Tag Archives: Theatre

Word Vomit: A Rant About Why I Loved “The Unfortunates”

22 Jun

unfortunates4A little over a week ago my family arrived in Ashland, Oregon, to attend my long-awaited graduation from Southern Oregon University. Along with suffering through two and a half hours of dreadful heat and watching hundreds of students trudge across the stage to receive their faux-diplomas, we also had the opportunity of attending two Oregon Shakespeare Festival plays during our weekend together. My father and I have been attending OSF for going on eleven years now. Hell, OSF was one of the leading factors in my choice to attend Southern Oregon, where I graduated with a BA in both Theatre Arts and Creative Writing (and a minor in photography).

That Saturday, after the graduation commencement had ended, we saw A Streetcar Named Desire, which was quite enjoyable. Kate Mulligan brought a new energy to Blanche I’d never seen before, Jeffrey King was a lovably perfect Mitch, and both Danforth Comins and Nell Geisslinger made a great duo as Stanley and Stella. While Streetcar is not my favorite Williams play, I had a great time seeing this rendition. However, while a great production, Streetcar is not the play I want to focus on right now.

The night before graduation my family went and saw a play entitled The Unfortunates. I knew nothing about this show walking in, except that all my friends raved about it and demanded I buy the soundtrack. Since we were running late, I didn’t have a chance to flip open my program and read the plot synopsis before the play began. So, trusting in the magic of OSF to do no wrong, I sat back and let the players take me down a path I had not quite expected.

Ninety minutes later, my family exited the Thomas Theatre. There seemed to be a general consensus: they didn’t like it. The Unfortunates wasn’t what they had thought it would be and were all sorely disappointed by this fact. My godmother quietly remarked that at least the music was catchy and the performers talented, while my brother and godfather barked about how the plot was unfollowable and how nothing had made sense.

This took me by surprise. Had we been watching the same show? The second the lights had come back up after the play had ended, I immediately turned to my father and told him, “That was one of the best things I have ever seen. Ever.” How was my family going on in this way about such an amazing piece of theatre?

After hearing more squabbles from them, I came to the defense of The Unfortunates. “No, there was definitely a coherent plot,” I insisted, as my brother made a face of disagreement. “There was! You just didn’t get it.”

“Okay, well, what was it then?”

I opened my mouth to speak.

I faltered.

What was the plot?

unfortunates5I had gotten that there was something about being in a prison cell and people being shot, and then there was a bar… but was that bar a flashback? An imaginary realm? And everything else, what about all of that?A gambling game? Something about a plague? A strange love story? Some very hungry rooks? A dead king? An armless prostitute? What was the plot? I threw my brother a quick response about the play focusing on the last moments of a prisoner of war’s life, but even then I wasn’t sure I was in the know.

So why was I so taken with this show; this show that I couldn’t summarize for my family, or even myself? Why had I found myself with a large grin on my face, hands clamped on my cheeks, as I witnessed it unfold in front of my eyes inside the Thomas Theatre’s black box? As I thought more and more about it, I came to realize that this wasn’t a show you could explain in a text or a tweet. It was one you’d muse about with friends over coffee, that you could write endlessly about on your blog or in school essays, or that you could simply think about as you sat alone in your room at night before bed. It was a story that would fester in every inch of you and wouldn’t let you go – at least, not right away.

(Warning: it gets spoilery from here on out, so tread cautiously.)

I found reading the playbill’s pieces on The Unfortunates and, eventually, the script helped me grasp the pieces of the plot I was missing. Little things were brought to my attention that I had missed upon seeing the show, and it was easy to see the entire story after I was done reading. Yes, I had been right in what I had told my family, about the prisoner of war aspect. If we were to assign this show a dramatic statement (dear god, the SOU theatre department is going to haunt me the rest of my life, isn’t it?), The Unfortunates is a play about a man finding solace and courage in the power of music – or, rather, the power of his own song – before he is about to die. It turns out, this show is all about the music. It’s about holding fast to music, even when times are brutal. Joe escapes into his fantasy-bar where he’s king, drawing in parallels to his prisoner of war surroundings (such as his deceased friends taking on new personas and his fists – oh this fists, we’ll get to those fists in a bit), and how he finds comfort in the music. How, even when his fantasies take a harsh turn, the music is there to help him find his way and face his deepest fears (I feel like “Guard the Right” is the number one example of this). Plus the tones of the show were constantly shifting, dragging you along with it at every turn. There was the chilling opening as each man was taken away, the fun vaudeville-feel of the bar numbers, the romantic inclinations between Rae and Joe, the creepy feel of the Doctor’s stage presence, and the overwhelming rush of emotion at the play’s end. If anything, I think The Unfortunates is a show that should be viewed on two separate occasions, so the first time you can find yourself lost in the music, and the second time you can lose yourself in both the story and the music.

