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.

The Five: Take This Dream and Shove It

Anthony R. Miller checks in for the second-to-last time.

Hey you guys, with the shutting down of Theater Pub, I have feels. But we’re gonna save those for next time, which will be the final appearance of “The Five.” Today however, I want to talk about something we all know. Something we have contemplated and redefined, and made sacrifices for: “The Dream.” For whatever reason, there has been a lot of talk about “The Dream” as of late; giving up “The Dream,” getting a new dream, or questioning if it was ever their dream in the first place. In case you haven’t guessed, I have some thoughts on it. Even more obvious, there are five.

Eat Shit, Wells Fargo
A few weeks ago, Wells Fargo Bank rolled out its new ad campaign with photos of young people doing smart-kid things with the caption “A ballerina yesterday, an engineer today.” Or “An actor yesterday, a botanist today.” And because the internet is a calm, rational place, outrage ensued. Some viewed it as Wells Fargo devaluing the dream of working in the arts. Some felt the ads inferred that at some point we all give up our grand dreams of being a famous actor or ballerina, because that’s what grownups do. Now, I gotta say, as annoying or insensitive the ads may be, I’m a lot more worried about the millions of fake bank accounts Wells Fargo created. But I can see how the ads are a little dickish. It should be noted that sometimes the dream changes, at a certain point priorities change, but did we really need an ad campaign to point it out? Is “People giving up on a career in the arts” a hot demographic right now?

What Did You Think Was Gonna Happen?
Another hot little internet frenzy comes from an article at Medium.com. Titled “Exit, Stage Left, What Happens when You Get Sick of Your Dream,” the guy makes solid points. It’s the story of a guy who after twenty years of running a theatre company with his wife, decides to walk away. Of course he’s sad about it, and the article is him trying to sort out those feelings. But seriously dude, cheer up. You got to “Live the Dream” of creating the theatre you believed in with the love of your life for 20 years. I mean, that’s the dream, right? That’s why we do this. The personal fulfillment of creating something you are passionate about. So, if one day, you’re not passionate about it anymore, that’s OK. But when I got to the part of the article where he spoke of bad reviews, small audiences, corralling actors, you know, theatre problems, that’s where I take issue. He got sick of the grind, no shame there. But make no mistake, that’s the grind, the hard, unglamorous part of doing theatre. Maybe I disagree with him because I don’t do this for trophies or critical praise. To me, this guy accomplished all we can reasonably ask for in a life in the arts. Everything else is gravy.

The Undeniable Privilege
I make no bones about the fact that Marissa Skudlarek is and always will be my favorite TPub writer, she’s insightful, thoughtful and has great grammar. One of my favorite articles of hers is when she states that doing this, doing theatre, producing theatre, is a privilege. Sure, it takes money, hard work, unimaginable hubris and perhaps talent to produce theatre. But the fact is the very notion that on more than one occasion, I have been able to write a play, find the money, and produce it. Regardless of its “success,” the fact I did it at all is kinda crazy. So be happy about it, appreciate it. To me, this is the win. Money would be nice, and lemme tell ya, every time I pay a bill with money I made in the theatre world, I feel pretty great. Sure, in my younger days, I practiced an imaginary awards speech or two. But I try to not overlook the fact that doing this at all is something lots of people don’t. Every time I put on a show, despite how good or successful it might be, I feel lucky. Some people don’t get this far.

Narrowing Down the List
A wise man once said, “When we are young, we are many things. Getting older is just a process of narrowing down the list.” I interpret this as when I was younger, I was gonna be everything. I was going to be a writer, producer, director, designer, poet, composer, rock star, and a media mogul. In case you didn’t guess, most of these didn’t work out, and that is OK. These days the list reads Writer, Producer, and Educator, all true, all legit. Not to mention I am a sometimes director, an always Dad, an always boyfriend, and Ticket Sales professional (sexy title, I know). There are only so many hours in the day, and I find that when I focus on a few things as opposed to lots, I get better results. Not to mention, at a certain point you gotta look up and see the world outside of our immediate goals. There are a crapload of things in the world that make me happy besides doing theatre. That’s not a reason to stop doing theatre, but it is a reason to stop and smell the effing roses sometimes. When theatre is no longer your “hobby” you gotta make sure you still have a hobby.

