Welcome One and All

Welcome new vistors and thank you for returning dedicated fans. For more information about me please dig into my "About me section" or look at my G+. This was my first blog. I have rebuilt and specialized since this blog's inception. It now serves as a "hub" for the three blogs I write. Below this banner is "Welcome to the Club" which is my comics blog, "The Silver Screen" which is my Cinema blog, and "All the World's a Stage" which is my theatre blog. Read at your leisure!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The First Two Months... OR so

I am writing this to reflect a little both on the successes and failures of my writing as a I grow as an artist. Part of this blog is to just create a list in one space of the things I have written in the last two months or so. I hope you have enjoyed following me on my journey as I grow and develop. As always I would love for you to be part of the conversation. The more I work, the more I realize that I learn more from listening than speaking. Below will be a list of the successes and failures of all the writings I have done in the last month or so. If you have criticisms or compliments of this work I would love to hear them!

Welcome to the Club
This is my blog dedicating to researching and understand both the form of comics and what can be achieved in this form. Of the three blogs I write about various mediums this is the one I have the least understanding and experience with.

Post 1: Greetings and Introductions

In this post I describe my history with comics as a form and the reasons why I am interested in exploring and understanding the form. I think the largest failure of this post is it too general and not qutie focused enough. I am predominately interested in American comics. Even that classification is too vague.

Post 2: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?

This was my first attempt at reviewing a comic for its ideas. I am really proud of my analysis that this story is primarily about the contradiction with the idea of "ending" Batman. I think this post's largest failure is the fact that it goes off and tangentials that interest and fascinate me as a writer, but don't get tied back to the major points I am trying to make.

Post 3: Daytripper

This was one of the longest blogposts I have ever written. It is amazing to me that there can be so much to talk about. I am proud of the attempt I made at organizing the thoughts and having subcategories to focus the writing. Writing about this made me realize how easy it would be to write a whole book or teach a whole class on sole work. The biggest failure is I didn't take a stronger stance on the ending of this book. I didn't like it, but I loved the rest so much I feel like  I needed to pull my punches.

The Silver Screen

This is the blog where I focus in and study cinema. It is also the blog that has the most posts and least reviews.

Post 1: Les Misérables

This is the first film review I have written in a long time. I am really proud at how deep into the tech. of how the movie was shot and recorded this review goes. This tends to be my weakest region so it was really great to think through some of those things. The weakest point of this review is when I went into my history with the piece and that was maybe a little boring and not needed.

Post 2: Steve McQueen Exhibit

This is one of the highlights of my blogging resurgence so far. Going to the Steve McQueen exhibit was such a new experience that I had so much to say about. I feel the biggest struggle with this post was figuring out how to describe the films while I knew almost none of my audience had seen them.

Post 3: Oscar Predictions

This was a short fun little post. Part of me wants to do more posts like this, but another part of me wonders the value in a post like this that lacks most analysis.

Post 4 & 5: Top 10

I have never done a top ten for a year in cinema. In my opinion this was not the strongest year for cinema, but the effort of naming the ten best and then ranking then was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I am really proud of the feedback I got on a lot my comments. Next year I hope to have more reviews for the top ten and therefore I can just refer to the reviews and not take up so much space.

Post 6: Intro to Concerning Canon

I am really proud of this list. It was more than a year in the making, but I would still love feedback on the films I am missing.

Post 7: 2001: A Space Odyssey

I really don't know how I feel about this work. Writing about something that is such a masterpiece seems so pointless. Especially something that has been written about by everyone. What profound is left to say? I like how I made this piece more about my interaction with the film than the film itself, but I worry this post got self-centered and boring.

Post 8: Oscar Recap

Man am I ready to not talk or think about the 2013 Oscars again ever again. This post was short and sweet. I feel like most of the points and arguments I made could have been made better and had more substance. I just wanted to stop thinking about the Oscars. I am ready for 2013.