This leads into the number one reason I believe I was so instantly taken with this show: the music. Now, I’m a huge fan of musicals. Back when the girls in my class were belting ‘N Sync and Britney Spears on the playground, I was off humming Music Man and Les Miserables songs to myself. Showtunes were all I listened to up until the last couple years of high school, and while my taste in music has definitely expanded in the more recent years, I still listen to showtunes quite often. So, going into The Unfortunates knowing it was an original musical, I expected the usual slew of showtunes that appear in contemporary shows.

unfortunates8I was surprised that a number of the songs in the play were that of rap and hip hop, and, what’s more, that I found I loved them. Really, really, really loved them. Nothing personal, I’ve just never felt a connection with that genre of music before. However, The Unfortunates did such an amazing job taking these musical genres and crafting them to fit the story. Not only that, there’s also a beautiful mix of gospel, folk, r&b, and a capella incorporated into the soundtrack of the show. They all blend together, making for a truly gorgeous musical score.

There is not one song in this show that you cannot hum or snap your fingers along to. Upon leaving the black box, I immediately purchased the soundtrack, knowing full well I’d go crazy without this new music in my life. The recorded songs, though a tad different than the final product you view in the show, are wonderful and great to sing along with. My favorite song changes on a day-to-day basis; however, gun to my head, I’d have to say “Quarantine”, “Good to be the King”, “Down and Out”, “I Want You”, and “Tell Me Where It Hurts” are my five favorites. They’re all unbelievably catchy, and it’s almost impossible not to dance or sing along with certain numbers. It’s also fascinating to read about the history of some of the music; where it came from and how it inspired the playwrights.

Not only is the music beautiful, the dialogue is as well. The style in which many of the characters speak is akin to spoken word, in my personal opinion, which is another reason this show resonated deeply with me, as I have definite ties when it comes to spoken word. There are many magnificent pieces of dialogue throughout the play, but my absolute favorite is a speech Big Joe gives during “Tabs Are Always Open for an Addict”:

“I never wanted nothing more than the breath I was breathin’, the moment I breathed it. I never had nothin’ I wouldn’t mind leavin’, includin’ the breathin’. These fists are a fury, this tongue is a torrent of suffering stuffed like a bittersweet cup. I nearly tore my heart out just to feel touch once, but ain’t nothin’ so bitter as want. I want, I want, I want to rip open these fists, grip a life that’s slipping in between these fingers where nothing else gets, blood flow from my fingertips kissin’ my wrists as it drips, warming a heart that only exists for your lips.”

You read that? That’s fucking poetry right there. Beautiful, mesmerizing poetry.

unfortunates1I’ve also come to love thinking about the symbolism in this show, particularly that found in the characters’ hands and arms. The two forefront characters are polar opposites in that sense: one has no hands and one has giant hands. In the opening, we see Joe’s fists raised in defense, which speaks of him in that reality, trying to defend himself from the inevitable. When we’re taken to the world of the fantasy-bar, suddenly his fists are huge. They allude to Joe being a boxer in the opening song, so perhaps that’s why his fists become five times bigger, fighting being what he knows best, or perhaps it’s his subconscious needing to physically protect himself from the reality that awaits him (ie. his execution). Then we have Rae; beautiful, graceful, armless Rae. Why is she armless? This was the number one question my aunt kept pestering me with the rest of the night, and having no idea at the time what the answer was, I finally just told her, “Character device.” Looking back on this show, I realize there was much more at play than just some arbitrary character device. In Joe’s reality, he clutches a picture. From the whistle the enemy soldier gives we know the photo is of a woman. No doubt it’s the woman in the photo that the illusion of Rae is based off of. To me, her lack of arms symbolizes how she is stuck in a world she cannot escape from; she is being whored by her own father and there’s no way to claw her way out. She is helpless and in need of rescue (again, this is Joe’s fantasy, so her character reflects heavily on him and his wants). What’s more, her state of being contrasts Joe’s completely. He can’t unclench his giant hands to hold her, no more than she can wrap her nonexistent arms around him. It’s not until she dies that she can finally be whole again, just as it isn’t until Joe has finally accepted his inescapable death that his fists disappear; the moment they’re both finally freed (ie. no longer having to be a prostitute and Joe’s acceptance of death) is when they can return to normal. Then there’s the whole sequence where the Doctor’s arms stretch out to enfold Rae – goddamn, that moment gave me chills (and was when I finally started crying) – and just that contrast with everything else going on in the play… It just comes together so magically. I don’t know how else to describe it.

