Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Meet the President

During last summer's Democracy Festival, The Brick asked their audience to help them elect the President...of The Brick. Each show was considered a candidate in the running and on the last day of the fest everyone was invited to come to the theater (or go online) and vote for their favorite show. And whoever won this election would be crowned President and receive a performance slot in January 2013. 

And now Inauguration Day is here so meet your new president: Jeremey Catterton and his company Lamb Lays with Lion.

Hail to the Chief: President Catterton
I'll take a little credit with helping this happen. I first met Jeremey last February. The company was fairly new to the city and Jeremey was excited to learn more and work with The Brick. I told him the best and easiest way to get onstage was to submit to one the many festivals, which is how a lot of companies "audition" for a main-stage slot. He applied to Democracy, was accepted and come Election Day campaigned like Mitt Romney on a milk bender earning enough votes to crown them king. He did this by stating his case to strangers on the street who then came into the theater (probably for the first and only time) and voted for his show, Ignorance. Some of the other candidates found this a little suspicious and corrupt but The Brick wanted to see how far festival participants would go to get elected. It was part of the experiment. Only one other festival candidate picked up on Jeremey's cue and did the same. 

And as promised, they were granted a two week term on the main-stage. Their new show, Entitlement, opens Jan. 17th and is the third and final installment of their American Trilogy series.

The show centers around entitlements and the bitter discussions surrounding their usage from the rantings of people from the right to the left of the political spectrum and how the center seems to maybe be the most reserved. But this show won't just involve government checks to poor folks but also the technological entitlements that our enlightened generation is so accustomed to. You faithful readers might not have to worry about your assistance check arriving late in the mail but how often have you yelled out in anger when you can't update your Facebook status? Are these entitlements one and the same? The show isn't looking to preach to you but instead engage those who are willing to listen to both sides of the debate as we eek out our existence amongst the diverse set of voices that is America. 

And similar to presidential candidates picking their running mates, Jeremey and Co. brought on board Brooklyn-based, Bard College-born theater collective New Saloon and their production of William Shakespeare's Mom to split the bill.

Their show centers around William Shakespeare, his mother, Vincent van Gogh and the struggles of being an artist. With one, you have a successful writer entertaining the Queen and the other, a depressed painter who shot himself before ever knowing his greatness.

This isn't a biopic, but more really about the struggles of artists being artists. Especially that moment between school and the "real" world. We may be taught by excellent teachers, but sometimes, those teachers are so removed from their professional paths that the advice they give is no longer valid for the current, changing times. And with the inclusion of Shakespeare's mother, the play also takes on the themes of how our parents influence and shape our artistic careers. A simple little thing like enrolling a child in a summer theater camp might be what creates the next award winning writer. But then how many of us were encouraged to get a "real degree" in something like Business? Maybe not because parents are against something artistic but they just want to make sure we can pay the bills and take care of ourselves. And can we survive without that support, either financially or emotionally, from them? Sometimes I wish I had listened to my grandmother and become a lawyer. But most times I happy I chose this life for myself. I'd rather deal with the rejection of casting directors then spend every waking and sleeping hour trying to make partner.

Personally I identify here with van Gogh (my current wallet is his Skeleton Smoking a Cig painting). I have yet to curry favor with anyone at Court. Most times I can barely get a reviewer to notice me as an actor. And as a student at the University of Oklahoma, and later at The Warehouse Theater, I was spoiled on the excesses of the main-stage theaters that were prepping me for the real world. Then I stepped out into that world and found most places where I would perform were black-box, found spaces which I've actually come to prefer over lush prosceniums. 

So I'm looking forward to the questions and answers both shows present about our political and artistic societies. And I recommend you checking out what they have to offer.

Lamb Lays with Lion's Entitlement (part 3 of The American Trilogy)
Conceived, Written, and Directed by Jeremey Catterton. 
Set, Costumes, and Choreography by Company. 
Company: Jeremey Catterton, Julia Mae Fairbanks and Breese Pickel

Appearing on a double bill with...

New Saloon's William Shakespeare’s Mom
by Milo Cramer 
Directed by Morgan Green
With Madeline Wise, Noah Schechter and Caitlin Morris

Thursday, 1/17 8pm 
Friday, 1/18 8pm 
Saturday, 1/19 8pm 
Sunday, 1/20 3pm & 8pm 
Thursday 1/24 8pm 
Friday, 1/25 8pm 
Saturday, 1/26 8pm

General Admission: $20

For tickets visit OvationTix or

Until next time...give me more!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sprechen sie Deutches, baby?

I'm a decent Beck fan. "Loser" was my first introduction after a friend saw the video on MTV. Later that same friend drew "Soy un Perdedor" on a piece of paper that I tacked to the door of my room back home (where it still hangs to this day). And since then I've seen him in concert a couple different times and most of his full albums are always on my iPod. I love how he embraces musical elements from all spectrums: anti-folk, punk, rap, sampling, rock, hip-hop, Latin, country, funk and blues to name a few. But I once wanted to kill myself from listening to Beck. It's a long story so find me at a bar one night and I'll fill you. All I will say is that if you're going through a bad break-up avoid listening to Sea Change

Beck hasn't released a studio album since 2008's Modern Guilt. He's stayed busy producing other artists, releasing a song or two for movie soundtracks and getting together with friends and playing cover songs.

