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Little Bruiser

By Nick Fracaro at 3:27 pm on Wednesday, May 30, 2007

FlailingGirl loves t-shirts. She’s considering getting married in one. T-shirts are close to my heart as well.

I designed a one-of-a-kind t-shirt for a performance I do. I put an iron-on transfer of Rene Magritte’s famous “This is a not pipe” painting on the front of a white t-shirt. The image of the pipe’s bowl is also really a sewed-on little pocket. A big red lettered word is added at the end of the French phrase.

Ceci n’est pas une pipeBOMB

The firecracker in the pocket (pipe bowl) has an extended fuse. The end of the fuse is an imaginary cigarette. I hold the make-believe cigarette between two forefingers in V-sign (Peace sign or Victory sign?). I alternately hold the fuse/cigarette in a grotesque lip grip.

I go out among the audience like that, somewhat aggressively asking each and everyone “You got a light?” There is a definite sense of apprehension in their chuckles and smiles. Eventually I get a light.

The fuse on the firecracker, my dance, lasts about three minutes. The explosion “ruins” the t-shirt just enough to make it art. The “innocent” audience survives the experience unscathed. Their ticket stub directs them to the Ebay listing where they can bid on the ruined t-shirt, no reserve.

As the old carnie saying goes, “It’s a hard way to make an easy living.”

this is not a pipe
Self-portrait with Temporary Tattoo & Fading Bruise Near Pipe Bowl
Filed under: Personal Leave A Comment »

WORD

By Nick Fracaro at 6:50 am on Sunday, May 20, 2007

dog god god dog

Words become their own being. Once they have left the body of their creator, they begin an existence of their own. They exercise their free will.

Some will become fighting words. Soldiers in a war that is as old as mankind.

Our fate, as well as the fate of others, is often a function of the words we distribute in the world.

The butoh masters explore our bodies elementally as flesh in the manner of alchemists, schooling us in the belief that our DNA is as subject to manipulation and transformation as our fate is.

You have to pull your stomach up high in order to turn your solar plexus into a terrorist. –Hijikata

So today I will go to war, again. With my DNA, my fate, my words.

The choreography I am working on now I have titled The Ghost of Hamlet’s Flesh.

Filed under: Uncategorized1 Comment »

Leonard and David sitting in a tree, b-l-o-g-g-i-n-g

By Nick Fracaro at 12:30 pm on Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I seem to be mistaken about the theatre editors having any regrets over what they have made public. Neither appears particularly flustered by the attention to their private beliefs and lives. In fact both seem to have flourished somewhat under the scrutiny. And the private/public rift that has developed between them has all the drama and scandal potential of a Rosie/Donald episode. For theatre’s sake, let’s hope they exploit the opportunity. I kid the critics.david's emblem

David wants his pathology to be read like a book. The masthead emblem of his blog is the lone player standing on stage with a defiant fuck-you gesture thrust at the hostiles in the audience. That actor would be David. In recent days he has constructed his makeshift platform and has gathered the hostiles for his performance. Catechism on a hot tin roof His latest post begins with an address to the offended public.

In response to the righteous indignation that my posts and reviews have ignited here, here, here and here.

The title of David’s blog, Histriomastix, has a wikipedia link to explain it:

Histriomastix represents the culmination of the Puritan attack on the English Renaissance theatre.

David obviously imagines that this 400-year-old antagonistic Puritanical audience is alive and well, and still in onslaught against his beloved theatre. Going a considerable step further, he has conflated the Puritans with all “people of faith,” suggesting that the Us v. Them divide is much larger than most of us working in theatre ever imagined. So the Chosen Ones of theatre in David’s eyes are those who have sworn off all religion.

Statements such as “Religion is bad theatre for stupid people,” inappropriately placed in a theatre review, are sure to draw a crowd of hostiles. But the critic/actor maintains his haughty position on stage, daring the public to drag him to the pillory.

I admire David’s honesty and refusal to stand down from his beliefs. This stance is not likely to further his career as a mainstream theatre editor and reviewer. As reader, I never would have caught the offending line in his review if it weren’t for the brouhaha that developed around his diatribe against THEM in the Mike Daisey incident. Having seen Young Jean Lee’s Church, I was waiting anticipatively for his review on that particular piece in light of his exposed prejudices. I’m sure other bloggers were doing the same.

