Part of what prompted last week's post about horror is that I scraped together some money (well, not really - just used my credit card and put myself further into debt) to take a class at Hugo House called "Writing the Monster", because I've been in something of a rut in terms of writing for nearly two years now, and this recent and technologically-magnificent production of Pandora and the Box I just performed reminded me of two things: 1.) how much I like thematic material that is not only creepy but that goes to the root of the human psyche and 2.) how much I like performing my own material and having roles in a production beyond just hired-gun actor.
Not that I haven't written at all. Certainly there have been a few blog entries sprinkled about, and even some freewriting that has occurred in the past two years. And of course, the reason for the rut, my last day-job that involved lots of PR and copywriting.
But the inspiration to write anything of real note, like a short play or even a poem has just eluded me. That last day job just SUCKED every creative impulse out of me and left a dry husk in its place. Am only now starting to recover, and just putting myself in someone else's hands with thematic material I respond to has been balm to my inner creative writer over the past two weeks.
It's great, because even when we're just talking about horror and monsters, my whistle is wetted. And then the creative prompts...well...they feel eerily tailored for me.
Once again, I can't seem to get away from Greek myth and archetype. Last week's writing prompt was to pick a monster you loved and a monster you hated, then write about the good and bad things about both these monsters. I chose Medusa for the monster I loved. Then synchronicity struck last night, when instructor Evan had us draw 3 cards from his Mage the Ascension tarot cards.There was the first one, 3 of wands. And then I kinda gasped aloud a little when I saw the next one: the good ol' TOWER. I've written about the Tower before. I have a whole short play about the Tower, Fortune Teller, that has even been produced. I have thought a lot about the Tower. So, to see it there felt like synchronicity's way of saying, "It's time. You get to be creative and write again...and MAKE something this time."
And interestingly enough, the next card I drew was the one I've put here to accompany this blog post: the five of cups. Which, in and of itself doesn't necessarily mean anything to me, but if you look closer at the photo...the hair coming out of that faceless woman's head has mouths. They could be the mouths of snakes. This woman could be MEDUSA...another one in a looooong line of misunderstood Greek women. I've written about them before: The Hydra, Clytemnestra, Pandora...thought lots about this topic. I love all those old Greek stories, but it galls me that they're all about the boys: Odysseus, Hector, Creon, Agamemnon - most of the myths revolving around women show them to be more reactive than active for the most part: Penelope, waiting for Odysseus to come home, all of the women of Troy waiting to become of slaves of the Greeks, Electra waiting for Orestes to come home so HE can avenge their father's death...etc.
It is kind of an unofficial mission of mine to change this. Re-interpret these myths for our modern age and sensibilities. The hydra was a wonderful vehicle for exploring the idea of multiple personalities (Stings Like Acid). Pandora struggles with issues of lonliness and control. I'm excited to burrow into another one of these Greek anti-heroines and find out what's there...because I appear to have another muse knocking at my window, with each snake on her head hissing to get in mine. Come to me, Medusa!
"It knows what scares you." This is the tagline as well as a quote from the 1983 ghost film Poltergiest, and the statement is not idle. Since the dawn of my memories, I've been fascinated by ghosts, haunted houses and all things creepy and supernatural. I remember seeing previews for movies like It's Alive, Prophecy and Burnt Offerings in the 70's as a kid, but never being allowed to go. I devoured fairy tales and ghost stories in books like it was going out of style, and started writing my own ghosty tales.
The year I turned 13, Poltergeist came out, and I finally got to go. So I went. Alone. In a nearly-empty theatre with only about 5 other souls. It scared the BEJEEEEZUS outta me. From the moment Carol Ann and her mom walk back into the house and find their dining room chairs perfectly stacked on top of each other, through the creepy tree coming in the window to grab Robbie; Carol Ann getting sucked into the TV, the creepy clown doll coming to life and the hellmouth in the kids' bedroom, I was transfixed and creeped out. But it didn't end there. OH NO. Poltergeist was the gift that kept on giving. My imagination, of course, ran away with me. We actually HAD a clown doll hanging up next to our kitchen. NEVER did I EVER pass by it without first turning on the light. And my insomnia, which I'd had since birth, became worse that summer, as I lay awake and alone in my bedroom, contemplating each unidentifiable noise and each wavering shadow in the darkness with the pending dilemma: if I close my door, am I keeping the monster out of my room or closing it in with me?
