Monday, May 31, 2010

Ironhead

I went to several rehearsals for Ironhead. Ironhead is a fun quirky play about a group of friends who get sucked into a vortex after rippinq an original Ironhead instruction manual. The protagonist, who later plays Ironhead, Josh Geoghagan, just had a child with his wife and he felt playing video games was a waste of time. The friends find themselves inside the video game battling for their lives. Their objective is to find the Evil Lord of Evil Darkness and kill him.
The group of friends battles foe after foe. A particularly memorable scene happened on the Island of Cat People. Here everyone was offered cat nip as a diplomatic sign of friendship. Soon everyone is writhing on the floor together in a state of ecstasy. After rehearsing this scene, Sarah Lockhard said, "I couldn't find an opening." The unintended double meaning had everyone in the room laughing to the point of tears. This scene alone is worth the price of admission.
This action packed play was written by Marcie Schwalm and directed by Christian Kelly. The rehersals were held at Sleuths Mystery Dinner Theater on International Drive. When I arrived, the actors were standing in a circle. An actor would shout out another actors name and then the two actors would change places by crossing inside the circle. The pace picked up until the director asked them to just use eye contact to initiate the exchange. In another exercise the actors walked freely on the stage using peripheral vision to avoid running into one another. At one rehearsal Sarah Lockhard and Josh Geohagen arrived late because her car overheated. After an acting warm up the director asked an actor what he was thinking of. The actor said, "I was wondering when my turn would come. " The director turned to Sarah, in tears she said, "I was thinking about my car." That girl couldn't lie if she tried.
Bottom line, this Fringe play was a fun filled romp.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Poetry Vending Machine

Analog Artist Digital World

Sometimes a sketch
is all you get
a flashbulb freeze-frame image
at the stop light dams
in the river of rush hour,
the elevator climb,
the go-getters
raising their cell phones in an endless salute.

and meanwhile
down in the grass
with the grace of the snakes,
there are dancers
making angels with no need for snow
singers
following the wispy string of their voice
as the sun pulls it free
there are people
stopping in the street
against all odds
waiting on a cloud
to match that shape of their dreams.

Let the management speak
of community,
hammer those ends with gavels
mark off the moments,
The deadline of the eye is stricter still.

Sometimes a sketch
is all you get
and if you look in the right place,
all you need.

-Tod Caviness

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Green Lawn of Fabulousness

Between shows I relaxed on the "Green Lawn of Fabulousness" and did a sketch of the beer tent and crowd. Sultana had a mini TV tuned in to the Magic playoff game which was going on that night at the Amway Arena. She usually attends the playoff games, and she sacrificed going to the game in order to see what Brian Feldman might do for the "Creative Mind Experiment." Jessica Mariko is the mastermind behind the "The Creative Mind Experiment." She invited over twenty different artists to all listen to the same clip of music and then build a performance based on what they heard and felt. The music clip is three minutes and thirty-three seconds. I took part in the project during its first performance, playing a video which had several hundred of my drawings edited together to build a sort of storyboard about life in Orlando.
I used an LED book lamp in order to see what I was doing while drawing this sketch. Several people stopped by to see what I was up to. And I am always surprised and delighted when strangers walk up to me and compliment me for the blog. The green lawn is the perfect rest stop between shows. This night there was a nice cool breeze and the sky lit up with stars was crystal clear. Every now and then as I drew, Sultana would shake her fist in the air and shout, "Defense, Defense!" In the end, the Orlando Magic crushed the Celtics.
I did not try and sketch Brian's performance. I knew I only had three minutes, so I just sat back and enjoyed. Brian walked out on the empty stage and pulled a vegan candy bar out of his pocket. He gently unwrapped it and took a bite. He then took a second bigger bite. Soon the whole bar was in his mouth and he struggled to swallow. Before he had it all down he opened a second candy bar and shoved more in his mouth. The audience could not stop laughing. He then devoured a third candy bar and started to gag. He turned his back to the audience and hunched over. He took a few steps towards the back of the stage and went down on his knees. On his hands and knees he finally swallowed the three bars. He got up, took a bow and walked off stage. The audience was hysterical. When the show was over the audience voted for three acts in three categories. The coveted prize was a candy bar!

Friday, May 28, 2010

T-O-T-A-L-L-Y


T-O-T-A-L-L-Y a one woman show Directed by Paula Killen and performed by Kimleigh Smith packed an inspirational one two punch. The show begins with Kimleigh reliving her young days as an energetic and virginal college cheerleader.He valley girl interactions with her girlfriends is high energy and reminiscent of the cheerleader skits on Saturday Night Live. The tenor of the high energy humerus piece changes as she relived an evening where she decides to go out with one of the football players. What was remembered as a pleasant evening is suddenly recounted at a horrible gang rape party. She looses touch with feelings in the lower half of her body and eventually has to to to a therapist. She points out that if you analyze and break apart the word it is "The Rapist".
Slowly she regains control of her life and her sexuality. As she recounts how she started finding a Lover on Craig's List she had the audience laughing out loud the whole time. This show is life affirming demonstrating how to take control of your life no matter what hardships or obstacles need to be overcome. She exercised and lost weight then dressed in a sultry bathrobe. Her spirit takes flight like a super hero when she discovered and rejoiced in her inner strength. The bathrobe acted like a hero's cape. By the end of the performance I was left wanting to cheer myself. I showed Kimliegh Smith the sketch I did of her after the show and asked her to sign it for me. She was just as enthusiastic and inspiring off stage as on. She wrote on my sketch, "Be the Superman you are!"
Friday May 28, 11:45PM
Sunday May 30, 11:00PM

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cyclosa Confusa

Cyclosa Confusa starting Andrew Conner was certainly the strangest and most entertaining show I have seen at the Fringe so far. The show started with the theater in total darkness. A creature enters the theater which has mini LED flashlights on it's head and hands. It is very tall judging from the lights it projects around the audience. Rushing around, I could her its joints squeaking. It wondered up and down the isles searching. Mark Baratelli had just entered the theater and ended up sitting alone at a theater left seat.
The tall creature all green was on stage and disappeared behind a small white curtain. He pulled out some binoculars and started scanning the audience. He looked right at Mark and lingered. He rushed back out into the audience where Mark was seated and began massaging Marks head. He sprinkled salt on Marks scalp and then put a hard hat on with a rubber hose sticking out of the top. He pulled out a mini hand held drill and pretended to drill into Marks head. The rubber hose acted as a straw with which he sucked marks brains with delight. Even in his embarrassment Mark had the forethought to hand off his camera so Sultana Ali could take some pictures.
Mark was pulled on stage and seated in a metal folding chair with his back to the audience. The Cyclosa, now in a lab coat started running a series of obtuse and humerus tests. If Mark answered correctly he got a happy face mark, if incorectly the sad face would be checked. Many of the questions were obvious like, 2 + 2 = _____. Then came a difficult question, 3 triangles a circle and another triangle = _____. Mark thought for a moment and said, "4 kisses and a cookie." That deserved a huge smile face check and the audience roared.
The creature looked through the bag of a woman in the front row and he pulled out an address book. On stage he offered it to Mark as a reward. Mark looked over his shoulder and held up the book smiling with a page open full of contact information. Tisse Mallon took his photo. Mark kept getting a barge of gifts and romantic advances from the Cyclosa.
Mark and a girl picked from the audience then had to perform an operation on a human heart which the Cyclosa had extricated from his tail or butt. As they worked on the heart with their utensils the Cyclosa used a spray bottle to moisten the heart and plate. He was spritzing so much that the two were lost in a cloud of wet mist.
With a series of play cards the Cyclose quickly outlined his back story. His civilization in the center of the Earth had been lost because of a rouge lave flow. He had been spared since he was surfing the lava at the time. He wanted to take Mark to his home. The Cyclosa was in love and I think so was Mark.
In the end the Cyclose offered its heart by unzipping it's fly and attaching what looked like a clothes line to Marks helmet. The heart was strung on the line with a carabiner and then the line was pulled sending the heart over to Marks face. When the Cyclose wrote on a large card, "Will you come with me?" The audience was shouting at Mark to accept the creatures loving advances. Smitten, Mark accepted.
So much fun! Don't miss it!
Thursday, May 27th 7:10 PM
Friday, May 28th 11:05 PM

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Julie Bunny Must Die!