unfortunates7Finally, the performers. Ah, the performers. Each one of them was absolutely brilliant. From those opening moments of the play when you’re not quite sure where the characters are or why, you’re able to pick up immediately from the body language and acting of the performers (and, okay, the offstage gunshots help too) that things are not all right. Each actor, and the musicians too for that matter, are just wonderful. They’ve each got powerhouse voices, and each hone their characters’ personalities and physicalities beautifully. Not to mention all four original creators of The Unfortunates are in this play, which, as someone who considers herself both a writer and a performer, is absolutely fantastic. Everyone in the show used their talents to the best of their abilities, and did a kick ass job doing so. Plus there’s a live band on stage throughout the show, and goddamn if they’re not equally as amazing.

So no, The Unfortunates might not be what you expect when you walk into the Thomas Theatre in the next few months. It’s not your classic My Fair Lady or Music Man musical. It doesn’t abide by the expected showtunes and overdone story structure. But you know what it is? It’s fresh. It’s new. It’s exciting, which I feel has been lacking in a lot of new theatre (especially musicals) as of late. We need more musicals like this one, that’s for sure.

I would like more than anything to see this play for a second time (no big surprise, right?), and I’m not entirely sure if I’ll be able to. I take off for New Zealand in exactly a month, and the time before my departure is going to be quite hectic. I’m planning to go down sometime in a couple weeks with a friend who loves the show just as much as I do, so hopefully that will pan out. If not, hey, at least I got the chance to experience The Unfortunates just once, just as everyone else has or should.

… But seriously, if you’re in Ashland and you haven’t seen this play yet, what the fuck are you doing?

Go buy a ticket to it.

Right now.

Trust me, you won’t regret it.



Waiter, There’s an Dipshit in my Soup.

3 Nov

Last week my dad called me up and told me he was going to be coming down to Ashland to see me this weekend. This caught me a bit off guard, since my dad had just come down at the end of September and we had seen five shows together. Nevertheless, I found that I was, surprisingly, excited that he was coming down to visit so soon.

So he came down this Thursday and stayed for two nights. We went and saw Romeo and Juliet Thursday evening, and then we saw Animal Crackers again last night. I had seen Romeo and Juliet several weeks ago, and I enjoyed it a lot the first time… but then again, maybe that’s because I went with a really cute Russian boy. This time around I found I was bored through most of it. Maybe it was the performance, maybe it was because I’ve seen Romeo and Juliet one too many times. Animal Crackers, on the other hand, was hilarious as always. It was my dad’s second time seeing it and my third. This time was a special treat because Jonathan Haugen, who normally plays Hives and Chandler, as out and we had an understudy (Robert Vincent Frank) go on. Since the show’s so fast paced and he’s probably never had to go on before, Robert was on book. Of course, since the show is so slapstick and improvised, the main trio of the show gave him a hard time during the entire show’s run. Luckily he was a good sport about it. I’m sure he knew going on that they’d tease him a bit. The best part was when his character was passed out on the floor they semi-undressed him. Good moments in theatre 101.

Yesterday afternoon my dad and I went to Jacksonville. I’d never been to the small town except for the two times I went there for Britt Festival, but even then I only ever went straight to their outdoor theatre. I found the town to be quite charming. My dad explained how it was a historic piece of Oregon, and we wandered around through most of the shops. After talking to a nice woman at an antique store, I made a mental note to come back to Jacksonville during the Christmas season. It sounds like they decorate the entire town and go all out for the holiday season, which sounds fabulous. They’ve also got a killer kitchen appliance store, so I’ll have to go back there to find my dad a gift for Christmas.

Alas, our trip to Jacksonville was far from perfect. We went to the Jacksonville Inn Restaurant, which my dad was raving about. He told me how it’s considered one of the top one hundred restaurants in the country, and how he’d been there before. Well, let’s just say I walked into that restaurant excited and left feeling… agitated. For starters, our waiter was sort of horrible. He had to keep coming back to ask us questions about our orders, we waited for our food for over forty-five minutes, he completely forgot our appetizer all together, and he brought me the wrong kind of wine (luckily my dad spoke up and I was given the correct kind). Normally I could excuse things like this, except we were one of three tables in the restaurant and the guy had been working there for months. So there’s that.

