Thursday, January 31, 2008

Balm for the Bequalmed

A recent post on one of my favorite blogtrotting ports of call, crowcrastination, concerned coping mechanisms, and it made me realize that essentially I have three answers to all of life’s problems. In ascending order of magnitude, they are:

1. Caffeine. Like Mary Hartman before me, I’ve found that the disclosure of almost any revelation can be countered with the phrase: “Do you want some coffee?”

2. Hot, hot baths. Ideally, these should be just a degree hotter than you can stand. Seriously, a distractingly hot bath is like a psychic reset button.

3. Get a bigger problem. For ex: once a friend of mine was mulling over declaring bankruptcy over a debt of about 14K. His mother slapped him upside the head and said, “If you were any kind of a man you’d owe at least 100,000!”

Come to think of it, she offered this counsel in kitchen, where she was preparing coffee. Which was really, really hot.

Of course this can backfire. Many, years ago, I was working at a major regional theater, which shall go unnamed, when a major coup ejected the much-hated upper echelon of administrators. Unfortunately, the replacements turned out to be even worse. As one of the surviving conspirators put it: “We got rid of the Romanovs, now we have to deal with the Bolsheviks.”

Still, the old problems did vanish, like snow on water. So you pick your poison. The devil you know, etc etc.


A response to: “If I keep the ice cube trays filled… one will die.”

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Whatever happened to Mr Mead, you ax?

PCS is keeping me so frantic these days that there hasn’t been time to blog, so … while you’re waiting for my next Epic of Massive Impact, check out these two amusingly droll promos for our two shows that just opened in rep: Amy Freed’s sweetly salacious The Beard of Avon and the Bard of Avon’s immortal Twelfth Night, both created by Patrick “Fun” Weishampel.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More Naughty Theater!

Once again this is short notice, but I’m inviting you personally to a Now Hear This reading of David Grimm’s hilarious, bawdy and -- ultimately – surprisingly affecting comedy Measure for Pleasure. As the title suggests, the humor is wryly macaronic, with Restoration-style pomp and studied refinement cheek by jowl with, um, coarser Anglo-Saxon sentiments. The Michal Daniel photo above (of Emily Swallow, left, and Euan Morton in the Public Theater production of Measure for Pleasure) gives you a clear picture of what to expect. In spirit, I mean -- we don't actually costume these readings!

Just FYI, this monthly PCS reading series exists to invite our friends and patrons to participate in our play consideration process just by being there. Your reaction to these plays is the best possible barometer of how they may work in full production. So come if you can this Saturday; you’ll help us out, you'll see some fabulous acting and you’ll laugh your powdered wig off.

Plus this time you’ll be seated in the comfortable mainstage space, with the sets for The Beard of Avon and Twelfth Night as a background. Here’s your engraved invite:


Portland Center Stage’s

invites you to a concert reading of

Measure for Pleasure

A play by David Grimm


January 26, 2008
Noon to approximately 2 pm

@ Portland Center Stage
128 NW Eleventh Avenue (between Couch & Davis)
in the comfy mainstage space

Admission is free, but RSVPs are appreciated
Please call Megan Ward at (503) 445-3845 or e-mail
to reserve your seat


Set in the 18th Century, this romantic comedy sex romp (involving disguises, mistaken identities, gender bending, and gay marriage) examines the nature of happiness. Can human beings be genuinely happy, or is that an unattainable goal? Measure for Pleasure is a saucy, silly, foul and filthy treat.

David Grimm is an award-winning New York-based playwright and screenwriter. His plays include The Learned Ladies of Park Avenue; Kit Marlowe (cited by the NY Post in its list of the “10 Best Plays of 2000”); and Sheridan, or Schooled in Scandal. David is the recipient of an NEA/TCG Residency Grant and has developed work at the Sundance Theatre Lab in Utah, the Sundance Writer’s Retreat at Ucross, Wyoming, New York Stage & Film and The Old Vic. David holds an MFA from NYU, a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, and has been a lecturer in Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama and Columbia University.

Our outstanding cast includes:

Ben Plont, Todd Van Voris, Spencer Conway, Kurt Conroyd, Maureen Porter,
Laura Faye Smith and Paige Jones

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Storm @ Large

Good news from Rochester: our Storm Large scores just as superlatively there as she did here in Portland. Read all about it in Barry Johnson's piece for The Oregonian:

Theater: In Rochester they love Storm
by Barry Johnson
Tuesday January 15, 2008, 12:46 PM

So what did Rochester, New York, think of the Portland Center Stage production of "Cabaret" that opened there over the weekend? Not to mention Storm Large in the role of Sally Bowles? Not to worry... the reviewer at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle couldn't have been more enthusiastic.