This Fringe show in the Pink venue was a fun comical musical. A graphic artist and comic named Adam Chase, played by Bert Rodriguez, grapples with the superficial and insignificant nature of living as a freelance artist. His one true love is a comic character he created as a child named Julie Bunny. The bunny is an international spy whose arch nemesis is an evil Chef, played by Michael Colavolpe. As an artist I am enthralled by the idea of this musical. Some of the lyrics fell a little short but on a whole the songs were fun and creative. While trying to please a corporate ad executive Adam finds himself overworked with insane tight deadlines. With so much work on his plate he can not find the time to write his beloved comic. The comic characters unite and try to write their own back story on their own. Penny a blond bombshell, is consistently ignored every time she opens her mouth. Her song, where she laments people never taking her seriously is a highlight of the show. It turns out she had all the answers all along.
Adams girlfriend, played by Stefanie Clouse, doesn't understand his obsession with the comic character while a fan who dresses in furry costumes to go to comic conventions understands perhaps too well. The girlfriend tries to convince Adam to take the safe graphic arts jobs which pay far better than an underground comic. Julie bunny, played by Laura Hodos is on stage as the girlfriend is looking at the comic. When the girlfriend utters, "Its not exactly your best work." The bunny raises her toy gun and shouts "I will cut you bitch!" I laughed out loud and my watercolor wash splashed across the page in the wrong direction.
This was a really fun show don't miss it!
Tuesday, May 25th 10:25 PM
Friday, May 28th 9:50 PM
Saturday, May 29th 4:45 PM
Sunday, May 30th 4:40 PM

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fringe of Nature

I had camped out with Sultana Fatima Ali at the Orlando Fringe box office in order to get a ticket to go on Brian Feldman's overnight primitive camping trip, "Fringe of Nature." Sultana got the first ticket and I managed to get the second ticket. I was going to join Brian and Sultana on the first night, but Terry decided she would like to come along for the camping trip so we changed the date to my birthday, May 22. Only two people are suppose to go out on the hike each night, and only 10 tickets are available to this unique Fringe performance. On the trip to the Shakespeare Theater Terry stopped at a Publix and got a coconut frosted birthday cake. I thought this was a strange item to try and bring on a 3.5 mile hike into the woods. We sat down in the patrons room and waited for Brian to arrive. Terry cut up the cake and set all the pieces out on paper plates. Sultana stopped by with her mom, Mary Beth, who is an artist herself. We kept offering cake to people who walked past our table and soon Dewey Chaffee, Douglas McGeoch, and Anna McCambridge, Sultana, Mary Beth and Terry were all singing "Happy Birthday." Their voices resonated and echoed in the patrons room and this workaday song suddenly sounded angelic. When I hear this song in a public restaurant I always let out a groan. But when the song has my name in it, the song is suddenly beautiful. At home, the amazing number of Facebook birthday greetings left me humbled wanting to cry.

Outside, Brian drove up in a brand new 2010 MINI Cooper Clubman which had been supplied by Orlando MINI for the project. Matt Simantov joined our group and we soon had everything packed and set off into the wild unknown. I knew the drive was only maybe 45 minutes so I rushed to get the sketch of Brian driving. His hat hid his eyes and he said, "This is the first time I get to look like Beetle Bailey." I really like the circular flowing lines of the MINI Cooper. Since my Xterra is starting to age less than gracefully, I need to start thinking of a more fuel efficient alternative.

When we all arrived at Wekiwa Springs State Park, we parked the MINI Cooper and Matt's car in the parking lot. There was a restroom but it was way in the distance, about a quarter mile away. We arrived at about six or so and it was still very hot. A small dirt service road soon branched off into a narrow path through palmettos and shrub. Matt and Terry joked about walking through the deserts of Tatooine from Star Wars. Terry started singing, "I'm happy when I'm hiking, pack upon my back..." This was an old Girl Scouts song and none of the three guys knew it. At one point, a large animal made plenty of noise as it rushed into the palmettos. We shouted and tried to look big, which is advice given if you should startle a bear.

The sun was starting to turn orange and was very low on the horizon when we reached "Camp Cozy." Brian and I set up the six person tent and Matt and Terry started gathering wood for a campfire. I managed to light the fire using maybe six matches. A large log which had been eaten by termites offered a nice starter. Matt and Brian put headlamps on and I had a cheap one which stopped working after half an hour. We didn't cook anything but just ate sandwiches we had bought at Publix. Then we roasted square vegan marshmallows.
Matt kept using a huge bowie knife he had strapped to his leg to cut up a log which helped keep the fire burning. I sliced open my left thumb by tugging at a dry palmetto frond. The palmetto stem had jagged edges; thank god I had my Jesus bandages, which had been a gift from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. I also bought along a very flat LED light which Brian placed inside the portable marquee which allowed it to illuminate at night since we couldn't find a darn plug. Brian had a package of square vegan marshmallows and I tried one. It didn't burn like a regular marshmallow and I took my time waving it in the open flames until it was a perfect golden brown. It actually tasted really good. It was as good as the real thing without the animal by-products.

As I sketched, I heard the high pitched whine of millions of mosquitoes all circling around me and waiting to find an opening in the insect repellent that covered every inch of my body. I was the first to get in the tent for the night. At three in the morning, I ventured out and marveled at the bright half moon with pitch black pine trees sweeping up to meet it. In the distance, a mist made the far trees a subtle blue gray and the stars were bright and clear. I understood why Van Gogh painted Starry Night.

 At sunrise, I convinced Brian to join me for an eight minute run along the trail. The sun was just piercing the verticals of the trees and the path weaved left and right. Huge dew covered spider webs would cross the path forcing us to duck in order to avoid them. Running along a tight path with trees flying by makes it feel like you are running a lot faster than you are. We all agreed to go to the springs when the camp was broken down. On the hike back, Brian lost patience with the slow pace of the person at the end of the hiking column. He named this hiker iPod, since the hiker never went a moment without listening to and sometimes singing along to the songs on their iPod playlist. Brian marched out at a quick pace. I stayed with the slower hiker and suddenly the three of us were faced with a fork in the trail. There were no trail blazes on either trail. I called Brian using my cell and got his answering message. I said simply, "Left or Right?" A few minutes later Brian called back and said, "Left." The parking lost was less than a quarter mile down that path. A parking lot never looked so enticing. The air conditioning in the MINI was delicious.

