HFF Review: Doomsday Cabaret! A Rock Musical of Apocalyptic Proportions

•July 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

One of the great things about the Hollywood Fringe Festival is that it provides a center for all theatre folk to gather- and to so feel like they have a home, a family, and frankly, so many people with whom they have so much in common. That can be very important when you feel alone, marginalized, and told that art doesn’t matter, whether by your own family or the governmental and societal forces that seek to shove art off to the side and keep it from its proper healing functions. Hey, it’s called Fringe for a reason!

While I was at the Tent (many of us still called it the Tent even though it is no longer in an actual tent!) I enjoyed watching the hard work and the souls of those performing upon the cabaret stage, drinking at Bryan’s Bar (so named for our dear late friend), and conversing with all these artists at the same time. Besides feeling at home, another great function of this place is free press. Everyone is talking up their own shows and whatever good shows they have seen, while looking at the fliers and listening to the cabaret previews. Because of this, many of us see shows that we would not have otherwise, and get many patrons for our own shows that we would not have had.

So it was with Doomsday Cabaret, which I’d had recommended to me by reviewers as one of the best shows at Fringe. Now, I’d already been interested because of the theme- the 2012 apocalypse- but there were many shows with themes I would have loved to have seen. Shows satirizing and improvising upon the Old Testament, shows exploring the relationship between the triad of the Holy Trinity, shows exploring relationships between those of different faiths, and funny great shows put on by my friends. Yet showtimes conflict, and there simply isn’t enough time in the day- I was stretched too thin already producing my own show. I often just showed up to the Tent whenever I wasn’t exhausted and looked in the program, IF I were free, to see what was going on at that moment, as opposed to previous years when I’d created a whole color-coded spreadsheet. And then I’d rely upon my date and other reviewers for their recommendations.

Michael Shaw Fisher portraying the host.

And I was told I just couldn’t miss this show, and I think they were right. Now, first, Michael Shaw Fisher, the writer and mounter of the show, is a great guy with a real passion for real theatre and real art, and it shows. You want to be a part of that. Last year I’d enjoyed his show and told him so, although I had my criticism. This year’s show was much better, even though he had one of the same limitations. Luckily, this year he had a much better cast. The limitations were such that it was impressive he overcame them- I won’t go into the details, but I’ll just say his first plan for a play fell through and as such he had to put one together and rehearse it in the space of, I think, at most, a month. This year, the acting meshed so well that you wouldn’t think it.

The only criticism I would have would be the sound quality, which wasn’t even such a problem. It was a rock musical, and it sounded like a live rock gig- and anyone who has been to one of those knows that sometimes the lyrics don’t always get through. Instead, the music takes over. That’s fine, and I enjoyed it- I was smiling and exchanging excited smiles with my date through most of the show- the only thing is that I wanted to know more about the character progression and their plots, and I missed a bit of that. Also, the music was never grating or off-key or off-rhythm. It was truly enjoyable throughout.

Yeah, I totally didn’t identify with this New Age black-clad psychic nympho or any other characters- ;) Wish I could have understood more of what she was saying!

Now, I think there are other laudable things about this play besides how well Michael pulled it off, with such great spectacle, so quickly. Let’s begin at the beginning: As I entered, a cast member asked me if I would like a decoration. You see, the premise of the show is that we’ve all gathered for the end of the world on December 21, 2012, and so it covers many of the theories regarding that, with representatives for them in the cast. As such, and not knowing anything more about the plot, I chose one of the symbols at random, the Mayan symbol, because it looked prettiest, and had it drawn on my forehead like the character who drew it upon me. Not everyone went for the forehead, and almost everyone washed their symbols off afterward- but they were glad I left mine on. I don’t know why people wanted to wash them off; I suppose humans just have this thing about looking weird and not wanting others to see them as such. I however love third-eye decorations, and was glad to absorb a bit of that energy.

I loved the way they discussed all the different theories about the end of the world both nakedly and with satire. The foibles of those who ascribe to such theories were exposed and explored, as well as some fair points that they had regarding what might be detrimental to our world, and what might help it out. It was fun and safe to explore all that in the environment theatre offers. Hooray for theatre functioning properly and truthfully!

Let’s rock!

The end of the world is a topic I enjoy. I don’t want to be a nut about it, although the play claims everyone is an asshole anyway. I used the topic in my own play, in a different fashion, in exploring what the end of the world might really mean, and I did so differently than the obviously silly and stereotypical claims out there in the world, or the straw men applied to so many. In the end, this play did the same and came up with much the same answer, yet explored and explained differently than mine. It gave a real and good answer, besides other fun ways that the play ended.