All the World's a Stage

Post 1: Back on Track

This was the hardest and most critical things I have ever written about myself. I actually go back and read this once a week to remind myself both the rut I put myself in and to recommit to fully embracing my craft and my passion.

Post 2: Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind

This was such a fun show to see and write about. I felt this was the first time I really started applying the tool box I have been building in theatre classes the last two years for reviews. I got some parts wrong about the Neo-Futurist's process and that's a little embarrassing but that's life.

Post 3: Cher Show

This was a weird show to write about. Since it the cast was made up by mostly my peers and friends. I felt really uncomfortable sharing my thoughts, but I felt that made it twice as important. We are in an institution focused on learning and feedback is the most important part of our education process. I was really proud about the feedback I got from my peers.

Post 4: Marriage of Figaro

This was the beginning of the end of the idea that I was going to write about every play I read in class. I am really proud of how I wrote about this piece as well as the feedback I received from my dissection. I wish I dedicated the same amount of time to all the plays I have read in class. Tremendous value in doing so.

Post 5: Danton's Death

Not to toot my own horn but this was the best paper I have ever written for my theatre classes and the work I put into it really showed in my opinion. This was the first paper I have written since I restarted my blogging venture. I can already see the value and improvement in the process.

Well there's the first two months of the blogging in a nutshell. I have felt constantly that I am not writing at the frequency that I intended to. At the same time when I put it all in one place I feel proud of what I have accomplished. Once I get to next week (Spring Break). Hopefully there will be an explosion of writing.



Wednesday, January 9, 2013


I thought a long time on where this blog post should go. Categorically it provides a huge problem for my new system of blogs. On the one hand it is not specific enough to go in any of the new three blogs. This is blog is focused on a larger discussion of art in general. Therefore it is relevant to all three blog I post in. I considered posting it three times, but I realize a huge part of the audience still reads a lot of what I write and that would be annoying. I finally decided to post it here since this serves as a "hub" for my three blogs that are more specific. I realize this dilemma for most people ranges from boring to irrelevant, but it was quite the quagmire for me. Anyways let's begin.


Pretension is a word that gets thrown around in our society a lot. Last year when I saw Terrence Malik's The Tree of Life one of words used to describe it quite frequently was "pretentious" (mainly by the camp that hated the film). I personally thought Tree of Life was the best film of last year. The fact that it was such a polarizing film made me double down on my opinions because art at its best should elicit an extreme reaction (now I am only operating from my personal definition of art here). If the goal of art is to inspire and help make the world a better place then polarization is an example of art operating at a masterful level.

Art is best when it asks questions. Questions others can't or won't think about. Questions that society doesn't want to know the answers to. Questions that desperately need discussion to make this world a better place. I don't think it is art's job to answer those questions. In fact I think it is both counter-productive and usually makes the piece a lesser work. When art answers questions, people who don't agree can just dismiss it and go on with their lives without taking the time to really reflect.

Tree of Life is a Top 100 film because of the polarity it creates. So many of our movies today are so disposable. You see them, enjoy them (hopefully), and then you move on with your life. They don't re-enter your thoughts or force you to reflect. Tree of Life was not one of those movies. Whenever I hear someone has seen this movie my immediate response is to ask: "and what did you think?” And then. “And Why." It’s not about seeing if they have the "right" opinion or if they "understood" it. It serves as  a jumping off point to a much bigger discussion. Some of the best discussion on the importance of cinema, the purpose of art, and even the meaning of life started in discussing The Tree of Life. In my opinion that is testimony of a masterwork. We need more discussion like that in society.

The issues we face in society and the world today are gigantic. Not only are they large problems, but they are intensely layered and very complicated. We live in a "talking points" era where two camps form and one side states their over-simplified version of reality and the other side counters with their over-simplified version of reality. People have been indoctrinated into such strong divisions that neither side can empathize with one another. Worse than that the issues have been broken in 128 characters or less.

