In For A Penny: Vices I Admire

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In which I ponder whether mind-altering substances truly inspire creativity.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III, on why vice can be nice.

Yes, I own this shirt. Yes, I own this shirt.

“The cannabis experience has greatly improved my appreciation for art, a subject which I had never much appreciated before. The understanding of the intent of the artist which I can achieve when high sometimes carries over to when I’m down. This is one of many human frontiers which cannabis has helped me traverse. There also have been some art-related insights — I don’t know whether they are true or false, but they were fun to formulate.”
– Carl Sagan, Mr. X (1969)

I never smoked weed until I did theatre. For that matter, I never ate sushi until I did theatre. Yes, I was one of those boring teens who never drank, smoked, or went to parties. (Well, I did try smoking cigarettes several times, but it never caught on.) Part of that was due to…

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In For a Penny: Of the People, By the People, For the People

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In which I attend a special performance for the #Frisco5 protestors and ponder the intersection of art and activism.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III, giving us another look at Paul Flores.

Paul Flores in character, in public. Paul Flores in character, in public.

“There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down Brothas on the Instant Replay”
– Gil Scott-Heron, The Revolution Will Not be Televised

On-site theatre is a risky proposition, both for the performers as well as the audience. One the one hand, you’ve freed yourself from the rigid constraints of a typical performance space; on the other hand, you’re subject to the elements and limited as to what you can openly display in public. I’ve done Shakespeare in the woods, Sarah Kane’s Blasted in an actual hotel room, and – as the name of this website may have told you – pub-set plays in actual pubs. I can’t recall any one of those being preceded by the advisory that the show could be “shut down by the police at any moment.”

Such was the…

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‘Bellus’ magazine Film Reviews

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As I begin to update my blog, I thought I’d post a few links to reviews I’ve written for Bellus magazine that have been published on-line:

More to come as they get published on-line.

 

In For a Penny: The Early Bird

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In which I start a new show, see a new show, and ponder what it means to see a work before it’s officially “finished”.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III, getting the worm.

Free wine – the only reason I do theatre. Free wine – the only reason I do theatre.

“I am glad I was up so late; for that’s the reason I was up so early.”
– William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, Act II, Sc. 3

As I continue my contemplation about the theatrical “ecosystem,” I recently took a moment to ponder the act of seeing something early. What does the audience think when they see a preview performance for a play or early screening of a film – are they hoping to see the next great masterpiece? Do they want to be ahead of the curve in bashing the next great disaster? Or are they like me in that they just want to escape from the world and were persuaded to do so by the discounted (or free) price?

Previews are a necessary evil: they’re billed as being works in progress; a peek behind the…

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In For a Penny: (T)BAcon Bits

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In which I attend my first TBAcon to take part in larger discussions about theatre.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III, involved.

So official… So official…

“My royal lord, you do not give the cheer: the feast is sold
That is not often vouch’d, while ‘tis a-making,
‘Tis given with welcome: to feed were best at home;
From thence the sauce to meat is ceremony;
Meeting were bare without it.”
– Macbeth, Act 3, sc. IV

Like many members of our local theatre tribe, I often wonder how I, too, can be more involved. In spite of the fact that I’ve personally seen the local theatre scene from nearly every conceivable angle, these days it’s very rare to see me as part of a closed-door meeting deciding the future of a company’s artistic direction. I’m not likely to appear in a room full of investors in an attempt to have them empty their coffers for an additional year. And my opinion about a play isn’t likely to have any bearing…

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In For a Penny: Whose Job are You?

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In which I ponder the importance of of recognizing rare opportunities… and going after them full-steam.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III, finding his place.

empty theatre

“No man likes to acknowledge that he has made a mistake in his choice of profession, and every man, worthy of the name, will row long against wind and tide before he allows himself to cry out ‘I am baffled!’ and submits to be floated passively back to land.”
– Charlotte Brontë, The Professor

I had a job interview last week. It was your usual fare: questions about past experience; asking what I’d bring to the position; explanation of where the company is headed – I’m sure you’ve all been through it. What was different for me was that it was the first interview in which my theatre work was brought into focus. Usually when I mention it, it’s in response to questions about what I do outside of work. Saying that I do theatre often results in blank stares, condescending raised eyebrows, and…

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In For a Penny: What do I Stand for?

