Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Trend Away!

A very quick blog post to say that I want this new trend to go away. Far away. It creeps me out. I don't know exactly why. But it does. And I'm sick of seeing them at the gym, worn by the type of people who "get ready" to go to the gym to "be seen" with finely coiffed hair and smelling of cologne and sprayed with fake tan. Those people keep wearing these ...


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cool Art, Man

Three recent cool things...

1. Hey, Nostradamus by Douglas Coupland

Yes, I am incredibly behind in reading this acclaimed novel, but I have to say: wow. It captured me so fully, and the final narrative in the quartet was one of the most devastatingly bittersweet pieces of prose I have ever read. If you are interested in a moving exploration of violence and spirituality…true spirituality, then pick it up now…

2. The Human Centipede directed by Tom Six

Many will think I’m a nut for listing this as “cool”. But I do think it ranks as one of the boldest cinematic experiments I’ve seen in some time. Not unlike Antichrist in its audacity, it dares to take an audience into the realm of horror so uncomfortable, you either laugh or vomit. I have always been a fan of Cronenberg films – particularly Videodrome and The Fly. Like those films, Six investigates a purgatory on earth where one is caught in his/her own body as it hangs between life and death in a grotesque cage. I do not “recommend” it – most will curse the film, but I think it is quite an achievement…and it has stayed with me for days.

3. The Gray Sisters by Craig Wright, presented by Third Rail Repertory Theatre

I was so prepared not to like this play. You see – I dislike most monologues. I detest shows where people talk and talk and go on and on. And as a playwriting instructor, I consistently push my students away from using them. So when I learned that this newly commissioned play was a quartet of monologues, I groaned. I went to see the show, knowing that these four brilliant actresses were well worth the time – but I did not anticipate just HOW good they would be. And I certainly did not anticipate discovering my favorite Craig Wright play. His use of the one-sided monologue was so well crafted, so fresh, and the exploration of family, abuse, life, and death so rich...well, you get the point. Shame on me for pre-judging. And all applaud Third Rail for yet another brilliant production.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A handprint has touched me...

Tonight and tomorrow evening are the final two performances of Handprint Alley. This was a well paying commission to both write and score - and then direct a new theatrical work that would experiment with style, genre, and storytelling techniques. It has been one of the more ambitious undertakings of my entire career - and also one of the most fulfilling. Oh but did I mention?...

It's a high school show.

And therein lies the seed of this blog post. You see, over the past two weeks, I have had to hear no less than four times a statement akin to this: "I don't know how you do it. Aren't you sick of having to teach and do these high school shows to pay the bills?"

And with one exception, these comments came from colleagues who are, themselves, considered "teaching artists". What became evident to me - and this is no real shocker - is that many arts professionals do indeed take teaching gigs and do education based theatre (or dance, or music, or art) for the purposes of "paying the bills." To them, I say - stop teaching. If you are merely a frustrated professional artist who falls into teaching as a necessity, then you are not meant to be in that role... Judgmental? Maybe. But boy, do I mean it.

I write this as a simple response - from my heart. There is not one tiny atom in my body - not one shred of mental firings - not one kernel of spiritual ether - nothing, nothing, nothing within me that feels compromised whatsoever in my career for taking part in the beautiful communion between young artists and myself. It is a privilege to share and learn with young, gifted people. And as I get older, I realize just what a blessed life I lead to continue to spend much of my artistic energy in collaboration with such raw talent. I learn more from them than they could ever gain from me. I remember what authenticity is. I remember what first inspiration is. I remember the pure and simple joy of why I do theatre at all. And for that, I owe these young artists a great deal.

As for Handprint Alley - is it perfect? No. Of course not. It is a big, bold, often epic experiment in theatrical devices and song and myth and movement and visual relationships. I have much to consider regarding the piece once we close. But I do think in the course of my career, this play may be one of my most genuine. And there are beats that feel true - to the very core. I'm not sure I've ever reached that before. And it is precisely because I have been given this opportunity to work with youth that I was able to reach that goal.

I am happily breathing in these final two shows...filled with much love and appreciation.

Handprint Alley
written, composed, and directed by
Matthew B. Zrebski
Two Shows Left:
Friday May 21 at 7p
Saturday May 22 at 7p
$10 / $5
All tickets at the door
1151 SW Vermont St. Portland

Monday, May 17, 2010

a Re-Launch

This poor blog has been so neglected. Months and months have gone by without a post. I have no idea who will read this, given anyone keeping track gave up long ago. But I made a commitment that this blog would be there for me and no one else; I’d post when it felt right. And now…it feels right.

I could go on and on about the shifts in my life since winter fell on Portland. And there are days when I’d love to find words to illustrate my turn down a new avenue. But really…is it that interesting?

So I’ll keep it brief for now (someone told me brief blog posts should be the only blog posts).

Since my last post (October 14th!) I have opened seven full play productions and two readings – all new works. And I have lost approximately 45 pounds – maybe more. I can’t say, because I have not weighed. And I did not set out to lose weight. I set out to change my relationship to food and to stop indulging in wheat, non-fruit sugars, corn productions, and most white rice. The result? I am wearing a size of clothing I have not worn since I was 22.

But with this shift came a lot more. And if it feels right..I will blog about it.

Evil Grins…it’s good to be back,