But that’s not while I was feeling agitated by the time we left. Despite all the problems with our lunch, I was ready to leave the meal feeling all right about the establishment. The burger I ordered had been great. However, as my dad and I were getting ready to leave he asked me, “What does your button say?” I glanced down at it and grinned. “Time Lords for Obama,” I replied. I was about to tell him all about the site NerdsForObama.org when we were interrupted. The maître d’ of the restaurant, who had been so nice to us and had been the reason we finally got our food, came over and asked me if I was voting for Obama. I hesitated before telling him “yes.” I sensed a disturbance in the force. The guy then went on to give me a five or six minute long rant about why Obama is a terrible president. At first I was quiet, thinking he’d eventually talk himself out. Then I tried to give him visual cues with my body language and expressions that the whole conversation (well, not conversation, more like him lecturing at me) was making me uncomfortable. Finally I couldn’t sit there any longer in silence when he tried to argue how PBS should have its funds cut.

The whole thing was infuriating. I’d make a statement and he’d immediately cut me off before I could make my point. He’d also ask me if I knew certain states and dollar figures about things Obama has “screwed up”, which was just plain dumb because of course I don’t know any of this off the top of my head. He then gave me a speech about how he shouldn’t have to pay for other woman’s birth control and blah blah blah, it just went on until my dad finally stood up so we could get out of there.


That’s just not acceptable. If you’re working at a restaurant, no matter how comfortable you feel with your customers, you should never put them in a situation like that. As we were leaving the guy was telling me how he’d hope that I’d come by again sometime soon, and all I could think was, “No fucking way am I ever coming back.” I then went home and took an angry nap.

Anyway, besides that glitch, my weekend with my dad was lovely. It’s odd that I’m now at a place in life that whenever he leaves I’m genuinely sad. We don’t always get along, but I do love the guy. Glad I’ll be seeing him again in less than three weeks for Thanksgiving.

How I Listened to the Lysistrata Jones Soundtrack Four Times in One Bus Ride.

5 Jul

At the start of every summer I swear to myself I’m gonna start listening to more song artists and bands. Y’know, cut back on showtunes and Disney, and listen to “real” music. That’s what I tell myself… and, every summer, without fail, I fall in love with an entirely new musical. Last summer it was Book of Mormon, the summer before it was the showtunes of Kerrigan & Lowdermilk, then Next to Normal, then In The Heights, then Spring Awakening, etc. etc. etc.

Well this summer, as of today, I am in love with Lysistrata Jones.

This really is a new development, seeing as of twelve hours ago I only knew two songs from the entire show. It’s been sitting on my iPod, unlistened to for a couple weeks now. The only reason I went and hunted it down in the first place was because of the song ‘When She Smiled’ – I’m in love with the Andrew Rannells version of that song – but really had no interest in actually listening to the entire soundtrack… or so it would’ve seemed.

Then today I had a seven hour long greyhound bus ride to deal with. When finally on the bus (after a stressful ordeal of almost missing said bus and having the bus driver yell at me), I was nestled up on my bus seat, tuckered out and wanting to sleep. I realized I had three unheard soundtracks on my iPod: Newsies, Once, and Lysistrata Jones. I was really only looking for music to fall asleep to at the time, so I selected Lysistrata Jones, closed my eyes, and prepared to sleep, figuring I’d listen to the other two soundtracks later on the bus.

I never listened to Newsies or Once.

I’m sure jaws have dropped by now, seeing as I snubbed the two most popular musicals on Broadway this year (based on two of my all time favorite films) for this somewhat shallow seeming musical, but I’ve quite honestly had a hard time getting into these two musicals as well. The film version of Newsies is so near and dear to my heart, that whenever I try to listen to the Broadway version I get angry over the whole purpose of ‘Sante Fe’ being changed, that Max Casella is no longer Racetrack, that Denton’s a chick, and so on. I realize the changes they made were for the better and I have no doubt someday the musical will grow on me, but for now I prefer Christian Bale’s (terrible) singing to whoever the new Jack Kelly is. The Broadway version of Once, on the other hand, sounds just like a bunch of covers of Glen and Markita’s music. What I’ve heard is beautiful, but I guess I just haven’t been in a mood for it much as of late (though, I will say, their version of ‘Gold’ is astonishingly gorgeous).

So, yes, Lysistrata Jones.

I’m sure most of you know the tale of Lysistrata. The story of all the wives of Athenian warriors who hold out on sex until their husbands end the war? Right. Well. Lysistrata Jones is about a college where the boy’s basketball team never wins, so their girlfriends hold out on sex until they win a game. Oh. And a Greek Goddess narrates and also acts as the mistress of a nearby brothel.

I know. It sounds kind of awful, doesn’t it?

That’s what I thought when I turned it on, thinking it was just going to be my background music to fall asleep to, but what follows is clear evidence that it’s more than what its shitty summary leads you to believe (which is probably why it closed so quickly on Broadway).