I find both David and Leonard’s personal blogs refreshing, especially when contrasting them with their “official” blogs at TimeOut and BackStage. Leonard is genuinely endearing with his backstage gossip and rants. But again, one wonders how well all this honesty and transparency will serve a mainstream career. We should wish them both the best of luck. We will all be better off if it does.

Filed under: Artist/Critic6 Comments »

Criticizing the Critics

By Nick Fracaro at 9:11 am on Monday, May 14, 2007

More update than correction, New York Magazine’s Vulture “fixed” the misrepresentation quoted in my last post. It now reads like this:

And debate still rages over the Mike Daisey affair! Nick from Rat Sass thinks Mike faked his outrage over a mass walkout from his show, eager for publicity.

This new form of “publication” coming out of mainstream press is very strange. Nothing ever really needs to be retracted, just tweaked in an updated edition. I wonder if I got all pissy again, whether they would fine-tune the “representation of my representation” another notch. I think Mike hyped his outrage more than faked it. Our Reverend Al Sharpton often does a similar turn when issues concerning race become news.

The Mike Daisey scandal has segued into a new fracas. Bloggers have been criticizing the critics for their anti-Christian bigotry. Critic and editor and backpedal expert Leonard Jacobs recently broke ranks with his anti-Christian colleague, critic and editor David Cote. David had gone too far even for Leonard with his, “Religion is bad theatre for stupid people” line from his review of Young Jean Lee’s Church. (Update: Did someone say Meooooow!) Bloggers Scott, Isaac, Rob, Mark, and nick have also questioned the fitness of the Cote line.

My guess is that both David and Leonard regret the flaunting of their biases. Editors parading their peculiar prejudices are not likely to enhance the credibility of theatre reviews appearing in TimeOut and Back Stage. Most readers still expect objectivity, or at least the pretence of such, from their consumer reports on theatre.

Coincidentally, theatre critics are under added scrutiny across the ocean as well. The director of the National Theatre, Nicholas Hytner, opened the debate by alleging that veteran reviewers are “dead white men” unable to review female directors without bias. Thea Sharrock, Michael Billington and Lynn Gardner all weigh in on the subject at the Guardian Arts blog.

the critic by herbert cole
The Critic Herbert Cole, fl. 1900
Filed under: Artist/Critic2 Comments »

My Name Is Not Rachel Corrie

By Nick Fracaro at 12:19 pm on Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I wish I could pour a bottle of water on the New York Magazine blog that misrepresents my writing about Mike Daisey.

“And debate still rages over the Mike Daisey affair! Nick from Rat Sass thinks Mike staged a walkout from his own play for the publicity.

Actually I wish I could drink a bottle of water, bodily process the liquid, and go piss on the author’s shoes. Of course I could probably be charged with assault, but I already have my defense planned.

Your Honor, the plaintiff left me no choice. He does not have a comments section on his Vulture blog where I could rebuff his false statement. His slander caused me extreme emotional distress, triggering my relapse into my sanctuary of Rat Sass beer. So I had drunk myself into a stupor on my walk to his office and there are no public toilets en route to New York Magazine on Madison Avenue.

Your Honor, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. I realize that the plaintiff claims that his shoes were one-of-kind handmade fetishes and that my Rat Sass piss ruined them. I am confused by both the nature and validity of this claim but I will not dispute it. I am willing to take responsibility for all property damages incurred. I also realize there may be some emotional distress. But, as outlined in my countersuit, I feel that all damages are tit-for-tat. The irreparable damage to the Rat Sass brand name as a direct result of New York Magazine’s slander is significant and I have already explained my relapse into drunken stupors. As a result of the emotional impact of this incident, I may never be able to write or perform again.

My Name Is Not Rachel Corrie. How does one escape the prison of one’s own representation?

I haven’t really fallen into a stupor and I figure the author of the new Vulture blog is probably just a slow learner. I won’t piss on his shoes this time but he needs to learn to differentiate between gossip and slander.

