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October 2012 Archives

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Are you getting what you need at home? Do you have the intimacy you crave? Can one person really meet another’s every little need? Not when it comes to....poetry? Get ready to meet the Poetry Whores at where else? The Poetry Bordello, an event boasting a unique combination of Victorian costume party, performance art, musical performance and poetry readings.  The evening includes interactions with “Bordello Regulars” who dress and act as characters from a Victorian-era brothel as well as authentic burlesque. If you’re thinking, big deal, my partner provides all of that on a nightly basis, then you won’t want to miss the evening’s highlight: a chance to purchase a one-on-one poetry reading with one of the Poetry Whores. Our Town spoke with creator/Madame Susan Yount and Poetry Whore Nate Lowe aka Carlo Matos about what to expect from this naughty literary event.

Our Town Describe Poetry Bordello’s genesis. 
Susan Yount Our resident historians inform us that it all started at the 2007 Brighton Fringe Festival in the U.K., when Jimmy McGee and Chris Parkinson created the idea to sell poetry directly to the people within the setting of a brothel. Their brothel setting was a bit tongue-in-cheek but ultimately received numerous awards including "Best Literary Event"! The idea traveled to other cities, including Chicago. The first show in Chicago was organized in mid 2010 and included poets from New York and Chicago. Our first all-Chicago show opened on 24 September 2010.


OT Why take the Victorian age as inspiration?
SY It was during this time that Chicago quite literally raised itself from the ashes of the Great Fire, like a great Victorian Phoenix, and as a result its culture, history and architecture are intertwined with the gilded age in a manner that is distinctly Chicago. Also, during the conception of an all Chicago Poetry Bordello, I was inspired by Karen Abbott’s book, Sin in the Second City, a fabulously researched and brilliantly written historical novel about the Everleigh Club. It made sense to choose the same age the most famous and luxurious house of prostitution existed. Finally, there is also a strong & supportive Steampunk community here who set a very high bar with their impeccable wardrobes (and of course, also an impeccable taste in poetry). We love seeing and interacting with them at our shows!

OT Nat, what’s the benefit of having poetry read in a one-on-one situation?
Nat Lowe When I was young, I wanted to be a poet, but I had this notion that poetry was something that people didn’t do anymore. Sure, we could marvel at the great poems of the past, but no one was writing anything new. I don’t know where I got this idea, but I find that many of my students share a similar idea. The Bordello shows them that poetry is alive and well. It also takes a lot of the bologna of poetry performance and brings it down to a very personal level without it having to be confessional. I find that my clients like to suggest topics or genres. For example, I’ve had clients ask for poems that are funny, or poems about zombies, or poems about stuff that really happened to me. When I get a more knowledgeable client, I sometimes get to have interesting discussions about poetry and poetics. It allows for a tailor-made experience, which for many people—like my students, who sometimes come to the events—can’t get anywhere else.

OT How do guests respond to the intimacy? 

NL Return customers know that the ultimate bordello experience is in the one-on-ones. It’s a little bit poetry, a little bit illicit affair and a lot of fun. For some of the new guests, I am sure it can be a tad daunting. When I get a guest to myself, I relax and try to give them what they want. They paid good money for me, after all. Mostly, I want to maintain the air of fun and debauchery and not turn it into class time. Poetry at the bordello can still be dangerous.

Metamorphoses

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I hate myths. No matter Greek or Roman, ancient anything makes me barf. It’s my shortcoming, I know. Without the ancients we wouldn’t have the modern novel, concrete, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, all of which I can’t live without. Well, add Lookingglass Theatre Company's METAMORPHOSES to my ‘must have’ list. Thank Jupiter, a friend convinced me to see this riff on Ovid’s poem. Gorgeous. Innovative. Mesmerizing. Don’t even bother reading the rest of this blog, just get yourself a ticket to this much anticipated revival. Or fine, read it, but quickly. Our Town spoke with Lookingglass ensemble member Raymond Fox about this exceptional show.