I did drift in and out of sleep upon my first listen, but I was still lucid enough to grasp that the music was really damn catchy. I wasn’t paying very close attention to the lyrics, just kind of gleaning the bare minimum of what was going on in each song. I caught lines that said things such as “No sexo!” “Do your duty, no more booty!” and “That’s why God invented porn!”, which made me inwardly roll my eyes. It was proving to be everything I had expected it to be, leaving me very unimpressed.

Don’t think Aristophanes had this in mind when he wrote the original.

So I wasn’t paying much attention, dozing a bit and such, not caring much. Cut to one of the last songs, ‘Right Now: Operetta’, and suddenly my interests became peaked. Suddenly these characters became… well, more fleshed out. I had absolutely no clue what was going on in the song (since I hadn’t been paying much attention leading up to it), but suddenly the characters were no longer 2D caricatures of ditzy/jock-y college students. Emotions were being expressed and fears were being concerned. This confused me. What happened to the campy, silly musical I had been listening to?

Then the final number of the show (‘Give It Up’) came on, and suddenly it was uplifting and inspirational and, Jesus, was I so confused.

This is the day we start to fight
This is the moment I’ve been waiting on
For what seems like an eternity

I am a match that you ignite
And letting go of every expectation
Reservation, deprivation, liberation

The song also kept repeating the line: “Give it up, whatever’s keeping you from being you.” It’s such a simple phrase, which left me astounded at how much it literally effected my person. It suddenly dawned on me that maybe this was more than just a musical about girls holding off on their boyfriends.

So I gave it a second listen.


(The soundtrack, by the way, is only a little over an hour long, hence how I listened to it so many times in one sitting.)

This time through I actually stayed awake for the entirety of the soundtrack and was able to get a (shaky) grasp on the plot. The plot, while still is basically the whole withholding sex story, also has many different facets and subplots to it, which can be kind of confusing when you dive in head first. I didn’t have a plot book to follow and I had no bearings of the relationships between the characters, so I spent most of this listen-through paying attention to the lyrics and music. While I already knew the score was catchy, the fact of the matter is this: Lysistrata Jones has a great soundtrack.

Of course, not every song is a keeper. I could take or leave ‘Party Time’ and ‘Don’t Judge a Book’, I tend to skip the last two numbers on the soundtrack (‘Never Say No’ and the redone ‘Hold On’), and I still have absolutely no idea what ‘Writing on the Wall’ is about because THAT’S how unforgettable that song is.

That being said, Jones has got some absolutely incredible music, such as: ‘Right Now: Operetta’, ‘Hold On’, ‘You Go Your Way’, ‘Where am I Now’, ‘When She Smiles’, and ‘Give It Up’. These songs are, to me, the best of the show, but I think pretty much every number is stellar (and definitely good dance music). They’re very campy and fun, and that’s kind of what I’m looking for in a musical right now. I think ‘Hold On’ may be my favorite as of right now (Jason Tam, I wanna be all up on you), since it has an absolutely lovely message tied in with it.

They marched down Pennsylvania Avenue
Plant a tree! Make it green!
No more carbon! Keep it clean!
They held their banners high till their fingers all turned blue
Well I know mother earth still cries in pain
As long as I can taste the salt of her tears
I know the fight must still remain
See, I know you gotta hold on
Don’t let go
In the morning when the lights are low
You gotta hold on, hold on, hold on

You can watch the awesome Jason Tam perform this song here (and understand why I’d very much like to jump his bones).

So this listen through hooked me with the songs and reeled me back in for more, which explains why…


The most annoying thing about listening to this soundtrack, and let me make this abundantly clear: all of the actors and actresses sound alike.

There were seriously three characters I could differentiate from the group (Cleonice, Cinesias, and ‘Uardo), and that’s only because they had either Hispanic or Brooklyn accents (and also Hetaira, since her voice is a bit older than the rest of the cast’s). Because of this, and because I’ve never seen this show, it made it really hard to understand what was going on at times. It wasn’t until listening to it my fourth time that I realized Robin and Myrrhine were not the same character. Plus the character of Xander is never introduced via song (unlike everyone else in the show) so when he randomly popped up for ‘Hold On’ I was just like, “Ummmm… who is this (gorgeous) voice singing?” I also didn’t realize Xander was singing during ‘Operetta’, and I thought his part was Mick’s, so, yeah, lots of confusion to be had.

Props to casting for having a really ethnically diverse cast.

That being said, I did have a really fun (though at times aggravating) time deciphering the characters and learning all about them.

After I moved past that confusion, I started gathering character’s backgrounds. I was able to match up characters to songs and relationship, grasping their stance in the musical better. My best revelation was when I realized the song ‘When She Smiles’, which I’ve loved so much for so long, wasn’t directed at the protagonist. It made me incredibly giddy, finding out I was wrong after all this time.