"Move over Liza. "Cabaret" has been taken over by a Storm -- and she's rocking down the house at Geva Theatre," wrote Marcia Morphy. "Storm Large breathes such fire, heart and soul into the legendary Sally Bowles that her performance as the reigning diva of Berlin's famous Kit Kat Club is nothing short of hot, hot, hot."

Wade McCollum as the Emcee and the rest of Chris Coleman's production earned high marks from Morphy, too. And earlier, the paper's Stuart Low previewed the show and profiled Storm.

Of course, we did quite a bit on this "Cabaret" ourselves.

To read the article complete with its hyperlinks, go to:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I got your pupu right here

Many, many hapless individuals have been ensnared into visiting this blog simply because they googled the term PUPU PLATTER, only to discover there was not a speck to be had in my proscribed little universe. To show my contrition, I've decided to provide this image of some authentic Hawaiian pupu. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Goddess Bless You, Diva!

Typically this blog gets 10-15 hits a day, which I consider not too shabby (as my sainted mother-in-law likes to say) for the inane ramblings of a theater geek. But recently it's jumped to an average of FIFTY daily visits.

How come? Credit where it's due, folks. One week ago today I blogged about Alec Egan's art opening, which was graciously hosted by the fabulous Kate Mulgrew. And it turns out that Kate can boast of a voracious fan base that misses nothing where she is concerned. We all know or assume we know how public a life of celebrity can be, but until now, I don't think I totally got it.

So thank you, Kate, for all the people you've brought to my blog, from Italy and Ireland and the United States Minor Outlying Islands that I didn't even know existed. Heaven only knows what they make of my pupu platter once they get here (they don't stay long once they've had their Kate fix), but hey, as Dr. Benjamin Spock used to say: attention is attention.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

NameGame Redux

What’s in a name, you ax? More than ever nowadays, in our litigious society.

To wit: I belong to a Portland service organization called the Drammy Awards. The fourteen of us who serve on the Drammy Committee see countless productions all year round with an eye to designating various aspects of these productions as “outstanding” in their respective categories. We are volunteers. We’re not paid to do this work; we do it because we love the theater and want to provide our community with a way to pay homage to the extraordinary work that happens here every year. Every year it’s a struggle to scrape together enough money to cover the costs of the Awards ceremony, and it is unquestionably totally worth the effort.

SO. Imagine our surprise last fall when we were contacted by attorneys representing the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Inc., “in connection with the protection of it's [sic] intellectual property” -- better known to most of us as the Grammys.

After some paragraphs explaining what happens to people who mess with NARAS, they get to the point:
In view of the foregoing, the Committee’s use of the nearly identical mark DRAMMY for award services may constitute trademark infringement, unfair competition and false endorsement under federal, state and common law. This is especially true because the DRAMMY mark appears to have been contrived to resemble the GRAMMY mark.

I don’t actually know what “the DRAMMY mark” means.

The letter goes on to say that in order to settle this “unfair competition” without litigation, the Drammy Committee needs to answer a few questions and to do it within 10 days or else (the customary threats followed). The attorneys demanded that we supply them with:

1) Any particular meaning of the word "DRAMMY";

2) Why the Committee adopted "DRAMMY" for it's [sic] awards;

3) The audience for the DRAMMY Awards;

4) When the DRAMMY Awards were created; and

5) Whether the DRAMMY Awards are televised.

Once we stopped laughing, we had to ask ourselves how committed we were to the term “Drammy.” What if this was our chance to change it? How about throwing the question open to the theater community and asking them to rename the Awards?

Disappointingly, we never got that far. We responded politely but not cravenly to the Recording Academy’s interrogatories, and then……never heard from them again. Evidently the Academy’s goons realized they would need to look further than Portland to justify their salaries.

We’re not the only ones to suffer from overlawyering, of course. Portland City Commissioner and now mayoral candidate Sam Adams recently heard from Samuel Adams Beer, the Boston Beer Company, which demanded that the real live Sam Adams remove his name from his own campaign site’s URL, citing trademark infringement. Cited as precedential was that the company had been calling itself “Sam Adams” since 1984. Never mind that the Councilman had been called the same name since birth.