“Dream” Is an Interesting Word
My dream of being an actor died at 19. I’ll spare you the story, but the fact was, when it came to the things that great actors do, I didn’t want to do the work. That ambition and determination was there in other facets of theatre. So as fun as getting onstage can be, I realized this wasn’t my path, so I largely gave it up, because it wasn’t my dream. That said, I’m not entirely sure what my “dream” is. Sure, making a living doing theatre is the goal, I would love to be a “blue collar” theatre worker, taking the less glamorous jobs, not famous, stable-ish. Maybe that’ll happen for me, and maybe it won’t. It depends on your definition. But at a certain point, dreams and wishes need to become plans and goals. One of the first things my high school drama teacher told us in Drama 1 is “most of you will never act again in 4 years.” Now call it harsh, call it the truth, but when I look up my old theatre friends, it’s true, most of them, even the ones voted most talented, the ones who everyone thought would be a star, haven’t walked on a stage in a long time. I don’t feel bad for them because they all have good jobs, savings accounts, and stability. Here I am, with a day job selling theatre tickets, falling in love with teaching, writing and producing as much as I can. I’m still here, still doing it, and one day I might not. I wouldn’t call this my “dream,” it’s more of an obsession, a compulsive thing I do. I’ll keep doing this as long as it makes me happy, as long as it’s reasonable to do it, and sure, I probably will not become an icon of American theatre, but that stopped being “The Dream” a long time ago. “The Dream” is just being here at all.

Anthony R. Miller is a Writer, Producer and Educator. His show, TERROR-RAMA 2: PROM NIGHT opens Oct 14, learn more and get tickets at www.awesometheatre.org.

The Five- “Procrastination”-A Photo Essay Starring My Cat

Anthony R. Miller checks in with a story told in photos.

Hey you guys, another blog about playwrights procrastinating, just what the world needed, amirite? But hey, if there’s one thing there will never be enough of on the Internet, its cat photos. So instead of the eleventy billioneth theatre blog on procrastinating, here are the stages of procrastination, as demonstrated by my cat. Predictably, there are five.

Organize Your Notes

Cat1

Review Your Notes

Cat 2

Become Overwhelmed With The Sheer Amount of Work You Have to Do

Cat3

Realize the Problem is That Your Workspace is A Mess, Clean Your Desk, and Take a Nap

cat4

Decide You’ve Done Enough For Today and Decide to Start Fresh Tomorrow

Cat5

Anthony R. Miller is a Writer, Producer and Teaching Artist. His show, TERROR-RAMA 2: PROM NIGHT opens October 14 at Pianofight, keep up with all his projects at www.awesometheatre.org.

The Five: It’s The End of the World as We Know It, Donate to Olympians Anyway

Anthony R. Miller checks in with a pre-“end of days” donation plea.

Hey you guys, unless you are in utter denial or live deep in the forest without any contact with the outside world (two situations I’m a bit envious toward) you’re probably scared to death, angry, or depressed when it comes to this election. Maybe all three. This blazing dumpster fire of indirect democracy has got us all hiding under our beds with a stockpile of baked beans and distilled water. So today, let’s talk about something we all agree is worth supporting: the San Francisco Olympians Festival. If you need a few reasons, you’re in luck, I have five.

Do Something You’ll Feel Good About

If you’re a Hillary supporter, you’re probably frustrated. I mean seriously, could they please do some stuff that a person who WANTS to win would do? If you’re a Bernie supporter, you’re probably crying, because you’re in the unenviable situation where you HAVE to vote for someone you’re not entirely thrilled with because if you don’t the world will end and it’ll be all your fault, no pressure. If you’re a Trump supporter, please stop reading this blog and go reconsider all your life choices. But when you donate to the Olympians Festival, you’re supporting something we can all agree is good and necessary for the world. No compromising your values for the greater good, no questioning your own beliefs, you can just donate and know you’ve done something positive.

Let’s Party in October, Because November Might Suck.

Lunchtime poll: if the country you know and love may be irrevocably destroyed in November, what do you do in October? Answer: Have an end-of-the-world party. October is jam-packed with a lot of great theatre (Terror-Rama 2 opens October 14, but I digress) and the Olympians Festival is one of the biggest events all month. So it’s time to have the greatest October ever. Donate to the festival, go to every night of the festival, and see tons of theatre. Soak it in, because there’s a good chance the entire Tenderloin will be torn down and turned into an oil field.

We Will Need Theatre after the Downfall of Western Civilization.

In a few years, when we’re all sitting in a crater around a fire, we will need theatre and the oral tradition to remember what it was like when we had running water and electricity. So donate, make this festival happen. It will produce dozens of new plays that we can re-create over and over. And since Netflix won’t exist anymore, we’re gonna need to stock up on material now.