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In which I find myself listed in categories I didn’t even know were real.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III, wondering where he fits in.

A square peg forced into a round hole. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures. A square peg forced into a round hole. 3D render with HDRI lighting and raytraced textures.

“The moment when someone attaches you a philosophy or a movement, then they assign all of the baggage and all of the philosophy that goes with it to you. And when you want to have a conversation, they will assert that they already know everything important there is to know about you because of that association. And that’s not the way to have a conversation.”
– Neil deGrasse Tyson, 2012 interview with BigThink

It’s funny what little things leave a big impression. Last night I attended a show for the sake of merely escaping a number of
responsibilities piling up (running lines before my next rehearsal, prepping for auditions, job-searching, finishing a “spec” assignment for a potential new job, etc.). Indeed, the show was a welcome…

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In For a Penny: Eyes without a Face

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In which I end Black History Month discussing a very White Oscars and a certain musical about Alexander Hamilton.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III weighs in on some recent controversy.

Can you spot the Oscar-winner under all that shoe polish? Can you spot the Oscar-winner under all that shoe polish?

“In 1985, I’m sitting in the casting office of a major studio. The head of casting said, ‘I couldn’t put you in a Shakespeare movie, because they didn’t have Black people then.’ He literally said that. I told that casting director: ‘You ever heard of Othello? Shakespeare couldn’t just make up Black people. He saw them’.”
– Wendell Pierce, interview with The New York Times, 24 Feb. 2016

I don’t watch the Grammys. I mostly attribute that to growing up as a fan of The Simpsons, where both the ceremony and its namesake statuette were regularly mocked as being the most worthless of all celebrity milestones (the Golden Globes being a close second). I can also attribute it to the fact that as I grew up, the Grammys’ recipients rarely ever…

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In For a Penny: Speaking My Language

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In which I use Tony Kushner’s adaptation of August Wilson’s “Fences” to discuss playwrights adapting other playwrights for film.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III, with thoughts on writing and voice.

August Wilson writing CAPTION: via The Goodman Theatre August Wilson writing
CAPTION: via The Goodman Theatre

“I have to confess that I’m not a big movie person; I don’t go to a lot of films and I don’t know very much about the history of stage-to-film adaptations. [..] The way I see it, the stage tells the story for the ear, and the screen for the eye.”
– August Wilson, 2002 interview with John C. Tibbets for Hallmark

I recall Tom Hanks appearing on Inside the Actor’s Studio many, many moons ago and giving a pretty good Q&A with the students gathered. When one asked what it’s like to work in so many different mediums, his response was something akin to “Film is a director’s medium, television is a producer’s medium, the stage is the actor’s medium.” As I write this, I’m having a hard time finding a clip…

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In For a Penny: Under the Big Top

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In which I lament SF hosting the party of an event that isn’t even in the city; and then I recall a couple of grand productions that pitched tents (literally) along the wharf.

San Francisco Theater Pub

Charles Lewis III on the Super Bowl.

I still don’t get why people are scared of clowns? I still don’t get why people are scared of clowns?

“Damn everything but the circus!”
– e e cummings, Him

You may have noticed a change in The City this past weekend. No, I don’t mean Pro Life march that was disrupted by members of FEMEN. No, I don’t mean the rainbows that have been visible all over the Bay Area. I’m referring to the fact the upcoming event that’s being advertised by those garish Verizon banners draping the Embarcadero buildings: the Super Bowl.

Before I go on, I should say that I am most certainly NOT one of those “Ugh! Sportsball…” theatre folks who complain about popular athletics just because it reminds them of the kids who beat them up in school. I find that attitude offensive as a sports fan and counter-productive as a theatre artist. Both crowds are thought to…

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