Maybe I’d do well to stake a claim for my own Internet domain, before it’s too late. A quick Google search reveals several Mead Hunters besides myself — one in his infancy, and two different dead ones. There’s also a respected philosopher named Hunter Mead, and a noted Australian bird watcher named Derek Mead-Hunter. There’s even an elaborate computer game, World of Warcraft, with a character named Mead Hunter who restocks his arsenal at a mysterious fortress called “The Armory”.

And in the teeny, tiny theater universe alone, there is Mame Hunt, Laural Meade and Laurel Hunter. In the past I’ve gotten letters, emails and phone calls intended for each of these ladies. I once fielded an angry call from a guy who was certain I was scamming him; he said he “knew for a fact” that Mead Hunter was a woman.

So names give us plenty of room for confusions and contusions. Just ask all the Monroes and Madisons growing up right now. I used to think that gender ambiguity was a hassle; now I think it's actually.....convenient....

Though perhaps the Grammy's laywers would disagree.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Wild night this past Friday, as the storm that slammed into North California and Southern Oregon arrived in Portland. What we had up here was nothing like the apocalyptic weather they had down there, and of course in Portlandia you rarely notice the rain anyway. But this was eerie, with winds tearing at your face and shrieking like banshees. I was on my way to an art opening at Studio 2507, and for a large swathe of the city’s southeast quarter, the power was out. My headlights were the only source of illumination, and visibility was low anyway because the rain was racing this way and that, like a colossal, sodden will-o-the-wisp. But I made it to the opening, where Alec Egan presided calmly over the opening of enthused, wall-to-wall art patrons admiring his latest work.

Alec’s famous parents were there, too: Robert Egan, from Los Angeles, who recently had a huge success with The Word Begins, a spoken word piece he developed and directed, and the glamorous Kate Mulgrew, here from New York for the occasion. Bob and I talked about L.A. and what an exciting, infinite, unknowable megalopolis it is. “But you,” Bob said, “get to participate in all this,” and he indicated the Friday night Clinton Street scene going on outside the gallery. I looked outside at the restaurants and the bars and social swim happening in the middle of this riotous rainstorm, and I thought: yeah, he’s right. I do feel fortunate to be here in Portland, where there is street life, where there are public spaces, where people are still curious about other people.

A bit of an epiphany, for me.

Now tonight is the historical Epiphany – the fabled Twelfth Night. The last evening of Christmastide, when traditionally the three wise men are supposed to have arrived in Bethlehem and inaugurated our custom of gift-giving. As a child, the story always puzzled me – what was the Baby Jesus supposed to do with a box full of myrrh? – but it did make a nice story.

At Portland Center Stage, we are about to tech our rep productions of Amy Freed’s The Beard of Avon and the Bard of Avon’s Twelfth Night. Which reminds me that traditionally Twelfth Night was often a wild time – the end of a holiday season that began with the Feast of All Hallows and extended through the Church-sanctioned Epiphany. Notwithstanding the Catholic Church’s efforts to realign the pagan origins of all this was Christian mythology, sometimes the evening was turned into a saturnalia, of sorts. In some communities it merged with the medieval Feast of Fools holiday, where the Lord of Misrule reigned and the normal order of things was topsy-turvy.

You can read about this on the marvelous blog Upstart Dramaturg, where production dramaturg extraordinaire Kim Crow investigates the party-like atmosphere of Shakespeare’s play that his original audiences would have expected from its title alone.

So even though it’s Sunday night and tomorrow morning means the “holiday season” is officially over, light a candle against the retrenchment of normalcy. We still have two more months of dark, dank nights. Make the most.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It's a small world after all

Someone visited this blog tonight from Kazakhstan. The glorious republic thereof. I came within a few hundreds of its Russian border two years ago, and was very curious about it. While in Siberia I met two different natives of Kazakhstan. One was a blond-haired, blue-ey’d man who looked just like Rolf from The Sound of Music. The other was a tall, dark-complected man with strongly Mongolian features who was so dark as to appear Ethiopian at first sight. In Yekaterinburg, where I was at the time, everyone stared at him.

Our Kazakh visitor of this evening (magically appearing here 13 hours into our future) was evidently searching for photos of The Addams Family, and was steered to my site thanks to the image on the October 9 post entitled “one sick mofo.”

God only knows what the guy made of it all. He didn’t stay long.