Monday, December 28, 2009

THE YEAR IN BRICK: 2009













Dear Friend, Supporter, Fighter:


The Brick has always felt a little contrarian.


Take fundraising letters. We admit we don't like them. Don't like sending them, because talking about how broke you are and how important your mission is and how we need your support this year more than ever, more than any year ever in the history of The Brick, even more than last year (when we said the same thing), and how we heard just the other day from a charmed theatregoer who saw his first show at The Brick, it was a riveting experience and his eyes glistened with moist happiness as he told the story of how ..... how .....


Sorry, where were we?


Yes. Money. Yes. Need. Please send.


Go here: www.bricktheater.com/donationpage


To the point, here is


THE YEAR IN BRICK: 2009


BLOOD, CARTILAGE AND PROTESTANT CLOWNS ABOUND!


(1) The Brick's stage was awash in blood this year. From the conclusion of Penny Dreadful, the smash horror series, to the medieval surgery of The Nosemaker's Apprentice to the Vampiric Space Amazon of Fassbinder's Blood on the Cat's Neck to the chef stylings of Titus Andronicus and the carnage of The Blood Brothers present ... The New Guignol. Also, there were Protestants and clowns. Who drink blood. (For the full 2009 line-up: click here.)


"SMALL BUT MIGHTY"


(2) Time Out New York measured our bust-line in an elite roundup of the Best Cheap Off-Off Broadway theaters. Called us "small but mighty." That's right.


THE BRICK PROVIDES DRUGS!


(3) Theatrical drugs, that is. We cheerfully raised our collective finger to the Depression (sorry, Recession) with The Antidepressant Festival. The New York Times responded, "No one tops the Brick Theater when it comes to oddball concepts for theater festivals." One drug-addled piece, Suspicious Package: Rx, was chosen for publication in Plays and Playwrights 2010 (New York Theatre Experience). Audiences also raised their collective finger to the Recession: attendance increased a whopping 43% from The Brick's prior summer fest.


HAILED AT 30,000 FEET!


(4) The Brick goes global: United Airlines' flight magazine, Hemispheres, featured The Brick in an article on Game Play, our month devoted to video game theater. Awesome.


STUNNING HONOR BESTOWED, DANCING ENSUES


(5) The New York Innovative Theatre Awards bestowed its honorary Caffe Cino Fellowship Award on The Brick - given annually to "an Off-Off Broadway theatre company that consistently produces outstanding work" (as featured in The New York Times). The Brick accepted the award by sending 20 of its loyalists (including roller-skaters) onstage to dance to the Commodores' "Brick House." The awards host then stated: "I don't really know what we just saw."


MORE DAMNED BLOOD!


(6) You wanted more mayhem. We gave it to you, with Fight Fest: the first ever festival devoted to the art of stage combat. (Click here or an exclusive Brick video promo starring

Taimak of the legendary fight film, The Last Dragon). Among the offerings, Piper McKenzie's Craven Monkey and the Mountain of Fury cut a swath through Man's bloody evolution, Last Life had the world's final inhabitants literally wrestling for control in a "fightsical," while The Ninja Cherry Orchard racked up a puzzling Chekhovian body-count of 63 characters. We're still cleaning the blood off the marleys.

BRICK ALUMS OVERWHELM "PEOPLE OF THE YEAR"!


(7) nytheatre.com's annual "People of the Year" awarded 7 out of 15 wins to Brick Alumni! Congratulations to Inverse Theatre, Nosedive Productions, Alyssa Simon, Shannon Sindelar, Paco Tolson, Matthew Trumbull and Richard Lovejoy (whose two-part magnum opus, A Brief History of Murder, will out at The Brick this January)! Congratulations, also, to our other friends and colleagues on the list!

And, last but not least:


YOU ARE AMPLY PRAISED!


(8) You: You answered our fundraising plea last year, radically increasing our donor pool, and bolstered our ticket sales by coming to see many, many Brick shows. Our tentative conclusion on reviewing the year-end books (subject to the accountants!) is that for the first time in The Brick's 7-year history, we're covering all of our costs in 2009 through outside donations, grants and ticket sales. Wow.


We could wrap up with the typical fundraising plea and exhort: It's not enough! We need to do more! To get to that next level! etc. etc.


But for a moment we want to celebrate. You out there made all of the above happen in 2009. The Brick is a unique place. Please continue to give (www.bricktheater.com/donationpage - only 10 more days to get that tax write-off!) - and to come see the shows. You keep us doing what we're doing.


best,


Michael, Robert, Hope, Jeff, Gyda, Ian, Berit


and the 200-plus Bricklayer volunteers



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A copy of our latest annual report may be obtained, upon request, from us directly or from the New York State Attorney General's Charities Bureau, Attn: FOIL Officer, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

THE BLOOD BROTHERS JUST WANT YOU TO EAT RIGHT



The Paper of Record has seen fit to pick The Brick and The Blood Brothers as a very cost-efficient and satisfying way to spend your All Hallows’ Eve goodwill, cheer, and cash.