Think Locally

If the national election has you down and feeling helpless, maybe doing something locally can help. We’re all thinking very macro right now. Donating to this festival is a way to think micro. Do something that helps the city you live in and your community. The problems of an entire country can send you running to your therapist, it’s flat-out overwhelming. So here’s a chance to make a small difference. And it may just make you feel good.

A Chance to Say Thank You

Politics aside (national ones anyway), if you are a member of the Bay Area theatre community, you are or at least know somebody who’s been affected positively by the Olympians Festival. Personally, I owe it a lot. I have written for it twice and directed once, and it provided me with chances few others were willing to give me. My skills as a writer were vastly improved by the work I did for Olympians. The play I wrote last year; Christian Teen Dolphin-Sex Beach Party, is one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. I met one of my greatest partners in crime and may favorite person to work with, Colin Johnson, through the festival. This is true for so many others. It’s not just about writing a play that might get produced somewhere else. It’s about an opportunity to meet and work with awesome people. That’s what you’re donating to, not just a festival of plays, but a festival of opportunities for literally hundreds of artists.

No matter how this garbage election goes, one thing remains true, we never stop needing the things that enrich our lives, that make us happy on a local basis. We can’t solve every problem the country has, but at least we can do something small to protect things we care about. No matter who we elect.

DONATE TO THE SAN FRNACISCO OLYMPIANS FESTIVAL RIGHT HERE

Anthony R. Miller is a writer, producer and educator. Keep up with his adventures at www.awesometheatre.org and on twitter @armiller78

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Five: The Hamilton-Free Tony Wrap Up

Anthony R. Miller checks in with everything else that happened at the Tony Awards.

Hey you guys, so while watching the Tony Awards last Sunday, there were moments where I felt kinda bad for everyone in a musical that wasn’t Hamilton. I mean, yay for Hamilton, but there’s no need to expound on its brilliance any further (many have done it for me). The fact is, there was some really interesting stuff that I think got a bit overshadowed by History’s Greatest Musical. I mean seriously, when THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES introduces the show you’re competing against, you lost. So today, let’s chat about some of the overlooked gems at this year’s Tony Awards, and yeah, there are five.

James Corden Is A Big Sack Of Sugar
From the pitch-perfect tribute to the lives lost in Orlando, to his self-deprecating humor, to his just lovable demeanor, I loved Corden as host, and my daughter was very excited the Baker from Into the Woods was hosting. It was then I decided this was not the time to discuss the finer points of Chip Zien, but I really wanted to, cause like seriously, Chip Zien, people.

That Waitress Musical Tho
When a famous person writes a musical, the results can be mixed. (I’m looking at you, Bright Star.) Sometimes, the songs are fine, but the storytelling isn’t strong, sometimes the songs aren’t good. So imagine my surprise when the cast of Waitress came on and it was…pretty great actually. Sara Bareilles should be given all the credit in the world. And while I’m here, I was also totally blown away by the revival of Spring Awakening, and School of Rock was really flippin’ charming. It’s a shame that they were practically afterthoughts.

Oh Wow, Chicago Has Been Running A Long Time
Bebe Neuwirth and the cast of Chicago came out to remind us that the current revival has been going for 20 years and is now the longest-running American musical (note the qualifier) on Broadway. Which is cool until you realize you were 18 when that show opened…

Apparently Only Actors Get To Make Speeches
Am I the only one that gets bummed out when the speeches by designers and choreographers are shown in clip form as opposed to all the “Best Actor” speeches? Am I the only one that would love to hear what the lighting designer has to say?

The Fact That Long Day’s Journey Into Night Still Gets Revived Gives Me Hope For the World
I will fight anybody that doesn’t put this play in their top 3, cause it’s brilliant. My hackles go up when someone says “Four hours?! Who would sit through that?” I’ll tell you who, anybody with a soul. In this day and age it’s hard to feel empathy for white people who own a summer home and drink too much. But Eugene O’Neill makes it happen. So the very idea that somewhere a couple of Broadway producers got together and said “You know what would make a truckful of money? A revival of Long Day’s Journey Into Night!” Although I’m sure there was at least one smart-ass intern who sneered and said “Ugh, this totally could have been 90 minutes, no intermission. Like, we get it, the Tyrone family is sad. You know what show doesn’t feel long at all? Hamilton, you’ve seen it, right?”

And that’s when I shot my intern, your honor.

Anthony R. Miller is a writer and producer. Keep up with his projects at www.awesometheatre.org and his smart-ass comments on Twitter @armiller78

The Five- How to Pretend to Know Anything About the Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Anthony Miller, making your life just a little bit easier.