On the drive to the springs, a beautiful deer silently strutted across the road in front of the MINI Cooper. Brian stopped to watch her and she tilted her head to the side to look over her shoulder at us. The silent staring contest lasted just a moment before she quietly walked into the woods. At the springs, the water was a refreshing 72 degrees and I was in within minutes. I swam across the springs once and then got out to do a quick sketch. Brian and Matt floated around in the middle of the springs for a long time talking. There are two more chances to experience this unique Fringe show for yourself. Get a ticket before they are all gone.
Thursday May 27, 5:30 PM
Friday May 28, 5:30 PM

Monday, May 24, 2010

Visual Fringe

This is the second year I have exhibited work in Visual Fringe. There was a $20 entry fee that I had forgotten about, but I gladly paid to be part of this amazing event. Anna McCambridge and Jeremy Seghers were behind the table to take my work and welcome me to Fringe. A year ago I started sketching at the Fringe and I felt like a bit of an outsider. This year, attending Fringe feels like going home and every day brings fun reunions with people I have sketched and admired over the year. Just as I did last year. I settled back and did a sketch of the Visual Fringe reception table as art work filtered in. I picked up my Fringe button and Fringe lanyard and was told by Anna to return for the Fringe Gala in a few days. This year since I am a performer in the "Creative Mind Experiment", I find I can go into any show at any time so long as it isn't sold out. It looks like I will be doing twice as many sketches of actual shows this year. Fringe this year should be a wild non-stop sketch marathon, so strap in and enjoy the ride!
The first show I had to get a ticket for was Brian Feldman's "Fringe of Nature." Sultana Fatima Ali had set up a camping chair in the box office and planned to sit from 4PM when the box office opened till 11PM when Brian planned to sell the first of the $10 tickets. I decided to sit with Sultana with my camping chair and we joked around and watched as the Fringe Festival swirled and accelerated to a fevered pitch. Large lines of people would gather at the theaters and then go in leaving the space quiet again. I wandered off and did a sketch and saw my first show which was "Goblin Party Interactive" put on by Heather Henson and her crew at IBEX Puppetry. "Goblin Party Interactive" was a really fun interactive show and I plan to return to sketch. When I joined Sultana again at about quarter to eleven, she was still the only person in line for "Fringe of Nature." I joked that she might be in the wrong line and that Brian probably wouldn't have people stand in a traditional line. There was a large group of people standing in a circle and I rationalized that Brian might expect people to stand in a circular line. Any time I spotted a person with hiking boots or any item of clothing that gave a hint of the great outdoors, I let Sultana know that they might be trying to cut in line. Brian finally did show up and sell the tickets, which were gorgeous, encased in lucite ticket holders, and nice enough to hang on a wall. I will be camping with Brian on my birthday, May 22nd; my wife Terry will be joining me.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cat Women of the Moon

Hannah Miller, is performing in the Fringe show, Cat Women of the Moon. I gave her a call the week before Fringe to see if I could get a sketch of the first dress rehearsal. The rehearsal took place at the director, Les Caufield's, home. The primitive stage was set up outside in his screened in porch area right in front of the pool. There was a flurry of activity as everyone got into costumes and props were set in place. All the astronauts sit on garbage cans. The interior of the space ship is represented by three panels with crudely painted buttons and dials.
Hannah plays Helen Slater and she is having a romance with all three of the male crew members. She leads the crew off course and right into the clutches of the Cat Women of the Moon. The Cat Women control Helen with a glowing hand held device. The evil plot of the Cat Women is to take over the Earth and keep only a few men as sex slaves and pets. I wasn't a fan of the play, but perhaps women will get a secret pleasure watching men walked on stage with a leash and told to kneel.
The acting in the play is in no way subtle. This is intended as a fun, campy, musical riot but more often than not the humor and songs fall flat. When Helen is attacked by a giant moon spider, the audience is invited to pull a string in the program which will heighten the virtual experience. The program also had 3D glasses for the more in depth and dramatic scenes.
Most of the cast are high school students this being there first major theatrical experience. That excitement is contagious, but in the end the production is never elevated above a high school production. If you want to experience some strange overacted, campy fun, check out this show in the Green Venue (Rep Theater) at the Fringe.
Sunday May 23, 1:10 PM
Tuesday May 25, 10:30 PM
Thursday May 27, 5:15 PM
Friday May 28 11:40 PM
Saturday May 29 7:55 PM

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sultana Stares

While I was at work at Full Sail, I got a text message from Hannah Miller saying she planned to stare at Brian Feldman that afternoon while wearing her wedding dress. Brian and Hannah got married several months ago when Brian put a invite on Facebook saying he would marry any woman that showed up at the Orange County Courthouse. I got off work early and rushed over to Frames Forever & Art Gallery to start the sketch. When I arrived Brian was relaxing with his head bowed after having just stared down Mike McDonnel. I had texted several times prior to my arrival just to let Katie Windish and Brian know that something special might happen involving Hannah. I started a sketch blocking in the big shapes and leaving the participant seat empty.

I began getting text messages from Hannah outlining a series of unfortunate incidents. Her hair had been died the wrong color, she got a ticket for turning left at a spot where left turns are not allowed, then she was helplessly stuck in traffic. She finally gave up and went home for a bit to eat before heading off to work at Pinocchio's Marionette Theater. My plans to see husband and wife staring off went up in smoke. When it became clear that Hannah wouldn't make it, I told everyone about the sketch that could have been.

A small crowd had gathered for the final hours of the staring competition. Emma Hughes took the contestant seat and lasted long enough for me to get a decent sketch. Then I begged Sultana to take the seat. She hesitated, but finally relented. I suspected with her triathlon training and a strong will, she would last longer than anyone suspected. I rushed the first sketch thinking she might give up at any time but she held strong. I then started a second sketch and I felt giddy. This was the perfect event for a sketch artist to record. There was a constant penetrating stillness. There was much to read in what went unsaid. Sultanas expression would light up with laughter sometimes as people joked around her but she never lost her gaze. Later her expression turned serious and then sad. I wanted to dash off a series of sketches trying to catch each subtle change but I remained committed to the two sketches I had started. There was something sublime about the time these two locked eyes. The air was electric and I soaked up some of that energy and directed it into the sketch. This was an important moment. Time stood still.

The record for staying seated opposite Brian had been set by Mike Maples two days prior, but Sultana easily cruised by that record by staring at Brian for 1 Hour 59 minutes and 50 seconds. She said that when she broke free of his gaze it was like she was coming up from under a blanket, or surfacing after being underwater for some time. She felt a total sense of seclusion as if in a cocoon. She came to realize that no one had ever looked at her for that length of time before. For a moment after an hour of starting she felt like he was looking straight into her soul. I was ecstatic and felt all the drama in the moment.

