Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Director's Nightmare or The Tax Collector Scene

My mother told me a story of a woman who bought a house once in Texas. It was one of those "Mc Mansions". A cheaply constructed cookie cutter monstrosity with an odd facade sort of glued to the front of the thing, no lawn, not enough windows, and ridiculous room sizes. My mother assured me that despite all this, she was happy when she made the walk throughs, after the inspections, and when she first moved in. But as time passed, she became increasingly uncomfortable. Somehow it didn't feel big enough. She looked at the information on the house and the square footage didn't seem to match how it felt. Not only that, she felt cold often and when alone in the house, she had a sense that she wasn't in her own home. As if she hadn't completely taken ownership of it. The word "haunted" crossed her mind. After living in the house a year, she couldn't stand it any more. She prepared to pack up her and her family's belongings and get out. One day while watering the grass in the front yard and contemplating the move, and wondering about her sanity, she looked up at her strange house and wondered absently why she had never put any blinds on one of the upstairs windows. As she thought back to her frantic and happy decorating of those first months it came to her...she had put blinds on all the windows. Dropping the hose she ran into the home she thought she knew and headed upstairs to find that uncovered window. There she ran into a wall. Painted white like the rest of the walls in the house it hid behind it the source of her discomfort and sense of unease, a room that the builders had accidentally walled up instead of installing a door.

My mother has a dream similar to this event often during stressful times in her life. During such times, my mother redecorates until she is too exhausted to be stressed about anything. In her dreams her children paint cryptic messages in the carpet, strange gifts fall into her hands, and she discovers rooms that she has yet to paint. She wakes up wondering where that room is and if green will work with the light. Then the curtain of sleep lifts completely and she is back in her three bedroom, two bath, big living room with vaulted ceilings and a large backyard home in San Antonio. But the worry does not dissipate with that curtain and the seed of doubt remains: I have forgotten something...I am leaving something undone...there is a room with no door that I can not get into.

The last days of directing a show often feel like this for me. But my missing room is a missing scene. Often that scene is some variation of the Tax Collector Scene.

Oscar Wild wrote two versions of The Importance of Being Earnest. In one version a tax collector comes out to the country in search of Algernon (or actually Earnest) for unpaid debts. It is honestly an unnecessary scene without much humor and no furthering of the plot. But when I first read it I did so with that scene. And since then when ever I see a production of it, I am invariably waiting for the Tax collector to come out.

In my dreams I am directing the actors during a scene, the Tax Collector makes his entrance, and no one knows their lines or where to move or what to do and I flail my arms up and say "FUCK! I can't believe I forgot to direct this scene!" I try to remember why we've never done this scene before or why we need to do it. I try to find the script to see where it falls in the story. I wake myself with the violence of the dream and try to make a plan for that nights rehearsal involving the forgotten scene. I remember real events from the previous night (the misplaced phone...the forgotten shirt...the broken bottle...and "remember" that it was because of the tax collector scene that all these things went awry. I try to sleep, content with the plan for the scene and the play, only to find myself directing again and again the actors are lost in the forgotten scene. I try to shake it from me. "I'm dreaming." I say to myself. "I'm dreaming." I do all the things one does when they realize they are dreaming. I run from the theatre only to find myself in another. I try to wake myself and force myself into a new dream. Sex with a movie star. Flying dreams. Driving car dreams. Running from bad guy dreams. Working in the office dreams. Any other dream then the Tax Collector Scene. But always I find myself back on the stage, in the dark, before the confused and mournful eyes of actors who are re-enacting a bad scene from an Oscar Wild play. The confusion continues into the morning as I plan for the rehearsal and I try to remember what I need to bring...and what the Tax Collector's lines are.

And I'll wonder at my sanity. I'll even whisper the word "Haunted", because surly this is what it feels like to be followed by a ghost.

And I'll wonder what I've forgotten. What I've left undone.

How do I get into a room with no door?

We Can't Include Everybody...

I found the following story on IMDB.com this morning during my usual gossip glut. I understand that some important people/events might have been left out of the ceremony this year due to the short time organizers had to put the bulk of it together. But because he died so recently and he wasn't exactly a nobody. I would hope that the organizers would apologize and, if such an excuse could be made, say that they were on a short schedule and his name was inexcusably over looked. But to say "It is simply not possible to include everyone in that segment." I think sounds cruel...especially on a list of at least 50 people. Did they get to Brad and say "No, we just don't have room for that one."

Below you'll find two articles which basically say the same thing. All I have to say: They should have made room for one more.

Renfro Snubbed at Oscars

Tragic actor Brad Renfro was snubbed at Sunday's Academy Awards when organizers left him out of a montage of stars who died in the past year. Renfro was found dead from a drug overdose in Los Angeles in January, aged just 25. But he was overlooked on a list of 98 movie industry people, that included everyone from actors and directors to public relations people. A statement from the Motion Picture Academy of America claims, "It is simply not possible to include everyone in that segment." But a friend of the late star of The Client, Apt Pupil and Ghost World tells Tmz.com, "It's unbelievable and disgusting."

Brad Renfro Excluded From Oscar Tribute

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Blogs were buzzing with discussion of why Brad Renfro was left out of the Academy Awards tribute to Hollywood figures who died in the past year.

