Saturday, January 31, 2015


-Whiplash was a perfect movie.
-The acting was spot-on, flawless, in hindsight looked hard but at the time so effortless and woven into the whole experience.
-I was captivated.
-I was scared and uncomfortable.
-I was concerned several times of sell-out story structure only to be surprised beyond my hopes for originality and meaning.
-We fail into what we're good at. We fight into what we're good at. These are both blessings.
-Playing the drums is way harder than I thought.
-Character development is not always king. Content. There's something to be said for content.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Train Magic

We huddled together. The wood platform was wet with melted snow,
I felt like ducks maybe. Brown line was delayed, but it wasn't so cold,
and comedy classmates keep each other.
An old member of our cohort walked up the steps.
"Hi!" We said. I missed this guy. He didn't make it through
our group auditions. He should have,
in my opinion. He has a lot to say, and he's nice to be around.
He works on the northside in a facility for people with

I could tell he liked seeing us, but
he met the people who replaced him.
And that must just be weird.
It wasn't their fault or anything,
but still. He smiled and chatted. The train
finally came. We slugged in. I sat down in two-seat corner.
He said defiantly he was sitting down.
"Forget it, pregnant women!" He joked.
I asked if having a Masters in social work meant
he was a counselor. It did. "Can you fix my problems?"
I asked. I pulled out a dollar, which he refused to take.
We talked for a minute, and he said with big, real, brown eyes
very useful truths that were basic but important.
And then it was my stop, so I said sincerely I hoped
we might see each other again.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rapture Blister Burn at The Goodman

Took my mom to see Rapture, Blister, Burn at The Goodman this weekend. It was the perfect play to see with one's feminist--yet of a different era-- parent. One thing that struck me before I even entered the theatre was how "womany" this play was. It was billed specifically as a piece by a woman. The promotional materials featured Rose the Riveter. There was even a little extra option at the bottom of the purchase order that explained The Goodman wants to keep making works by women, so would I consider an added donation? It pains me that this is necessary. It shouldn't be exotic to feature women playwrights, but at the same time, the extra push seems to be important. After all, this play was nominated for a Pulitzer, but I had never heard of it until it showed up on my Goodman emails. Look at Tonys last year, Oscars this year--women writers are invisible. It's been said before.

During the play there were times I thought, "No wonder people don't see plays 'for women.' A huge chunk of Act I was literally a feminism class. Sure, there were some quips and personal character views inserted in, but largely, we were all in a lecture class getting the history of women's rights. That said, the characters were interesting, relatable, lovable, intriguing. And at intermission, immediately my mom had a lot to say. Furthermore, the woman next to us chimed in. The three of us talked for the entire break about what was compelling about each view of feminism, the history, our experiences. I think that is the truest mark of an important and interesting play--the audience discusses it at intermission. The most interesting things to arise from our talk: the woman next to us was a dentist and explained all the guys she went to school with were serious dummies, my mom said if she could have stayed at home and just been a housewife, she would have--instead of having a very successful career in education, and I explained that when Catherine explained if people are equal in a relationship they can't both go first I didn't really find that true anymore because couple my age do a great job of compromising jobs, location, etc.

I was pleased by the major and surprising action that kicked off the second act. Things got GOING. For those who don't know, the play is about three graduate school friends meeting up after many years. One went on to have a lucrative career in writing, teaching, talk shows. The other two got married and didn't. The wedded woman didn't even finish her degree. Ron (wedded male) is in a rut romantically and career-wise. The huge HAPPENING was (SPOILER AHEAD) the two women decide to switch lives. They each are so "I wished I had had a family"/"I wish I had a career for myself." So they walk the talk. At first it's fun, but quickly, so quickly, I was very very delighted by the married characters' conclusion. It was not rosy, but they wanted to be together. They had ended up in life as they were because they didn't want challenges. So when Catherine comes in and says, "Here, Ron, I'll support you and help you write a book, Gwen, I'll set you up in my New York apartment, they just run home." Home. A whole other can of worms. Catherine comes home to be with her mother at the outset of the play. She preaches how you can't outsource a home, and yet she tries to by taking someone else's husband and child. In the end, we all want to be home meaning family but for many of us that involves have a certain stability of money meaning a good career too. Hence the whole reason we're still seeing plays about this difficult balance decades after women's rights allegedly happened.

The crux of the play to me was that people will be what they set out to be. Avery has my favorite monologue from the play. She tells about how she ice skated when she was a child and quit. When she sees the Olympics she says, "That could have been me." Not only do we look at the "greener" grass on the other side of the fence, we typically look at a magazine picture of the plot of land. Yes, if we had made different choices along the way, things would be different, but why on earth would we expect to be at the perfect end of different? I like how quickly Gwen and Ron are like, "Nah. We liked using our What Ifs as excused, but we're truly average." They chose to see themselves as losers and poor, when really they had enough money. It's not like Gwen couldn't have worked part-time retail. For goodness sake, they have enough money to get a custom birthday cake made for a toddler.