For being the person who could stare at Brian the longest, she won a free 4 by 7 inch frame. When she got up she stretched a bit and rubbed her neck. She had to leave right after she was done to get home and work on some homework.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Firehouse Demolition Celebration

A new firehouse has been built downtown and opened December 2nd 2009 . The Old fire Station 1, (455 South Orange Avenue) is being torn down to make way for the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. This new arts Center will just be for The traveling Broadway shows that pass through town. The hall was not set up acoustically for the Orlando Philharmonic. It is possible that no local arts groups will benefit in any way from this new buildings construction.
In the Orlando Weekly I read that there was going to be a Demolition Celebration. I was very curious to see how destruction is celebrated. When I got to the site the first thing I saw was a huge orange flag, much like the flags you might see above a used car lot. Dr. Phillips Arts Center was emblazoned on the flag in white letters. It fluttered quietly in the gentle breeze while across the street creaking moaning and crashing stone and metal could be heard. The fire stations back wall had already been torn down and I could look right through the gutted empty shell. I decided to walk around the block to see the back side of the building where all the demolishing was taking place.
A fire hydrant supplied the water to a hose which was used to water down all the loose dust kicked up b the falling debris. A large green crane was doing all the work by knocking away part of the roof with the large shovel. Periodically a small wildcat would move crumpled metal and place it in a pile. Trees now sporting large X's framed the scene almost like the mouth of a shark. City hall can be seen in the background. The trees will of course also find no home in the new performing centers plans and they will come down as well. The money to build the arts center still doesn't exist. What will be left in this spot will be an empty barren lot surrounded by a fence. It could, and probably will stay that way for many years. I have a strange fascination with these empty lots, usually symbols of some developers folly.
I never did see any celebration. Out with the old, forget the new, we can't afford it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

30 Days of Sand

A month long sand sculpting festival was held on the space coast. Held at the Radisson Resort, this first time event was intended to help build and sustain a vibrant arts and cultural industry in Brevard County. Money raised is used to support the arts cultural ind historical organizations and to help artists decrease dependency on government funds and corporate sponsorships.
Terry and I drove out to this event one weekend in April. When we got to A1A the main drag in Coco Beach, the traffic got horrendous. Luckily the Resort is on the northern end and we pulled in to park without waiting in traffic too long. We were guided to a spot to park the car in the grass. At the ticket booth the high school kid taking tickets asked Terry if she was a senior citizen. I think it will take Terry some time to get over that one. But wait, if Terry is a senior citizen then I might be as well by association. What the....!
The sand sculpture were already finished which was disappointing to me. I had hoped to see the sculptors at work which would have made for a better sketch. There were eight huge sculptures. The level of detail was astounding. One sculpture of Italinan architecture and monuments used a forced perspective which mad every building look bigger and taller. People milled around the sculptures constantly, stopping once in a while to shoot photos using cell phones and cameras.
I found the only shady spot on the lot which was next to the merchandise tent. Terry agreed that she would wander for a while and then read a book as I sketched.
When I finished I went to get some lunch from a vendor. I was told the crab cakes were really good to I ordered those. The proprietor spoke with a thick Mediterranean accent. He didn't have any sodas so I went to the High School girls next door for a Coke. It turns out they are cheerleaders raising funds for a competition trip. I bought the Coke but didn't support the cause.
AS Terry and I ate lunch I spotted Derrick McKenzie and his girlfriend Pamela Vaughn. I worked with Derrick at Disney Feature Animation and we met a few times as I sketched the Singing Christmas Trees since he works for the First Baptist Church. When I saw him he was checking out the sound equipment on the stage. Like me his mind always seems to be in work mode. We joked around for a bit and after lunch Terry and I headed for the beach to experience more sand up close and personal.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Manifestation



In 1976, the year of our nation's bicentennial, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a convent of Roman Catholic nuns lent some retired habits to a group of men performing their version of "The Sound of Music." Three years later on Easter Sunday of 1979, those habit showed up on the streets of San Francisco in a form of artistic expression never imagined by the original owners. One sister wore a beard, another carried a toy machine gun and the third wore a face of white clown paint. Over the years the sisterhood grew and the white face paint became a sacred tradition of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The sisters entertain, educate and raise money for local charities.
The Orlando Sisters Abby of St. Gertrude De Nivelles is one of the newer orders of this organization and I found out they were going to perform a sort of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" rendition of "The Sound of Music," and I had to see it for myself. I fist saw the sisters at work when I sketched the mural being added to the wall of the Center on Mills Avenue. The sisters stood in the street catching every drivers attention to bring some focus to this cause. I had met Logan Donahoo, (A.K.A. Novice Sister Ambrosia) before. I contacted him and asked if I could sit in as the sisters put on their make up. Thankfully he agreed. Katie Windish had told me about the "Sound of Music" so she came along as well. She asked questions as I sketched allowing me to learn about the order while never turning away form sketching.
Logan explained that he liked to refer to the process of putting on the make up as "Manifesting". This implies a much more solemn and devotional process. The first step involved disguising the eyebrows by pasting them flat and them the entire face is painted white. Bright color accents are added to symbolize the good work that the group does for the community. Every Sister develops her own unique look. The whole process took about two hours of non stop work. This was the perfect amount of time for me to get a decent sketch. The sisters are not meant to mock nuns, rather they teach inspire and educate through humor.
I went to the "Sound of Music" which was playing at the Universal Cineplex with Mike Maples and Katie Windish. We were all issued paper bags with items we would need during the performance. Each bag had items such as "Edelweiss", the white flower which the von Trapps sing so lovingly about, glow sticks which the crowd would wave when Julie Andrews sang, Ray, a drop of golden sun, and poppers for the glorious moment when captain Von Trapp and and Julie Andrews finally kiss. There was also a bag of rice for the wedding ceremony and noodles to throw. A whistle was in the bag to blow when Rolph tries to stop the family from escaping to the mountains. To say the least it was a wild and fun show. Everyone in the audience sang along to every song while the Sisters acted out many of the scenes live.
When the moment of the kiss drew close, I grabbed my popper and held it like a champagne bottle. It had a string hanging from it which when pulled would cause the contents to explode. Fumbling with it, it exploded rather hotly in my hand. Katie's popper wouldn't work so I grabbed it to help out. Well no one explained which way to aim the darn thing and when I pulled the string, it blasted its contents right at my crotch. I yelled and everyone around me had quite a laugh.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Play in a Day - Suspense

Eric Pinder wrote a tongue in cheek suspense thriller. The two man cast consisted of John Edward Palmer and Richard Perez. The show was like a film noir detective movie in which the detective would step out of the drama and then offer a dry witty narration about the scene. Having only two actors, Richard Perez got to play many parts including the femme fatale.
As the stage hand Paula was setting up the table and chairs for this show, someone in the audience shouted out, "Get it right Paula." She responded "I'm trying baby." The legs of the table gave her some trouble and she said, "Son of a ___." If it is important to you, the jealous woman was responsible for the murder. When the show was performed, all those empty theater seats were filled. I ended up sketching the detective twice just because it seemed to be the right way to balance out the picture.
My overall impression of "Play in a Day" was that it made for a fun night of unexpected theater. With such a short amount of time to rehearse, the actors had to memorize as best they could and then wing it if a detail slipped by. Having sat through the rehearsals I knew where mistakes had happened before, so I sat on the edge of my seat waiting to see if they made it through come showtime.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Play in a Day - Showtime!


After a solid day of rehearsing, Beth Marshall called all the writers, actors and directors into the Margeson Theater for a last minute prep talk. Everyone had worked hard all day to to get these six productions up and running. Lindsay Cohen had written a piece about high school girls getting locked in a bathroom during a high school prom. In this piece, Sarah Lockhard played a drugged out youth and she was hilarious. She spun on the floor and used toilet paper to play a game of "He Loves Me, He Loves Me not." At one point, she put her ear to the floor on one of the colorful circles and started pounding her fist, screaming "Get us out of here!" My favorite line of all the shows was screamed out by Sarah, "ROYGBIV your a beautiful freaking genius!" This was particularly funny because of the colorful 70's themed "School House Rock!" set.
The night before Lindsay had gone with fellow writer Tod Caviness to the Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar to try and write. The plan backfired when a guy kept hitting on her. He just wouldn't take the hint that she had work to do. Her play started as a Unabomber dance party, but gradually was reworked into the high school prom bathroom drama we saw. Lindsay wrote all night, and finished at 6:50am and before running over to the Shakes to hand off the script to Laurel Clark, the play's director.
A production that was like a 70's sitcom similar to "Sanford and Son", looked to me like it was going to crash and burn based on the rehearsal I saw. Marty Stonerock, the lead actress in that piece, looked at me while Beth was talking to the assembled group, and she took her scarf and made a gesture like she was being hung, sticking her tongue out comically. In this play, the lead actor, Barry White, craves a drink from his trusted bottle of ripple that he keeps under the desk. Marty had taken the ripple off stage by mistake. As the helpless actor searched for the now missing bottle, Marty finally rolled the bottle into the theater and it got the loudest laugh of the night.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dare to Stare