Hey you guys, I’m sure a lot of you are super stoked for Hamilton winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Sometimes it seems like organizations are inventing awards just to create an excuse to get the cast to perform on their show, while some are highlighting awards no one previously knew existed (I’m looking at you, Grammy Awards). Before we go running into the streets once again to celebrate Hamilton as the savior of American theater and the greatest thing since the last greatest thing ever, ask yourself, “What is a Pulitzer Prize for Drama anyway?” Funny you should ask, because I’ve got you covered. I’ve compiled a handy list of Pulitzer Prize for Drama trivia that you can wow your peers with at your next fancy theatre party, or at the bar. And wouldn’t you know it, there are five.

How Do You Win?
The criteria has changed over the years, but one thing remains, it must be an American play. The official criteria (as listed on their website) are as follows: “For a distinguished play by an American author, preferably original in its source and dealing with American life.”

Are Winners Rich?
The winner gets $10,000. The first winner, Why Marry? by Jesse Lynch Williams in 1918, got $1000. So no, not really.

What Other Musicals Have Won?
There have been 8. Of Thee I Sing by George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin (1932), South Pacific by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein, and Joshua Logan (1950), Fiorello! by Jerome Widman, George Abbott, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick (1960), How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying by Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows (1962), A Chorus Line, by Michael Bennett, James Kirkwood Jr., Marvin Hamlisch, Nicolas Dante and Edward Kleban (1976), Sunday in the Park With George by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine (1985), RENT, by Jonathan Larson (1996), and Next To Normal, by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (2010).

Is There One Every Year?
Even though there are nominees every year, there is not always a winner. The following years had no official recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama: 1917, 1919, 1942, 1944, 1947, 1951, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1972, 1974, 1986, 1997, 2006.

Has Anyone Won More Than Once?
Eugene O’Neill has 4: Beyond The Horizon (1920), Anna Christie (1922), Strange Interlude (1928), and Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1957). Edward Albee has 3: A Delicate Balance (1967), Seascape (1975), Three Tall Women (1994). August Wilson and Thornton Wilder both have 2. You can also mention that this is not the first time Lin-Manuel Miranda was nominated: In The Heights was a finalist in 2009 but lost to Ruined by Lynn Nottage.

Anthony R. Miller is a Writer, Producer and a Big Theatre Nerd, keep up with his projects at www.awesometheatre.org and on twitter @armiller78.

The Five: Salon is a Fancy Word For Meeting

Anthony R. Miller checks in with his thoughts on Berkeley Rep’s Writers Salon.

Hey you guys, I attended Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor Writers Salon last night. I’m still not sure the what difference between a “salon” and ann “informational meeting” is, but it was essentially a chance to hear what exactly Berkeley Rep looks for in applications for its new play development program. I have some thoughts, and wouldn’t you know it, there are five.

Toast.
There was a self-serve toast bar. This is a thing. I had no idea.

What They’re Looking For
From what I gathered, what they’re looking for is an interesting person with an interesting idea, who has a really strong sense of what they want from their piece and the experience. So really think about what you’re trying to get out of the program. What questions about your play are you trying to answer? The application asks seven questions, and it was stressed that most important question is “Why this play right now?” Also, there’s an “is there anything else you’d like to tell us?” question. Answer it, take the opportunity to say something about your play you haven’t already.

What’s Not As Important
Don’t get too stressed out about a synopsis. A short description is fine and they expect things to change anyways. Write about the process, not the product. They’re not looking for a sales pitch. Also, first-time writers have been accepted in the past, so don’t be too worried about your resume. Also, don’t be intimidated by your lack of an MFA in writing. In this situation, it’s considered a plus because people with MFAs are considered to already have a network of folks and this program is considered another way to build that network.

Writers Are Weird
One thing I think people were hoping the Salon (still not sure what that means) would be that it wasn’t, was a meet and greet, an opportunity to meet other playwrights in the Bay Area. Now, it only took about 2 minutes to figure out this is OK. Writers are weird, at least most of us. Not all of us are sterling conversationalists. That’s why we have imaginary people talk for us using lines we put a lot of thought into. Admittedly, I’m probably more on the introvert side of the writer spectrum. So maybe not all writers are weird and socially awkward, but I sure am. So I’m not exactly falling over myself to meet other writers to disprove my own theory.

