Abra Goes

on theatre, running, writing, and looking up

Archive for April 2008

Come ride with me June 8th

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The Tour de Queens is a 20 mile leisurely ride through Queens on June 8th. Registration is FREE and it’s organized by Transportation Alternatives.

The ride is limited to 500 cyclists so register now if you want to partake.

I signed up and can’t wait. The hardest part will be staying on the bike and refraining from stopping off at every single food stand. Queens is well endowed with tasty, authentic ethnic food from Indian and Thai to Greek, Italian… Many don’t realize that empanadas are premium cycling fuel.

Think you got what it takes to take a leisurely roll? 20 miles is more than I’ve ever gone on a bike, and at just 6.2 miles short of marathon distance, I’m curious to see how it feels. Let me know if you plan to ride.

Written by abragoes

April 30, 2008 at 3:08 pm

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Theatre guilt

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I haven’t posted because a plague is upon me. It’s called ‘I am a very bad person’ plague, and it haunts you if you commit to seeing a show and don’t.

After all my jabber (see post below), I didn’t make a show on Friday. I stared at Cai Guo-Qiang’s gunpowder paintings (are they considered paintings?) and sculptures too long. We didn’t leave the Guggenheim until near closing Friday.

I’m going to go see When is a Clock this week. Not because playwright Matthew Freeman posted a comment on my blog – though for that he is awesome. I am going to see the show because after reading about the production and story a few weeks ago, I haven’t forgotten. I’m intrigued and the possibility of seeing a good show, when I haven’t seen one in so long, is irresistible.

Why do we choose the shows we do? It’s easier to pin point the negative. Deal breakers – reasons why I will not go to a show – include:

  • Gimmicks – After I was kidnapped and forced to watch Heddatron at HERE, I will never be suckered into a theatre gimmick again, no matter how many robots are rolling across the stage. Can you tell I’m still bitter about the time wasted that fateful evening?
  • Personal Connotations – a graduate of Tisch Dramatic writing and part of the NYC theatre community since 99, I pre-judge quite a bit based on who’s involved (but don’t we all regardless of industry?) But this is just as often the only reason I go to shows so that can’t be a negative.

So what makes a show irresistible? What would make you leave an exhibit early or even better – buy tickets in advance? Do good reviews seal the deal for you?

What if you had a show in two hours and your potential audience is uptown blankly staring a big paintings and suspended cars?

Written by abragoes

April 29, 2008 at 7:06 pm

Posted in NYC, theatre

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What to see: NYC Theatre

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After catching Cai Guo-Qiang’s ‘I Want to Believe’ exhibit at the Guggenheim tonight, I am finally going to satisfy my itch to see a show- which I haven’t done in a very long time.

The three shows I am interested in seeing are $15-$18. And I’m taking a friend so that’s $30-36 just for the tickets. Were we to grab dinner and get a drink or two, as we often do, the total cost would likely be the same.

The cost of theatre is a problem deserving of its own post.

Here’s what I’m choosing between:

Wanderlust – a one man show at the Barrow Theatre. Great reviews, but one-person shows rarely hold my attention

When is a Clock – at the Access Theare. The last show I saw there was awful, but I’ve heard good things about this one and the story is interesting. But $18 is a lot for those oh-so-uncomfortable seats…then again playwright Matthew Freeman keeps an excellent blog on theatre and politics

Babylon, Babylon – at the Brick in Williamsburg (BK). I have a soft spot for ambitious shows, and with a cast of 30 I am tempted. This space, however excellent, is quite small for a full out production. Though I love catching shows in Brooklyn, I’ll probably pass on this one.

I have to stop before I talk myself out of seeing anything. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I choose shows based on the theatre’s proximity to good cheap food. So if whatever show I see is no good, at least I’ll have a tasty tip to share.

Written by abragoes

April 25, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Posted in NYC, theatre

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Are there elephants in your room?

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The elephant-headed diety, Ganesh, is the Hindu god of success.

The white elephant symbolizes patience and wisdom in Buddhism.

To many Chinese, the elephant embodies energy, strength and power.

And for dramatists, the elephant in the room can be a device for comedy or tension: Auto-subtext, the thing on everyone’s mind, but nobody’s lips. It works on stage because we learn as much from what characters don’t say as from what they do, often more.