Come closing night for a spookily fun post-show celebration and maybe gore effects-guru Stephanie Cox-Williams will let you snack on some of the props.

Buy your tix fast-like and marvel at the scary smoothness of the brothers’ heads in person!

Friday, July 17, 2009

"RAMBO SOLO" CREATOR MEETS RAMBO BOOK-O AUTHOR!



















Zachary Oberzan's Indie Theatre hit Rambo Solo took the theater world by sneak attack last year.  This Thursday,  see the movie "Flooding with Love for The Kid", which it detailed, at The Brick for free!  (8pm! RSVP now!)

And right now, read about how First Blood author David Morrell bought Zachary breakfast last week!

David Morrell Bought Me Breakfast

By Zachary Oberzan

Early this morning, David Morrell bought me breakfast.  If you had told that ten-year-old child, opening First Blood and reading for the first time, “His name was Rambo, and he was just some nothing kid…,” that in twenty-five years, the guy who wrote this magical, tragic work of fiction would be sitting across from him chatting about books, movies, theater, Polish politics, and airplanes, he most certainly would have believed you.  Children believe in heroes, and they secretly believe in their deepest heart of hearts they will some day meet their hero.  And maybe even become their hero.

         If you happened to see Nature Theater of Oklahoma’s Rambo Solo or my one-man film Flooding with Love for The Kid, you know of my admiration, well, maybe mania is a better word, when it comes to the nov

el First Blood.  What I didn’t know, however, was that the guy who wrote this book would turn out to be a man of uncanny generosity and authenticity.  When presenting those projects there was a fear, known to many artists who borrow work, of the ominous “cease and desist” letter.

  I had wanted to contact Mr. Morrell, to share the work he inspired, but really did fear that “cease” letter.  As fate would have it, Mr. Morrell did indeed learn of these projects through the grapevine.  But to my great astonishment and joy, he was thrilled.  This is a man who enjoys sharing his work and is touched by the impact it has on other people’s lives.  That’s his bottom line.   Sure, if Stallone makes a few hundred million bucks off of Mr. Morrell’s imagination, he deserves his fee.  But if you’re a young artist in NYC who uses his work, he is flattered, supportive, and he wants to meet you.

         Mr. Morrell, who now lives in New Mexico, was in NYC to receive the International Thriller Writer’s top award for his extensive and influential body of work, and to promote his latest novel, The Shimmer.  We had made contact during the off-Broadway run of Rambo Solo, and he became a big fan of the film I made, even going so far as to promote it on his own website.  We planned to meet when he was in town.

         We met at the Grand Hyatt, wher

e he was staying.  I was very nervous, and glad to feel nervous, because that was clear proof that something important was happening to me.  That first handshake was twenty-five years in the making.  He was fit and vivacious in a way that belied his sixty-odd years.  And maybe I 

imagined it, but he was perhaps slightly nervous about meeting me.  This was one of the great qualities I discovered.  He is not at all taken by his success.  Completely down-to-earth, friendly, humble, maybe even a little shy, he does not have the ego of a man responsible for creating a literary character known the world over.  (“There are five characters from thrillers that became internationally known,” he told me.  “Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, James Bond, Rambo, and Harry Potter.”) 


         He asked me about the progress of Rambo Solo, and I told him how well it went 

in NYC and recently in Montreal, and how the response in Europe was maybe slightly more distanced.  I chalked that up to the 100 mile an hour English that I speak during the show, as well as Europe’s relationship with the concept of Rambo, which I imagine is different than America’s.  “Have you done it yet in Poland?  Let me tell you about an experience I had.”  He was in Poland in 2001, at an event where ex-President Clinton was 

making an appearance.  Strangely though, the press was giving him a lot of attention, despite the presence of Clinton.  He asked a reporter why the fuss over him.   The answer:  Solidarity were huge Rambo fans.   “They would have rallies, and watch those Rambo films, then put on the headbands like Rambo, and go out and march.”  In the 80’s, Rambo of course was the poster-boy of anti-communism, due to Stallone’s choice of characterization.

This led me to a question I was deeply curious about, from an artist’s point of view.  I asked what it was like to create a book, and a character, and then to see that creation take off in the public’s perception in a way very different from what was initially intended.  He was very accepting of this fact, and glad to see how his work was adapted and celebrated by others.  I guess that’s why he was thrilled to learn of my little contributions. 