A Show Of Hands
Now if there is one thing from last night that I was critical of, it’s this: at the beginning, the woman in charge of the program asked how many people attended the last Salon. There were three, which was clearly not what they expected. The last salon had 40+ people and so did this one. They clearly didn’t expect such a turnout. Her exact words were “We had no idea there were so many people locally who identified as playwrights,” and my snarky inner voice said “Yeah, we know.” It was if she accidentally confirmed what a lot of independent artists in the Bay Area already feel: that large Bay Area theatre companies have no idea we exist and really weren’t looking anyways. But that’s not entirely true, the whole purpose of these Salons are for local writers to make themselves known. We were told this is part of a larger effort to engage local artists and that there would be other events that would be more about play development and meet and greets. So sure, we would all love it if Berkeley Rep and ACT had talent scouts at every indie theatre show, looking for writers within the massive community that already exists. But this should also be seen as a call to playwrights and all theatre makers to make sure we are doing everything to make ourselves known. There is a level of self-promotion that a writer needs to be successful. We can’t sit around waiting to be found; we have to put ourselves out there, leave calling cards, and let them know we exist. So while it’s great that larger companies are finally creating programs that reach out to the community at large, we need to reach back. Seek out the opportunity as opposed to waiting the opportunity to seek you out.

Anthony R. Miller is a writer and producer; you can keep up with him at www.awesometheatre.org and on twitter @armiller78.

The Five: Bruuuce

Anthony R. Miller checks in with tales of The Boss.

Hey you guys, It’s been a pretty crazy week or so. We just wrapped up TERROR-RAMA auditions, which went incredibly well. My play, “We Were Acting Like We Owned The Place Before It was Cool” will be in week 4 of ShortLived. Daredevil Season 2 is friggin great. And the basement at PianoFight is actually this really fun intersection of Bay Area theatre where at any given time, there are people rehearsing, auditioning, or running around in pasties. It’s a magical Place. But Last Sunday I got to go with my Dad to see Bruce Springsteen perform at Oracle Arena. I have many feelings, coincidentally, there are five.

Really? “The River?”

The Concert was billed as a full performance of “The River” with some greatest hits. Now, for those that don’t own every Springsteen record ever made, The River is a decidedly Pop record, the themes are bigger and broader. But I would hesitate to put it in the Pantheon of his greatest work. I mean, that’s just me. It’s not his most famous record, he never claimed it to be his favorite, but it does have a few of his bigger hits like “Hungry Heart”, “Prove It All Night” and of course the sad-ass but kinda beautiful in its melancholy story telling, “The River”. Why he decided to tour this record in its entirety, I do not know. Maybe it was just an excuse to tour, which works for me. Bruce Springsteen is one of the greatest live performers in the history of music, so if he’s doing a concert, you should just go.

Best Bachelorette Party Ever

All sorts of people like Bruce, he’s universal dangit. One of my favorite things to do at concerts is look at other people reacting to the show, observing their experience and connection to the music. On this night a big group of women were sitting in front of us that were obviously part of a bachelorette party. NowI have to assume the Bride to be was a huge fan, I mean why else would someone celebrate their last moments of single-ness at a Springsteen concert. Now the fact that they were at this concert was reason enough for me to assume they were roughly my age (cough cough, mid to late thirties cough cough) Another dead giveaway was at the beginning of the concert they were driknig, dancing and rocking out out. But as the concert progresses, they slowly sat down, danced every now and then, and one of them was actually asleep by the end. But not the Bride people, the Bride was there to get the eff down. She never sat down, not once. She was dressed in a tiara and a black shirt with “Bride” bedazzled on the front.The was not a moment when she wasn’t pressed against the rail with a beer in one hand and the other hand waving in the air. She never every word to every song and for all intents and purposes, there was nobody else there, it was just her and Bruce. I can only speculate what the show meant to her. “The River” has a lot of coming of age songs. So maybe for her that night was saying goodbye to her old life, preparing to move on to a new era. At this point, she is assumedly married, so congrats to her, here’s to hoping the wedding reception featuring lots of dancing to “Tenth Avenue Free-Out”

We Should All Strive To Be This Awesome At Age 65

At Age 65, Springsteen played a three hour set, featuring “The River” and then another hour and fifteen minutes of greatest hits. This guy has unmatched energy, he’s a friggin powerhouse. There is something so joyful and rewarding about watching this guy perform. Maybe it’s because you get to watch someone who is truly doing the thing that makes him happiest. It’s the kind of joy you only get in sharing something that is special to you with thousands of people who feel the same way. But man, at age 65, Bruce puts most 30 year olds to shame. It’s unreal.