And, hey, I had already listened to it three times to make the bus ride go faster, so…


By now I had gained a better understanding of the musical as a whole, and I now knew that while this musical comes off as a raunchy comedy about girls, guys, and sex, there is definitely an under layer to it. The first act really is the more satirical of the two, but the second act is where the characters become more fleshed out, since that’s where things start to get real for them. I love the character of Lysistrata, because she’s a good example of having a belief and sticking to it. Is it a ridiculous belief? Mayhaps, but it’s still awesome to see her become independent and self-reliant. The characters of Tyllis, Mick, Robin, and Myrrhine all really grew a lot as well.

The character that changed the most for me over the course of the day was Cinesias. Upon first listen he just came off as a white punk who was trying to be a “gangsta” or a “playa”, and he quite frankly annoyed me a lot. I didn’t understand the depth of what his character goes through  in ‘Don’t Judge a Book’ until the fourth listen, but I see that moment in the play as a big revelation for his character. While he wants to seem this certain way to all of his friends, he just can’t because he really is a good guy. The most heart rendering line he has in the show is:

“Just don’t know who I’m supposed to be,
Don’t you understand?
I’m tired of being me.”

The line was almost thrown away, which left me amazed because I think it’s such a crucial line to the show. That’s when it hit me: this is a play about the struggles of maintaining, not only a relationship, but one’s own self-image in a college setting.

While the characters are in this strange situation, and yes the comedy is a bit ridiculous in hopes to gain some laughs, there’s a sense to it of these characters being so unsure of themselves. At the end of ‘Operetta’ there’s a moment where all the students sing of their own, personal fears, their lyrics beautifully intertwining with each others, displaying how this can be a scary age at times for just about anybody. To exemplify this idea even further, Lysistrata ends the first act with the (show stopping) number ‘Where Am I Now?’

Where am I now? How am I here?
Which way do I turn when it’s all so unclear?
I’m standing alone with nothing but fear
Where am I now, now that I’m here?

Maybe I’m digging a little deep, but this to me really is a musical of people my own age coming to terms with themselves, which I find comforting. I know it’s something I’m gonna be dealing a lot with this upcoming year.

Now, I wrote an entry a while back about how Spring Awakening helped me come to terms with my own sexuality, and that’s where this musical differs. While sex is definitely a heavy subject in the show, it’s never really an issue people struggle with (except possibly Robin). It’s an issue, just not of the same magnitude as in Awakening, which I sort of like. It’s nice seeing a musical where there are female leads that have a handle on their sex lives.

Oh Jason Tam… ❤

So is this a musical for everyone? Definitely not. But is this a musical for me? Definitely yes.

Is this all there really is?
Just endless games of making do
Putting up with second best
Always wanting new
Wanting something better
To shake me to my core
Something magic, something more
I want more

setting myself up.

6 Jun

Here’s a list of things I’m writing that I’d like to accomplish this summer:

  • Obsessed || screenplay
  • Untitled Beach/Mute Writer/Toussaint Charbonneau piece || screenplay
  • Max Factor || screenplay
  • Questions || screenplay
  • Twins || play
  • Doodles on a Nihilist’s Arm || short story
  • The Girl With the Owl Necklace || short story
  • Twinship || novel
  • Eleven Inches || novel
  • This Year || slam poem
  • Shy || slam poem
  • The Ferris Bueller Method || slam poem


Sorry for all these lists as of late. I know they don’t constitute as interesting blog entries. My goal for the summer is to write in this blog once a day and, well, okay, it’s not technically my summer just yet (eight more days!), but I’m kind of trying to get into the swing of things now. The problem is that if I wrote about what’s going on in my life right now it’d be a constant blather about stress of school/finances/moving/finals/etc. I guess writing about moving could be interesting, but I haven’t even begun the moving process just yet, and I seriously doubt people would like recounts of me shoving mugs and scarves into random boxes.

So. Yeah. Here’s a vague list about stuff I’m gonna (hopefully) work on this summer.

Should I share my writing on here throughout the summer? Maybe tidbits of each of them.

Theatre as a Catharsis

6 Jun

I love acting for many reasons. I love being able to be inside the mind of a completely different person, trying to take on a whole new view of the world. I love interacting with other people in scenes, creating a whole new world where these characters matter. I love how it holds the mirror up to the audience, allowing them to see bits of themselves in the characters I’ve played. These are the core reasons I love acting.