What bothered me most about the Mike Daisey incident was the instant polarization with accompanying Fascist Christian chants that arose throughout the theater blogosphere. Mike claims he didn’t invent the appellation “Christian” but he definitely exploited the term in his rendition of the incident. His later apology to the high school students tainted by his broad brush is insincere at best. In fact, he labels them more THEM by finding an article that supposedly proves Norco High is something red and rotten in the blue state of California.

Mike by no means staged the incident. But he has been spinning the PR on it. I find nothing particularly abnormal in this. Many if not most artists nowadays are directly involved in the PR of their work. And the phenomenon of the blogosphere has kicked this self-promotion into high gear. From my observation, one of the negatives of this immersion into their own hype is that many artists no longer attempt to differentiate between a box office and an audience.

I have examined the spectacle of the Mike Daisey incident as it unfolded, not Mike per se, although he is obviously the main character. I actually find the concomitant flaunting of bigotry by the two theatre editors of the mainstream press more interesting and pertinent than Mike’s comments. The virulent anti-Christian prejudices as represented by David Cote and Leonard Jacobs are the tip of an iceberg that needs to be examined concerning theatre and its relationship to its audience in a country where 80% of its citizens identify themselves with that faith.

Filed under: Uncategorized7 Comments »

I Wanna Be Like …

By Nick Fracaro at 8:54 am on Saturday, May 5, 2007

i wanna be like mikePublication is instantaneous. So blogging means that there is no Editor between you and your readers unless you place one there.

Boal’s term, Cop-in-the Head.

I know I am on to something if I begin to experience that distinct trepidation that occurs when my writing begins leading me, instead of me leading it.

The Cop-in-the Head is also known as the Peer Panel. I never really completely recognize the authority I have allowed the Peer Panel to assert over my writing. It’s not that I desire to be ostracized, it’s just that I hate that the small pretences necessary for civil relationships in life also creeps into my writing. You want a place where truth will not be compromised. There is no such place. But that’s the struggle.

Oh yeah, and that other struggle, the one against self-righteousness. So that even when you have found the truth, it’s not the only truth, and you have been acting the bully or the asshole with your version.

Mike Daisey’s version of the truth in the scandal he initiated has not just gone stale but has decomposed into a state of rottenness. Whatever truth he may have originally attempted to uncover with his publication of the incident has long ago disappeared. What he is doing now stinks. Rather, what he is not doing stinks. Mike seems unable to swallow the small dose of humility necessary to correct the record on this incident.

Perhaps there is more to it than just an accidental misrepresentation. Mike is now in contact with the Norco kids and promises a report. But the longer he waits to correct his original assumptions and representation of “the group,” the more he invites speculation on his original motive for publishing the incident. One observer and critic of the scandal, Jim in the comment section here at Rat Sass, suggests that Mike was not at all confused about the identity of “the group” he labeled as Christian at the time he published the YouTube video. He places the events in a chronology in an attempt to support his view. I do find it both interesting and telling that Mike has blocked this critic’s comments at the YouTube site.

Although Mike Daisey has had his Dilettante web site and blog for years, it is only over the last two weeks that he has become Theatre Blogger Supreme. Mike’s blog doesn’t allow comments and prior to the current scandal involving his performance, he never appeared in any of the comment sections of other theatre blogs. But during this fracas, Mike became a full citizen in the theatre blogosphere , a virtual social gadfly, joining in the comment section of any theatre blog here, there, and everywhere that critically portrayed and/or discussed the incident and the ensuing scandal.

Mike, the Celebutante from Dilettante, has since retreated from the comment sections of the theatre blogosphere. From his bunker today he posts a link to a new story on Paris Hilton, one of many in the Dilettante archives. Mike’s obsession is likely not so much with the socialite as it is with the nature of celebrity itself. Celebutantes like Paris Hilton are always suspected of leaking the scandal tidbits that keep them “famous for being famous.” Similarly Mike’s debut into the comment and “critical” realm of the blogosphere is likely a calculated study of his own celebrity, not some search for truth or understanding about the incident. Probably more self-deceiving than disingenuous, he bizarrely claims that the YouTube broadcast of the incident is not self-promotion, but is actually detrimental to his serious work as an artist. As if some entity other than Mike himself controls it.

Filed under: Uncategorized6 Comments »