Friday, November 26, 2010

Let the bean-soaking begin!

Thanksgiving was lovely. The pumpkin pie and green bean casserole were quite tasty, even according to my non-vegan family.

Today I'll be studying, not shopping (though I did allow myself to buy some shoes I've been coveting from Vegan Essentials).

I'm also going to start preparing my chili for a Chili Cook Off I'm participating in tomorrow! I'm excited, and I've got my eye on the "Best Vegetarian Chili" prize! NOLA folks should come on out and eat some's for a good!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tofurkey Day nears...

The play is over, and it was a lot of fun. Our last performance, this past Sunday, was PACKED! The success of the show is definitely something I'm thankful for this year.

I'm going over to my mom's for Thanksgiving. She's veganized her apple pie and mashed potatoes for me. I'm going to make a vegan green bean casserole and pumpkin pie (using Vegetarian Times' recipe). Except I'm cheating a bit, and bought a pre-made crust for it.

We actually had an early Thanksgiving dinner a couple of weeks ago, when my younger sister and her fiance were in town from Massachusetts. I decided to try Field Roast for a turkey substitute.

I loved the Field Roast! But today I couldn't find any at Whole Foods, so this time I'll spend Thanksgiving with my old friend whose name causes me to be teased mercilessly by family members year after year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A break for the night

I'm getting a bit panicky about my upcoming GRE test, and I'm also cranky because New Orleans' water supply may or may not be contaminated, so I have to boil it and can't take a shower. Some people aren't overly concerned about it, but I'm a germ phobe and I don't want to get cholera. Also I was annoyed by the behavior of some of the Fringe crowd last night, as I mentioned in my last post, and I think I might need a brief break from crowds. So I've decided to stay in and study tonight.

More Fringe tomorrow!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fringe so far

First, To Moscow You Betcha! got reviewed by the Gambit's blog! Neato.

Second, I've decided to write mini-reviews of the Fringe shows I see this year. I am by no means a professional critic, nor an expert of any kind, but I love seeing and thinking about theater. I have somewhat unique taste, so keep that in mind. Mostly I just like to identify what works for me and what doesn't, to help me learn and grow in my own work.

Fringe started on Wednesday, but we had two shows so I didn't see any of the other Fringe shows.

Thursday (yesterday), I saw three shows:

The Women of Tu-Na House
I picked this show because I love solo shows (I've done a couple of them and hope to do more in the future) and because it was about a topic that annoys me. You see, as a Massage Therapist, I hate that my profession is often associated with prostitution. I've often wished the Massage Board had more power, or the cops weren't corrupt or something, and the "Massage Parlors" (of which there are many, here in NOLA) would get shut down once and for all. This show portrayed women who work in this type of establishment, in New York. So I was intrigued.

Nancy Eng was a wonderful actress, and the women's stories were quite engrossing. One thing that I thought was kind of strange, though, was that there was a note from Nancy in the program that said something along the lines of women freely choosing this type of work, however most of the stories seemed to describe such desperate situations that it didn't seem they had much of a choice.

My only issue (and it's a small one) was with the design of the show. It looked really sloppy, and if that was on purpose, I guess I didn't understand why. There were clothes and props and shoes strewn around the stage with no apparent thought. Overall, a very good show, though.

Before the next show, I stopped by the Fringe tent and listened to some energetic and talented young musicians.

The Liar Show
The premise is that four people tell anecdotes from their lives, and one of them is lying. The performers were funny, but my feelings about this show overall were kinda meh. (Hey, I told you I'm not a professional critic). I guess it just didn't feel very Fringe-y to me. It wasn't edgy or challenging or even that thought provoking for me, just kind of funny and cute. Maybe I would have liked it more if I'd won a t-shirt ;)

Snow and Flames
I almost went home after The Liar Show, because it was cold and I was tired. I'm so glad I stayed for this show! It was outside, and the performers had brought a fire pit. There was a smallish audience, and we all huddled around the fire pit in the cold to watch the show. It was lovely, actually. The performers were a mother and daughter who are both puppeteers. They used just about every form of puppet there is: rod puppets, marionettes, shadow puppets...even non-puppet objects that came to life through their skill. The show is hard to describe, but I found it beautiful, powerful, and immensely creative.

Tonight (Friday), I went back for more! I have to say, it was not as positive overall as Thursday. I ran into several drunk obnoxious people, who were being rude to fellow audience members, and even one who heckled a performer (thankfully, he was escorted out, but I was distracted for a good bit of the show by wishing I could sock him in the nose). Anyway...

I'm a big Southern Rep fan, so I had to check this out. It was a comic noir-type story, done as a radio play. The actors spoke into microphones and they had live sound effects. The script was very clever and wonderfully acted. I think it worked quite well as a radio play, in fact I had a hard time picturing it staged traditionally. My only complaint was that it ran longer (90 minutes) than most Fringe shows, so a friend and I had to rush to make it to the next show.