Finally, I will say that the best part about this play was the characters. I loved the way all the characters were so well-defined. Each had at least one spotlight moment to show off and most of them had growth. They were all unique and enjoyable. Besides that, the acting was great, and they all worked well together. It was great to see all the fun they created, and with one of my favorite mediums- a rock musical. There’s nothing like my favorite genre combined with the healing art of theatre.

Doomsday Apocalypse was extended for Best of Fringe and won the Best Musical/Opera Freak award, which it certainly deserved.

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HFF Review: Cycles

•July 3, 2012 • Leave a Comment

From the show’s HFF site: http://hff12.org/817 – click picture to view

I enjoyed this play’s opening, when it made use of the stage just in front of me, placing an actor at my very feet.  As I’ve mentioned, I enjoy the Emperor’s Seat, and I enjoy when theatre can offer me something other art cannot.  From this vantage point, in this live experience, I received intimacy and what most audience members would not, and a new sort of feeling that occurs thusly.  And so I watched this man act, yes, act in the very root of the word in that he was performing the action of sit-ups inches from my heels.

In this vein I enjoyed what theatre can give me in watching, as a voyeur but quite present with them, the sort of emotion one would not want to see in one’s real life, but that one still wants to see all the same- the extreme kind of emotion and physicality from our primitive, ape side- for indeed we are all apes, beasts, though we have tamed ourselves.  Yet not, as we see here, always.  And sometimes you just want to see two beasts get raw, and to experience that as a catharsis.

To be honest, I was expecting that at the beginning, because of the description I’d heard of the show going in.  It turned out that the plot description of what the play was supposed to be about did not really occur until aways in, so I did not get the sense of being turned around and shown new things like some reviewers have mentioned.  I suppose I got a spoiler, and thus, I sort of wanted the play to get on with it already the whole time until it happened, although I see why they built up to it.

Even so, I found myself zoning out more than once, as did my date.  I suppose the lines, no matter how good the actors might be, were not personally relatable- I couldn’t care less about real estate.  It was like watching football.  Some people like it; I just can’t watch it.  Even though the language was supposed to be metaphorical, I still couldn’t get into it.  Only when it was brought around to the Biblical figures of Jesus and Moses did I pay real attention in these moments, because such are topics near and dear to my heart.

I will say as something of an aside:  Perhaps the play would have been more personally interesting to me and my date if the chemistry had gone beyond simply two platonic men onstage talking about real estate.  Perhaps, to add something more to the mix- we both thought the chemistry could well have gone into the realm of submission and domination between the younger and the older- but again, some people like football, and some people like romance.

I thought the ending was excellent.  It went even beyond the moment of catharsis I’d mentioned before, to one that only perhaps select audience members may fully enjoy.  Yes, in order to reap the most out of that last moment, one must have lived- and no one has lived until they have been reduced to nothing.  I mean real nothing.  The sort of blackest moment a soul can ever have, nameless and nothing, I emphasize a third time.  Many people can’t handle this.  It’s very painful, and the acting conveyed this vulnerability well.  Yet those of us who have survived this see something else in this ending- we know what happens once one has reached that point.  Only from there can one truly build, and honestly so.  Only from there does one realize that one’s identity was standing in the way of so much.  It was very gratifying to see someone else there; I find it isn’t that common, or if it is used it’s generally glazed over.  It’s healing, really, to see another being where one has been.

This show has been picked up for Best of Fringe July 28th, 7:30, at Theatre Asylum.

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HFF Review: Voices in my Head: A Life

•June 30, 2012 • Leave a Comment

In this Hollywood Fringe Festival one-man show, Bill Ratner delivers a heartfelt and technically skilled story of his life, which is no surprise, considering that he’s a proven talent in the voice acting scene.  It was a pleasure to hear him exercise that voice- or the voices in his head, as it were, in his own story.  It was also nice to hear how his life came together, and to follow the patterns that necessarily conspire to create an entertaining and successful life.  Indeed, some of my favorite bits were when he would speak of the industry, and connections made therein, considering my field- but I think most people like those stories, even if they’re not in the entertainment industry.  Such stories are simply fun.

I also liked the theme of the opening story as being personally relatable- the idea that I can remain desensitized and disconnected through so much work, and then I do a story that hits me for some reason- in these moments, I know just what it feels like to be suddenly stricken by paralyzing emotion, enough that one pauses in one’s quest.  I can be a warrior for so long- until I turn back into a sensitive human girl.

