Margaret Quamme posted her review of Thom Pain (based on nothing) on the Columbus Dispatch website this morning. Here are some choice cuts:
Sometimes the most minimal theatre is the most spell-binding. Will Eno’s “Thom Pain (based on nothing)” consists of a single actor rambling on for about an hour on a nearly empty stage. It’s a tightrope act that demands that both the performer and the audience stay almost breathlessly on their toes. And when it’s done right, as it is in Available Light Theatre’s mesmerizing production, it leaves more conventional theatre in the dust.
The play is performed in the intimate setting of the Vanderelli Room’s gallery space, which means that Pain can pace freely through the small audience, casting his gaze here and there, making one audience member after another squirm, and hinting at potential embarrassments to come in a way that would be less effective in a more formal space.
Magic – which Pain feels, at the very least, ambivalent about – is one of the recurring themes of the play, and appropriately so. The play makes use of rickety sleight of hand to lull the audience into a state where more real, and more dangerous, philosophical and emotional magic can do its work.
Read the whole review right here.
Get tickets and more info for Thom Pain right here.
Making a play is always a unwieldy journey.
WAIT FOR ME started on slips of paper taped into a notebook, tiny private moments of public solitude that nameless characters would experience. A sorrowful woman clipping photos from a magazine. A giggling child hiding in a home furnishings store. A sweet-looking nurse cruising Goodale park, despite the comatose patient he is wheeling around with him. When a man in neat-looking suit knelt praying in a church and proceeded to shove his wallet into the collection box, I knew some kind of play was taking shape.
WAIT FOR ME is a play about faith – what we choose to believe in, where we place our trust and direct our attention, and how we navigate the moral/ethical values of our evolving society to move forward in our lives. It is a play about friendship over long stretches of time, and how economic inequality and privilege can slowly poison relationships and communities. It is a play about loneliness, which was captured in those early bits of information I gathered from my subconscious; many of the characters are surrounded by other people and yet feel completely alone. How can faith help to dissipate that condition? How does it fail us?
Of course, I had no idea these were the questions I was asking when I began to actually write the play, slowly, over the course of over a year and a half. Dialogue and then characters and situations began to emerge in tiny drips and drabs. A relationship between two characters – Drew and Tim – announced itself, causing me to totally change my idea of a moment or a scene between them. Another, Larry, threatened to dominate the play entirely with his savagely funny anecdotes, and another – a headstrong woman from Philadelphia named Margot – huddled at the edge of the story ready to dive in, even though I had no idea how she fit into the story or who she really was in relation to these other characters, a web of urban gay men at the dawn of a new era of rights and privilege and purpose.
Writing this play was a very different experience for me. I’ve been thinking and wrestling a lot with the concept of “shape” in theater – what the play’s container looks like. And this play, with its tiny random moments and large chunks of dialogue floating around, just wasn’t acquiring a shape. I had no idea what the whole of it looked like, how the entire story would play out over the course of an evening. In many ways, the process was similar to what I was taught in acting class – the breaking down of a character into moment-to-moment authentic existence. Over and over again, I would attempt to form a linear narrative around these moments. I had an ending for the play, but had no idea how to get there. Nothing coalesced.
I flew home to Columbus. Matt Slaybaugh and Acacia Duncan took me to the Columbus Museum of Art and the gorgeous new Margaret M. Walter Wing. I whined to them about my play and what a mess it was. I told Matt “I just want to . . . “ and described a dramatic moment that I was impulsively thinking about throwing into the proceedings of the play. Matt’s response: “Why don’t you write that? I’d want to see that play.” By giving me permission to act on the impulse I had (which derived from the months and pages I had spent with the characters in my play), Matt helped me unlock the shape and structure of the play. And Acacia was the actress I wanted to play Margot.
Now, a mere two months later, a group of Columbus’ smartest actors will read WAIT FOR ME in front of a public audience for the first time. This play is the result of over two years of writing and thinking and observing as our country moves forward in terms of progress and back in terms of our humanity towards each other. It is the result of a delicious lunch (at the bright Schokko Art Cafe!!) with trusted friends and collaborators. Available Light Theatre is at the forefront of new play development in Central Ohio, and it’s a particularly dynamic company to return to again and again. I always look forward to sharing my plays with their audiences and learning from their responses.
Fellow writers: give yourself permission. Don’t wait for Matt like I did.
7 Lessons I learned in 2015 After Quitting My Job and Saying “NO” to Adulthood
By Elena Perantoni
After almost 10 years of working in an office, I left my 9-5 job in June of 2015 to work for Available Light and as a trainer at Fit Club. It’s been a crazy 6 months of firsts, doubts, and reassurances. Here are a few things I’ve learned (and am still learning) since June
1. It’s not going to be amazing at first.
Or after 6 months, or maybe even after a year. A quotation by Picasso popped up when I was deciding whether or not to leave my job, and it’s stuck with me for most of this year: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Turns out I love people, and I want to give them the gift of fitness and theatre. And how amazing is it that I am in a position to do so?! It’s incredibly rewarding. Difficult at times, yes. But the good outweighs the difficult ALL THE TIME.