The women's health debate, which has huge religious, moral, and political ramifications, has become, to the left, a "War on Women." Support or defend this idea the issue is far more complicated than that. Yet neither side can see that and both have turned their critical thinking brains off. They have turned their two opposing views into something more comparable to a cheer at a sporting event then a social analysis to address a religious, moral, and political issue. My definition of masterful art is a piece that can break down these barriers. A piece that achieves some "universal truth" that allows people to see beyond their own personal lens and view of the world.  It also creates an environment where a deeper level of critical thinking can occur. In discussion of a work, people are allowed get beyond their own personal lens, their own talking points, and instead start to unpack these complicated multi-layered issues.

Words have very specific definitions. "Briskly" and "Quickly" are both words to describe a certain pace of an object in motion. Although they are similar in meaning, each word comes with its own connotation, history, and unique meaning to an individual. The best writers are aware of these obscure differences and chose specific language to illicit a specific emotion. I bring up diction, because there are words that have lost their definitions and meaning. Abstract words like "art" are really hard to define.

Everyone seems to think they know the definition of art. We all think we are all on the same page. When you start a conversation and try to define art between two people you will find that everyone has their own unique definition that can be affected by many different variables. Definitions can be close or they can be a mile apart, but in conversation and writing we use the word "art" like it is means the same thing to everyone.

To demonstrate the difference between an abstract word let's look at a concrete one. "Dog" is a concrete word. It’s a noun that refers to a specific species of mammal. I can go anywhere in the country and ask a person to point out a dog on the street and they will know what I am talking about. Art isn't that way. Art for a working-class kid on the streets could be graffiti. For a white upper class socialite they would point to a Monet or Mozart.

All of this was prologue for sharing my thoughts on the word pretension. Pretension is an abstract word. We all think we know what it means but when forced to define it, it grows problematic. A Terrance Malik film for some is pretentious. For others it is a masterwork. Regina Spector's music for some can be pretentious. It is meaningful and powerful for others. Most people are guilty of playing the pretension card at some point. I know have as well. It is a problematic claim to make well discussing a piece of art however. Once someone drops the pretention card there is nowhere further for the conversation to go.

I can only speak from my own perspective now. In times where I approached a work that I don't understand, an easy out from admitting that I didn't understand is labeling the work as pretentious. It’s not really a quality judgment on the piece itself, nor is it about one's intelligence level. When you have a strong negative reaction to a piece it is really easy to write it off. However it is far more interesting to dig in deeper and look at why you had the reactions you did. Finding specific concrete qualities that didn't work for you keeps the conversation at a critical level. Instead of labeling something as pretentious, you pick out specific qualities that lead you to your conclusions.

Lets find a recent example to show the difference between the two lines of analysis. Killing Them Softly was one of my more anticipated films of 2012. Seeing the director of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Brad Pritt reunited was really exciting. One of my friends loved the movie. He says it is brilliant, and works as a perfect allegory for the collapse of the financial sector in 2008. I thought that parallels between the plot of the movie and the meltdown were reaching at best. I'll play out two scenarios for you to demonstrate the difference of tactics.

Scenario A (Pretension)

Bob: Oh man Killing them Softly was so good. I think it might be the best movie of the year!

Will: Really? That movie really didn't work for me...

Bob: What are you kidding? It was a masterpiece!

Will: I think that might be a little overstated...

Bob: No see it’s an allegory for financial collapse of 2008. Its really genius!

Will: Honestly I found it really pretentious.

Bob: What? No you just didn't understand the point.

Sound familiar? I have been on both sides of this conversation so many times. The problem with pretention is it’s a complete write off. It forces a conversation into an "I'm right you're wrong" realm. Art isn't black and white as discussed earlier with definitions. Worst than that it takes a critical debate to a tribal level. The disagreement becomes about personal attacks and not about the piece in question. Nobody wants something they idealize to be labeled pretentious. It is a value judgment on them and their artistic taste. Once a discussion gets pushed to that tribal level the only place for the person attacked to go is to fight back. So they come back with something along the lines of: "you just didn't understand the point." This retaliation is now a personal attack on someone's intelligence level and their comprehension of art. These are kind of the discussion that spoil relationships and make people upset. There is a better way!