Home Made
I'd seen work by the dance company tEEth before, at the Sidearm Gallery a couple of years ago, and I must have signed up for a mailing list or something, because they send me emails. Anyway, I think their work overall is weird and wonderful. This show was very brave, with the two dancers naked throughout a lot of it (and dancing non-stop for an impressive amount of time). It was amazingly creative. The dancers filmed themselves for part of the show, with the live images projected on a screen behind them. It was passionate, often funny, weird, sexy, and very well executed. Bravo!

52 Man Pickup
I was a bit worried that this show would consist entirely of bragging about sexual conquests, but actually it was heartfelt, quite poetic at times, and courageously honest. Oh, it was also hilarious! Two feminist thumbs up!

Off to bed now...more Fringe tomorrow!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Last night we had two performances of To Moscow, You Betcha!, at 7pm and 9pm. They both went well...I was especially pleased with the second performance (because I managed not to mess up my light and sound cues). I put myself on the light/sound board for two reasons: first, it's hard to find good, reliable people who will do tech for free, and second, it's good if I have a task, otherwise I'll die of nerves.

I felt so honored and supported as an artist (I know that sounds cheesey, but it's true). It really means a lot to me that I was able to round up a group of smart, talented people to give up large chunks of their time and devote so much energy to my project.

Today I feel like this:

Our next (and last...sniff) performance will be on Sunday at 7. Tonight I'm going to check out some other Fringe shows.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Opening night!

Last night we had a great dress rehearsal for To Moscow, You Betcha!. The play is being performed in a bar, and there were patrons there who had no idea that we were going to rehearse last night. But they watched, and laughed, and loved it! Even the Republicans!

After that, we all headed over to the Fringe Fest pre-party a block away. There was free food (including great vegan options!) and booze and a cool crowd. I met some new people and we talked about the shows we're working on.

Now I'm looking at the Fringe schedule and trying to strategically plan my free much to see! It's a bit overwhelming.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The final countdown

With Fringe only one week away, I'm in that excited/nervous/overworked phase of the rehearsal process, watching the final pieces of To Moscow, You Betcha! come together. I'm still having these annoying coughing fits, but I'm too busy to take more time to rest, so I'm trying to take a romantic view of it by pretending I'm an artistic genius tragically ill with consumption.

Last weekend this consumptive genius went to the Mirliton Festival and the Book Fair, where vegan Mirliton muffins and an array of vegan cookbooks were happy procured. I ran into several friends who were also out and about enjoying the festivals and lovely weather.

I have to renew my national massage certification this year, so I was looking through old emails trying to remember when I took the test. Then I realized that I scheduled my GRE exam for the exact date, time, and location that I took my national massage certification exam back in 2006. I didn't do it on purpose, but I suspect my subconscious mind thinks of that date and time as "time for the big scary test."

So when I'm not rehearsing or preparing for rehearsal or working, I've been studying for the GRE. I've been known to work on vocabulary flashcards in the bathtub (with only one accidental drowning...sorry, "voluble").

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Listen to me, I am feverish and feeble!

I've been busy preparing for the play, finding and putting together costumes, props, and promotional materials. I'm also studying for the GRE, and then of course, there's work. I skipped Halloween this year because I just wasn't feeling it. I wanted to relax more than I wanted to party. I spent Sunday night over at my mom's house on the North Shore.

Now I seem to have caught a cold, so I plan to spend most of today on my couch, eating the banana bread that's currently in my oven, making my apartment smell delicious. I promise I'll drag myself out to walk 2 blocks and vote at some point, though.

My mom watches this program on public TV called "Steppin Out," which features a theater reviewer who used to work for the Times-Picayune. She was telling me about his comments on the most recent episode, which is available online here. My mom was happy to report that he brought up the issue of actors missing too many rehearsals, which has been one of my main complaints since I started directing. Mr. Cuthbert thinks that this is a recent problem, and states that there used to be a higher level of commitment in New Orleans theater. I always figured it was just the um...unique sort of work ethic that people have here.

OK, I know I'm on some dangerous ground here, as a Yankee and all, but I do have to say my experiences in New England were much different than my experiences in NOLA when it comes to work ethic and commitment. I remember when I was in college I was twenty minutes late to a rehearsal once due to car problems or something, and I got a very stern talking-to from the director and made sure I was never late again. Actors didn't miss rehearsals unless they had a VERY good excuse. Here? Not so much.

Then again, I don't think it's only limited to theater. When I worked an office job, people came in late, left early, and missed work often. People just don't work as hard in NOLA as they do up north. They have a lot more fun, though.

Maybe we should all start serving alcohol at rehearsals...