The lack of sleep didn't seem to deter me: I was hooked. I wanted more, I wanted creepier. Stephen King came next, follwed by Anne Rice, which invariably triggered my vampire phase. I cut my vampire fangs on Lestat rather than Bella and Edward, and newsflash: VAMPIRES DO NOT WANT TO BE YOUR BOYFRIEND AND MARRY YOU. They want to suck you to a dry husk. Also, they don't sparkle in the sunlight, they fucking BURST INTO FLAME AND DIE. Well...most of the time. Unless they're Lestat. I wonder if a vampire phase is just a thing weird girls go through, like normal girls go through horse phases.
My fascination with horror did not diminish but only grew more rabid and sophisticated as I got older and started dabbling in things supernatural myself. There was the ill-advised ouija-board phase in college...on a campus where weird things were known to happen on a fairly regular basis...this opened a portal that I've never yet been able to close, and has afforded me with some of the most frightening real-life experiences I've ever had. Still the desire for more and creepier has persisted.
Truthfully, in all these years, I've never seen another movie, tv show or read a book that has frightened me as much as Poltergeist (not counting the real-life experineces, of course...). There are films that have their moments: The Excorcist and The Ring come to mind. And then the tons of well-crafted films that are excellent but don't really scare me all that much: I'm looking at you, Alien/s and The Cabin in the Woods. Not to mention certain episodes of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, Supernatural and Lost. And of course, slasher films have never really done much for me.
But THIS is why horror is like heroin: you are ALWAYS chasing after your first high, well your first SCARE. And it's just never as good or intense as the first time. You always remember your first time.
So, this is probably something stupid to talk about or be irritated by, given the vast array of problems on our Earth, but it's my blog and I'll rant if I want to.
Public transportation. Yes, that's right, half of that says "PUBLIC". Which means, no, it's not your space, it's not your house, it's not your entire row of seats. So MOVE THE FUCK OVER! No, I'm not going to gingerly sit with half my ass hanging off the seat so you can sit there with your bag next to you. You're not that skinny - put it on your lap and move the fuck over. You're not in your living room, you're on the BUS, I paid as much for my seat as you did yours, and I don't feel like hanging off it just so as not to irritate you. I will say "excuse me" and I will plunk myself FULL DOWN in the middle of my seat. Did I end up on your coat? Did I jostle your texting arm? Are our legs touching now? WHOOOPS. IF you don't like it, then MOVE THE FUCK OVER.
I get so irritated by this sort of behaviour. Especially in a bus that is growing more and more crowded and there is obviously going to soon be SRO, and still , people don't move their bags. I certainly don't shy away from asking them to, but I notice, day after day, on a crowded bus, with plenty of folks standing, there will be one or two seats occupied by someone's backpack. The "someone" in question, does not voluntarily remove the backpack; nor does anyone standing bother to call them on it and ask them to move it. Is it just that PAC NW passive-aggressive/shy thing? Or is it that we're moving further and further away from having in-person social skills these days?
OH MY GOD. Why was that so HARD??? You'd think no one in the history of the world had EVER moved before. This felt like a harder move in some respects than my move from Seattle to Baltimore 7 years ago. At least physically-speaking. Although I guess I had 4 months to work on that one, whereas I only had a coupla weeks, 2 households and ONE CAT to think about this time!
And now: 2 microwaves. 2 toasters. 2 rolling pins. 4 coffee grinders, 3 french presses, 2 automated coffee makers and 1 espresso machine...and a partridge in a pear tree. Enough pots, pans, flatware and plates to feed an army. 2 HD TVs. 3 or 4 computers (assorted Mac and PC). 4 dressers. And on and on and on.
I'm sentimental about some of my stuff, especially my frying pans, as stupid as that sounds. I love to cook, and through trial and error, with my omelet pan, I can make the perfect eggs. I've gotten used to making certain dishes in certain pots or pans. It's not like I couldn't use others, but for chrissake, I'm a TAURUS, we hate change more than most, and considering that, I'm mostly a trooper. The bigs changes, oddly enough, don't seem to phase me as much as the little changes, like dumb sentimental attachments to omelet pans. Also, if we break up, I'll have to go out and buy stuff all over again...carefully-acquired stuff considered over a 20-year span of living alone.