Scenario B (B for Better choice)

Bob: Oh man Killing them Softly was so good. I think it might be the best movie of the year!

Will: Really? That movie really didn't work for me...

Bob: What are you kidding? It was a masterpiece!

Will: I think that might be a little overstated...

Bob: No see it’s an allegory for financial collapse of 2008. Its really genius!

Will: I really struggled with that. Maybe I can understand how one can come to that conclusion but it just didn't get there for me. Most of the movie I had the feeling of "why should I care about these characters and this story?”

Bob: But it’s so clear. Its right there in the film. What about all of the radio and the cable media that was playing sound bytes about the financial collapse?

Will: You see I got that. I was aware. But there were so many and the director was so heaving handed with drawing those parallels that it just seemed force. I felt like I could hear him in the background whispering in my ear: "Get it? GET IT?"

Bob: Well it was really powerful and moving for me.

Will: Well I'm glad you enjoyed it, but it wasn't for me.

This is how two friends, colleagues, or fellow critics should debate a piece of art. By keeping the discussion qualitative things remain civil. Better than that, they have an opposing party explain concrete reason why something didn't work for them. This can help you understand why they came to their conclusion. You don't have to agree with them, but it does expose to you a new perspective. You can look at a work from a new angle and understand why people may feel that way about an aspect of the piece. It can help either solidify your own conclusions or maybe help you walk back your claims a little. Either way neither party leaves the conversation feeling personally attacked for their belief or lack of belief in a piece.

Now I realize these are fictionalized scenarios and the two players talk more like robots than people, but that was not the purpose. I can be a very idealistic person. I like to think we can make the world a better place by being the best humans we can be. This may be small and inconsequential, but I think there is insurmountable value in finding a way to disagree with someone while remaining civil. We live in such a polarized society today and we have an incredible laundry list of problems to solve. The only way to start chipping away at these problems is ending the divisions and coming together. That doesn't mean there can't (or won't) be disagreements, but if we argue in a better way we can disagree without ruining relationships.

So from this point I want to strike the word pretentious and words like it from my vocabulary. I'm going to find better more specific ways to articulate why I didn't like something. I encourage everyone to do the same. This entire post might air on the side of pretention a little, but hey if you don't like it find better ways to pick apart my arguments! :)



PS: On the horizon

I just wanted to write a little blurb on what to expect in each blog in the coming days

Welcome to the Club

First review! It will definitely be a Grant Morrison comic. Toss up between Batman RIP and Action Comics Vol. 1. Have an opinion? Leave some comments or message me.

The Silver Screen

This blog will remain kind-of away from the mission statement for a few weeks. I have my top 10 films of the year to write and discuss and I saw the Steve McQueen Exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute. The Oscar nominees will be announced Friday. There will be thought provoking work not just the standard review. The blog should be on schedule once the semester begins. Spoilers a Tarantino film made my top 10!

All the World's a Stage

I have been separated from my script library between going home for the holidays and visiting Chicago, but I did catch a show by the Neofuturists while in Chicago. Expect a review and reflection on that within the days.

Thank you all for you love and support,


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Endings and New Beginnings

Greetings Friends!

If you are reading this post you are far more dedicated to this blog than I have been. I commend you for your patience and dedication. To say this blog and my writing has taken the back burner would be an understatement. I have not written anything in quite awhile, which is not to say I haven't wanted to write anything. Everyday there is a dozen new things I've wanted to write about, but between school, theatre, work and life I have lost passion to for this blog. But never fear new content is coming, but before we get into let me fill you in on what I have been up to since I've stopped writing (because we really all read this because we're interested in ME right? NOT!)