2. Learn to trust other peoples’ trust in you
This is perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned all year. If and when you are ever in a position to be given creative freedom by someone you respect and trust, TAKE IT AND RUN WITH IT! They obviously trust you for a reason; accept it as a gift, work hard, and prove them right.
3. Never stop striving for a good life/work balance
When your day is delineated by a “clock in/clock out” time, it’s easy to distance yourself from work when the whistle blows (I’m picturing the opening credits to the Fintstones – “YABBA DABBA DOOOO!” No? Okay). But when you work randomly throughout the day, you must remember to take breaks and give the work a rest! If you know you’ll work in the morning and in the evening, make sure you take a few hours in the middle of the day to shut the computer off, stop checking your email, and RELAX. Work can wait. Your time is valuable (refer to #6)
4. Grocery shopping at 2pm on a Tuesday is amazing.
5. You are not done yet.
Changing your professional direction in life means always looking for and attaining new skillz. Every day is a lesson in “Okay, that didn’t work, let’s try something new.” You are a constant work in progress (and thank GOD that you are!).
6. Your time is REALLY F**KING VALUABLE
This one has been hard for me to rationalize. “Imposter syndrome,” the feeling that you’re perpetually getting away with something (i.e. feeling like a fraud) is real. I work hard, and I recognize that I work hard, but I can’t help but worry sometimes that I don’t deserve the opportunities I’ve been given. Self esteem is rough, especially when you’re trying something incredibly new at the age of 32. Learn to trust others when they say you’re doing a good job; take their praise and run with it, and remember you are a brilliant and exceptional snowflake.
7. Don’t Wait.
In typical AVLT fashion, this little nugget of advice has been my mantra for the last few months. This one’s pretty self explanatory. YOU know when it’s time to start a new phase; trust your gut and go with it. You’ll discover a lot about yourself.
To an incredible 2016!
Here are eleven cultural artifacts I’m happy to endorse here at the end of 2015. I’ve got four books, five records, one movie, and one Netflix show to share, with minimal commentary.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
This is not for the faint-at-heart; a friend of mine told me “Be warned. It will shatter you.” And I’ve lately spent a lot of late nights crying and reading and reading and crying. The only reason to set this compulsively readable book down is to contemplate some of Yanagihara’s more beautiful passages. It’s certainly the best book I’ve read in a while, probably since Wolf Hall.
Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt
This book is funny, yes, and talks a lot about a lot of great movies, yes. But really he’s taking a stab (multiple stabs) and what art is for and why anyone would bother and some of the darker corners of the psyche that lead to this dilemma in the first place.
Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
I’m not sure I’m the intended audience for this book, but boy did I learn a lot. Lena’s troublesome in some of her actions and statements, but she’s also deeply thoughtful and watching her process and struggle is entertaining and often enlightening.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber
The saddest science-fiction book I’ve read. It’s about a pastor sent into space to minister to a newly encountered race of beings (AKA “aliens.”) Like some of my favorite sci-fi books, the genre trappings are the setting but not the point. This is a meditation on faith and love, deeply mysterious and moving.
Kamasi Washington – The Epic
It’s almost unfair; this is a TRIPLE album of jazz augmented by a blistering imagination. The first track is called “Change of the Guard” and that’s what this is. Whatever modern jazz you’ve been listening to for the last 10 years, forget it. This is a line in the sand and Kamasi has left everyone in the dust.
Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
Lou Reed came back as a 28-year-old from Australia with a wicked sense of humor and a killer back-up group.
Four Tet – Morning/Evening
Two tracks: “Morning Side” and “Evening Side.” Use as directed.
Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment – Surf
It’s kinda-sorta the new Chance the Rapper album, but he’s just part of the band. This is optimistic hip-hop-funk-gospel-new-jack-southside experimentation and celebration music. Don’t sleep.
Hamilton – Original Cast Recording
Yes, the hip-hop-n-history musical that Mom & Dad know about from “60 Minutes.” That fact that this exists is no surprise. The fact that it’s taken the world by storm like nothing since RENT is astonishing. The music is fantastic, the concepts it’s bringing to the main-stream are even more significant. You can’t afford to see it, so get the record and rap along until it tours the world.
Maybe the most fun night of my year was when Acacia and I ran in to see this at the last minute in a tiny, old theater (Thank you, Barneses.) in Chapel Hill, NC. We laughed like little kids attacked by the Tickle Monster.
Master of None
Aziz can be pretty annoying, but he’s decided to using his modest fame to question everything, and I really respect that. It helps that the show bears more resemblance to an old Woody Allen film than to anything on broadcast TV.
Get info and tickets for Dedalus (a portrait of an artist) right here: http://avltheatre.com/shows/dedalus/
Watch Part One: http://avltheatre.com/matt-slaybaugh-on-adapting-james-joyce-1/
Get info and tickets for Dedalus (a portrait of an artist) right here: http://avltheatre.com/shows/dedalus/
Watch Part Two: http://avltheatre.com/matt-slaybaugh-on-adapting-james-joyce-2/