film, why not just come out with it and say which bright shining films of 2015 should end up on our great stages here in San Francisco. So here are the top 5 films of 2015 that should be adapted to a San Franciscan stage production…and a Bay Area Actor who’d fit perfectly in a key role!

Now, since my knowledge of the vast pool of Bay Area creative performers isn’t what it used to be, lets just get fun and totally subjective and pull this recommendation list from a single show! And not just a single show… a single show that Theater Pub put up… AND I was in: Dick 3… Stuart Bousel’s bloody adaptation of Richard III. Yeah, talk about nepotism, right? Booyah… lets own this!

5) Room
This film adaption of the acclaimed book by Emma Donoghue would fit easily into a restricted stage production with the cloying enclosed location in which most of the action takes place. It’s a moving story dictated by creative perspective and wonderful acting, things that shine onstage. Brie Larson owns the film’s main performance but it if a bay area actress could give it a go, I’d love to see Jeunée Simon radiate in this role. Her youthful energy, subtle power, and soulful spirit would kick this one out of the park.

4) Steve Jobs
Regardless of the Aaron Sorkin lovers or haters out there, this film is written like a three-act play and would work supremely well on stage, as it does on screen. It’s talky and quick-paced as long as you keep up the clip of lip that the script demands. The perfect pairing to tackle this towering role of Steve Jobs and his “work wife” Joanna Hoffman (played respectively by Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet) would look excellent cast with Jessica Rudholm as Steve Jobs (Jessica is an unbelievably powerful performer and can command any room she steps into…perfect for Jobs) and Megan Briggs as the Joanna Hoffman character: resourceful, smart and can stand up to powerful chest-puffing men. Done!

3) Mistress America
This buoyant film by Noah Baumbach follows a New York pseudo-socialite, Brooke, embodied perfectly by Greta Gerwig, who has to fall a bit from her idealized youthful 20s phase of life towards something a bit more….self-realized…aka adulthood. At times a situation-farce houseguest comedy, and other times a story of searching for self discovery, the themes would read equally beautifully on stage. The second lead in this film is a bright-eyed, I-know-everything-in-the-world college freshman named Tracy, who befriends our beloved Brooke character. It’s a dual journey. Allison Page has more confidence than all the college freshman I know. She’d play the crap out of that! And for the main Greta Gerwig part… this is a hard role to fill with quirk and empathy, so I’d say let’s give Sam Bertken a shot at it! Sam as a performer has the whimsy of a confident yet lost late-20-something, but the charm and determination to persevere with her/his quirk intact.

2) Spotlight
This journalistic procedural which chronicles the story behind the Pulitzer-winning newspaper story of sexual abuse and the Catholic Church would be a heavy sit. But the story is powerful, the characters are true, and the setting lends itself to small scale theater. To play the stalwart Spotlight department newspaper lead editor, played by Michael Keaton in the film, lets go with Carl Lucania who’d give the role a nice imprint. AND to boot, the Mark Ruffalo character (who is the shoulder of the film, in my opinion) would be handled wonderfully by Paul Jennings. These two have the exact performing skills to juxtapose unrelenting determination and quiet, frustrated fury which fit perfectly for this story.

1) Inside Out
Now I hear you…animated films with complex imaginary landscapes and vistas filled with old memories might not immediately scream stage production. But if The Lion King, King Kong or even Beauty & the Beast can do it, I know some insanely talented set designers, costume designers and lighting specialists could bring this world to life. More importantly, the themes of passing away from youthful phases of life, how hard and lonely a childhood transition can be, plus learning that life isn’t simply divided into happy/sad/angry/scared memories. The complicated reality is that our selves and our memories are colored with a mad mix of many diverse emotions and characteristics. Coming of age with this palette of imagination would be glorious on stage. And who better to play the central character named Joy, than the joyful Brian Martin. He just adorable…all the time.

Five Things I Learned on My Last New York Trip by Dave Sikula

1) “Traditional” Casting Is Over
Well, not totally, obviously, but as Hamilton showed (among so many other things), anyone can play anything. I’m old enough to remember when musicals had all-white casts, then, little by little, there would be one African American male and one African American female in the ensemble, and they always danced together. Gradually, you began to see more and more people of color in choruses, and they were now free to interact with anyone. Now, of course, pretty much any role is up for grabs by any actor of any race or gender – or should be. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see an Asian female eventually playing Hamilton himself. Whether this – and the other innovations of Hamilton – percolates into more mainstream fare remains to be seen, but it’s certainly to be hoped.

2) A Good Director Can Make Even the Most Tired War-Horse Fresh and Vital
For my money, there aren’t many major playwrights whose work has aged more badly than Arthur Miller. Yeah, Death of Salesman is still powerful, but the rest of the canon isn’t faring so well. Years and years ago, I saw a lousy production of A View from the Bridge, and even then, it struck me as obvious, tired, and dull. Ivo van Hove’s production, then, had a couple of hurdles to overcome: 1) it’s a London import, and 2) it’s, well, it’s A View from the Bridge. Van Hove’s 2004 production of Hedda Gabler (surely one of the worst “important” plays ever written) was enough of a revelation that I wanted to see what he could do with this one, and boy, did he come through. Tough, powerful, and visceral, it’s nothing so much as what we hear Greek tragedy was so good at. It was so good, I’m anxious to see his upcoming production of The Crucible, and see if he can make another truly terrible play interesting.

