Leila Ghazvani has infectious energy. In the really awesome way.
I met her last May (also at Indy Convergence, which may be a coincidence or just proof at how awesome it is) and was sad to hear she didn’t still live in Los Angeles. She worked until the wee hours, waiting until the very last minute, literally, sometimes prying her work away from hands while staff had to lock the doors.
She explores stories and form with puppets. Don’t be fooled by the puppets that look familiar in this screenshot. She demos how materials and hands alone act out her stories.
Here is a check-in I had with her last Monday on Silken Veils, which she’ll present at the Philly Fringe Festival in September.
Another inspiration to me right now is Alice Venessa Bever, who is re-inventing the theatrical experience. Her project Project 1979 is long-form journalism, nostalgia and performance. She’s getting inside the question: How does the way 30somethings grew up affect everyone in the world today?
She began her process at the Indy Convergence last May (where I work as Resident Artist) and has since traveled and broadcast performances/salons throughout Europe. I work with her as the Online Storyteller for each broadcast since Brussels, moderating comments and eliciting questions and conversations through Twitter, Facebook and UStream.
Did I mention there is always Flashdance?
Here is a check-in we had where I asked her questions over chat and she answered via her UStream.
Really, follow her @project1979 & on Facebook. Her last London salon centered around HIV/AIDS, and was very interesting to talk with people around the world while listening to their experiences. It really made me share and consider how HIV/AIDS affected my life.
Some of the questions she asks consistently are:
What inspires you?
When do you remember hearing about HIV/AIDS for the first time?
One exciting theme I saw through my 45+ interviews for the Fringe was the question of form. How, where and why do we create our art? I selected this video interviews from artists who push their own boundaries and deserve a larger audience.
An absurb opera about cat memes? I initially was snobby about this and so didn’t try to see it. Boy, am I sorry. Not only is Ellen a fascinating mind with whom I want to grab a beer, but tons of people recommend it.
My transmedia series MYTHistories has its own pilgrimage, from the very first time the idea popped into my head to one of the segments I will finish during a writing date I have tonight with my friend Bree. Here are a few videos that helped shape my revisions while I work-shopped one piece to the MYTHistories puzzle at The Indy Convergence.
I ask people 2 questions:
1. What do you think of when you hear the word pilgrimage?
2. Do you feel like you are on a pilgrimage?
Please comment with your answers below, either typing it or a video response!
Puppeteer Leila Ghazvani responds and has a strange discovery towards the end:
Writer Sarah H Moon responds while we prepare for tech:
Dancer & Choreographer Sarah Weber Gallo responds while wearing one of her props:
Now it’s your turn:
What do you think of when you hear the word pilgrimage?
Do you feel like you are on any sort of pilgrimage?
Comment below or send me a link to your own video interview.
Today I invited Etta Devine and Caroline Sharp to talk with me about the Bechdel test, how it affects their film viewing and careers, then see how it can be modified for plays. This topic came up when I was trying to codify my reactions to some of the female characters I’ve seen on stage recently. We’ll talk starting at 1pm, and you can watch here (a video will be embedded before the start time) or on You Tube. Updates will be sent via @LA_FPI as well. Please join us and ask questions!
If there is anyone who deserves the term woman on the fringe, it’s Jacquetta Szathmari. I’ve known her since the first year of Fringe, and she is one of my favorite artists to see every year. First she brought the storytelling to stage piece That’s Funny, You Didn’t Sound Black on the Phone. By the way, she never utters those words in her show. This year she’s workshopping a new piece about a burlesque dancer and magician who meet in 1955 on the train to Vegas. Both female, both African-American, and both pursuing their dreams even as they must stick to the “Chitlin Circuit”. Let me just say that you’ve never thought about history more than watching a burlesque Harriet Tubman dance. More is below from the audience reaction/review I posted.
Watching this show, I found myself suspended somewhere between a guffaw and gasp of horror the entire time. Szathmari has an insane ability to draw you into these incredibly different characters’s greatest desires, teach some history and give a really good yank at your guts. A work-in-progress, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for hours afterwards, and honestly still don’t feel like I have fully digested it. It was such a great meal that I plan to go back for seconds.
I strongly suggest you see this show, and in true form to its setting of Vegas, have a stiff drink or two beforehand.
Here is a selection of female-helmed Fringe shows who I got a chance to interview. I decided to start with pieces that pass a modified version of the Bechdel test*; essentially, the subject matter does not revolve around men and relationships. I don’t have a problem with those topics, and they can be very interesting, but there is plenty else out there.
*The Bechdel test is meant for film, so the three criteria are: 1) more than 1 female characters (with names), 2) who talk to each other, 3) about something besides men. For plays, specifically some that are only one woman on stage, I modified the definition. It’s still up for discussion, but that’s the best I could create after a lengthy twitter discussion on the topic.
More will be posted soon along with personal commentary on the state of female characters………
Her story centers around her parents, including an incarcerated father, but she also portrays other women who discuss much more than that. One character includes Marie Laveau, and from talking with her, it seems like New Orleans herself is a character.
What will it take for you to actually change your life and overall purpose?
…..And that’s it. Out of 35 + interviews, those are the four I can distinguish are not solely about men and a female’s relationship to them. This is not a judgement call, and I am seeing some wonderful shows that revolve around relationships. I just find it very interesting and something to consider. What do you think?
This is a prologue from a novel I’m writing, first draft ready May 1st! Feedback is appreciated.
The Word hid from view more years than we have numbers to count. It felt easy for the word to hide – simpler when you’re the only one who knows that you exist.
The Word hid in the dark. Relied on memories, on ghost stories, on soldiers, and eventually on troubadours to understand where Word lived and how long before she was needed. Her appearance must be impeccably timed, her knowledge shared with only the most needful of all. Revealing her power too early would be disastrous, or before she found herself in the right spot.
She’d misjudged once and tablets were created. Tall craters of clay shaped and symbols drawn into the malleable forms before drying. She says misjudged because soon after were The Great Ruins and the Word was nearly washed away, forever, or rock could have fallen and sealed the Word into her cave.
I’m writing a new piece now, some stories that have been swirling around my head for a while – the Virgin Mary and Fatima sightings and women’s bodies and family stories and growing up Catholic.
Many of these stories I have told before. Most over a beer or two getting to know a new friend. They are the stories told in the night that you can’t imagine putting in print for fear family members would sue. Honestly, they still might.
And it seems that the story to haunt me forever is the one that caused a great shift in my life: Fatima.
Here’s the gist: two young girls and one young boy (ages 7-9) see the Virgin Mary one day while out tending their family’s flock. She tells them of future visitations and offers three secrets which include:
Russia must proclaim their devotion to the Mother or She will fail.
(shady interpretation) Pope John Paul II’s Assassination attempt
The two youngest (Francisco and Jacinta) will die soon while Lucia will live on to spread the glory of the Virgin Mary’s word.
The two youngest did die from a pretty common flu, and Lucia, later Sister Lucia, or Looney Lucia, as I will refer to her, lived to be a ripe old advisor to the church and I believe was appointed for sainthood after she died at 92. The two youngest were the only canonized youth who were not martyrs.
The show is called Fatima Quest, and this is the blog I write before leaping into the next ten pages I promised to finish by Monday.