Our Town Why bring back the show now?
Raymond Fox This is Lookingglass’ 25th anniversary season [so] we wanted to bring back a favorite.  Although METAMORPHOSES has enjoyed success across the country--productions both on and off Broadway, we have not presented it in Chicago in 14 years.  [Writer/director] Mary [Zimmerman] and her designers were intrigued by the opportunity to bring the play to our home in the Water Tower Water Works in a much more intimate venue than we’ve presented it in the past.   

OT As an actor, what is it like to revisit a play years later?
RF I was fortunate enough to appear in the first Lookingglass version and the two productions in New York as well as numerous regional productions of the play.  As a result I was in METAMORPHOSES on and off for six years from 1998 to 2004.  My wife (Anne Fogarty) and I start dating during the original run.  We’re back onstage together in this revival.  Our six year-old daughter is now able to see a production we thought we’d only have an opportunity to describe to her.  

OT What do you feel you bring to it now that perhaps you didn’t the first time?
RF Hopefully our work has deeper emotional resonance.  We’ve all experienced our own changes – both through joy and pain – over the years.  We try to bring that to these ancient tales.  As a result they feel richer to us.  We hope we can impart that to the audience.

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Photo by Frank Ockenfels

For singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile, confidence is key.
“The level of rejection [you] experience [in] music can be devastating,” she says. “You need an underlying sense of self worth to persevere.”
And persevere Carlile has.
“I was passed on by every record label at least once - some three times,” she says.
In Chicago to play the Chicago Theatre last week, Carlile spoke with Our Town about touring, her new marriage, and tenacity in the face of rejection.

Our Town You convinced your bandmates to work with you by promising them you’d be signed and on the road within a year. What made you so certain?
Brandi Carlile What made me so certain was a completely unprecedented and underlying sense of cockiness. But at 19 years old I really believed that I could do whatever I put my mind to, plus the twins were so good, I knew it would be more like them getting me signed and on the road within a year!

OT How has your writing (both process and content) changed over the course of your career? 
BC Naturally, as one gets older, the content of a song is based a bit more on experience and less speculative than songs from your early twenties and late teens. The really challenging thing is performing these songs in light of a wiser outlook and trying to make sense of early opinions; retrospect definitely is 20/20.


OT Obviously at this point listeners pick and choose, downloading only certain songs. What does it mean to create at this point in history when people’s attention spans are shorter than ever?
BC My objective isn’t to acquire listeners in a cultish sense, my objective is only to be blessed with the opportunity to interrupt someone’s life for three and a half minutes at a time and make them happy or reflective. I don’t worry too much about the climate of the music industry, so to speak, because humans have needed music for much longer that we’ve known how to sell it. As far as live music goes, no device will ever be able to cheapen the connections between people in a room.


OT What’s your favorite song off your most recent record and why?
BC It’s ever-changing, but if I’m looking back at Bear Creek ten years from now and asking myself which song moves me the most, it would be “That Wasn’t Me.”



OT You recently got married. How do you juggle career and relationship?
BC With complete and utter co-dependence. No I’m just kidding, who really knows?

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By now you’ve heard that Kinky Boots, en route to Broadway, has high-kicked its way into town. Our Town got a behind the scenes glimpse into the show’s workings when we spoke with Kinky Boots' Assistant Prop Manager Jacob White.

Our Town When did you realize you wanted to do tech professionally?
Jacob White I actually remember that moment clearly.  It was about half-way through my junior year of college. I was a computer science major but had always done work in our college theater. I worried a lot about falling behind in my studies because I spent all my time in the theater.  I was thinking this over in the shower one day and it just struck me that I was doing the wrong thing.  I literally got out of the shower, changed my major, and was totally excited to be on track to doing something I was passionate about.