The troubled 25-year-old actor died Jan. 15 of a heroin and morphine overdose. Heath Ledger, killed by an overdose of prescription drugs one week later, appeared in a scene from "Brokeback Mountain" at the conclusion of the three-minute video tribute at Sunday night's Oscar ceremony.

"Unfortunately we cannot include everyone," said Leslie Unger, spokeswoman for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. "Our goal is to honor individuals who worked in the many professions and trades of the motion picture industry, not just actors."

Hilary Swank introduced the Oscar segment, which featured 43 people including makeup artists, a stuntman and several Hollywood agents. Unger said it was not required that those honored be members of the Academy or past Oscar nominees.

USA Today blogger Whitney Matheson headlined a post Monday, "Why was Brad snubbed last night?" and Perez Hilton posted a mug shot of Renfro with the words "Oscar Snub."

TMZ speculated Renfro was not "feel-good enough" for Oscar, but public comments left on the site also pointed out that in contrast to Ledger, "Renfro wasn't a big enough star."

Unger shook off the suggestion that Renfro wasn't included because of his history with drugs. "I can't speak to what other people are going to think," Unger said. "We can't include everybody."

Renfro was most well-known for his title role in 1993's "The Client," and had his last major roles more than a decade ago. He had appeared in smaller parts in recent years.

Oscar-nominated "Jaws" star Roy Scheider also was not included. His death on Feb. 10 fell outside the time frame of the tribute video, which covered Feb. 1, 2007 to Jan. 31, 2008.

And of course the actual video (also Marcel Marceau is not mentioned, neither is Luciano Pavarotti):

And here is the BAFTA tribute which is a better tribute over all (the Oscars didn't even really give Bergman much time...I mean really!)

And here is the SAG tribute...wow...the oscars one seems really lax. Is it always this bad? (also, no need to stay on for the "extended fan tribute" that some sad sack added on...you'll know it when you see it.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Did I mention I'm doing a show?

Thunderbird Theatre is proud to present the return of last year's Sketch Comedy Show…
"Serve By Expiration!"

Written by Ian Hemenway and Sang S. Kim

Directed by Claire Rice

Featuring: Faith Aeryn, Jacquie Duckworth, Jenni Gebhardt, Matt Gunnison, Tavis Kammet, Christopher P. Kelly, Nathan Tucker & Wilton Yeung

It's our tenth year and we're starting 2008 with brand new skits o'comedy from the people who brought you last years show…

Shameless Praise from Last Year's Show:

"[a] wry take on weighty social concerns… Serve by Expiration will make your belly ache with laughter…"

- San Francisco Bay Guardian

"…sharp social observations dished up as short comedy skits... provocative and funny…"

- San Francisco Bay Times

Hard to believe all this praise was from a show about crusading lawyers, homeless hobo-espionage and panda molestation. WTF? WTF Squared?!

This time SBE returns to skewer that little crime against humanity known as your office day job because it's the little things that make it suck… overbearing bosses… unrequited office romances… that coffee waitress who thinks she's Che Barista starting a Worker's Revolution and then there's that part-man, part-plant co-worker who's threatening your job security. It's the nightmare job told in bite size portions of comedy.

"Serve by Expiration" is the comedic pumice stone for the callus on your soul. Is that imagery too high brow? Don't worry – we also got pudding in our boxers and sex with office furniture. Sweet on that!

Not enough? Wait. There's more! How about a phenomenal cast… an Ensemble of Eight. Some familiar faces. Some new faces. Come shower them with unconditional love… the kind of unconditional love you can only find at the Special Olympics and the Latin Grammies.

No job is worth hiding under your desk and crying! Come see the show dammit!

"Serve By Expiration"

Feb 28th to Mar 15th (Thursdays - Saturdays)

Produced by the Thunderbird Theatre Company

Presented at Exit on Taylor

277 Taylor St., San Francisco 94102

Curtain: 8:00pm Cost: $15-$20

Tickets & Information:


(415) 289-6766

Contains adult humor. Leave the kids at home.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Feeling Fancy Free, Flying Freakishly Frazzled For Formica Furnishings

If you can't do it here, where can you?

Update on my life: I visited my mom in San Antonio and on a delay in Las Vegas mistakenly bought Matt a pack of nude playing cards that I thought just had showgirls on them. I'm directing Serve By Expiration for Thunderbird Theatre Company and right at this moment I think it's going well. Ask me tomorrow and who the F*%K knows what I'll tell you. I've taught to classes so far this semester and that doesn't feel as if it is going as well. I feel unfocused, but it is very early in the semester and I think the mood will improve. I think it will be noticeably more energetic after we read The Devil and Billy Markham and get into the concept project which are fun to teach and fun to do.

Brown Bag is doing my first play Once a Boy this week. It's been a good experience. I think they've done well with the show. It did make me wish that I had done some rewrites. I have to worry now that I may not get the opportunity to because I can't find the computer file for the life of me. I need to get a copy off the director. Which is odd. To rework my own script I need to get it from someone else. And I will need to rework it. A lot of it is all wrong and doesn't flow. But, so many projects so little time.

Speaking of which, I've been Jack's procrastinating mind recently. My lectures aren't the only things that have been unfocused. In general I've been spacey and without much drive. Blah blah poor poor Claire.

And in closing, Matt and I will be getting internet in the next month, so you might be seeing one or two more blogs out of me a week rather than a month. Hooray!