Comedy lessons often situate a small class in a circle – each student in character with a given relationship to another character. Instructed to improvise dialogue, students go right into easy banter, mostly absurd. But put an elephant in the room and a narrative emerges.

It’s taken me too long to realize that when querying magazines it does not behoove me to be subtle. To have sub-text. My new routine involves clearing the elephants out of the room.

Switching gears from playwrighting to nonfiction on a daily basis is more than switching hats, it’s turning them inside out – removing the seams and helicopter twirls- and reconstructing the material into something more respectable. Like a kerchief?

But with both non-fiction and playwrighting, the revision process is the same (at least for me). Cutting through and eliminating every word that is not necessary. Asking:

What am I (or the character) saying? Not saying?

What is this about? Or Why is important now?

Is it about the same thing at the beginning as it is at the end or I am writing off of a cliff?

These questions, asked relentlessly, make writing better. Numerous books on writing suggest there may possibly be another question or two that writers can ask themselves when revising.

Care to share yours?

Written by abragoes

April 24, 2008 at 7:55 pm

Posted in writing better

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Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, pronounced

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Just a note to wish congratulations: Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson married earlier this month.

Both Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson are heroes of mine. Artists of all mediums: musicians, multi-media creators & producers, writers…Laurie received the first fellowship from NASA. She builds her own violins.

If I could squish any two people in the world together and BE them, it would be Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. I would also settle for a long conversation. I have settled, however, for a friendly encounter a few years ago:

Any theatre person in NYC will tell you that just because your pockets are empty doesn’t mean you can’t see good theatre. One way to do so is by volunteer ushering. You show up an hour early, take people’s tickets and get to see the show for free. You usually meet like minded people and have an interesting time because everyone talks to ushers. They’re approachable.

So there I am at St. Anne’s Warehouse on a Sunday afternoon taking tickets for Cynthia Hopkin’s new show Accidental Nostalgia. Smiling, taking tickets, pointing to seats. Turn around and Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson are standing there, both in sweatshirts holding a diet coke and rice wrapped in seaweed, hair ruffled.

I had to sit in front of them during the show so I wouldn’t stare at their hair the whole time, styled in what hipsters refer to as ‘pieces’. I didn’t subject them to my gushing. I didn’t even tell them where their seats were. I guess I froze, but I prefer to think I respected their, uh, privacy.

A few months later, I found their contact info in a rolodex that wasn’t mine, & sent them both a letter offering them parts in a show- still waiting for that reply. Or maybe my letter was lost in the mail?

Anyway, I wish them the best.

Written by abragoes

April 24, 2008 at 7:16 pm

Posted in NYC, writers

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has the bank confirmed your existence lately?

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The bank is trying to tell me my younger sister does not exist. For the third day in a row I stood in line and waited with all of her private information in hand. I got the same teller all three times – a very nice young woman who smiles, hits buttons, and then looks me in the eye and says: she doesn’t exist.

I knock on wood. She does exist.

If only this teller could finish her sentence …in our records OR …in our system. But no, she is content to tell me my younger sister does not exist (period).

The situation is not dire- I’m simply trying to help a poor grad student home from Australia. I’ll get the money to her eventually.

But in the mean time… today I learned the teller’s name. I wrote it down. Tomorrow I will look her in the eye, and after she tells me my sister does not exist, I will take a que from Daniel Quinn and reply,

‘You are not Goliath’ (or whatever her name may be).

Written by abragoes

April 23, 2008 at 7:00 pm

Grandma says: Get outside

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It’s a beautiful day. Warm, bright, and 9-10 weeks from launching Mission Freelance.

In honor of Earth Day and my Grandma’s birthday, my goal today was to not use plastic. Not once.

Let’s see the many ways I’ve failed to save the planet today:

-plastic lid on my coffee to-go cup

*could have brought my own travel mug (though the lid and lining are plastic, they’re not immediately thrown away)

-plastic bags our lunch was delivered in

*could have picked up my own lunch and put it in a reusable bag or even better – brought my own lunch

-magazine purchased not printed on recycled paper

*could have not purchased the mag. could have read some content online..I’m trying to figure out if pubs printed on special tree farmed paper really are more green because they use less energy than recycling.

That’s it. What did I do that was positive? I carried my library books instead of taking a plastic bag…happy birthday, Grandma.

Written by abragoes

April 22, 2008 at 9:11 pm

Posted in looking up

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