OT What behind the scenes info would people be surprised to know about Broadway shows?
JW I hate to say it but there is no magic. It’s the same as a high school theater, a college theater, a regional theater--only with more resources.  Broadway is the collected efforts of a lot of very experienced people doing the same work that goes on in every other theater across America, or probably the world for that matter.

OT What's the best part of your job?
JW The job itself. It’s fun being backstage. It’s fun getting to meet and work with all sorts of creative people [and bringing] entertainment to a room full of people is exciting!

OT And the worst?
JW The hours. I've been in Chicago now since Labor Day and have had a total of 6 days off.

OT So, have you had any chance to experience Chicago?
JW Despite growing up in Milwaukee, my previous Chicago experiences were limited. I haven't had a lot of chances to explore, however as a cyclist, I've found the city very accommodating. I love the lakefront parks and trails, and have also been able to explore the nightlife from the Loop to Wicker Park to Lincoln Square, and found I really love it here. It will be bittersweet to return home to New York in a few weeks. One bright spot was a late night excursion to the Green Mill Lounge on Lawrence and Broadway which was amazing. I had such a great time there.

In junior high, I ran a thirteen minute mile. Not because I walked it and not because I twisted my ankle at lap three--although both of those things happened, but because being told to run in a circle so some national whatever could keep tabs on my fitness level pissed me off. At least that’s what I told my gym teacher. Accustomed to my insubordination, he responded with his usual expression of befuddled anger, eyebrows lifting as if to flee from his bulbous nose.

What I didn’t tell him was that running outside intimidated me.

Even after I began taking endless angsty teenage walks and pedaling to nowhere on my parent’s old exercise bike, even after I moved on to slow jogs on the treadmill I dragged to college with me, and years later spinning classes at Gold’s Gym in LA and finally a yoga practice facilitated by Chicago studios like Bloom, I was still afraid to run outside where people could see. As a spinning instructor, I sweat and screech daily in front of hordes of gym-goers, so self-consciousness couldn’t have been entirely to blame. Yet I kept grinding away on the treadmill despite longer runs and faster miles.

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A girl never forgets her first gym.

Maybe my reluctance to run outdoors owes something to the more general anxiety I harbor: I’m afraid of getting lost. I’m afraid to be alone. I’m definitely afraid of squirrels. The Immense Outside brims with walkers and mockers and kamikaze drivers, with wind and sun, and sometimes even waves strong enough to knock a runner over. I was afraid of all of those things, and yet, once I finally made the decision to run outside, those are the things I embrace. They make each run different. They make me feel like I’m on an adventure. And running despite my fears makes me feel liberated, returned to myself, a new version of something very familiar. I never made a clearcut choice to become a runner; rather, years of incremental shifts became a sudden solid choice. Sometimes that’s how change works: one day, you simply try something new.

Chicago is a great place to have made that decision. And I’m not the only runner who knows it. This is the first in a new Our Town series highlighting one Chicago Runner a month. We’ll be asking runners of all levels for tips on music, routes, gadgets and more. You’ll hear firsthand what makes a runner, and maybe discover your own impulse to run (away from squirrels.)

October's Runner: Kathie Bergquist

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Claudio Magris

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Internationally renowned Italian author Claudio Magris is headed to Chicago next week, but first he took time to discuss his much lauded new novel with Our Town.

