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Butoh Fu for The Ghost of Hamlet’s Flesh

By Nick Fracaro at 1:22 am on Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Something is rotten in Denmark. Old Hamlet’s putrid flesh decomposes but will not surrender its ghost. Manifold earth would take the decomposing flesh as its own, but the flesh cannot surrender its elemental nature until the usurped monarchy is brought back into the natural order of the universe.

Old Hamlet rises as a frightful Frankenstein of disparate elements out of the bowels of the putrefied kingdom. As sovereign king on earth he summons all of nature to the place of his murder, the site where the natural order was usurped. At this Orchard of Crime, all flora and fauna begin to misbehave. Half-ripened fruit falls prematurely to the ground, fermenting into a stew of alcohol on which the bionetwork will feed. All of the court and Denmark will become drunk with the poison of the crime, but none so much as the son Hamlet, flesh of the flesh of the disintegrating realm.

Flesh in this usurped kingdom and unnatural world is no longer subservient. Old Hamlet/Claudius are the same flesh and blood. The kingdom is now ruled by the gangrene of this dual King, who is both living and dead. This dead and dying flesh must be amputated, purged and burnt away. The elements Fire, Earth, Air, Water convene to contain this rebellion of unholy flesh.

I am thy father’s spirit, doomed for a time
To walk the night, and all the day
Confined in flaming fire,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of Nature
Are purged and burnt away


But the rebellious flesh will not surrender dominion over earth. The diseased family unit is the unholy trinity at the core of the kingdom. The Father, Son, and Unholy Ghost. Gertred animates not so much the dead king as the dead and dying gangrened flesh of the First Family.

The earth in the Orchard is moist, almost alive in the fermentation of the fallen, decaying fruit. Flesh would differentiate itself from the other elements. Wind/Air is breath. Rain/Water is saliva. Earth amalgamated with muddy flesh of fallen fruit. The moldering rot gathers its body together.

The body of many rises from the ground. The eyes look backward into the hollow head in an attempt to see the tail being pulled from the earth. Wind enters through the anus, swirls in the stomach, up through the throat, but cannot escape the mouth, returning back through the body. Moist humid air enters the mouth to become saliva. This water and air would gather into Fighting Words. This body cannot speak yet but may be able to Spit Nails in its anger.

Who has better teeth
The blood or the stone

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My Pretentious Bio

By Nick Fracaro at 11:07 am on Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Nick has been choreographing Gabriele Schafer in her role as artistic director of Thieves Theatre for 26 years. In preparation for the Pretentious Festival, for the past six years he has been traveling and researching the most important physical theatre methods on earth, especially butoh. Through his study with such masters as Atsushi Takenouchi, Yukio Waguri, Akira Kasai, Diego Pinon, SU-EN, and Minako Seki, he has now realized his masterwork. Gabriele Schafer performs Gertred/Ghost in The Ghost of Hamlet’s Flesh.

The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet
Prince of Denmarke

The First Quarto
by William Shakespeare

directed by Cynthia Dillon



bad hamlet

At The Pretentious Festival
“The Most Important Theatre Festival on Earth”

pretentious festival

June 20 & 21 (8:30pm), June 23 (7:30pm), June 27 (9pm)

The Brick Theater
575 Metropolitan Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn 11211
½ a block from the Lorimer stop of the L train

All tickets $10
Tickets available at the door
or through /

Featuring:Anthony Bagnetto, Robert Josef*, Jason Liebman*, Kevin Lind*, Alyssa Mann, Thomas Poarch*, Gabriele Schafer*

*Member AEA

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Zines Once Carried Our Memes

By Nick Fracaro at 9:16 pm on Saturday, June 16, 2007

unforgiven Scott has established a new “code of ethics” for posting and commenting within his domain. His call for Law and Order reminds of certain memes traceable back to the Old West that are embedded deep within our American character. Reminiscent of how the infamous Earp brothers once banned all six-guns and other firearms from entering the city limits of Tombstone, Scott stipulates that bloggers check their “virtual fisticuffs” at the door to Theatre Ideas. The townsfolk, especially womenfolk bloggers like Laura, will find safe haven from the lawlessness and verbal violence of the Theatrosphere.

In historical retrospect we know that many of the urban v. rural and North v. South tensions of the American Civil War were still erupting during the Tombstone era in 1880. Interesting how this is only slightly different in species from the New York v. Hinterland and Red v. Blue state arguments currently being hosted in the Theatrosphere. Memes don’t die as readily as they mutate.