These things made the show enjoyable for me.  Based upon the descriptions alone I do not know if I would have been drawn in, unless I were the kind of fan who seeks out such work, or looking to see Ratner in his own element.  It was a fun autobiography, as other fun autobiographies concerning Hollywood that I had seen.  I had invested more time and energy in helping another one of these shows, but still partnered with this one to a degree, and saw the parallels- indeed, so many artists could tell our Hollywood stories, and entertain the masses whilst healing them too.  If only there were more room for it and more room and funding to work on the art and improve it- but of course, plays like this are as yet mostly labors of love.

If I had one criticism it would be that I would something else to draw me in.  That I would want something more than a man’s story about himself, that surely he and others enjoy, and I could too- but what besides that might there be for me?  Perhaps it was hidden from my view.  What other theme or direction or story might there be?  Such were my thoughts, and the thoughts of a fellow autobiographical playwright seeing the play in my company.

The play was picked up for Best of Fringe, August 4th and 18th, 7:30 at The Asylum.  Go attend if you’d like a touching story of a man and entertainer.

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HFF Review: Confessions of the World’s Worst Missionary

•June 27, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Confessions of the World's Worst Missionary

I really enjoyed myself at this show. Lina does show us the world of, well, well-off white girls learning about the problems of Africa and dealing with it: And that’s not bad. It’s the sort of theme I’ve thought about as for myself, and what can I do for the world.  It’s what I’ve thought about when my priest says we have it so well here in L.A. with our designer bags- and I enjoyed that great suitcase Lina used as a prop! There’s such an imbalance in the world- and what can we do about it?

We try to be loving, and Lina seems to have done a great job with that. Even though she can’t fix everything, and she doesn’t have the answers, she’s making the world a better place. And now, she is using the medium of theatre to make the world a better place, by healing the audience and making us more aware of the world around us. Just what theatre should be doing. Kudos to you, Lina. I enjoyed seeing the world from your perspective, and I laughed a LOT at your satire, and I even got a little teary at the end. Thanks for your show!

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HFF Review: No Boundarys

•June 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

This show has good atmosphere in parts. The beginning was a little slow and a little hard to get into, and I was not sure exactly what the “point” was, not that there needs to be one. Noel talked about his father a lot, which I also didn’t necessarily get, but it was interesting to hear about a father so much on Father’s Day, and consider my own relationship to my own father.

My favorite bits were when Noel touched on the oneness of life, and the energy that we all are, as he was tripping- I spoke with him later and he said that’s a great part because he can improvise it. That’s probably another reason I liked that part so well. The ending was ok- but I think it was a little detached from the rest of the show. I found myself thinking, “was that what the whole play was supposed to be about?” I think a scene would have done well with the ending as its theme, but I am not sure about the whole play.

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Review: Clowns, Goddesses, and Tough Guys at the Hollywood Fringe Festival

•June 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a long time- my lovely little diary fell to the wayside, Ganymede, while I was so busy producing.  I barely had time for sleep, and sometimes forgot to eat- but we’ll get into all that later.  It’s time to return to writing now that the show is about to wrap, and I want to discuss the Festival.  I will begin with a review of a very sweet show I have enjoyed very much: Clowns, Goddesses, and Tough Guys, soul monologue with bluesy music interspersed, written and performed by James Schneider and directed by David Razowski.

Odd how some other anonymous reviewer managed to look at everything from all the wrong angles… maybe I’m biased in loving this show because I do know James, and we’ve helped each other with our shows, and I do get to see all the other facets of this story.  But I don’t think I’m that biased, because you’ll just get bad reviews even if you’re awesome- it comes with the territory.

It was by no means thrown together- although he did throw the script out: because shows are often more fun just improvised. That way he’s able to just speak with us as a real person in the moment and in truth. I have watched James put this show together and I saw all the love that went into it all the way- and since I know that little boy, inside of this grown man, I know the whole story. He didn’t complain, he was only sad that such a thing occurred. And he was, I would say, gracious about his domestic situation, and in fact was the more gracious by remaining more silent than someone wanted. We don’t need to know about negative particulars in someone’s real life relationship; I don’t know why some people demand gossip (I’ve had such requests when I talk about exes onstage too!). I did see a different night than the “bad” review, and thus the “script” would have changed a bit, but I thought he was very nice and sweet through the whole show.

I had a great time, and, even though it’s not my style of music, I’ve heard it a lot, and it is as I said sweet, and they grow on you after you’ve heard them enough, like any good music. I enjoyed myself through the show and laughed a lot. My favorite bit of the show was his song about the loss of his mother. It was real and touching.

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Happy 11/11/11/11!!!!1!!11!ELEVENTYONE!!11!