I do also want to note that at first glance, it seems Catherine was almost perfect. She was successful and tried to "have it all" with Ron, but Ron sucked and wanted to be average. But the next day over a Field's salad at The Walnut Room, my mom and I decided Catherine wasn't really much better than the other two. She didn't want to work for her life to improve either. She tried to gank a guy she dated a million years ago who she knew was lazy and a pothead. She didn't put herself out to the world to find a real true companion. She didn't attempt to find an equal partner who loved and cherished her. She went for a near warm body for comfort. It's really no better than Gwen realizing she has no interest in working for a Masters.

In the end, every one is okay. They have learned, and even if they are not totally happy, they can no longer use outside sources for their unhappiness. They know who they are--which is more than most of us can say and a thrilling resolution to a piece of literature.

My one itsy bitsy complaint is that Avery crumbled so quickly when her boyfriend, whom she was merely exclusively hooking up with, left. She painted herself as some warrior lover and fell back on whining to him on the phone when he strayed. My mom says it proves that women who say they don't care about relationships really do. We're all sensitive. I don't buy it. I think sometimes you do have fun relationships. I think sometimes you don't really care. I understand Avery is ONE twentysomething, but of course I couldn't help but feel she represented us all. And I don't think she did it rightly.

I felt I was corned into seeing the whole story as representative pieces by the text. I was forced to see representation by the constant discussion of theory very literally plotted over the play instead of things just happening and those in the audience who know theory making the connections or not. (Like most plays). But then I it possible to be a woman these days and not have a strong understanding of that theory? Yes, of course, but not in middle class college-educated society. It's just not. Everything you do, there are the hanging skulls of Friedan or Butler above you, asking of you, "Are you doing it right?" 

Friday, January 16, 2015

All Aimee Lately

They're all still on their honeymoon.
Just read the dialogue balloon.
Everyone loves you.
Why should they not?
And I'm the only one who knows
that Disneyland's about to close.
I don't suppose you'd give it a shot--
knowing all that you've got

are cigarettes and Red Vines.
Just close your eyes, 'cause, baby
you never do know.
And I'll be on the sidelines
with my hands tied
watching the show.

Well, it's always fun and games until
it's clear you haven't got the skill
in keeping the gag from going too far.
So you're running 'round the parking lot
'til every lightning bug is caught,
punching some pinholes in the lid of a jar
while we wait in the car

with cigarettes and Red Vines.
Just close your eyes, 'cause, baby
you never do know.
And I'll be on the sidelines,
with my hands tied
watching the show.

And tell me, would it kill you
would it really spoil everything
if you didn't blame yourself?
Do you know what I mean?

Cigarettes and Red Vines.
Just close your eyes, 'cause, baby
you never do know.
And I'll be on the sidelines,
with my hands tied
watching the show.
Watching the show.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Airline Highway, Steppenwolf Theatre

Went to see this play people have been that's so ravin' about before the holiday. I kept meaning to write about it. Now my memory is a little fuzzier, which, in some ways, makes for a better critique.

The play looked great. Everyone LOOKED right. The setting was disgusting and perfect. I was transported. The only technical error spotted was from Bisque's eye. He said, "I don't think they would have had name brand chips." It is a good point. At a party of homeless strippers and duggos, maybe they'd go for the Jewel-brand tortilla chips instead of the Tostitos. Just a hunch.

How did I feel? This is the primary question. I felt, complacent. Mostly. I never felt a real strong pulling thing. I was in the balcony, but that hasn't stopped the power of theatre before. Did I care about these people? Um. Here's the true thing. I felt the people I met were in unpleasant lives and while it wasn't their fault, they were not extremely proactive to change. For some, I don't think they minded. For some, I think they very very much did. Perhaps that is the point of the play--a sort of conservative view of the lower class. "They could change, but they won't. They're weak."

"People don't change." A sentiment repeated and proven, I think, by the text. Perhaps the happiest of the folk was that old man on his bicycle. Tragically stuck in a hippy mind with an ol' lil body pedaling to the radio. Or was it tragic? Was it just fine because when all was said and done he was happy? He had the last big speech of the show. A poem. I thought it strange since he was such a minor character and none of his words held much strength to me, but upon writing this...

