Friday, June 17, 2016

Bird Gehrls Go To Heaven

This very beautiful song by Antony and the Johnsons feels to me like the right kind of song to pay tribute to the terrible, pointlessly tragic events of the past week on planet Earth.

 Not least because Anhoni, formerly Antony Hegarty, is both British (born in Chichester) and American as well as being a transgender pioneer and boundary breaker.
And because it's a sad song with space for hope.

Far more intelligent people than I have written about the Orlando mass shooting and about the murder of Jo Cox so I don't want to regurgitate thoughts that won't become more profound with repetition. But I believe in the solace of putting it out in the Universe and expressing any kind of solidarity.

This week I was dog sitting in the West Village and I stopped on the street for the Orlando vigil happening outside Stonewall - where the LGBTQ rights movement in America was born. That whole area has been tense and unfamiliar this week - there is a huge police presence in the lead up to Pride Week, and everyone seems nervous in the streets.

It took me until today to quite swallow what happened in Birstall yesterday. It's a new kind of heartache.


June is busting out all over

Already it's a whirlwind - a pretty good one but still.

Last weekend we got the band back together to shoot some promotional footage for I Could Never Love Anyone - see below a bunch of original cast and crew, some of the greatest people I've met in the last couple of years are in this picture.  We had almost too much fun - we haven't all been in a room together since February and it really made my heart soar to be enjoying the silly jokes and general piss taking in between takes.

Tomorrow I'm doing the same as I did last Sat - that is, street-teaming for a weird and wacky musical featuring purple-haired, green-attired space babes - except this week it's at the MERMAID PARADE in Coney Island, which means a) I'm going to be very hot all day tomorrow, b) I'll get to be outside at the beach seeing awesome mermaid costumes and c) I'm going to have some odd tan lines.
Last Sat was a good laugh but I was absolutely beat by the end - staying in character in an interactive way in a place that is generally filled with weirdos is really hard work.  I'm hoping tomorrow everyone will just be drunk, which in theory will make them more likely to play along and less hard work for us.

Also tomorrow I see my first ever concert at Madison Square Garden - that's right, THE CURE have landed! So all in all it will be a long day filled with strange people with mad hair!

It's a beautiful day outside and my work is done - I have a rehearsal at 7 for 'Cool', which is being performed in the Choreographer's Canvas July 17th and 18th.

Other big news is, Lola is back in town! She's here from Mexico for about 6 weeks doing a course, staying in our old apartment with Jacob and generally adding to the whirlwind fun that is summer so far.  She just got in early this morning and I won't have a chance to see her til maybe Sunday or Monday, and I can't wait for a proper in-person catch up.

I'm writing this from a great coffee shop called Grounded, in the west village.  It's filled with greenery and has a skylight, and I had a really delicious cheese and apple sandwich.  Taking as much relaxation time as I can today because tomorrow is going to be a heavy one.  Good times.

I'm about to write a totally separate, less upbeat post addressing some thoughts and feelings about that which is far bigger than my little life.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Mornings off *Thursday 9th

Today I had a costume fitting for a gig I'm doing on Saturday, I'm on flexitime for Troy since he's away so I can go in and do my usual things in the studio at sort of any time and I babysat in the afternoon as usual. I chose to use my morning for laundry and general tidying because my weekend and next week are going to be fairly non stop.
This is what an easy, chill but productive morning looks like. I love it. Even managed to catch a Dan, on his day off, as I was heading out.

Never gets old

Driving over the Queensborough Bridge from Garden City, Long Island.
Spent the day working at a comic con, dressed in 1960s space gear including purple beehive wig.
Too long of day for good words. Much walking and in character interaction.
But it never gets old.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Activity Week

Here's an account of my week of fun last week courtesy of Carlos.

We did a bunch of stuff in honour of his week off!

Met up with Andrew Nemr, tap guru.  Carlos is in his company Cats Paying Dues, I've taken his class a couple of times, he's a really great guy and superb dancer/teacher.  Haven't seen him in ages so was great to catch up.