Our Town What was your inspiration for Blindly?
Claudio Magris The gestation period of Blindly might seem long to the point of absurdity, given that I first thought of it in 1988. I was in Antwerp to launch a translation of the Danube. I had seen some ships’ figureheads. I was struck by their open, dilated gaze, directed at the beyond as if perceiving calamities invisible to others. At that moment, in that Flemish square, the idea came to me to write something about those figureheads, even though I was uncertain as to what I wanted from them. However, in drafting my book I did not long pursue this trial of the figureheads. Far more pervasive was my years-old interest in the incredible story of Goli Otok. Soon after the second World War, when the moment of revenge had arrived for what Fascist Italy had inflicted upon the Slav peoples, some three hundred thousand Italians, having lost everything, left Istria and Fiume, Rijeka- by then part of Yugoslavia- for Italy, the west. At the same time from Monfalcone, a small town near Trieste, two thousand Italian workers-militant communists, many of whom had experience the Fascist galls, the German lagers and the Spanish Civil War-voluntarily left Italy for Yugoslavia, there to contribute, inspired by their faith in it, to the construction of communism in the nearest communist country: two intersecting counter-exoduses. But in ’48 Tito broke with Stalin, whereby these revolutionaries became, in Tito’s eyes, potentially dangerous Stalinist agents, while they regarded him as a traitor. They were deported to the beautiful, terrible, islets of the Upper Adriatic, Goli Otok (Bald Island) and Sveti Grur (St. Gregory), where they were subjected, as in the gulags and the lagers, to every kind of persecution. This they heroically and foolishly resisted in the name of Stalin- that is to say, in the name of one who, had he been victor, would have turned the entire world into a gulag for the likes of them; when, years later, the survivors returned to Italy, they were harassed by the Italian police as dangerous communists arriving the East. The Italian Communist party also opposed them as embarrassing witness to the Stalinist politics it had embraced years earlier and now wished to forget.
I had more than once, in previous books, referred to this story. It moved me profoundly because its protagonists always found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. They fought for a cause- Stalin- that I myself consider mistaken, but did so with a magnificent capacity for sacrificing their own individual destiny for a universal cause, for the good of humanity.
However, the book is not simply the story of Salvatore Cippico, the protagonist, deported to Goli Otok. It is also the story of Jorgen Jorgensen, the king-convict, which whom Salvatore often identifies, indeed confuses himself, to the point where he raves (hopes, fears, denies) that he is the same person, his double, his clone. The life of Jorgensen coincided with the birth of Australia and Tasmania by way of the penitentiaries (those terrible prisons, which in my novel, merge with the lagers and gulags they so closely resemble). Jorgen undertakes the same odyssey as those convicts who, between the end of the 18th and the 19th century, were transported from England to Australia and Tasmania to become the first population, apart the Aboriginals. Jorgen is an incredible character: a Dane in the service of England, a sailor who had crossed the seven seas, the founder of the Capital of Tasmania, Hobart Town. Many years later he would there, in the same Hobart Town, be sentenced to hard labor for life, as if Romulus had ended up as a Roman slave.

OT You write that “history is a spyglass held up to a blindfolded eye.” How do you grapple with fictionalizing historical events? Or are they fiction to begin with?
CM The essential point in the writing of that book, concerns the relationship between the contemporary novel and History, between writing History and writing stories, between narrating reality and inventing it. The destruction of the linear concept of time, and the eclipse of a central meaning capable of bestowing unity and rationality upon events both individual and collective, have made a violent assault on the way story-telling relates to the meaning of History.
Writing Blindly, I was grappling, on the one hand, with that form of truth, which the novel (if it wishes) can search for only through distortion, and other forms of truth, which in the ethical-political context, for example, can be reached only by trusting that very reason upon which the surging brackets of the epic regime seem to have dissipated.

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Redtwist Theatre may be small in size, but since 1994, they’ve broadcast impressive ambition, producing a cavalcade of notable shows. Now, the storefront theatre heads into fall with Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass, a gripping drama about a New York couple in Kristallnacht’s aftermath. Our Town spoke with founder and Artistic Director Michael Colucci and star Jacqueline Grandt.

Our Town Broken Glass is one of Arthur Miller’s later plays, not as frequently performed as earlier ones. Why did Redtwist chose to produce it not once but twice?
Michael Colucci Broken Glass was—and still is—a buried treasure by the master American dramatist, written in 1994 during his golden years of full wisdom at age 79. We chose to produce [the play] in 2004, our first full season in our Bryn Mawr space. At that time, we were a relatively unknown resident company and thus very few people saw Jacqueline [Grandt]'s compelling performance as Sylvia Gellburg. Since then, she has become Redtwist's leading lady and one of the finest actresses in town. And so we felt it was imperative for her to revisit the role. Now that Redtwist has a bit of a following, many more people will see her exciting interpretation of this passionate and uniquely intriguing character.