The Religious Experience That is “Thunder Road”

Fun Fact, since I was 14 “Thunder Road” has been one of my favorite songs ever. It’s just a perfect friggin song. The lyrics are expressive and descriptive without being super literal. It’s a musical adventure making the most boring and mundane life sound epic. It’s about how any moment of our lives can feel epic and important, fueled by the importance of now, the desire to leave to move on, to be able to accept you won’t be what you thought you’d be, but there is always possibility in this life. So on this night, I finally saw this song performed live. And as those first few notes of piano and harmonica start wafting through the arena, the song feels new, like I’ve never heard it before, but I still know every word. It’s exactly the experience we hope for when we something live. That you are so captivated by what you’re watching, you can’t think of anything else. The only thing that matters is the words you are hearing, and the person saying them. It was like seeing a monument, or going to Paris or something. It’s not until the climaxes in a storm of piano, guitar, and saxophone that I realize this something I always wanted to see. And in a small way, my life is different, because of that experience. The experience that is everything you hoped it would be, this is what I imagined hearing this song live would be. In this moment, I am being rewarded for loving this song.

Growin’ Up

So, as I rocket into middle age, I’ve been contemplating the nature of getting older. It’s not easy for everybody, the world we know changes at a crazy pace in your thirties. Priorities change, people move, get married, have babies. They stop being who you knew them to be. The notion of accepting you are not young anymore can be daunting. But The fact is, as I’m sitting here writing this, looking back on a really great week, thinking about how much fun that concert was and all the things I did right to experience these things, I smile. The fact is, I only miss the energy and sheer determination I had in my mid-twenties, the ability to obsess on one thing. I prefer older me, older me has the insight to appreciate his position in life. I think of sitting with my Dad and how far we’ve come in our ever changing relationship. I think of a 65 year old man on stage who gives the middle finger to old age every night for three hours. I think of things that I’m so happy that I got to see or experience and hope there is time for more. I think of the Bride singing the songs of her past to welcome her future. I think less about the things that are gone, and more about how lucky I am to have things that are still here.

Well, my feet they finally took root in the earth, But I got me a nice little place in the stars.
And I swear I found the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car”

Anthony R. Miller is a writer and producer who isn’t always this sappy. Keep up with him at www.awesometheatre.org and on twitter @armiller78

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: New Theatre-isms

Anthony R. Miller checks in to add some new words to your theatrical vocabulary.

Hey you guys, we all know the basics of theatre terminology, up is down, down is up, right is left blah blah blah. But after a few years you tend to create your own Theatre-isms to describe different aspects of putting on a show. Your own insider lingo, so today, here’s a few of my personal favorite to add to your day to day conversations. Remarkably, there are five.

Shitshow– A production that looks fine from the audience perspective, but a whirling storm of chaos and disorganization behind the scenes.

Example: “I have a friend on the crew and she says it’s a total shitshow backstage.”

Turd Rolled in Glitter– A very good production of a very bad script.

Example: “I was really impressed with the production itself, the actors, the sets, the costumes, but the play itself is SO BAD, they didn’t polish the turd, they straight up rolled it in glitter”

Method-Nerd– An actor that is obsessed with their process. Decides early on what their characters favorite meal is and eats it before each performance, does 2 hours of breathing exercises, has taken every acting class and 3 day Meisner workshop imaginable. Takes character shoes home, so they can walk around in them. Requests to be let into rehearsal hall an hour early to do tai-bo in perfect silence, stands in front of mirror closing their eyes, breathing in and yelling “Awake!”

Example: “The actor who played the baker was amazing.” “Yeah he’s kind of a method nerd, to prepare for the role he went to baking school. On the upside we get fresh cinnamon rolls before every show.”

Running for Mayor– The act of increasing public appearances at other people’s events and shows in order to not look like a dick when you’re promoting the crap out of your own show in 2 months.

Example: “Anthony sure has been around a lot, I usually don’t see him at this many events.” “Oh he has a big fundraiser coming up, he’s totally running for Mayor right now.”

Tom Cruise School of Acting– An actor who gives an emotionally genuine performance but never really creates a character outside of themselves. You believe the character is sad or happy or in pain, but they just play themselves.

Example: “Wow I totally believed she was a jet pilot with a tortured past.” “Sure but it was just her acting as if she was a sad jet pilot, not like another person, total Tom Cruise School of Acting”

Anthony R. Miller is a writer, producer and all around wise-ass, keep up with him at www.awesometheatre.org and @armiller78 on twitter.