YES - there's the other part: I have not lived with anyone in 20 years. No roommates, no significant others, no family. It's just been ME. And then, me and Vixen, for the last almost year. But the point is, I haven't had to deal with anyone else's crap (both literal and figurative) in my living space in a very long time. Home is where I've always gone to escape annoying people and recharge. The S.O. and I do quite well most of the time - but everyone annoys me occasionally and eventually. And we've never really been joined at the hip like many couples. I want to maintain that as I have since we started dating - I still need to have time for friendships and the theatre - both of which I've carefully crafted and fostered. I've spent long years developing my life, passions and friendships so I wouldn't have to depend on someone else (or LACK thereof) for my personal happiness and satisfaction. And it's worked. I find myself, at 43, witha really incredibly solid sense of who I am and what motivates me. I have my own opinions. I like my solitude.
Yet in all this, I remember though, that the S.O. and I BOTH like our space. INDEED, we brought it up on our first date - neither of us wanted to live with anyone for a loooong time. We have dated now for a little over two years. We've vacationed together, had family holidays together, spent copious amounts of time together. Spent time with each other's friends. Have things we like to do together (FOOD!) and things we enjoy doing separately. Neither of us has ever expected the other to change anything fundamental about themselves. So, we have a pretty good foundation going in terms of moving in together.
But amid the flurry of rental agreements, security deposits, walk-throughs, packing, borrowing assorted vehicles and mobile items from friends, unpacking, consolidating and arranging our stuff, and feeling very, very stressed out about the whole thing, I lose sight that this is kind of a big deal for me, in terms of being the official end to a very LONG era. An era I often thought would never be over. An era pock-marked with periods of depression and self-loathing, but also personal growth and epiphany by the bucketful. An era that was quite good and FULL, really, though I often couldn't see that.
It's interesting to be on the other side of it all, really, and realize that I'm still the same person, fundamentally, and I haven't had to compromise on that, though I did have to wait a REALLY LONG TIME for someone who could put up with it! ...and I have to say that it is really nice to wake up with a morning cuddle, and a purry kitty lying between us. Even this cynical old bitch has her soft points.
So...it begins again: the daily hawking and harrassment of all my friends, colleagues and acquaintances via Facebook, Twitter and email to pledge to this latest worthy campaign. The opening of the campaign page on Kickstarter to see where we're at and the disappointment as it slogs through sluggish slowness or elation when it begins to pick up momentum. And that wonderful, joyful feeling in the center of my chest when people pledge, which signifies not just a dollar amount (which in and of itself is important and the goal and all that) but something even bigger and more significant: this person believes and supports what I'm doing as an artist and human being.
Kickstarter is an interesting and fabulous animal - it works something like this, in the case of artists: you (or your group) creates an online fundraising campaign for a particular project. You must have a goal in mind, and there is a deadline. If you do not reach your goal by the deadline, you don't get ANY of the money. This is great, actually - it raises the stakes and creates a sense of urgency. And the beauty, for would-be backers is that you can pretty much donate any amount of money you want to, as little as a BUCK, or as much as you want. I, personally, am pretty strapped for cash at the moment, barely have two sticks to rub together, but somehow, have still been able to back projects in a small way...I like to call it "microphilanthropy".
Also, it works through word-of-mouth, via social media, email, newsletters and your actual MOUTH! The more people involved, the more people there are to get the word out, and if their people tell people and those people tell people...well, you get the idea. It has the potential to be very wide-reaching, and it can spread like wildfire when the momentum hits.
In running a Kickstarter, however, you have to be a little mindful. More than one per year and people get Kickstarter burnout. Didn't you just ask me for money for that other thing? My first two were two years apart. I worry now that my 2nd and third are not far apart enough, and perhaps my people are all experiencing the aforementioned burnout, despite the fact that it's for a completely different theatre company.