OT Jacqueline, what’s it like to revisit an old part?
Jacqueline Grandt It is truly amazing!  I didn't go back and review my previous script or look at the DVD. I wanted to allow a fresh perspective and take advantage of my added experience on stage, as well as my own personal life experiences, to create a new character, one which I believe is fuller and more complete than before. 

OT Obviously you’re playing a character pretty far removed from your experience. What are you doing to prepare?
JG I did a lot of research on the era itself, as well as research on hysterical paralysis, which Sylvia suffers from. I discovered that the author of a book she is reading in the play, Anthony Adverse, suffered from shell shock, which is very similar to hysterical paralysis.  It certainly isn't difficult to be frightened by the horrific articles and pictures of Germany at that time. 

OT How did the dramaturge serve in prepping all of the actors for the show?
JG The research on each and every part of the script is so necessary and our dramaturg, Cassandra Rose, did an excellent job. I worked with her on Bug last year and she is wonderful!  Thorough, thought provoking...it truly helps in shaping any character. 

OT Are there specific onstage moments you can point to over the course of your career during which you felt the way growing up you’d imagined an actor feeling?
JG Yes. I believe it's the times that I've been in a scene where you actually feel the audience holding their breath...where you can feel their eyes watching and feeling every emotion you put forth.  Those are the moments that I believe all actors live for. 

OT What are your feelings on Chicago’s theater scene?
JG I believe its reputation is well deserved.  We produce some of the very best live theatre in the country.  Redtwist is signature Chicago because it gives you the "up close and personal" theatre that you don't see very often.  I'm so very proud to be part of that!

Broken Glass runs through November 18th. Purchase tickets here.

A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by following facebook.com/OurTownBlog.ChicagoSunTimes and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez
and Facebook.

Get JIPed

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Back in 2001, JIP was a one man project, just Chicago musician James Gwynn and his vision. Over the last three years however, JIP had grown into a three piece rock band. James Gwynn had a quick chat with Our Town about his influences and the group’s style.

Our Town JIP started as a solo project and grew to a three piece band. How did that evolution work? 
James Gwynn Everything changed with the 2011 release JIP: Year X.  I took that record into the Million Yen Studios (home of my favorite band Local H).  After that record and a successful double acoustic tour I knew the band needed to be bigger and louder.  I met drummer, Mike Charbonneauvia, a friend and bassist Joe D'onofrio is my wife's cousin.  It came together to be a loving family. [We’re sharper] with every practice and show. 

OT Who are your influences and how do they inform your work? 
JG My influences run from Local H to Ben Folds to Tracy Bonham and Bush.  The nineties alternative rock scene really hit me--how different the same genre of music could be.  I didn't play cover songs until we started touring Year X so those influences [relate] to emotion and lyrics rather than song style. 

OT What inspires you as a songwriter? 
JG The pursuit of happiness and relaying a message in a simple form.  Music is great because you can talk over really serious topics in a fun way.  My mission as JIP has always been to make simple songs with a strong message.  So that inspires me and life experiences find their way to become themes.  For example Sparks,

OT How has your writing process evolved knowing you’re writing for a group rather than solo work? 
JG It's oddly similar.  I've always written lyrics first and pieced them together by singing and finding guitar [parts].   Now I'll bring that same process to the guys and they add their layers. It's important to me that the guys make these songs their own and we adjust until we are all happy.

OT What can audiences expect from your upcoming gig at Hard Rock Chicago
JG Fun.  A great set of new and old JIP songs.  We want you to have a great time and be part of our set.  We have a special guest set for the show and it's going to be a blast.  We understand how great of an opportunity we have to play Hard Rock and plan on making the most of it.