Things I have done as of late:

  • I had my first professional acting gig. Someone actually paid me to pretend to be someone I wasn't! I would love to go on and on with how amazing of an experience it was, but it really wasn't. It was one of the worst experiences of my career. So I have been paid and now I am cynical. 
  • I got a job. I now work for a fast food restaurant that only serves chicken. I also love almost every second of it. Everyone there is chill, down to earth, and really great to talk to. 
  • I wrote a play. Well I didn't write a play, but I was part of an ensemble that create a piece from scratch and performed it. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life. To see work you have written be put on stage and be received by an audience was incredible. 
  • I passed German AND Geology. I have never come so close to failing a class in my life nor have I worked so hard to save it. I only have one semester of German left and I might kill me but I survived for now. 
  • My votes helped prevent voter suppression and bigotry. It was a great election season to be a lefty. Gay Marriage was passed in three states and a bigoted fuel marriage amendment failed in my home state as well as a Voter I.D.  bill. It was also pretty cool that war on drugs was rejected in two states. 
  • I got a directing gig. My first college level directing will be assisting with "Something About a Bear" a new work and collaboration with Theatre Novi Most on campus. It'll be a lot of work, but hopefully it will also be very rewarding. 
Well enough bragging let's look to the future of this blog and writing in general. While talking to professionals, professors, and listening the magnitude of Internet media I consume all tell me the same things on how to break into the industry as a critic:

  • Build a specific audience
  • Write at a level of quality that could really be published
  • Consistently have new content that drops on the same time and date
Looking over this list I have not accomplished any of the three. This blog has been about anything and everything that interests me in any given day. New blog content is also released about as consistently as a Square Enix  game. My grammers and punctuations and spelings need some serius work. 

Square Enix's stock as of late:

I have built a plan to address and improve all of these problems as this blog has been and will continue to be about artistic self improvement first and foremost. I will be launching three new blogs. Each with much more specific areas of study. Now I know what you are thinking. Will how can you keep up with three blogs when you couldn't even handle one blog?  Here is the plan going forward:
  • Each new blog will have a much more realistic content volume (each getting one submission a week with the opportunity of a possible second with time permitting.) 
  • Each blog will have a hard-set drop date and time. This will hopefully combat procrastination and me avoiding doing the work
  •  Each blog will focus on a specific medium that I hope to write about or create my own work in someday.
  • This blog will serve as a hub linking my three blogs together and will have a weekly reader's digest version of the work I did each week. 
That is the goal of it all. Will it be successful? Only time will tell, but I am excited to get back to writing and expanding my interpretation and understanding of art. Without further adieu lets unveil these new blogs. 

Welcome to the Club

This is a blog that will be focusing on the world of comics. Each week I will tear into a trade paperback and share my thoughts on in. The goal is to alternate between "Superhero Comics" and the loosely defined category of "Non-Superhero comics." Eventually there will hopefully be marathons of larger bodies of works, web comics, and interviews, but I promised myself I will start small and realistic. 

The Silver Screen 

This blog will focus solely on movies. Each week I'll watch or go see a movie and then share my thoughts about it. The goal is to alternate between film cannon and more contemporary cinema. I am not nearly as literate in film as I hope to be so this is a way to expand my understanding of film.

All the World's a Stage

This is the blog that is closest to my profession at large and what I am studying. My goal is to one day be an actor/writer/director of both scripted theatre and work I devised myself. It is surprising to me how little scripts I have actually read. So the first year of this blog I am dubbing the 52-Week Play challenge. Basically I will read a script a week and write a little about it. This is the blog I will also post theatre reviews when and if I get the opportunity to see live theatre and have the time to write about it.

So that's the plan. Everyone who reads this has been with me so far and I hope you join me on my journey of development as an artist and a writer. However I understand that my passions are not the same as everyone else's and therefore I don't expect everyone to read everything. Now that the blogs are more specific you can read what interests you and ignore the rest. 