(On a side note (and this is MY blog, so I can rant if I want to), I always find it interesting that most extended family members are always right there when it comes to shelling out $$ for wedding gifts, or a child's birthday or what not, but when it comes to something like this, it's like crickets. It's more the principle of the thing, really, since I'm not the greatest when it comes to sending out gifts/thank you's etc - mostly has to do with being broke. I tried the handmade gift thing for awhile, but am never sure if those are appreciated, though they actually take more time, thought and effort than going to the store and plunking down a credit card. But whatever. I'm fairly certain that even if I was someone who sent out cards and presents to everyone's birthdays and weddings, these Kickstarters would still be overlooked by most of my family. It's just my weird art thing I do. They don't understand that each project is actually like one of my children, because that's just ABSURD. How could art be as important to someone as a CHILD or getting MARRIED for heaven's sake? Anyway. Rant over.)
This is the third campaign I've been directly involved with promoting. The first one, for Stings Like Acid by New Amerikan Theatre (of which I was one of the writers/produers) was an amazing, eye-opening experience that garnered us several hundred dollars beyond our original goal. The 2nd, for the Double XX Festival at Stone Soup Theatre started out similarly, had tremendous momentum behind it...and then I got fired over it - mostly due to a difference of opinion about how it was to be used (BAD, EVIL Carolynne for wanting to give each of the productions a little $$). Since a number of my personal friends had backed the project, many of them pulled their money after this occurred, and I saw the campaign lose momentum. It floundered and floundered...and then got "rescued" in the final week.
So now I'm helping run a campaign for eSe Teatro for the upcoming Oedipus El Rey at ACT's Eulalie Scanduzzi space in December. It started somewhat sluggishly, but now is beginning to build a little steam. The first few days were a little disappointing, and I felt personally responsible, but I guess this particular rollercoaster just started out with a straight and only slightly curvy track instead of a scary, upwards climb. It's only the beginning...
Third production of Pandora & The Box under my belt now. And I totally got a little geeky thrill after reading this article on the Seattle playwrights' scene this morning and realizing, WOW, my work (not only as an actor, now, but as a PLAYWRIGHT!) has been produced at a well-known and reputable theatre - ACT! Hee hee hee...
...and it reminds me again, that I'm not just an actor, I'm a multidisciplinary artist, and while I don't mind being a hired gun for someone else's production, I really am at my best when doing mulitple things on a given project, even if it stresses me out. And by "my best" I totally mean the cheesy and woo-woo "walking the path I was put on this earth for". And this go-round, I not only wrote and produced my little piece, but also designed the graphic for the entire Nuevo y Solo event.
I got lots of great feedback on the piece, and was encouraged to submit it for the Northwest New Works festival at On The Boards next year. Was also encouraged to continue to explore the horror genre onstage, and it was "really scary" - perhaps the best compliment I received (and MULTIPLE times, I might add).
Also, it was FUN. Rehearsal started out mostly just myself and Rebecca (Goldberg, my director & partner in theatrical world domination) for the first few weeks, and that was going along nicely. Then when Kevin (Heard, the Sound Wizard) came back from his out-of-town excursion, we added the sound layer. It was the most wonderful, awesome thing in the world to tell him what I was thinking, then, gear set up, to hear with my own ears those creepy and epic voices in my imagination! And when we put it in front of our audiences, it was surround sound: it felt like they were trapped inside the "box" of the small Eulalie Scanduzzi space with all these terrifying and manipulative creatures trying to get Pandora to open up and let them out!
It makes me want to do MORE of this...
I haven't written here in the blog since April. One might think nothing was going on. One would be wrong.
XX Fest passed and I was thankful to be completely divorced from the theatre it is associated with...moreso its artistic director than anything or anyone else, but either way, onward!
Spring melted into a pretty decent summer, compared with last year, and a trip to Colorado to visit with La Familia Wilcox-Kiedaisch for a gi-normous reunion...which was interesting. I always feel like an outsider at those gatherings. I just don't have a whole lot to contribute about child-rearing, ya know? My babies are my art projects, and most folks with actual human progeny don't really understand that. Some of us really are NOT hardwired to be interested in reproducing. My biological clock never really ticked. I like children fine...and think I'd be a pretty good mother, HOWEVER, I just never felt like giving up my art babies for a human one. If that makes me selfish, well, I guess I'm selfish! Or, to look at it another way, does the poor, depleted earth really need another kid? It's not like we're in any danger of dying out (unless we blow ourselves up or whatnot in one fell swoop).