I am in alliance with most of Scott Walters’ ideas on theatre. If he sensed this about me, my harsh critique of him as part of my previous post was probably felt as a betrayal. I have been trying to write some second thoughts about my characterization and his reaction, but I am too slow at posting and commenting, Scott keeps preempting everything I write. So I post the following now to catch-up with our conversation, although he has been writing it all quite well without my help (irritant). I’ll insert his preemptions where I think they belong.

The discussion as I see it is about blogging for theatre, the nature and function of the new theatre talk in the theatrosphere and its relationship to the practice of the art form.

SCOTT SAYS: I am curious if you could give an example of a post “tinged with that patronizing posture of “the teacher.” Not that I don’t believe you — I suspect all of our writing styles reflect our professions — but it would help me understand better if I had an example. I’d also be curious how my writing is more lecture than dialogue than, say, David Cote or Clyde Fitch or George Hunka. I suspect you are reading a tone into my posts.

NICK SAYS: As artistic director of Thieves Theatre and solo artist, I have a long history of polemic work. Consequently my battle with the press bunkers has been what seems like forever. So I don’t much like the newsboys. I read them only with extreme prejudice. I am warming up to David Cote and Leonard Jacobs because of their blog writing and comments in the theatrosphere, their attempts toward this new dialogue of theatre talk. As for George Hunka, he just got busted by Malachy Walsh for his “the-ah-t-ah” writings, with the hat tip going to the chuckler, Don Hall. The unaffected personal blogging styles of Malachy and Don, with equal parts life and art, are one of those unique rich segments of the theatrosphere that print publication could never even imagine.

The blogosphere is a radical departure for publication. Print publication has been much like the teacher’s lecture to the students, so you’re right, it was unfair of me to single you out as “the teacher.“ In most ways you are essentially no different than the three bloggers you name. You are all writing from the print model in which you have been trained. Old habits die hard.

My diehard habit is slightly different. I cut my teeth writing under pseudonyms in the zine scene of the ‘80’s, early ‘90’s. The zines I wrote and distributed through the early network of the rat conference I later reformatted into RAPT, rat’s first e-zine and web pages. This was in 1996 at the very beginning of the World Wide Web. Most believe that the widespread adoption of web browsers beginning in 1996 marked the transition from the print zine to the virtual zine era. And nth generations later we have the blogosphere.

For an interesing tidbit of history at this transition point, a blast from the past giving additional context to the current subject, read “zinester” David Cote more than ten years ago in his self-published OFF:Journal of Alternative Theatre as he argues his New York centric stance with the pseudonymous BenTrovato of Thieves Theatre. The occasion is the simultaneously approaching NYC rat confererence and first New York Fringe Festival where David presents an edited version of the Great Rat v. Fest Debate excerpted from the early rat web pages. Here is Brooklyn-based Ben Trovato in a letter to the editor of OFF calling David to task on his New Yorky bias.

I love the chutzpa of six xerox pieces of paper and a staple calling itself “The Journal of Alternative Theater”. Why not? A vital journal, like vital theater, is not a function of production cost or institutional affiliation. The non-organization of theaters from around the country known as RAT (Raggedy-Ass Theater), was created in a similar spirit of rough need and fullfillment.

Perhaps he (Cote), too, has an agenda. There’s surely a hint of one when he says “For some of us, it’s self-evident that the best art will happen in the best cities. And, though the consensus is ebbs and flows on this, the best city is New York.” It is this kind of (stereotypically NY) chauvinism that RAT is trying to dispel in its linking of like-minded alternative theater workers in cities around the country and the world.

david cote off zine

NICK SAYS: Scott, you don’t seem quite the academic, but I imagine it’s where at least some of your reading is. So your model of writing would be drawn from there also. In a certain way, academics do dialogue with one another in journals. But much of this juried jargon has always been ineffective outside its clique, and today it’s becoming even more isolated and irrelevant as the new internet models of publication/dialogue continue to proliferate.

SCOTT SAYS: To my mind, academia ought to be the R & D for the theatre. We should be trying things out, coming up with ideas, documenting performances, and spreading the word about what is new and exciting. And we should be putting this into readable, accessible forms so that the exhausted artist can grasp the ideas easily (as opposed to the jargon and obscurity in academic journals, for instance). To me, blogging is a great way to do that.