Have a great New Years,


PS Each of these blogs in the next three days will have their first post. Comics tomorrow, Then film, and then theatre. Look for that if you're interested in more specifics of the blogs.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

24 Hour Creation Reflection

This is probably only relavent to people in or involved with the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. You have been warned.

This past weekend I participated in an event called "24 hour Creations" the concept is very similar to the 24 Hour film festivals or 24 hour theatre festivals. Basically within one day a play or dance piece was written (choreographed), directed, cast and then performed all within one day. This event was put on by the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance Peers. This event was meant to accomplish several things; I will list some of the goals of this project and then discuss what worked and what didn't and go into why things didn't work.

Goals of 24 Hour Creations

  • Have the different disciplines of the department come together and break down some of the walls we have build between the BFA  and BA theater majors and the Dance department. 
  • Allow for a creative space where people not trained in a specific aspect of performance have a  low stakes environment to try something new. Dancer become playwright. Actors become dancers. Directors try acting... etc. 
  • Give an opportunity for freshman and people new to the department a chance to workshop with people in their department and make some new connections or friendships. 
  • Give a place for performance focused students a chance to perform. 

Now that I have laid out my understanding of the goals of this project I will dig into each goal and see if these goals were achieved and if they weren't give some opinions of why they weren't achieved. I am not writing this to be the authoritative voice on the matter nor do I hold that my opinion is the correct one. This is just me sharing my perspective and hopefully the first step of a longer conversation within the department. At Frameworks this fall Will Daddario talked about the concept of dissensus. The need for students in the department frustrated with aspects of the department to come together and share their opinions of why things are the way they are and discuss their opinions on how things can change. This is my attempt at starting a conversation in that vein. 

  • Bringing the overall community of the theatre department together. I think this goal was achieved as much as it could be. In my piece specifically we had two BFA freshman a BA sophomore and a BA senior. Before I started collaborating with them I had never seen any of them. It was challenging and interesting to be in a position where I had to create a piece of theatre with three other people who didn't have the same background or vocabulary I did. I  found I had to find more precise ways to communicate what I was thinking which forced me to think about my choices more. 
    • The place where this goal wasn't as successful was not all of the three groups had equal representation. We had one group of dance major who came in  and performed an awesome piece and a few scatterings of BFA's (I don't know everyone nor did I meet everyone), but my perception of the event leads me to think that vast majority of the participants were BA theatre majors. There might be some value in going to the BFA and the Dance departments and asking what is was about the event that disinhibited them from participating: the way it was presented, communicated, or framed. What made it harder for them to get excited about this event? This can inform how we frame the piece of theater in the future and therefore succeed in this goal even more. 

  •  This next point I would say falls more on the individual more than the Peers/ organizers of the event. The peers provide all the tools possible to allow anyone to do anything they wanted. The initiative was placed on the individual to force themselves to try something out of their comfort zone. We live in a very competitive industry and college is one of the last opportunities you might have where you can try something new and fail and have it not effect anything. The show was the perfect opportunity to fail brilliantly. Sitting in the audience and watching all of the pieces informed my work as an artist tremendously. When there were parts of pieces I didn't like whether it was acting, directing, dancing or writing I still learned. Watching people try something and fail is tremendously more informative that sitting in a class and talking about things in hypotheticals or conceptually. When something didn't work I was able to stop and think: "Why didn't this choice work for me?" and then later when I try something I have learned that lesson and I don't make the same  mistake. 
    • The major failure in this section was the lack of respect for the people who tried writing. It was really unfair to have someone commit to a stressful evening of work, birth something from their soul and then not even give it the opportunity to fail onstage. If you are going commit to something commit to it. Signing up and then not showing up doesn't just reflect badly on you, it disrespects a writer who put a lot of time and effort into a script. I am very interested in writing plays. I chose not to write a piece because I was afraid I was going to put all this time and effort into the project and then not even see my baby birthed. My fears were right as two plays did not get performed.