Brian Feldman wants to get to NYC by May 31st to sit across from Marina Abramovic in her performance piece called "The Artist is Present" at The Museum of Modern Art. To help raise funds for the trip, Brian is holding a 30 hour "Staring Contest" at Frames Forever & Art Gallery (941 Orange Avenue Winter Park). Since I hope to go to New York City with Brian to sketch the main event, I wanted to see how his starting contest fundraiser was going. When I entered Katie Windish's frame store, Mike Maples, a local comedian was sitting across from Brian. Katie said he had been sitting there for more than an hour. I decided to risk his getting up and I rushed my sketch to get him in place. It turns out I didn't need to rush because he lasted almost another hour staring at Brian. He chuckled a few times but it seems that is allowed in this staring contest. As a matter of fact, there seem to be no rules and there is no way to loose. Afterward Mike said he chuckled every time Brian wiggled his ears.
Sultana Fatima Ali wandered in quickly but was late to her evening's run up in Sanford, so she dashed off after dropping some money in the paint bucket. A family showed up and the little boy all of perhaps five years old, kept waving at Brian trying to get his attention. Katie kept trying to get a photo of the little boy waving but all the technical gadgets on the camera wouldn't let her take the shot in time.
I decided I would sit across from Brian and draw. Since this was a starting contest however, I figured I couldn't look at the page I was working on. I did what is called a blind contour drawing; something I haven't done since college. There were minor distractions like the sounds of camera shudders, and I knew video footage was being shot which might end up on YouTube someday. This blind contour drawing took about 10 minutes to do. I found it hard to slow down and let the lines flow. I am so used to drawing fast to catch quick moment. I started by drawing Brian's eyes. I lingered there as long as possible before exploring other features of his face. Nothing lines up exactly but I rather enjoy the penetrating spontaneity of the drawing.
Brian's expression was consistently sober and serious. I found myself wondering what was running through his mind and it felt like an important moment to me. Much can be communicated by just looking into someone's eyes.
Should you want to join this staring contest you still have 2 days to try and see how long you can last.
Brian will be staring Sunday May 16th from 10AM to 8PM, and Monday May 17th from 10Am to 8PM.
Donations are accepted by Pay Pal, or in the paint bucket in the store.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Shotgun

Shotgun, written by John Biguenet, and directed by David Karl Lee, is without a doubt the best play I have seen this year. The play was in the intimate Goldman Theater inside the Lowndes Shakespeare Center as part of PlayFest! The Harriett Lake Festival of New Plays. Dennis Neal, who plays Dexter, gave tickets to Mary Hill, his former wife, and I went along to do a sketch.The play takes place in New Orleans after the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. Beau, a white middle class plumber, and his teenage son rent an apartment in a shotgun duplex from Mattie, an African American woman, and her father, Dexter. Dexter is a bit like a black version of Archie Bunker, not liking the idea of renting to white tenants. He is however under his daughters care so he has to toe the line.
The set for this show is fascinating to watch. When a scene switches from the porch to the apartment inside, the walls fold back creating the side walls of the interior room. The first time it happened, I let out an Ooooh, just like I was watching fireworks. This effect became a bit distracting however since the scenes kept switching form the porch to the interior. The most gut-wrenching scene comes about at the end of act one when Beau, played by Rus Blackwell, and Mattie, played by Chantel Jean-Pierre, are sitting at the kitchen table in his apartment sharing a bottle of liquor. Mattie asks him what happened to his wife and he tells the long painful tale of how she died days after the hurricane from injuries she sustained trying to get out of the house from a jagged hole he had cut in the roof using an ax. He sobs uncontrollably since it was his decision to stay in his home. Mattie consoles him. This scene had me in tears.
Love blossoms between Mattie and Beau and this causes racial tensions for both families. Beau's son Eugene, played by Brandon Peters, suddenly lets out a racial slur when he sees Mattie come out of his dad's bedroom. Willie blames his dad for his mom's death and refuses to forgive him. In the end, the racial divide it too great and Beau moves back with his son to the devastated white suburban neighborhood where they start building their life again from scratch. Love does not always triumph.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happiness Hurts

Performance artist Brian Feldman put out a call on Facebook for anyone with a video camera to record his performance of Happiness Hurts at the Orlando Museum of Art. I happen to have a video camera, so I sent him a message and he made arrangements to get me into the event. He created this performance for 1st Thursdays at the Museum. 1st Thursdays is a monthly event where artists are asked to exhibit work along a similar theme. I couldn't make out the theme by looking at the art hanging on the walls. Then Tisse Mallon finally realized that they must all relate to happiness. Brian's performance piece was the key to the puzzle. I spent some time getting the camera ready and there was some panic that the cord to the projector might not be long enough. At the last minute a longer cord was found.

Brian began to smile and the museum slowly filled up. Some people got the idea of the performance right away. I overheard one woman saying, "Smiling that long must hurt." I was the sketch artist and cameraman. I turned the LCD display so Brian could see his closely cropped face in the viewfinder. This allowed him to focus and remain perfectly still. I set my watch timer to go off in an hour and at that time I would have to replace the tape.

While I was working Sultana Fatima Ali introduced herself to me. She had helped organize a bicycle giveaway program called "Wheels for Kids" that I had sketched. On that day, she had seen me working and she asked a policeman who I was. He told her about my blog and she started reading. She has started following Brian's performances so she has started to appear in my sketches. As I sketched, I kept meeting people I know. I don't disappear into the woodwork the way I used to. I am slowly learning to balance the work with the socializing.
On the wall, Brian's smile was quivering; he was having trouble keeping his smile consistent. He had to keep smiling for three straight hours. With my sketch complete, I wandered around a bit and looked at some of the art. I had to leave early to go sketch another event, so I asked Tisse if she would pack up my camera and tripod and she agreed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tanqueray's

Leslie Lormann, her cousin "Bane", Dina Peterson and I met at at Ceviche for Tapas Tuesday's. Ceviche is at Church Street Station. The servings were small and varied. A light salad with beans asparagus and tomatoes was wonderful. A baked salmon was delicious with it's light sauce. The Mojitos were really tasty and I drank 2. I was surprised to discover both Dina and Leslie had been inside Disney character costumes in the past. I wonder how many other locals share this dark yet fun past.

Dina Peterson introduced me to Tanqueray's (100 South Orange Avenue) where Damon, Warsing and Wynn were going to play. Tanqueray's is located around the block from Church Street. The historic building houses the Mercantile Bank and the bar is located in the basement. In the corner of the room where the band was to play, the old bank vault could be seen behind an iron grate. We met Dina's sister, Kristin Lippens before heading downstairs. The place wasn't very crowded when we go there. The Orlando Magic was playing at the Amway Arena and the band wasn't going to start playing till the game was over. The Magic was ahead by like 40 points so it wasn't a game worth watching though it was on the big screen TV. After the game was over, the bar started to fill up. A table right in front of the band was available so we all ordered drinks and sat down. When the band took their places I got up and sat at another table so I could find an angle where I could fit them all on the page.