I found the play very deliberate. The symbol of Bait Boy's pink shirt coming off, his tattoos exposed, his speech morphing. The iPad of the yuppy kid, when she dropped it, the storytelling and the talking about the storytelling. I don't think deliberate is bad by any means. I'd rather deliberate than cloudy.

There is a huge emphasis on the choices you make at 16 do matter. I believe this. Sometimes I couldn't tell if we weren't supposed to believe this, or if that's a mantra of losers. "If only..." The carrying of baggage that can be can be can be dropped. But people that ever tell you, "This doesn't matter," don't know what it is like to be alive and get things you want. In reality everything matters. Instead, say, "This matters, but what you do next matters more."

Overall, I think I enjoyed this play just fine. It is going to Broadway, and there is zero chance I would recommend anyone see if for how much that ticket will cost. At the Step with a student discount, a good little Thursday night. Without? Hm. I don't think you need it. I will say that theatre is lasting. These ideas are stronger with colors and words and fake people on stage representing them. I don't believe I was changed from this production. I don't believe I learned very much, but I did think in a deep way, and that is what it is all about.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

You May Be the Most Important Person in the Room

I. Wall and I sat in the back row of the megaplex watching TransAmerica for free because she worked at the theatre. We were high school seniors. I didn't know any trans people, so the story was very novel. I added it to my list of favorite movies on FaceBook later that night.

KHo was the friend I was never supposed to "get." We were opposites in all of the on-paper ways--jock vs. drama club president, party animal vs. introvert, hates to read vs. wants to write. We truly didn't have basically any of the same tastes, and I'm sure--especially as a freshman in college--internally I did a fair share of judging her love of pop punk and Bend It Like Beckham. I saw a copy of Trans at Target for sale one day we were hanging out. Felicity Huffman's face hologrammed from man to woman. I told KHo that's the movie I loved last spring, but she probably wouldn't like it--contemporary social issues and family drama etc. etc. Almost to spite me she bought it. We watched it, and I was right in my prediction. She took it in without much joy, and at the end I was like, "See? You didn't like it. I knew it." She was like, "Yeah, maybe I would have if the character had been anything else besides 'trans.' The movie was just about the fact that she was trans." And she was really remarkably right. It was boring. There was nothing to it. It was a glimpse into a world that's intriguing for most--but a cardboard cut-out of that intrigue. I looked at KHo who wore baseball caps and Nikes like a uniform. Grew up a tomboy and truly never got into a makeup. Perhaps she had better thoughts about the way society makes a fuss over people who do or don't wear this or that etc. etc. It didn't matter I was the one who was generally more liberal, artistic.

II.  Shells and I were supposed to hang out one weekend, but I felt like I should go to a classmates one-man show. She said she'd take me to this thing--even though she hates plays and pretty much just went because I promised it wouldn't be longer than an hour. It was about being a young black person. He played several characters. There was a talkback. Shells just sits in talkbacks miming a gun to her head and blatantly checks Instagram. People asked about process and craft but also the issues. Finally, my friend left the stage, and Shells' car keys were in hand. As we walked to the car I asked, "So, another play to add to your list of 'didn't like.'" She was like, "Yeah, well, maybe if the kid had gotten to college any other way besides basketball. I've already heard that story a million times. And why did the half-black girl keep talking about her hair? If you're half-black that's the last thing you would ever do. Black women think you're bragging and white women get uncomfortable." It occurred to me how boredom might not be the only thing Shells was feeling as a black man represented her onstage--especially as the only black woman in the audience. Yet she said nothing! She was at that talkback! I asked her why! Why not say that, any of that! "Because I don't do theatre. I don't know," she said. But, no, you might be the most important person in the room.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Advice Gleaned from 2014

-Do not drag your feet. When the path appears, run full force.
-You don't have to listen to anyone who doesn't know what you're doing if you know what you're doing.
-Some students won't be ready to learn when you meet them. That's not your fault.
-Start class with patter. Patter is king.
-Movers are worth it.
-You like regimen. Don't rebel from something you like.
-There will be money one day, so don't get too worried.
-Just trying is more than 90% of people do. Look at yourself. You're actually doing okay.
-Always send the script. You never know.
-Theatre is lasting. Proven time and again.
-Being with someone a lot only causes problems if you're not nice. If you're nice, it is a blast always.
-Be extremely specific at the start of a haircut.
-Own offensiveness. Plan a defense, but also own it.
-Start with your motive.
-Never give up on a difficult person.
-Don't be ashamed to say, "I don't have the money for that."
-Throw away food.
-Try to do it--whatever it is. Always try.
-All breaks aren't procrastination. Your mind is a delicate being. Let it breathe.
-Exterminate discomfort, no matter how small.
-Accept all ideas. WITH VIGOR!
-Stay here with the people you love.