  • Freshman. I think this was the perfect setting to give the freshman an opportunity a chance to meet people in the department and create something. The freshman seem very represented and hopefully a lot of their friends came and saw how cool this event was and will want to do it in the spring (If that happens...). 

  • An opportunity to perform. Most of this is a BA issue and a BA perspective.  This is my last point and it will probably be my harshest criticism. I have a lot of peers in the department who are frustrated by the lack of opportunity to perform this year. Last year there was the student-run organization, The Experimental Theatre, where students who didn't make it into the main stage shows had an opportunity to perform and grow their craft. It must be frustrating as hell for the peers and department administration to hear this complaining about the lack of opportunity in the department and then offer an event that has the lowest stakes possible and the smallest time commitment possible and then have not a lot of people show up. If you want to communicate to the department that there needs to be more chances to perform, then having a massive turnout for this event would be a real way to prove there is real passion behind that. Why would the department spend time, effort and money into making more opportunities if people aren't going to be grateful and passionate about the chances they do get? 

This leads me to my last point. An event like 24 Hour Creations is the most bottom-up control over our education we have. The onus lies completely on us to make this event a success or a failure. I asked several people last week if they were going to do 24-hour Creations and most people said, "No, it sounds like its going to be kind of lame." By approaching it with that mentality that guarantees that result. If everyone was excited about it and appreciated it for the value it provides then the event will be a success. When something is challenging, different, or weird it is easy to just passively say this is dumb and give up before trying. We are active agents in our own education, and we must try that much harder to work past our reservations.

Overall I think the event was a tremendous success. I learned a lot, both from the piece I was in and watching the other pieces performed. I hope that enough people had similar positive experiences (whether audience members or participants) that next time we do the event even more people participate and we all have even a better experience. I invite criticism to my criticism. I want an open dialogue started so we can talk about what worked and what didn't therefore it is that much of a better experience next time. 

Peace Will

PS.  Come see Courting Harry Saturday please. It is an amazing play and incredible relevant to the conversation about woman's reproductive rights in this country. Also I am in it. We perform this Saturday at 2PM in the Thrust in Rarig (Oct. 13).

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Batman Live!

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So last month I had probably one of the most unique live performance experiences of my life. I saw the arena show "Batman Live! The World Tour." Now going into an event that promises Batman live and in the flesh I didn't know exactly what to expect. I basically hope it was over-the-top, ridiculous, and something that I can never experience in any other Batman media (film, video games, comics, novels?, Radio serials?)

Suffice to say I was not disappointed at all. This was either the most horrible or the most genius performance I have seen in a really long time.

What I liked

  • The circus aspect of this show was incredible. I am not an actor who is literate in circus (even though I come form a theatre department that has a lot of circus master) but to a simpleton such as myself the trapeze, silks, and stills were great.
  • The media for this show was also fantastic. The entire back wall of the space was a screen and it served as a very inexpensive way to house many a back drops. This alone I thought was pretty clever, but the thing that really surprised me was in scene transitions we zoomed out and were in a comic book spread and pages would flip to the next "panel." The art was all done in a very silver age Batman look and with most characters emerging from the back drop it have the effect of characters literally breaking through the 2-D universe and emerging onstage. 
  • A lot of the performers were fantastic (and some were the opposite of fantastic, but more on that in a minute), but I have to single out one performer. The girl who Played Harley Quinn was amazing. I actually might say she is my definitive Harley Quinn (yes better than Batman the Animated Series or the Arkham video games). She was funny, insane, and unpredictable. Not to mention she had a giant hammer and a bazooka (see next point)

  • THIS ENTIRE NEXT BULLET POINT NEEDS TO BE IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE IT WAS SO AWESOME!!! IN THE FINALE HARLEY QUINN SHOT A BAZOOKA AT THE JOKER IN A HOT AIR BALLOON AND IT BURNED DOWN AND CRASHED ON STAGE. Ok enough of that gimmick. This effect was incredible and looked absolutely real. The western theatre tradition from Ajax to Hamlet, Medea to Our Town, or The Birds to Rent was all missing one specific element of the human experience. Thank you Batman Live for finally filling the void. I have now seen a Bazooka fired live onstage. Let's just say I am now working on Click Click BOOM!: The Musical. Not to spoil any major plot points lets just say there is a grenade juggling sequence. 