This sketch was created over the course of 2 sets and 3 beers. I had sketched Thomas Wynn before at Enzian Theater. He had played for the Florida Film Festival's opening night party with Thomas Wynn and the Believers. Tonight half of that group was playing. The players were Thomas Wynn, Todd Warsing and Thom Damon. The music was loud, vibrant and exciting. "On Cripple Creek" had my head bobbing. Thomas Wynn was smoking most of the time and the smoke would billow out of his nose highlighted by the blue stage lights. They were as lost in the music as everyone else in the room was. A young couple sat in front of Dina's table and started talking loudly. Dina got them an extra chair and let them know there was a much quieter table at the back of the room. The couple took her advice and were making out later that evening.
Dina worked on an Independent film called "The Ah of Life" and she hopes that "The Believers" will contribute a song for the sound track. Rick Lane, and old time friend of Dina's, sat at the front table and was constantly moving to the beat. Later that evening he was invited to accompany the band on his harmonica.

When my sketch was finished I put it away and just enjoyed the good music. At a break Thomas asked to see the sketch and it was passed around for everyone to see. Others asked to see my work as I was sketching and I gave them the sketchbook I wasn't using to flip through. I managed to spill a bottle of Becks on one of my sketchbooks when I came back from a bathroom break. I saved it and the beer before the pages got to soaked. Thomas really seemed to like what I am doing and he asked me to stay for the last set. I agreed. I wandered out of downtown at 2AM feeling great, smelling of smoke and proud to have been introduced to a true Orlando Dive.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Triathlon

I got up at 4:30 AM to get down to the Woman's Triathlon being held at the Disney Wilderness Lodge. Blogger, Sultana Fatima Ali told me about the event. I arrived at the magic kingdom and had to take a bus over to the Wilderness lodge. It was still dark out when I got off the bus. Bright theater lights with bugs swarming around them lit up the finish line area. I kept following the line of women who all were walking in the same direction. I found myself at a "marking area" where volunteers wrote the runners number on arms and then another number on racers legs. I considered doing a sketch here but the action was so frantic and varied that I decided to move on. I needed some anchor to help me calm down and start composing a scene. I started drawing near where all the bikes were stored. I was disappointing when I couldn't enter the area where the bikes were stored. The first sketch of the crowds milling about as the sky grew lighter was fine but I decided not to post it. The funny thing is that I drew so many people holding water bottles by a strap and now a few days later I have the same water bottle sitting beside me as I type. This is an indication that this event was for me a life changing experience. Sultana spotted me sketching and leaned down to give me hug. As quickly as she appeared she disappeared into the crowd milling all around me. I noted her number which was 893.
After finishing my first sketch I walked down to the beach where the race was to start. A huge crowd of about 2000 women were gathered, all adjusting their swim caps and anxiously waiting. The women would go into the water in 12 different waves, or groups. Sultana was going to start with the 9th wave and she had a yellow cap. Each wave of women wore a different colored swim cap. The Star Spangled Banner played and the crowd fell silent. I decided I needed to finish this sketch before the start of the 9th wave. My line work became more fluid and experimental because of all the energy in the crowd. I worked fast and furious. When the 9th wave got onto the water, I was still applying water color washes to the sketch. I stopped and walked to the waters edge to see the start. I bumped into a spectator and we turned to each other. I suddenly realized it was Travis Blaze a former Disney Animator. He was watching his girlfriend, Sarah Purser, who was also going to start in the 9th wave. He laughed and said, "What are the chances?" While we waited, he said, "We should do a triathlon someday." I said, "If your game, I'll start training." I was half joking. Travis explained that the numbers on the woman's legs were their ages. From that moment on I was much more curious about the numbers written on legs. I went back to finish my sketch and then I would watch Sultana as she got out of the water. I finished fast and jogged over to the place where the contestants were exiting the water. I stood right next to the photographer. I waited until there were no longer any yellow caps. She was too fast, she must have gotten out of the water before I finished my sketch.
I next went to where the women dismounted their bikes. The crowd of spectators was pressed up against the barricade so I had to stand on my camping chair to look over their heads. Women kept falling off their bikes at this transition point since some wanted to keep riding past the sign and others stopped early. One woman got her foot caught in the pedals and she crashed right into the metal barricade in front of me. One woman rode in on a tiny child's mountain bike. She explained to friends that she had gotten a flat and a little boy lent her his bike. Finally I saw Sultana cruising in on her bike. I shouted out her name and yelled waving my arms, but she was so focused on the transition that I don't think she heard me.
When the Bike dismount sketch was finished I went to the finish line. I once again stood on my chair to look over the crowd. Runner 893 which is the number right after Sultana's ran in at 9:55. Bubbles were billowing up from a bubble machine. Large groups of spectators would cheer as runners they knew ran for the finish line. It was exhilarating. I waited to see Sultana finish. This time I was too distracted to sketch. There was so much love and energy in the crowd of spectators. I just soaked it in.
The race was held on the day before Mother's Day. A woman ran across the finish line with her 10 year old son sprinting beside her. Betty Vernon ran in with her 3 children and she held her youngest daughter in her arms. Family's were cheering and supporting one another. This was the most amazing Mother Day celebration! I felt elated! When ever a runner would come in with a really strong sprint I had to cheer! I waited almost to the end when women were walking to the finish line. I realized that once again I had missed Sultana. She was just to fast to keep up with as a sketching spectator. I glanced over my shoulder as I got on the bus, 4 women strolled across the finish line arm in arm wearing Hawaiian leis and wide brim hats. The leis reminded me of my step mom, and I remembered that my mother, Elvira, had died on mothers day when I was 10 years old. I felt sad for a moment, but then joyful that life keeps striding on in wild celebration.

P.S. I spoke with Sultana after the event by phone. She finished with a time of 1:40:35 and was 27th in her division. She went into the race hoping to finish in less than 2 hours, so this was an undreamed of success and victory. She told me that when she was biking she saw a woman with one leg passing other racers on the course. This inspired her to push past her minor frustrations and pain. She said that the transition to running was the hardest part of the event. She had to talk to her legs convincing them that they had seen much worse while training. They came to an agreement and pushed on. Only 2 women passed her as she ran.
I am now jogging every day and I hope to experience a triathlon myself. If I experienced such a glorious adrenaline rush as a spectator, then it must be even more rewarding as a contestant. My favorite quote from the day's events was, "The irony of commitment is it is deeply liberating" -Anne Morris. I am now committed to treating my body with more respect rather than just using it a a vehicle to get my hands to the next sketch location. Stride by stride I try to grow.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Play in a Day

Having a bad day. My truck was rear ended and the guy said he had to run because he was picking someone up at the airport, so there was no police report. I looked at my cell phone only to find the battery dead. We did exchange insurance info. People need to slow down and relax. A friend sketched a peace sign into the dirt on the back of my truck. When I got home after the accident I rubbed it out thinking it might have been a bulls eye for the road raged Daytona driver that hit me.
Play in a day is hosted by Beth Marshall at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Six groups of Orlando's most talented actors and playwrights had just 24 hours to put together their consecutive plays. Writers were given a theme and certain ideas that had to be in the play. They then wrote late into the night some of them all night long for the production starting the next day.
When I arrived Beth Marshall was directing a musical political satire written by Margot Knight. Margot explained her process a bit and it was fascination. She had a long list of free associated ideas that she jotted down in quick succession. No ideas were rejected and many ended up in the final production. She said she even was writing as she drove which is a practice I have started following her example. The fact that I had a fender bender this morning is an entirely unrelated event. I was rear ended and I wasn't writing at the time. Margot's production was a fun romp about health care reform. The political quagmire was best represented by using Alice in Wonderland as the vehicle to start the production. At one point Alice tries to read the legal document of the health care reform bill and she is rightfully confused by the language where up is down and down is up.
Britni Leslie had the lead roll as Alice. She had several song numbers to sing and Beth was concerned that her voice might not carry well enough in the theater. Beth arranged to get a wireless mic. The rehearsal was fast and furious with tech setting up lights and sound cues on the fly. I am amazed as how the actors could retain so much dialogue so fast. When it came time to present the play in front of an audience, I felt it went rather well. watching rehearsals I knew where a few blunders and slip ups had happened, but when there was an audience the adrenaline and focus kicked in making everything flow smoothly.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sidewalk Art