I want to be upfront about any ideas I post in the future: I am a teacher, not an artist. I am a teacher who does theatre, not a theatre artist who teaches. I am a teacher by choice, not by accident. I am not a “frustrated artist” who “fell back on” education….As someone noted, I often give what he called “advice to the players,” by which I mean that I come up with suggestions for different ways to do things. I’m not going to go out and do them myself, which I suppose might seem a bit duplicitous. So let me explain how I justify giving advice to artists trying to actually make a living in the theatre…

(Follow Scott as he practices his new code and advisory role at Theatre Ideas.)

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I Heart NY

By Nick Fracaro at 7:35 am on Wednesday, June 13, 2007

i heart nyFirst and foremost Scott Walters is a teacher, but in that capacity, he is also a director of student productions at University of North Carolina at Asheville. Last semester he directed and blogged with his students Philadelphia Story.

Scott’s blog posts at Theatre Ideas are filled with Advice to the Players concerning the “fixes” necessary to cure our national theatre. These blog entries are always well researched and knowledgeable but also tinged with that patronizing posture of “the teacher.” He is always more lecturing to students than dialoguing with peers. Scott is a big promoter of ensembles producing theatre across the country but his common method of doing this is to attack or offend some supposed or real aspect of New York theatre. For instance in his current post he finds an alliance with Zack Mannheimer who is attempting to relocate his once Brooklyn-based Subjective Theatre. Zack is on the road now hitching a ride to ANYWHERE BUT NYC. Predictably, such expatriates’ caustic dismissals of the city causes high drama in the theatrosphere from the many theatre bloggers who still live and work within the community.

Scott’s recent response to Praxis Theatre’s 10 Questions interview (with extended elaborations at his Theatre Ideas blog), coupled with his 15 Seconds of Fame at The Impending Theatrical Blogging Event which was a “production” within the Brick Theatre’s Pretentious Festival by NYC Theatre Bloggers, spawned a wide-ranging discussion in the theatrosphere on the nature of our national theatre. This debate segued seamlessly into the fracas that developed around Peter Birkenhead’s controversial Salon article in which he pooh-poohed the Tony Awards celebration and theatre in general.

Of the many theatre bloggers that live in New York and have taken exception to the implicit and explicit slurs directed at their theatre community and city, none have been as ardent in its defense as native New Yorker critic Leonard Jacob de Groot. Catch up on a current episode of the debate at the Clyde Fitch Report. Begin with Leonard’s rant to incite a lynch mob but do not leave without visiting its counter. In an affecting eulogy of actress Anne Pitoniak, Leonard reminds that theatre in New York, including Broadway, can be experienced with all the same riches of community that smaller cities possess.

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Born & Bred

By Nick Fracaro at 6:45 pm on Tuesday, June 12, 2007

eat this postermy morning

reading Sheila’s

my evening

coupled with this scary poster of hate

I happened upon

prompted me to itemize

Item one: On Tuesday mornings I travel to a relatively new day job in Newark via the PATH train. It’s rush hour’s crazy mob scene at the World Trade Center. What seems like all of New Jersey and the rest of the world is moving in the opposite direction to me. They’re in my way and I’m in their way. The metaphor is maybe too easy but I take the situation as representative of my particular karma.

Item two: Karma constantly manifests this Vulgar Herd in opposition to me. Consequently my anger and aggression are also in constant need of sublimation. This aggression has refined perfectly into service to my other day job, Texas Hold-em Poker. The sublimation process has taken me over 15 years but I now realize it’s not “me against the rest of the world.” There is no vulgar herd; there are only the ten seats of the poker table. That means that at any one time, there are no more than nine assholes between me and my super-sized hamburger with fries. Not only are these odds I can live with, it’s the kind I thrive on. I am an American, born and bred.

poker table

Item three: America has transformed itself into a fat, ugly mutant in the eyes of much of the world.

Item four: I’ve never been tamed but I’m way too old to still have “day jobs.” Maybe it’s time I retire into theatre or butoh somewhere. Somewhere is that place that is other than here.

mc supersized and the cowgirl posse

Ron English  “M.C. Supersize and the Cowgirl Posse” 
Filed under: Personal Leave A Comment »

Old School Blogging

By Nick Fracaro at 4:50 pm on Sunday, June 3, 2007

At the last Fudge the Pimp, toy soldiers attached with strings held an inflatable puppet of George Bush suspended over a pile of dog doo on the sidewalk out front. The kids were sending messages all day with soldiers attached to helium balloons. Finally it was time. In the clip above they send George away. Quite a cathartic moment for those gathered. I’ll be at The Impending Theatrical Blogging Event in a half-hour with leftover white balloons and helium tank. Look for the camouflage and Rat Sass beer. I’ll be blogging old school tonight.

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