Shakespeare in the Park!
Currently running is an all-female production of Taming of the Shrew, directed by Phyllida Lloyd.  And starring English Cush Jumbo as Katherina and Scottish Gayle Rankin as Bianca, go Brits! Also Gayle is a friend of Lauren's, go figure.  Both leads = EXCELLENT.  Whole company in fact was excellent, many great lessons in physicality and movement as part of character development, especially from Adrienne C. Moore who had her swagger ON as Petruchio.
There are a few flaws in the production - since TotS is so fantastically misogynistic those who mount it on stage have the option to just roll with it and say 'we didn't write it' or make a statement about it and say 'we don't agree with it'.
This production opts for the latter, using the framing device of a beauty pageant that is initially won by the simpering Bianca for fulfilling 'traditional female' tropes, but by the end Katherina is declared the new winner after she makes her grand speech teaching other wives to defer to their husbands.  We saw her declared the winner, and as everyone applauds and music swells she decides to reject her victory, reverts to stormy shrew form and flings her tiara and flowers down.  Bianca is then recrowned the winner.
I thought this was cool until they dealt with Katherina by having her bundled offstage through a trapdoor in the floor (previously used as an exit through which Petruchio was leaving what appeared to be a strip club)  Like, she refuses to accept being lauded for being an oppressed woman so she commits mutiny, but is then immediately and successfully punished for it.  So the empowerment message didn't quite land.  I think they should have had her throw down her spoils and run off to steal the camper van that Petruchio kidnapped her in earlier in the play, and take off into the sunset.
Also the beauty pageant framing device was only present at the very start and very end, so it wasn't entirely consistent.  It was a really fun character introduction for the two sisters though - we saw a series of contestants performing talent shows - baton twirling, tap dancing, opera singing - and then Bianca sails across the stage, standing up on the back of a pink bicycle and waving to the adoring crowd.  The bicycle was being pedaled by a furious-looking Katherina.  Bianca took to the centre podium to sing a pouty version of 'Cowboy Take Me Away' as Katherina continued to pedal around and around, becoming progressively more disgusted with the whole situation until she leaped off the bike, snatched the mic from Bianca and rained down vengeful sarcasm.  I loved this whole opening set piece.
As when we went to see King Lear a couple of years ago (when torrential rain added a certain drama to the, well, drama) we did it up in style with travel cups full of wine and bags of snacks.  Despite a couple of opening night hiccups it was overall a really fun show and we had pizza afterwards.

Went to a cabaret that some of Carlos' cast members were performing in while in the city.  I also know the guy who directed it, the charming and delightful Justin Boccitto, who is the director of Choreographers' Canvas in which I'm dancing in July.  Then I went to scrounge dinner from Lauren and Tea and Sympathy:D She always sorts me out.

Thursday: I think this one was my favourite
Swing dance! We had a swing dance lesson with Carlos' friend Katherine, a fabulous all-round dancer and swing dance teacher.  She is great and I'm very happy to have met her, and her husband Caleb who is also a fabulous swing dancer.  She was teaching us East Coast swing/Lindy hop.
We went to her apartment to get some fundamentals.  Carlos and I are both dancers so this will be easy, right?
He is an accomplished salsa dancer so he knows how to lead, but leading salsa and leading swing are very different.  Also the styles are different - how you hold your hands, stance, all of it.  So he kept slipping into salsa by mistake.  And I am a terrible follower - having never done any partner dance (except a couple of times Carlos has tried to teach me to's a struggle) so I'm really bad at listening to signals from a partner.  I tend to want to just know what steps we're going to be doing so I can be in charge of them.  But that's not how partnering works.
With a lot of encouragement and patience from Katherine however we got the hang of the basic, a turn, a Lindy circle, a swing out and a simple flourish.

We then went with Katherine to Frim Fram (a swing dance night in midtown at which Katherine and Caleb first met, aww) to practice our new moves.
Carlos: Let's go, come on! We have to try out what we learned! The whole point of swing is you just do what you want!
Me: Nope I did it wrong....I messed up...I'm on the wrong foot...
Carlos: *head explodes*

Towards the end of the night when it was a little less crowded I got more into the spirit and we had so much fun messing around and trying things out.

It was a pretty late night so I was super exhausted the next day but not too exhausted for...

Roller disco!!!

Yes, the Prospect Park roller disco has returned and I am overjoyed! I love to roller-skate to music!
The theme was 70s divas so pretty much the ideal music for skating.  We got there around 8 and had about two hours of skating which included watching the roller-dance contest and a hula hoop performer in the middle of the rink.


By the time we took our skates off my feet were just about ready for me to chop them off, but nothing a little Korean-Mexican food and a frozen margarita couldn't fix.

Such a fun night.  Another tiring one.  But a late start the next day for

Brunch with the crew!
We met at Dominies Hoek, as arranged by Anel.  They have a $15 brunch with bottomless mimosas deal...and we can put away a lot of mimosas.  

It was so much fun having this group of people around a table together for the first time in a looooong time.  We all spread out and move around and shift lives but we sit down together for eggs and drinks and time stands still.