We talked about a lot of non-Rambo related stuff, too.  He had just received his pilot’s license a few weeks ago.  (Mr. Morrell is a self-described ‘method-actor’ when it comes to his writing.  If he’s writing about a pilot, he learns to fly.)  His zest for life truly impressed me.  How many guys at retirement age go 

out and get a pilot’s license and start flying around the country by themselves?  He answered a lot of questions I had about airports.  I learned about soft landings and short landings (the short landings are the toughest part of the license test.)  We talked a bit about his family, and a bit about my career.  We bonded over the fact that I recently departed my day job and am living an artist’s life full time.  I also learned a few things about the film industry and a writer’s relationship with it.  (Not always pretty).

As the conversation drifted back to First Blood, we discussed some of the points of the book, its qualities of Greek tragedy, and the time when he was writing it.  “I was reading Joseph Campbell at the time, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, and there’s that Jung

ian influence,” he said.  “Rambo’s journey through the cave with the bats, his emergence on a higher plain of awareness…that’s very Jungian.”

We talked for an hour and a half before he had to get to a radio interview uptown, which happened to be near my apartment.  He offered to share his cab. If he hadn’t been pressed for time, I would have loved to show him my film set.  Our conversation continued in the cab.  I learned some great facts:  In an early treatment, John Travolta was going to be a comic sidekick in Rambo II. The idea for Rambo II (Mr. Morrell wrote the subsequent novelization, but not the screenplay) came from the producer’s hunting buddy, who thought it would be great to send Rambo back to Viet Nam.   At one point, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen were considered for the roles of Teasle and Rambo, respectively, in the film First Blood.  Sylvester Stallone is lovely to meet in person.  And a suspicion of mine was confirmed: that cave scene in Cliffhanger where Sly is engulfed by a million bats was almost certainly inspired by First Blood’s bat cave episode. “Sly knows the book very well,” Mr. Morrell winked.  Not quite as well as I, though, I thought. 

Nearing our stop, I asked, “Besides my humble adaptation, did you ever want to see a big film version of your First Blood, done completely true to the novel?”  Gracious as ever, he said, “Oh, they did a great job with the movie they made, [director] Ted Kotcheff did a great job.  Watching Sly run around in the woods with that, that tunic thing he wears…” he said, smiling.  “Besides,” he went on, no one’s really interested in Viet Nam anymore, and the money it would take to recreate that era…you’d have to get cars from ‘72…I don’t think that will happen.”

“Yeah,” I said, “But would you want to see it done?  Because I’m going to make it.”

“Well, then you’ll really run into copyright issues with the film studios,” he laughed.

“Oh, I don’t mean anytime soon,” 

I said.  “It’s a long term project.  But I’m going to do it.”  He chuckled.  I think maybe he thought I was joking.

We got out of the cab.  Despite my protestations, he paid for that, too.  “It’s OK, I make more money than you.”  Couldn’t argue with that.

We shook hands again and I told him what a pleasure and honor it was to meet him.  “Listen,” he said, looking down the street.  “What you’re doing is great.  Your energy and openness and enthusiasm remind me of myself when I was beginning.  I think we’re both on a voyage.  Don’t worry about the ending.  It’s the voyage that counts.”  He suddenly and briefly locked eyes with me.  “We’re kindred spirits,” he said. 

So I want tell that ten-year-old kid, thanks for believing.  It came true.  Mission accomplished.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

CHANGING THE FACE OF INDIE THEATER--ONE FESTIVAL AT A TIME

Writer/Editor/Critic Aaron Riccio proclaims a new reviewing policy in reaction to his moving experiences at The Antidepressant Festival.  We knew our theatrical drugs had potency, but damn!

"Congratulations, Brick. Your Antidepressant Festival has successfully anti-depressed me, mainly by reminding me how many good companies there are out there. At the same time, it's also made me more aware of a potential bias on my blog, one of under-representation. The following is an attempt to address that:


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Dear Artist,


Are you involved in a new, full production--as a writer, director, actor, stagehand, &c.--that you think is good? Is it running for at least a week (four performances)? If so, feel free to send me information and an invite to your show. If I am not already booked, I will come and write about it here. (Be forewarned: I will not pull punches that are squarely deserved.)


Sincerely,

Aaron

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I hope that this will help widen the range of shows that I'm currently covering--the off-off-Broadway beat--so that equal weight is given both to new artists and established companies (and vice versa)."



Thank you Mr. Riccio for your generous coverage and for moving the ball forward for Indie Theater Artists!

The Brick

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Drugs of Yesteryear

Though sales of our "prescription drugs" have been gangbusters at the Antidepressant Fest, we really need to get some ads like these. Heroin! The Sedative for Coughs!