Anyway, enough of THAT tangent. Got back from said reunion and got a part time job. My friend Rebecca and I started SLAC (Slash Artists Collective) with the first bunch of 9 guinea pigs. We met for six consecutive Saturday mornings to teach each other. We each facilitated one workshop for the rest of the group and learned:
1.) Dramaturgy and writing
2.) Choreography workshop & Voice/Character
4.) Physical Scores
5.) Devising Theatre
6.) Artist's Toolbox & Writing an Artist's Statement
It was kind of an awesome experiment, and we are going to continue into the fall with an eye towards devising work - I've got a fun monologue workshop I'm kinda psyched to try out on the group! I did it with my Acting 101 for Nonmajors students when I was in grad school, and it was fairly successful with the eyerolling jocks and sorority sisters, so I'll be curious how it translates to actual artists!
Rehearsed and performed in the ensemble of Don Quixote & Sancho Panza: Homeless in Seattle for the Multicultural Play Festival in July at ACT. Did a whole mess of graphic design work. Started rehearsing for Pandora & The BOX which is coming up as part of eSe Teatro's Nuevo y Solo showcase, also at ACT.
Went down to Oregon to see my friend Joel - a whole mess of us camped on what used to be his brother's farm, now owned by another family who opened up their farm for the occasion: Joelapalooza 2012. A good time and good eatings were had by all!
And now it's September, and time is dwindling in my Fremont apt - S.O. and I will cohabitate begining October 1st, in a cozy little Greenlake abode. First time I will have lived with anyone anot
Graphic Design by Carolynne Wilcox
So we arrive at the end of Double (XX) Fest 2.0: WEEK TWO. Last night, in particular, was electric...sort of ridiculously irreverent in that despite the fact that I was fired, it was STILL my night. The "theatre" decided to have a "party" after the show for "week two participants". Coincidentally, this was the night when all "my" people decided to come. Also the night MM decided to come. I didn't know this until after the show, though - and funny, I had spent each preceding night steeled for the possibility of coming face to face with her. I'm not a person who loves confrontation but I won't back down from one either if it needs to happen. At any rate - I didn't even need to dismiss or tell her off - my posse's actions, apparently, did that for me before the show was even out. They told me after the fact. After the show, I stood out front, talking not only with "my" people, but with people who wanted to congratulate me: not only on the two shows I was in, but on the festival selections themselves, among other things! I was in a flurry of chatting with visiting playwrights and other well-wishers when MM walked out the door and slunk past me and didn't even bother to make eye contact, much less attempt to make nice. I was in conversation and didn't pause to acknowledge her anyway. Honestly, I'm not sure she even has the self-awareness to realize my people were dissing her.
It was kind of an eye-opener for me, really, as someone who has always had to FIGHT DOGGEDLY for every inch of anything. It was so nice to have people in my corner without my even having to ask. That was a luxury I didn't expect, and it warms my heart. Whatever happens with my unemployment claim, that felt like its own little victory. Truly, creating good art and having people who love me are the best revenge. I feel bad for her, honestly: I get to walk away and never set foot in SST after next Sunday. She still has to be herself for the rest of her life, and that's a hard, hard thing.
ONTO WEEK THREE!!!
It is really perverse that something that is bringing me such joy daily, that I will miss tremendously when it's over is also paradoxically giving me pause. I'm speaking, of course, of my former baby, the Double (XX) Fest.
I'm acting in three short plays for the festival, and I love them ALL. Wonderful to be able to dig into each one without much of a distraction. In certain respects, I'm blowing myself away as an actor, particularly in the fact that I'm seemingly able to
"go there" multiple times in succession, and get there each time, making new discoveries along the way. I'm starting to really notice my weird actor habits...don't know if I'm able to correct them, really, but at least I'm noticing them. And starting to notice that I'm a little bit lazy, and could totally bust out of that, and sometimes DO.
First, The Bridge (Kate McCamy), directed by Glynis Mitchell, costarring Pearl Klein. Ultimately, this character is probably the closest to who I am though still quite removed as a materialistic, Wall Street executive who's just lost her job. She's about to commit suicide by jumping off the Brooklyn bridge, when God, possessing the body of a homeless woman, stops her. It's quite existential, and I am surprised each time we run it that it hits me so hard each time. Ha ha, and it certainly isn't without its parallels to my own life, although ironically, she talks about having gone to art school and having wanted to be an artist. Funny for me, since I chose that path for myself, and yet, you still find yourself with heartless bosses who'll throw you under the bus. That is not limited to Wall Street NOR to finance.