Heritage Park Square in front of the Orlando County Regional History Center was the site of a daylong sidewalk chalk artist festival. I wasn't feeling particularly inspired this day, but I had to push past that and just get lost in the work. The park in front of the History Center had a large circular sidewalk and artists were assigned designated areas where they could create their sidewalk creations. I found a spot under a shady pine tree and settled in to get a quick sketch done. The artists I was sketching seemed to all be from the same high school. I believe the art teacher was to my right since once in a while a student would walk up to him and ask a question about their project. The kids were in constant motion wandering back and forth comparing chalk creations before settling in and putting some chalk on their own work. The piece right in front of me was rather nice, being a sketch of a girl half veiled with a colorful shawl.
When my sketch was finished I wandered around the rest of the park and ran into Bob Kodzis, Anna McCambridge and her mom Vicki. Anna was working on a bunny rabbit, while her mom had a human figure with rather intriguing firework type effects. Bob went with a crowd-pleasing black and white dog that looked like the dog from "The Little Rascals."
After this event I walked down the street to the library to participate in Brian Feldman's 67 Books project.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cinnamon Roll Hug

Jessica Earley organized a Facebook event called the Cinnamon Roll Hug. Amanda Chadwick told me about this event only about an hour before it was to take place at Lake Eola near Panera's. started called encouragement rules!. One previous event she talked about was a party where all the women created small time capsules in bottles which they then buried. The idea was that they would be burying any of the negative nonconstructive energies in their lives.
I got to Lake Eola about a half hour before the Hug was to take place. I went into Panera's with the idea of getting a Cinnamon Roll to munch on while waiting for the crowd to show up. I had the image in my head of hundreds of women all joining hands. It would certainly make for a challenging and dynamic sketch. There was a line in Panera's however and I gave up on the roll.
Here is the description from the event page of what I was about to witness...
Outline of Activity: Group stands in a circle holding hands. One person breaks her link with the person on her right. That person then walks to the center of the circle still holding hands with the person on her left. Everyone is still holding hands except for this one break. The person who had been on the center person’s right then begins to walk clockwise around the circle. Everyone follows her. They spiral in tighter and tighter until they are a snug pinwheel. On the count of three, the group gently squeezes." Jessica explained to me that the best position to be in would be in the center of the roll.
When 6:30PM rolled around, I saw Jessica with two other women near the large flower bed. I walked over and said hello. The two women with Jessica were Marnie Sears Bench and Luisairis Soto. I asked Jessica how many people she was expecting and she said, "Twelve people confirmed on Facebook." Deciding that would still make for a worthy sketch, I leaned back against a tree and started blocking in the elements of the grassy field where the hug would take place. Jessica wandered off and went to another grassy field where she felt some people might have mistaken for the event site. She returned empty-handed.
It was now well past 6:30 and time for the hug to commence. Jessica and Marnie walked across the street to Panera's and asked people going in if they wanted free hugs. They asked a family of tourists, who replied, "Sorry we are from out of town." The tourists rushed into he pastry shop to escape. Marnie then asked a small group of men if they wanted free hugs. She was shocked when they said, "Sorry not interested." Back at the park Luisairis started shouting, "Free hugs!" I was afraid she might get arrested for disturbing the peace. She was after all shouting in Lake Eola Park. All this last minute advertising was not bringing any more people into the circle. Finally the three women stood out in the field and hugged. They knew I was sketching and stayed together hugging for probably five minutes of so on my behalf. I had not expected them to pose but I am grateful they did. Had I known they would pose, I would have moved much closer.
I consider the Cinnamon Roll Hug a novel and fun idea. I didn't participate since I was busy sketching. I hope Jessica organizes this event again, inviting far more people. But honestly the number of people isn't the issue; it was still fun and exciting to sketch this display of open friendship and affection. Jessica said, "Well there wasn't really enough people for a Cinnamon Roll Hug, what you saw was more of a Donut Hole Hug."

Saturday, May 8, 2010

My Fair Lady

The Orlando Philharmonic along with Mad Cow Theater is presenting "My Fair Lady" at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center (401 West Livingston Street). I went to a rehearsal of this limited staged production and was shocked at the care taken with the set. The whole living room section rolled forward towards the audience. I thought I was going to sketch back stage, but the whole orchestra was elevated making that a challenge. Instead I sat in the front row looking up at the action.
I loved this production it was funny endearing and the singing was great. The sound techs were still working out the kinks on the sound dials for the actors mics. This caused actors to occasionally go mute but I'm sure it will all be worked out by show time. Caroline Blice a french horn player came down to say hello during the intermission. She explained that every instrument in the orchestra had a separate mic.
I loved every second of this production. The performance features Michelle Knight as Eliza Doolittle and Philip Nolan as Henry Higgins. Performances are today at 2PM and 8PM. You will be sorry if you miss this production.

Friday, May 7, 2010

K.T. Sullivan -Mad Cow Cabaret

For the next three weeks the Mad Cow Theater is offering great cabaret entertainment from all over the world. This is the 8th annual cabaret festival hosted by Mad Cow. Cabaret offers a celebration of song and personality; musical entertainment in a intimate setting. I saw Zac Alfson who works at the Mad Cow at the WPRK radio station and he invited me to go to the opening night performance by K.T. Sullivan which would then be followed by a cabaret party. I have never been to a cabaret before, so I jumped at the opportunity. I got a seat in the back row and that worked out great since I needed to use a book light to see the pages the whole time I sketched. This is the first time I have done a sketch with a book light in a theater and I was a bit self conscious. When the house went totally dark I would shield the light with my hand.
Just as the show was about to get started two young women in fluffy night gowns and high heels got into the row in front of me. One of the girls got up probably to go to the rest room and she pranced down the steps theatrically as if trying not to make a sound. Half of the audience was able to see her stealthy comical movements and they started laughing uncontrollably. The woman had to be an actress and I wondered if she had been planted in the audience.
K.T. Sullivan's performance was both sultry and humorous. Jon Weber accompanied her on the piano. She sang the songs of Dietz and Schwartz who she said wrote the songs late at night. One song written around the time of WWII was about a woman having to date young boys and old men since all the best men had been shipped off to war. The lyrics were very funny. Seeing her performance from the back row let me focus more on the overall feeling of the intimate setting of the space.
After the show was over everyone gathered in the lobby and I was surprised that no one left. I noticed one of Terry's friends named Eileen and I went over to say hello. She had just gotten back from Louis's funeral in New Orleans. She is selling her home in Chuluota and will be moving to New York City soon. I offered my condolences and told her a bit about my trip to Pennsylvania. She was with a large group of people and they left for another venue.
There was to be a Cabaret House Party starting at 10PM and so everyone waited in the lobby for the next half hour or so till that started. I got a chance to talk to Genevieve who is now working with Aradhana Tiwari on Project F. Genevieve is the choreographer of Voci Dance and she is excited about the Facebook themed show she is collaborating on. She told me about a rehearsal I missed in which everyone on stage had yarn and as they walked on stage they would leave a trail behind them. All the actors became entangled in this web and it affected their movements. I can kick myself for missing that rehearsal.
I got a white wine when the Cabaret House Party began. Seth Kubersky carried a clip board and wandered the crowd looking for people to sign up for Karaoke Cabaret. Tod Kimbro took to the piano and entertained the audience for a while. The first singer that took to the stage was seventeen year old Samantha. She said she was a bit nervous because she had never been to the Mad Cow Theater before then she quietly began to sing "Till there was you." She began tentatively but then her voice rang clear and beautiful. She had a gorgeous voice. What a fabulous start for the night! Another couple that I absolutely adored sang "Suddenly Seymour" from Little Shop of Horrors. I love this show, and used to sing the songs to myself as I painted in my rundown apartment in New York City. The notion of finding romance in the ruins of New York appealed to me, as did the idea of escaping to find a better life somewhere else. Who would have imagined that might be Orlando. They finished their song and kissed. She quietly said to herself,"He's so adorable." I found myself humming "Suddenly Seymour" to myself on the whole drive home.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