•November 11, 2011 • 2 Comments

A few years ago I experienced various awesome coincidences; they were of course synchronicities, occurring as they must, as the Universe deemed it. I began to study magic. I had known nothing of it, so to speak- I had only occupied my time with Dionysos, though I would not deign to say so. I was an actress, and that was all I cared about, so long as I was trapped here in this world I had hated all my life. And when I had done everything I wanted, and still found no meaning, and no happiness in my life- I turned to magic, of course. I thought, “If I do not want to bother with the world at all, I had may as well turn to the only thing I can conceivably see leading me past it.” Of course it did not do so- I found that the world, reality, is all there is, and that I am here forever. I found that reality is divine, that reality is God, and that I too am this reality.

Holy reality, by SinnerGhost

Holy reality, by SinnerGhost

In the beginning of my magical studies during this incarnation, I knew little. Yet the rest of my Being knew everything. I was able to tap into the power of my soul, the power of God, the power of all my other lives. All magic comes from God, if you want to call Him that- or perhaps you want to call Her the Universe. The labels do not matter; one may use whatever one prefers if it works.

universe, by ambird

universe, by ambird

And so I remember a day just after I had bought my first books on magic. I had only just begun reading them, and I had met a priest of Hermes but refused to think anything of it. I still did not take magic seriously, and I still hated the universe, and I still thought God, if he should exist at all, was a tyrant. On this day, I was rather miserable, and crying in my shower. I wanted all the world to stop, but of course it could not do so. It was then I received a vision. It was a vision of an older man. He seemed Jewish. He was dressed in finery. He was from long ago. And the word connected with him was “Magus”. I thought then, of course, of the magi who visited Jesus at his birth. Magicians. Wise men. Solomon was a Magus, a Wise Man, as well, and I would later come to read much material written upon his Goetia. I read of his control over all the demons, and his great control over all magic, perhaps more so than any other Magus, because he was the Wisest. He had a sort of ultimate connection with God, She Whom he called Wisdom. Was this a vision of a Magus from a past life, or simply a message from the Otherside, or God? A message to say that I was doing the right thing.

King Solomon plus some deemunz

King Solomon plus some deemunz

I connect this vision with others I would have, later, after I had progressed in the path of magic. I would often have dreams or visions about the number 11. Whenever I see an 11 and an 11 together, I take great notice, for usually, it is Ganymede telling me to pay attention to a synchronicity. It is one of his little ways of communicating with me. It is his way of saying I’m in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.  The most striking dreams I had were those involving 11 candles.

I once dreamt of Moses walking through 11 candles. There was a row on each side of him. They were giant candles taller than trees. It seemed as though they composed all the world. In my dream, I drew a picture of this and put it on my door. Then, the candles transformed into a set of 11 candles before a coffin in a Catholic church. I knew that inside this coffin was Jesus.

When I woke, I researched a bit online to see what this dream might mean. I discovered that, on Easter, 11 candles are placed around the tomb of Jesus to symbolize his 11 living apostles, to whom Jesus gave his Great Commission, to go out and baptize all in the fire of the Holy Spirit. They, as 11 candles, could light thousands and thousands of more candles by teaching them of not only the 10 commandments, but also Jesus’ superceding commandment of Love. I’d had no idea that there was this particular decoration on Easter, even though I had been raised Catholic. And I had dreamt about it despite never having consciously noticed or ever having been told of this. Besides Catholicism, other traditions also have interesting things to say about 11 candles, such as this.

The Easter tomb and crib of Christ, dead and resurrected.

The Easter tomb and crib of Christ, dead and resurrected.

These are all reminders of my path throughout the Universe, my path through Wisdom, my path through God. He communicates to me through synchronicity most often. If one pays attention to such messages, one may come to find God, and his peace, and love, and joy. One may become a High Magus if one only knows how to love God and proceed in communication with him.

One of the three Magi from Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot deck.  The High Magus, they tell me.

One of the three Magi from Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot deck. The High Magus, they tell me.

Today is 11/11/11. Today is a day many and varied persons have designated as a day for awakening and ascending to a higher consciousness, for letting in greater love, for communicating with extraplanar beings, and for helping the world to evolve to its next level. Let us all proceed into the Kingdom of Heaven together, hand in hand. Let us learn to communicate. Let us learn to love one another.

Today I will end my post by sharing one of my favorite songs, by one of my very favorite spiritual artists, Tool. Well, really, it is one song, Intermission, and one more song, Jimmy, but they are one song.  I find it to be beautiful.   I may have once thought that I hated the whole world, and may have tried to destroy it- or escape from it- on various occasions,  but  truly I tell you that I loved it for creating vibrations such as this.  For this, existence is worth it.  Love is worth it.

One

and One

are One

11

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