Second, The Cleaners (Lindsay Joy Murphy) directed by Lenore Bensinger; costarring Curtis Eastwood. I get to don a very large, white plastic HazMat suit, which in and of itself is totally comedy GOLD. After putting it on, I really don't have to work very hard, in terms of the funny. The suit just brings it. All I have to do is show up and remember my lines. Had so much fun last night at rehearsal - collapsed into helpless giggles last night, when we first started working with the suit. The fun comes in that my scene partner is hitting on me the whole time I am cleaning brain in this totally unsexy, shapeless costume. It's supposed to kinda turn his character (Jerry) on even more than my character (Rita) already does with her firecracker, ballbuster personality. And then there's this knee-buckling kiss, also in The Suit (which I think has become the 4th character in the show, behind the Dead Guy we're cleaning up). Physical intimacy onstage is always so bizarre, especially at first. We're comfortable with it now, but it was totally awkward at first. Boundaries are always interesting, and of course the niggling thoughts about *actual* significant others and how they're potentially going to deal with it. I am lucky that Ian and I haven't had any issues with this so far, and he's seen me smooch plenty of other boys onstage at this point!
Which brings me to the third play, It's Not Really Suicide, Is It? (Persephone Vandegrift) directed by Julianne Christie, costarring Michael Mitchell(John) and Chris Allen(Brian). There's another smooch in this one, though it was never quite as awkward to work into as the former...but it's also not as intimate a circumstance, I suppose. My character (Nicole) is grieving her boyfriend, Brian an Iraq war vet, who just committed suicide. They are at his wake, and his ghost has appeared to his brother, John, but Nicole can't see him. Nicole is at that messed up burnt-out matchstick place where you've done all your crying and you're just spent and can't cry anymore...and the weird emotions that lie just beyond that. She kisses John, because she knows he loves her, because she's grasping at any straw she can to make herself feel okay again. Boy was it ever interesting to muster that end-of-road place for THREE RUNS tonight. I'm glad I have the whole first part of the play where it's just the two of them talking, to immerse myself in those circumstances. By the time I come out for my entrance, I have to be done bawling. I managed to do it each time tonight, but boy am I exhausted. Impressed with myself, I must say, but exhausted.
So, next week, presenting the first two to audiences, and the week beyond, the third. We'll see if performance anxiety comes by, or if I manage to ground myself enough to keep it mostly at bay...or maybe even work with it. Usually, if I can manage to stay present, it's not an issue. We shall see. I think all three of these plays are some of the best work I've ever done. And it's a pity I feel so ambivalent about recommending Double (XX) Fest 2.0 to people, which is entirely to do with not wanting Stone Soup Theatre and the woman at its helm to make any more money off my talents. It's hard for me to get beyond that.
Come and see it if you wish - it will be the last show I ever do with Stone Soup.
Far, far away and
Dreams of falling sounds of cloud
roaring in my ears as I fall out,
shadow of the Boeing above me
wings suddenly melting
ground below rushing closer, panorama of
I’m not falling, I’m flying towards the rain
skimming rooftops and
I don’t fall
I never fall
Just speed through time
Solid and stoic
Where’s the plane? My security, my grasp
Illusions of solidity
A tin can hurtling through space
the universe I cling to
all a fake
sweet, sticky nothingness
just a quick sugar-rush
My tongue closes on air
air rushing, still rushing
Where’s my place?
Put me back; I can’t find
A space needle in a haystack
Things I never told you, like
Sound and Mighty Olympians
Glittering Emerald, Cascades, concrete
…and a Troll keeping watch under a bridge.
Falling away from you
In my little car on I-5
Up and Eastward
Through the overcast
Falling up and sideways and out
But always away, far, far away
My ghostly footprints remain
Wraithlike trails of a life
A universe of
Waking dreams upon slumbering dreams
All left behind
To fly closer
To the sun?
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Day to day thoughts, rants and mental detritus.