Also it was a beautiful hot sunny day and it's always nice to throw on a summer dress and get kind of tipsy at 3pm.

The rest of the plan for the day didn't quite work out - we went to stand in line for cheap tickets to Shuffle Along on Broadway, but fate was not on our side.  So no ticket were to be had.  But we ended the week of fun with...

Rice pudding and presents

For our final adventure week outing, Carlos took me to a place called Rice to Riches in Soho.  It's pretty much amazing - it is all kinds of rice pudding.  Marscapone, coconut, tiramisu, rocky road, chocolate hazelnut, pina colada...all delicious.  We got a tiramisu and a marscapone and cherries, with crumbled biscuits on top.  As a thank you for all the fun outings I got Carlos a book called A History of Tap Dance - something to read as he hops around the US on the rest of the tour.  Pretty wiped by a really full week (bearing in mind I worked every morning for Troy and babysat every afternoon plus activities plus dancing, audition prep and FTP meeting) but I had so much fun - out of town visitors are always a good excuse to enjoy the city in ways I might otherwise not.  

This past week was definitely super boring by comparison, BUT not long now til Fairey adventure time! 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Thoughts from a moving train

I think I use 'ultimate' a lot.  I was answering a text message today and it began 'ultimately I think that...'
And it occurred to me that I start a lot of sentences that way.  I wonder if frequent use of a word in your daily lexicon signals something about you as a person, and if it does, what does saying 'ultimate' all the time say about me?

I mean.  I don't think you'd need an advanced degree to make the leap that maaaybe it says something about a tendency towards extremes...y'know, all or nothing.

Ultimately it's not something I'll lose sleep over but these thoughts, they just turn up on the subway sometimes.

Twenty- and thirty-something Mutant Ninja Turtles

that was us all traveling back in time to May 14th

We celebrated love.  I went to bed at 8am.  Lauren had to get up and go to work around noon so I woke up too and...sort of...started my day.  Here's the thing - the party was not yet over.

My good pal Ben, celebrated playwright plus pop, nerd, music and visual arts culture savant, had a Birthday on May 16th so he and his friend Katie threw a shared, awesome, themed party on Saturday night.  A friend works in a real cool office space that is a loft in the Gowanus neighbourhood of Brooklyn.  It has a beautiful roof deck, cool view, sofas, sound system and after a couple of desks are moved it has lots of floor space for getting your dance on.  So they had it there.  It was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/90s themed pizza party.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  These guys.  Got it? 

So my mission for Saturday was to put together a suitably turtley and 1990s ensemble - fishnet tights, Doc Martens and some tin foil, piece of cake.

The party was hopping when I arrived and I enjoyed pizza, beer (not much though...there is a point at which hair of the dog is a bad idea) and some excellent 90s grooves.

We had a dramatic interlude when someone unfortunately became too intoxicated and err...I'm not telling the story just describing the ending: Lauren and I outside, somewhat dishevelled and with a few bumps and bruises, plus about 12 police officers, some paramedics, and Ben Alison and Brandon dressed respectively as Splinter (the giant rat ninja master of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) Hamato Yoshi (Splinter's human master before he mutated into a giant rat) and April O'Neil (the turtles' human ally, a reporter in a yellow jumpsuit).  

Get that picture in your head: We're on the pavement in the aftermath of dramatic incident, facing a group of policemen and paramedics.  I'm dressed like that ^^^
And there are three full grown adults behind us dressed like this

One of the police officers enquired as to the nature of the gathering...
'What kind of party is this?'
To which I replied, quavery voiced, '...Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles...'

And to Ben:
'What's that around your neck?'
'It's a nose...I'm's my Birthday so we decided to have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles party...'
'...that's pretty cool'

Which honestly made me laugh.

NB the incident wasn't Lauren and I having a fistfight, I swear.  It was sort of a team effort of valiance   and heroism, if anything.

We returned to the party for cake and more dancing, and I rounded out the night in fine style and gave myself the luxury of a taxi home.

And so ends another story, but NOT the end of the weekend of parties...

JACOB had his Birthday party on Sunday night.  He mercifully went for a low key, at home situation with a TV theme.  The place was done up with a DIY Iron Throne, Breaking Bad 'crystal meth', the mugs from Central Perk in Friends, some Buffy references - toothpicks labelled as 'stakes'.  We gossiped, ate pizza and played the traditional Apartment 2C game of Charades.  It was a great, homespun and easy going end to a whirlwind weekend.