Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Belated Oscar memories

ME: So are you looking forward to the Academy Awards this year?

MY BROTHER: No. I don’t like Jon Stewart.

ME: You don’t like Jon Stewart?

MY BROTHER: No, I like Conan O’Brien.

Well. Perhaps my brother was right. If you can believe The Oregonian, this year’s Oscars were a big ole dud. But I beg to differ. While admittedly the show was no barn burner, there were definitely some Memorable Moments. Diablo Cody ’s starstruck acceptance for creating Juno. (And yes, that's Ms. Cody in the photo above, sleeping in on Monday morning.) Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova triumphing for their soulful, affecting song “Falling Slowly,” from one of my favorite films of 2007, Once. AND Irglova being brought back to the stage, after getting the hook from the orchestra, whereupon she delivered the most gracious acceptance of the entire evening.

Why not admit it: I’m totally willing to sit through 3 hour and 22 minutes to tear up a few time, y’know?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

All Hail Hurricane Gordo

Portland Center Stage’s

invites you to a concert reading of


a new play by Carly Mensch


February 23, 2008

Noon to approximately 2 pm

@ Portland Center Stage

128 NW Eleventh Avenue (between Couch & Davis)

in the Rehearsal Room

Admission is free, but space is limited

Please email Megan Ward at meganw@pcs.org

to reserve your seat


Two brothers’ tenuous hold on stability gets blown apart when they take in a plucky young houseguest with a secret. While India is running away from her relatively normal family, Chaz struggles to find normalcy in the one he already has. Is it possible to be your brother’s keeper and have your own life, too?

Carly Mensch is currently a fellow at The Juilliard School's Lila Acheson Wallace Playwrights Program and the playwright-in-residence at Ars Nova. All Hail Hurricane Gordo was developed at Ars Nova's Out Loud Series, the Kennedy Center's University Playwrights Festival and Marin Theatre Company. It will premiere at the Humana Festival this March. Other plays include Len, Asleep in Vinyl (Juilliard), The Delicate Business of Boy and Miss Girl (2006 New York International Fringe Festival) and Bradshaw (Lorring Dodd Drama Prize).

Our outstanding cast includes:

Mario Calcagno, Drew Danhorn, Mike O’Connell, and Ana Reiselman

Friday, February 15, 2008

About Face

“Welcome to the biggest time-suck on the planet.”

That was how a friend welcomed me into the virtual netherworld of Facebook. But by the time I got her warning, it was too late – I was hopelessly addicted to the constant twittering of the self-described “social utility,” with its daily stream of announcements, friend requests and notifications.

It all started about a month ago, I guess. Morgan Jenness -- a different friend than the latter-day Cassandra previously mentioned– inveigled me into joining. Morgan is spiritually fearless, and when she bids me to follow, I do. Little did I know that Morgan and I were just about the last people in the theater troposphere to join up. Everybody was already waiting there! People I see everyday, and people I hadn’t thought about for ages. People from way back in the 20th century! People that I….well, let’s be honest, people that I never expected to hear from again.

That’s the wonder and horror of it, you see. When you set foot in Facebook cyberspace, it’s as though a bell sounds, and the vibrations it sets in motion ripple endlessly out through the virtual galaxy.

You learn quickly to set limits. Otherwise you’re assailed by silliness – endless requests for vampire bites, good karma points, the smartest person contest, the “you’re a hottie” race, the packrat invitation, the movie quiz, the what kind of dog would you be poll, and lalalalalala on it goes ad infinitum. All this is controllable, though; information feeds can be suspended or ignored or even expunged out of existence.

There are endless little applications you can tinker with, such as playlists you can share with your colleagues. And this is the reason Facebook is free, really. By participating, you agree to the constant collecting of information about you – information that can be and will be shared third parties to the thirteenth power. This worried me briefly, till I remembered this is already constantly going on anyway. What’s the diff if Facebook lets Blockbuster know of my sweet tooth for French New Wave flicks or tells Amazon about my taste for overproduced muzak of the late 60s. You know?

And now….look, I’ll admit it. It’s fun being in touch with people spanning four different decades of my life. I like taking a minute out from my insane workday to discover that Wendy is teaching a directing class, that Megan is worried about Kristan and that Norman is attending a Civilians performance. I love it that if I report I’m in bed with a headache I’ll be flooded with sympathetic notes from New York, Omaha and London within hours. And it’s fun playing Scrabulous with Enrique and Todd long-distance, even if they are trouncing me mercilessly.

It’s all kind of . . . sweet. Check it out. You’ll be sorry you did. And glad, maybe, too.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Shame! Shame! Shame!

Thus did Virginia Woolf once abjure herself, for going months without a diary entry. The imprecation comes to mind now because I see I’ve gone eleven days without making a blog entry, the longest stretch of silence ever. But never mind the self-flagellation – PCS has been dizzy and bizzy. Three openings in three weeks! It’s been a delirious kaleidoscope of vertigo-inducing fun.

It came to a climax this past weekend, which started with the opening of Sarah Treem’s funny and affecting new play A Feminine Ending. This play is especially dear to my heart because it started in JAW, when Sarah was a shy youngster just starting out in the theater universe. Granted, she was a youngster very fast out of the gate, having only recently graduated from trade school (the Yale School of Drama, I mean) and already with invitations to Pacific Playwrights Festival as well as JAW, and a South Coast Rep play commission in the works. Recently too she started writing for HBO’s intriguing new experiment in programming, In Treatment.

So flash forward to 2008, it was a profoundly moving event to open the show in our new building, with a phalanx of SCR royalty in the back row (the production is a co-pro with them), and the audience leaping to their feet at the curtain call.

Not only that, but Sarah returned to PCS’s rehearsal hall the following afternoon to teach a Community Artists Lab. (These are continuing ed occasions we offer from time to time on various topics; they’re free of charge to participants, but of course we pay the sessions leaders, and this year the support for the teachers has come from the brilliant people at Oregon Cultural Trust.) Sarah was a bracing teacher – direct, clear-eyed, supportive yet incisive, a veritable Tiresias of playwriting.

Not only that, but the fabulous Amy Freed was on had this weekend, seeing what we did with her play The Beard of Avon (she graciously said she loved it) as well as seeing Twelfth Night, directed by her friend Jane Jones.
AND Amy did her only Community Artists Lab on Sunday, before dining with Chris Coleman and winging her way back to the Bay Area.

Amy’s style as a teacher was fascinating: quiet, confiding. She assumed all participants was her peers, and spoke to them as such. Considering she’s been a Pulitzer finalist (for Freedomland) and that she received both the Kesselring Prize and a McArthur (the “genius grant”), hers was a generous assumption, but all the playwrights there that day blossomed from her attention.

So. Today, Monday, is my “day off” – meaning I get to read JAW scripts at home today and avoid the hurly-burly of my office at PCS. Tomorrow, of course, it’s “welcome back” and “all right, so today….”