Then this past December Beck released his latest sheet music. Like how music used to be distributed and played in the days before our grandparents. Song Reader has never before been released or recorded by Beck. And he encourages anyone to read, play, record, even rearrange these new songs and upload them to the internet. Check out the McSweeney's Q&A for more on how it came about.

As a band nerd I was really excited to hear about this. The flagship song "Old Shanghai" is available to download without purchasing the entire collection and I was pretty happy checking out the parts for tuba and trumpet along with the piano score. I was mulling the idea of recording that song on my own when I heard The Brick was gathering artists for a concert recording of the entire set of songs. I signed up. I taught myself guitar in high school and a couple of years ago I bought a vintage Danelectro Silvertone and have been reliving my college rock band past (Taste Like Chicken, 1996; Leggett and the Lesbians, 1998). And yes, one of the reasons I bought this guitar was after seeing Beck play one in concert. I can read music. I spent about 10 years throughout school playing trumpet but I never learned to play guitar music (little old three-chord me). Luckily the chords to "Saint Dude" are on the sheets. I've cheated a bit by listening to other bands and performers who have already recorded the song. But I found my own sound over the last few days coming up with my own arrangement, pulling inspiration from Jay Reatard, Elliott Smith and Beck himself who, if you've seen him in concert, never plays a song the same way twice

And so this Friday at 10:30pm The Brick presents Just Noise, a concert recording of these songs. The line-up is impressive. Not only will you hear me (performing as the Starr Kendall Experiment), but also Supermajor, Mockstar Killy Dwyer, Trav SD, Gyda Arber and Steve Sabaugh, Lord Ian Hill, Lady Berit Johnson, Bathtub Jen and the Henchmen, Deacon Bishop Revival, Alexis Thomason, Patrice Miller & Chris Chappell and a few more. It's free so come rock out with us. For more information check out

Until next time...get crazy with the Cheese Whiz.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


The earliest dream I remember was a nightmare. 

I was around three, in real life and in the dream. It was Christmas and I was in the den of the home where I grew up with my grandparents. The den was warmed by a Williams vent-free gas heater. It was a good warmlike you feel during Christmassurrounded by family. I was playing with some toys on the circular rug. And then my grandfather entered from the living room. Black smoke coughed from his lungs. My grandmother went to help hold him, patting his back as more soot billowed from his lungs. The temperature rose in the den. I went to the door and peered into the living room. A wave of heat engulfed me and my fear shot up to 11. There was a low hum and I looked over to the twinkling Christmas tree where I saw a toy Volkswagen Beetle slowly rolling across the carpeted room spewing fire from its tailpipe! 

Years later I found that when I overheat, I have nightmares. I now, always, as best I can, keep myself cool at night with the breeze of a fan. Even during winter. Because I'd rather dream than scream.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of sitting in at a rehearsal of Buran Theatre's next show Nightmares: a demonstration of the Sublime, which opens at The Brick tonight. After the success of their last Brick main-stage show, The House of Fitzcarraldo, I was happy to see what they were cooking up.

In 1816 Mt. Tambora erupted in Indonesia and helped global temperatures drop and bring about the "Year without a Summer." That summer a power group of romantics were trapped on a Swiss holiday and as a contest produced the stories of Frankenstein and The Vamprye, which predated Stoker's Dracula by 80 years. Now add in some Marx Brothers and you'll get a small taste of what the company is brewing at The Brick this new year. I'll let writer and co-director Adam Burnett clue you in a little better: 

This video is from their Indiegogo campaign. After premiering at The Brick this January, they will take the show on the road to a series of theaters across the United States. Consider making a small donation if you can. And for a show about to tour, preparation is key. The cast and crew were very happy with their progress on re-crafting the script from previous workshops and presentations and "having keys" to The Brick helps too. From experience I know that making The Brick your "home" for a couple of weeks prior to opening helps keep those real nightmares away.

Nightmares: a demonstration of the Sublime opens January 2, 2012 and runs through January 12th. Tickets are on sale now at or

Written & co-directed by Adam R. Burnett and performed by Caitlin Bebb, Arla Berman, Brady Blevins, Adam R. Burnett, Sarah Graalman, Marlowe Holden, Jud Knudsen, Catrin Lloyd-Bollard, C.S. Luxem, Geraldo Mercado, and Curry Whitmire.

The creative team includes Theresa Buchheister (co-director/co-producer/co-choreographer), CS Luxem (composer), Nick Kostner (scenic designer), Geraldo Mercado (media designer), Ann Sitzman (lighting designer), and Lara Thomas Ducey (dramaturg)

Until next time...Happy NĂ¼ Year!