Check out JIP's show this Friday October 12th at Hard Rock Chicago.

A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
IMPORTANT: the official Our Town site doesn't support comments. Join in the conversation by following facebook.com/OurTownBlog.ChicagoSunTimes and Sarah on Twitter: @SarahTerez
and Facebook.


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In a society where making art lands you in the unemployment line, artists face an uncomfortable choice. Work a nine to five job and come home too exhausted to create, or balance multiple jobs in hopes of carving out more time for art. Writer and visual artist Robin Hustle knows all about the latter, but she’s found an interesting, if controversial way to fund her art. Hustle first caught my attention after a piece she wrote for Jezebel on coming out as a prostitute to her parents received a slew of passionate comments. She spoke with Our Town about how her “day job” in sex work informs her art and vice versa.

Our Town Artists tend to choose between working nine to five jobs and fitting in art where they can or putting together a hodgepodge of gigs in order to make time for their art. You seem to have chosen the latter. Pros and cons?
Robin Hustle The 40-hour work week was established in 1886. It's shameful that we haven't made any progress since then, that we're expected to take our work home with us, that we have to work overtime to stretch minimum wage into something closer to a living wage. It's a system I'd want to work outside of even if I wasn't an artist. Making a living as I do allows me to wake up early and write or stay up late and draw. It spares me the monotony of a full-time job. After a decade out of school, being self-employed has allowed me to start working toward a degree in a healthcare field without giving up writing and making art.

OT You recently wrote a piece for Jezebel discussing prostitution. What made you decide to write publicly about it?
RH Prostitution has been my primary source of income for about eight years, and I've been writing about it for nearly as long. My zine Mirror Tricks, about working as a prostitute, was also a slide show that I presented dozens of times around the country, and I've written critical essays on sex work, given talks about prostitutes' health issues, etc. Until recently, I'd planned to take a break from writing about sex work because I felt like I was getting too comfortable, limiting the scope of my writing and neglecting other ideas and projects. Then a friend asked me to write some pieces for a mainstream website on the subject, I did it, and I quickly became addicted to the idea of reaching a wide audience really, really fast—something that doesn't happen through self-publishing and small press. When that series ended, I pitched the idea of an ongoing column on sex work to Jezebel, and I'm thrilled that they were into it. There was never a question of whether I should write publicly about prostitution. It fascinates me from a personal and a conceptual angle; it forces tricky questions about sex and feminism and labor and public space. Essentially, it holds all the elements that excite me as a writer, and also happens to be my job, a job that's highly stigmatized and considered shameful, so how could I not write about it?

OT Commentators seemed angry at you for writing from your personal experience, that of a white woman who has chosen prostitution, but isn’t that the point of a personal essay? To write from your experience? Thoughts?
RH Many of the people who responded to my first piece on Jezebel wrote that they connected with it, as a coming out story, as an experience of growing up in a radical family, as a difficult part of being a sex worker, but the loudest voices were the raging ones. Frankly, I don't think those commentators read the piece: they skimmed to see if it said "I'm happy being a sex worker" so they could tell me that my experience is so rare that I have no right to write about it, or that I'm ignoring the plight of trafficked women by writing about myself. A few comments really stuck with me, and they weren't from either end of that spectrum. They were from readers who have mixed feelings about sex work, how it fits into feminism, the degree to which it is or isn't exploitative. They didn't get any answers from my piece but they thought hard about the questions. That's the kind of reader I'm hoping to reach by publishing in such a public forum.

OT Were you surprised by the negativity of peoples’ reactions?
RH I live in an incredible community that shields me, to some degree, from the nastiness of so many mainstream ideas about sex work, but even within that community I've been subject to scapegoating, tokenization, and other less vehement forms of bigotry than what turned up on Jezebel. I'm not oblivious to the gut reactions people have to sex work, or the misinformation they're fed. But it did catch me by surprise, because I thought I was publishing an uncontroversial, sappy piece about coming out to my parents.