  • Before the final big fight scene The Joker put on a magic show that was actually quite impressive. No Bazookas sadly. 
  • The Joker has a jet pack. 'Nuff Said? Well I do need to provide Dialogue context. Batman: Joker are you just going to run away? Joker: Why run away when Jetting away is so much more fun!

Normally I would put in this next section what didn't work for me. However, this seems silly since this entire production was designed for 8 year olds. Instead I will include the top 10 most insane/amazing things that occur in this performance.

10. The Scarecrow was on stilts....because.... ITS A CIRCUS....kinda... In the final fight Scarecrow kinda just walked around and waved around his 3-5 foot fingers. 

9. Slow motion fighting. In a fight scene where Joker's henchman are attempting to capture Dick all  punches throw were Matrixed the fuck out. It was so weird. The peak of insanity was when the clowns had surrounded Dick and where very clearly pounding the ground and Dick slipped out of the pile and yet.... the ground pounding continued for approximately 30 more seconds. 

8.  Harley Quinn and Catwoman's tender moment. All of the action stopped just as we were building towards the climax so Harley and Selina could talk relationships. That's right Batman fails The Bechdel Test.

7. Arkham Asylum. This show was very kid friendly. The fighting onstage was clearly fake, Catwoman's costume was the most practical I had ever seen it. For some reason the set for Arkham Asylum came right out of a Saw film. There were floor to ceiling chains of moaning mummified bodies. I cut to the Nostalgic Critic for my comments:

"You Know, for Kids!"

6. Catwoman in Arkham. After Catwoman gets locked up she is rolled out on a small block styled  as a mini Arkham Asylum. She is standing inside the model with only her head and shoulders popping out. Representing her imprisonment.... maybe?

5. Wayne Manor's Table. Remember that scene in  Burton's Batman where they make fun of the dinning room table about how comedically large it is? Well in this show a chair is rolled out that is no smaller that fifteen feet tall with a table that is 20 feet long. The table is also angled so one end is on the ground and the other comes to meet the chair.

4. Batman  and Catwomen fight. So the entire Catwoman and Batman fight scene was done in the air with the actors on wires. Because of the rigging it was impossible for the actors to move their arms or legs. The fight was ridiculous. 

3. In the final battle Batman Robin and Catwoman all get katanas and beat all of Joker's henchman with swords. Also they only choreographed two of the three fighting at the same time. So one of the good guys would just stand in the corner and pose while the other fought the bad guys.

2. Giant Joker head. For the final scene a giant Joker head is rolled onto stage and an endless wave of henchman come out of it. IF that wasn't enough, the heads tongue and teeth are actually hanging people. WTF?

1. Batmobile. I am speechless attempting to describe this Batmobile. It is environmentally sustainable as it has a hydrogen engine and its only exhaust is water. Better it has virtual wheel. Wheels that employ anti-gravity and don't actually need to spin. They still light up and spin anyways but are also square shaped. The best however was the animated car chase. The Batmobile chases down the joker in this virtual car. After awhile streetlight and builds start to fall on the car unexplainably. Finally boulder fall from the sky and the car shoots lasers to blow them up. LASERS.

Well that is Batman live. I have a lot more stuff to write about so I'll give you a little preview of what is to come in the future someday:

  • Open Eye Theatre's Alice in Wonderland adaptation "A-hole"
  • Ten Thousand Things Theatre's "Measure for Measure"
  • Pillsbury House's "The Brothers Size"
  • History Theatre's "Lombardi"

I might write something political too who knows.

Peace and please click an ad or two!