I’m in a short scene for directing class right now. It’s a nice little bit, and the scene ends with me screaming at my fellow actor and then us embracing. During all the rehearsals all I could think was, “Man. I am awful at acting angry.” I’m not really a screamer in the angry sense. When I’m angry I get quiet, stoic, and mean, but there have been so very few occasions in my life where I’ve actually yelled at someone out of anger. This, unfortunately, translates on stage, because it seems like whenever I’m in a scene/play that involves me getting super angry I have to work extra hard at it because, goddamn, I’m the worst at pretending to be angry.

Right now I’m at a very stressful point in my life. I’ve got a lot of finals coming up and I’m trying to figure out how to pay next month’s rent without crawling to my dad crying for help. Due to all this, today was an overtly stressful day. One of those days where you just want to punch everyone you pass in the goddamn face, so you avert all eye contact in order to make sure that doesn’t happen. Top that off with being frustrated with the guy I like, being irate with a teacher for her lack of punctuality with an email, and the realization that my best friend is leaving me in less than a month, well, I was in a shit mood is what I’m saying.

So I get to the directing class today and I’m thinking to myself, “Oh man. Oh man. I do not want to be here today. Five minutes ago I was crying in the bathroom. I just want to go home.” But I stayed. Of course I stayed. Another group went, doing a poorly staged scene from one of my all time favorite plays by Sarah Ruhl, and then it was our turn. The majority of the scene went adequately. I fumbled over a couple lines, which only added to my inner turmoil. Then came the ending of the scene; my yelling bit. It started normally, but then it escalated. It escalated to a point we hadn’t reached before. My shoves, while stage-safe and in no way harming my fellow actor, came more rapidly and brutal-looking. There was an air of despair in my cries; a tone of hurt. I sounded downright mean; downright desperate. In the end, when he grabbed my arms and looked at me, I remember the feeling of the cries stopping dead in my throat, my chest heaving. We then embraced, as the stage directions demanded, and I felt myself shaking as I hugged him tighter than I’ve ever hugged anyone.

I left quickly after the scene was through.

Needless to say, I felt much better after that. It was nice to be able to draw from my shitty, shitty day and make a powerful ending to the scene. Performance is such a cathartic experience. You’re able to gather up all this emotion that you usually keep bottled up inside you and just… release.

Words from Others

10 Mar

I’m feeling a tad lazy today, so here are some of my all time favorite quotes… and by “some” I mean “a lot”. These are all quotes from movies/plays/TV/books/etc. I do have a lot of quotes from people in my life, and maybe I’ll share those someday, but for now I’m just gonna share these ones.



“[Muppets] are just such a force for good, and I know that’s crazy to hear me talk about it, but I’m in love with them. They remind us of the best version of ourselves. They’re who we wanted to be when we were kids.”
— Jason Segel

“Well this is a place that you, that you all made together so that you could find one another. The most important part of your life was the time that you spent with these people. That’s why all of you are here. Nobody does it alone, Jack. You needed all of them and they needed you. To remember. And let go.”
— Christian Shepard, LOST

“I’m a person who relies very heavily on intuition and feeling out the situation, so I’ve never really made a five-year plan or anything like that, if it’s right, it will fall into place and if not, I understand.”
— Emma Stone

“Today I felt completely awake, like my heart was as big as the moon.”
— Ray, Bored to Death

“Doubt thou the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love.”
— Hamlet

“Maybe you don’t need the whole world to love you, you know, maybe you just need one person.”
— Kermit, The Muppets

“Yeah, well, I’ve got a dream too. But it’s about singing and dancing and making people happy. That’s the kind of dream that gets better the more people you share it with.”
— Kermit the Frog, The Muppet Movie

“They don’t even know they’re doing the same thing as everyone else, just using a different name. Entertaining themselves. Missing it. Lying. None of them care about pole vaulting or dreams.”

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand […] once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
The Velveteen Rabbit

“The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them – words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie to close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it. That’s the worst, I think. When the secret stays locked within not for want of a teller but for want of an understanding ear.”
— Stephen King

“I want to be Proust or the Marquis de Sade. I would like to be Christ, Mohammad, Buddha, but not have to believe in God.”
— Guido, Nine

“Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So, what are we, helpless? Puppets? Nah. The big moments are gonna come, you can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwords that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.”
— Whistler, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

“I live for the day when an actor can walk on stage, stand stock still and have an audience applaud in sheer wonder that – in spite of plague, politics and the foolishness of this age – this thing has managed to stay alive.”
— Shag, Equivocation

“If you’re not scared you’re not taking a chance, and if you’re not taking a chance then what the hell are you doing?”
— Ted, How I Met Your Mother

“I can’t control my destiny. I trust my soul, my only goal is just to be. There’s only now, there’s only here. Give in to love or live in fear. No other path, no other way. No day but today.”