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Actor Sean Parris

If any theater knows its way around Edward Albee’s work, it’s Remy Bumppo. From 2011’s The Goat, to their current production of Seascape, the company and Albee have proved a perfect match. Our Town spoke with Artistic Director Nick Sandys about Seascape.

Our Town Seascape seems to be one of Albee's lesser produced works. What made you decide to stage it?
Nick Sandys The play includes everything Remy Bumppo looks for in a script: great, demanding language, complex ideas and arguments, wit and humanity, emotional depth.  It was only after we had chosen it to begin my first season as Artistic Director that I learned from James Bohnen, the founding director, that he had wanted to produce it in his first season but could not attain the rights. I actually think that there are numerous smaller productions of the play,  partly because its quirkily absurd surface is appealing, but it is actually very demanding physically--aside from the actors' physical movements, the costumes and the set need to be very detailed and essentially spectacular.

OT You've complimented Albee's ability to mix drama with humor. Is this somehow rare?
NS I don't necessarily believe that this combination is rare--tragicomedy is after all the 20th and 21st centuries' most common dramatic mode or genre.  But I do think that Albee uses humor in a unique way.  He is not afraid to include linguistically adroit and self-conscious characters who can punctuate an emotional scene with verbal wit or quibbling, a daring tactic that somehow allows humor into the darkest emotional scenes and never releases the tension, instead simply allowing the audience to feel safe and continue the ride.  

OT In the program, you write that Seascape is about our cultural moment. Can you expand on that?
NS Seascape was written in an eight-year stretch from 1967 to 1975, a period of particular turmoil for the American psyche: Vietnam, Watergate, environmental initiatives, the moon-landing, suburban white flight, etc.  And I feel that none of those issues have disappeared--in fact, as the play suggests, we seem destined to repeat our human behavioral errors over and over again, whether it be in the habits of a marriage or in our lack of historical knowledge.  We can all find contemporary versions of those same issues.  As the play states, "Is [evolution] for the better? I don't know. Progress is a set of assumptions."

OT With Remy Bumppo, this is Annabel Armour's second take on an Albee matriarch in two years. Is she a particularly good fit for Albee or why use her repeatedly in similar roles?
NS I have to say that there is very little in common between Stevie in The Goat and Nancy in Seascape.  They are world's apart as characters.  Annabel does have a unique rhythm as an actress, which makes her very watchable on stage, and her naturalism does fit Albee's linguistically quirky characters perfectly, as does her ability to suddenly access dangerous emotional depths.  

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October's Hot Writer: Michael McCauley

My genre: I write short stories, or long jokes. I try to be funny and occasionally succeed; I don’t try to be bleak but typically succeed.

My literary influences: Nikolai Gogol, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Evelyn Waugh, George Carlin, David Lynch, Diane Arbus

My favorite literary quote: "Literature should not disappear up its own asshole, so to speak.”—Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

My favorite book of all time: The Overcoat and Other Short Stories, by Nikolai Gogol. I’m referring to the Dover Thrift Editions publication that actually fits in your overcoat.

I’m currently reading: Revisiting Anton Chekhov’s Short Stories, Norton Critical Edition.

My guilty pleasure book:
Whatever the person I’m standing over is reading on the train to work.

I can’t write without:
Time, ear plugs, 40 mg of Vyvanse.

Worst line I ever wrote: My writing is usually terrible and sometimes good enough, so it’s not like I have to dig to find the worst line ever. Here is a line from the piece I’m revising now, highlighted for either revision or execution: “The chilly wind that breathed fire into the trees seemed to rekindle within Gary that terrible lust for the unknown he had successfully repressed over the summer.”
I feel awful now but I deserve it.

Brief Bio: Michael McCauley is a graduate of the University of Alabama's MFA Program in Creative Writing. His stories have appeared in Eleven Eleven, The Clackamas Literary Review, DIAGRAM, and Painted Bride Quarterly.

A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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