WPRK 91.5FM - Out and About

Via Facebook Mark Baratelli contacted me and asked if he could borrow my printer so he could print photos for an upcoming show. Every third Thursday of each month Mark puts on a "Mobile Art Show" in a U-Haul truck parked outside City Arts Factory. This month he plans to showcase all the photos that have been take for thedailycity.com. We bounced ideas back and forth on where we could meet and we decided to meet at WPRK a radio station located on the Rollins College campus. Mark would be there to showcase upcoming arts and culture events as listed on thedailycity.com. I arrived early so I would have a full hour to sketch. Jeremy Seghers, the Out and About host, greeted me and then got his guest situated for his on air interview. Seated in the guest chair was Jesse Nager who is now appearing in Xanadu at the Bob Carr Theater. Jesse also discussed a cabaret show he organized with friends of his. An album is being released called "The Broadway Boys" that features hits from this group of talented singers. He wanted to stress that that even people who don't usually listen to show tunes would like these performances. He expressed how fun it was to collaborate with so many of his friends.
Jesse and Jeremy discussed the plot line of Xanadu at some length and now I am really curious to see this Broadway musical. It seems the play pokes fun at itself and it's 1970's culture and should be very campy and fun. The music to this show I have heard many times many times on the radio, not realizing it was from a Broadway show.
Zac Alfson was also on hand to promote the Cabaret House Party at Mad Cow Theater featuring K. T. Sullivan. I will be going to this Cabaret performance tonight and I hope to get a good sketch of K.T. Zac pointed out that there will be cabaret performances every night through May 16th. The Mad Cow offers an intimate setting in which to experience these one of a kind acts.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Transending Vision - Orlando Museum of Art

Band of America and Brokers from from Merrill Lynch gathered in the lobby of the Orlando Museum of Arts for a gathering in honor of the new show at the museum which is on loan from Bank of America. Bank of America started gathering the painting in the collection as far back as 1904. The paintings were gathered from over 3000 regional banks and thus show work gathered from artists all over the country.
Transcending Vision: American Impressionism follows the influence French Impressionism had on American artists from 1870 to 1940. Also on hand were works from the Hudson River School and the American Barbizon Schools of art. The paintings showed the development of landscape painting as an important feature of American art from the 19th to the mid 20th century. Landscape paintings also helped document this countries growth as settlers pushed west.
When I finished sketching the corporate mingling going on in the lobby, I went to the back rooms where these paintings are on display. It was refreshing to see so many paintings all in one place. The museum has a small permanent collection but lets face it the Orlando Museum of Art isn't like walking into the Met or Chicago Art Institute. The paintings were technically great but even in a large museum, if I see too many landscapes all in one place, I glaze over. Landscapes are a dime a dozen to me. I miss the human element, the unexpected flash that comes the second a human enters and influences the landscape. As I was jotting down notes, Jodie Hardman, a Bank of America Marketing Manager, came over and introduced herself. She was curious about my work so I gave her a sketchbook to flip through. She then pulled out her iPhone and sent me a press release which gave me all the background information about the exhibit. That small technical wonder certainly made my job easier.
I examined the paintings up close. Sometimes the brush strokes were thick, juicy and delicious like frosting. The subject matter didn't interest me that much but when I got close and examined the inner life of the paintings the tangled and twisted abstract world of brush work, I was excited and intrigued. The show left me wanting to work on large canvases.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Project F - Vocals

This was the second Project F rehearsal I was able to attend and sketch. When I arrived at the Shakespeare Theater there were only a few actors gathered in the space. Aradhana Tiwari, the director, explained to the actors gathered that this night they would begin with a viewpoints session and then move on to vocalizations for the first time. After more actors trickled in, Aradhana turned off the house lights leaving only the Ghost lamp to illuminate the stage. The actors began to walk the grid. Viewpoints is an acting regiment in which actors explore tempo, shape, duration, line, and form. When Aradhana described the process it was as if she was describing the creation of a beautiful canvas using actors and their creative spirits as the medium. She just returned from a month long viewpoints training session in NYC and her intentions and purpose were strong and clear. She often jumped up on the stage to join the actors and affect the session. My favorite quote which came up in the evenings review was, "Art is intention." The actors were asked to do everything on the stage with a strong clear intention.

After a break. The actors were asked to sit on the stage and review some status updates that had been typed out by the director. All of the updates began with the ubiquitous Facebook "is".
_____ is wishing and hoping.
_____ is work...again!
_____ is popping Advil like their Tic Tacs.
_____ is sending out healing energy, joy & swirling peas. Namaste ya'll.

In the next view-pointing exercise, Aradhana divided the actors into 2 groups. When one group moved, the other group would remain still. Actors were asked to only move when they had a status to vocalize. Some fascinating things happened as one group would move in and around the other groups architecture. Sarah Lockhard lead one group and she moved frantically around the stage crouched and peering about as if she was being followed. She said, "Sarah has 534 friends." The other actors echoed "534 friends" while mimicking her movements. At one point Dennis Neal stood still on one corner of the stage and all the other actors gathered around him. The moment became all about him.
Aradhana said she wants to explore archetypes. She asked the actors to consider what archetypes need to be in the show and how they can be represented through rhythm, melody and movement. She wants the actors to capture a persons signature through movement.

Natalie Peterson expressed the concern that she actually felt scared at one point in the session. Themes of voyeurism and exhibitionism were surfacing and they want to explore the extremes of those ideas. Dennis pointed out that everyone in the room is an exhibitionist, on some level. Aradhana pointed out that shy people can become exhibitionists on Facebook. Mary Hill pointed out that at times she could tell when an actor was reciting a line and when they were speaking from the heart from a personal space. Mary was bought into the cast because she has never been on Facebook. She honestly has no idea what most of the cast was talking about as they spoke of "pokes", "likes" and "followers.". She wandered the grid as an outsider.

There was some discussion on how Facebook promotes "revolving door relationships." Just as in NYC where so many people are in constant close proximity, friendships and relationships can often be short and intense, then people move on. Facebook has the effect of throwing everyone into close proximity, knowing intimate details of people who barely know each other and perhaps have never met in person. This play has limitless potential and I'm excited by the possibilities.