“Family is more than blood. It’s about trust, about love, about those who embrace you – the real you – unconditionally.”
— Samuel, Heroes

“I mean Hank, the movie was great, but the thirty minutes before the movie started was what I love about being a nerd. Because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. We don’t have to be like, ‘Oh yeah that purse is okay’ or like, ‘Yeah, I like that band’s early stuff.’ Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself-love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they are saying is, ‘You like stuff’, which is just not a good insult at all, like ‘You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”
— John Green

“Just remember, kid, you can quicker get back a million dollars that was stole than a word that you gave away.”
— Arthur Miller

“Love isn’t brains, children, it’s blood. Blood screaming inside you to work its will.”
— Spike, Buffy

“If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy, I can only conclude that I was not made for here.”
— Brooke Fraser

“We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us; leaving nothing but a memory of the smell of smoke and a presumption that our eyes once watered.”
— Guildenstern; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

“But the thing is … but what I wanted to say is, you know when you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all “Grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid” and that’s it. Nah. The truth is the world is so much stranger than that, it’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.”
— Elliot, Doctor Who

“The Venn Diagram of guys who don’t like smart girls and guys you don’t want to date is a circle.”
— John Green

“Oh mirror in the sky, what is love? Can the child within my heart rise above?”
— Fleetwood Mac

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
— C.S. Lewis

“The funny thing about writing is that whether you’re doing it well or you’re doing it poorly, it looks the exact same. That is actually one of the main ways that writing is different from ballet dancing.”
— John Green

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
— Mark Twain

“The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It’s the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years.”
— Audrey Hepburn

“I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”
— Hazel Grace, The Fault in Our Stars

“Had my brother really seen me somehow, or was he merely a little boy telling beautiful lies?”
— Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

“I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”
— John Green, Looking for Alaska

“No, no, no…you’ve got it all wrong… you can’t act death. The fact of it is nothing to do with seeing it happen – it’s not gasps and blood and falling about – that isn’t what makes it death. It’s just a man failing to reappear, that’s all – now you see him, now you don’t, that’s the only thing that’s real: here one minute and gone the next and never coming back – an exit, unobtrusive and unannounced, a disappearance gathering weight as it goes on, until, finally, it is heavy with death.”
— Guildenstern; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

“Hearts will never be made practical until they can be made unbreakable.”
The Wizard of OZ

“If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it.”
— Andy Rooney

“As long as there were singing frogs and joking bears, Swedish chefs and boomerang fish, the world couldn’t be that bad of a place.”
— Walter, The Muppets

“I will not say ‘do not weep’ for not all tears are an evil.”
— Gandalf, Return of the King

“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.”
— A.A. Milne

Just because you’ve read Melville that doesn’t make you Jesus

18 Jan
Today in my Intro to Literary Theory class, my teacher gave us an hour long speech about how English majors are so much better than everybody else. How we’re so much smarter and open minded and have this better, grander outlook on life. Then everyone in the class chimed in, talking about how they so agree and wouldn’t dream of being any other major.

I have never rolled my eyes so many times in my life.

Yes, we read a lot, which (usually) makes us pretty open minded to things.

Yes, we are pretty well versed.

Yes, we know how to carry on a discussion.

Yes, we know our shit when it comes to literature.

But you know what? I’ve known quite a few English majors that I would definitely not classify as the best people on earth. In fact, I’ve known English majors that are just plain rotten people and are not open minded in the slightest. I have known English majors that are closed off to the ways of the world, and even though they’ve read books that express certain subjects they refuse to see eye-to-eye with them. And I know of theatre majors, math majors, history majors, communication majors, art majors, science majors, political science majors, Spanish majors, psychology majors that are absolutely fabulous people who are ridiculously open minded, incredibly intelligent, extremely well spoken, and just the sweetest people on this planet.

This isn’t me discrediting being an English major. I love being an English major, just as much as I love being a Theatre major and a Photography minor. It’s funny, because while this is the first time I’ve experienced this in an English class, this is the exact same thing I’ve noticed in quite a lot of my Theatre classes. The teachers have a tendency to always go on about how no other major can compare and how we have such a better grasp on life and, well, it’s just bull shit. Everyone has a major that fits them, and just because it’s one thing or another doesn’t make them a better/worse person. It’s the character of a person that matters, not what they happen to like studying.

The only way your major could possibly make you automatically better than everyone else is if you happened to major in cheeseburgers.

Or time travel.

Or Muppets.

Or cuddling.

Or magic.

Then maybe I’d nod and say, “Okay, yeah, you obviously know what’s up and I will submit that you are a million times better than everyone else.” But only then.