3) Even a Good Director Can’t Make a Tired Old War-Horse Work
In 2008, Bartlett Sher directed Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, a show I’d seen too much and from which (I’d thought) all the juice had long since been squeezed. By digging deep into the text and back story, though, Sher and company were able to make it vital, exciting, and relevant. Flash forward to last year and the reunion of some of the band to remount The King and I, another show whose time has all but passed. Despite breathtaking sets, more delving into two-dimensional characters by very good actors (Hoon Lee and Kelli O’Hara are doing superb work in the title parts), and marvelous staging, it just sits there. The problem to these tired old eyes is that musical dramaturgy of today doesn’t always fit well with that of the early 1950s, and the show itself just has too many fundamental flaws to work anymore. It’s a pity, because a lot of time and effort is being expended in a futile effort to make the unworkable work. In the words of Horace, “The mountain labors, and brings forth … a mouse!”

4) There Is No Show So Bad That No One Will See It
We’ve dealt with the awfulness of China Doll before. Despite barely having a script and offering audiences little more than the chance to watch Al Pacino alternately get fed his lines and chew scenery, it’s still drawing people. Sure, that attendance is falling week by week, but last week, it was still 72% full and took in more than $600,000. Running costs can’t be that much (two actors, one set), but even with what imagines is a monumental amount being paid Mr. Pacino, it’s probably still making money. If I may (correctly) quote the late Mr. Henry L. Mencken of Baltimore: “No one in this world, so far as I know – and I have researched the records for years, and employed agents to help me – has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.”

5) It’s Still Magical
Despite the heavy lifting of New York theatre being done off- and off-Broadway and regionally, there’s still something that can’t be duplicated in seeing a really good show on Broadway that has a ton of money thrown at it – especially one you weren’t expecting anything from. I went into shows like An American in Paris or Something Rotten or – especially – Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 knowing next to nothing about them and came out enthralled and invigorated by what writers can create and actors can do. In the best cases, they give me something to shoot at. (And in the worst, multiple lessons on what to avoid … )

Ashley Cowan is an actress, playwright, director and general theater maker in the Bay Area, alongside writer/actor husband, Will Leschber. Dave Sikula is an actor, writer, director and general theater maker in the Bay Area who has been in plays with Ashley and Will, but never both at the same time.

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

The Five: Random Thoughts and Big news

Anthony Miller- the call is coming from inside the house!

Hey you guys, long story short, I haven’t left the house in 3 days.

I have been sequestered in my home trying to bang out a first draft of Sexy Vampire Academy, which will one of the plays for Terror-Rama 2. So I really haven’t thought of anything else. So here are five random thoughts from my seclusion.

There’s Gonna be a Terror-Rama 2???

Yes, yes there is. There are some big announcements coming at the beginning of April, but you heard it here first. Terror-Rama 2 is happening, Dates and details will coming soon. But it’s gonna be awesome, once again we will feature 2 brand spanking Horror plays. One, as already mentioned is Sexy Vampire Academy, It will be written by me, and it will aspire to be funny. Think Jawbreaker meets The Lost Boys. The second is called Purity and it will be written by the one and only Claire Rice. I can’t much about because she’s still writing it, in fact both play’s first draft deadline is in 5 days. What I can say is when I talked to Claire about writing for the show I gave her an article about Purity Balls and asked if she could write a play based on it, she said says. It will probably be very creepy. Colin Johnson is back to direct and that’s all I can really say, as I said, there’s so much more to come, let’s shoot for April 2.

Mockingjay Part 1 Was Awesome

Seriously, I watched it earlier, it rocked my world. It is The Hunger GamesThe Empire Strikes Back. If there is one overwhelming positive about the rise of Sci-Fi and Comic Books in popular culture is not only do your favorite stories get put on the big screen, but they use the best actors to tell them. Okay, so maybe I wasn’t just writing the last three days.

Some Things Never Get Old

The way I write is that I start with notes, copious amounts of notes, random ideas and story ideas. Then comes the outline or, treatment. Then, and only then after I have laid everything out, do I start on dialog. And one thing that never gets old, is that first line of dialog, they’re like baby’s first words. The more they talk, the easier it gets to make them talk. Eventually, you’re in their world and you’re a stenographer. That never gets olds either.

Tartuffe Opens This Week at Berkeley Rep

I friggin love Tartuffe. What can I say, Moliere really pumps my nads. And this particular production is starring Steven Epps and Directed by Christopher Bayes. These are the folks from Yale Rep that brought last year’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist and two years ago adapted A Doctor in Spite of Himself which was, in fact, one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I cannot wait for this show.

I’m Really Sad About Leonard Nimoy

Seriously, it was like Big Bird dying. Someone that meant so much to me, someone who’s work meant so much. And for many of the reasons I’m sad, I’m also happy. I mean 83 is a good run, he had a big family, and his work made him an American Icon. Besides just being Mr. Spock, he was a photographer; I highly recommend his book The Full Body Project, also check out Our Secret Selves. Check out the video for Bruno Mars’ The Lazy Song. What I’m getting at is, this guy had an incredible life, and has left behind an incredible body of work. I’m sad because he was still doing great stuff, I’m sad because he died from smoking related causes and he quite over 20 years ago. So quit smoking, quit now.