In theater, a post-mortem doesn’t refer to the dead, but to the finished. The show’s over, you’ve got a little distance, and now it’s time to discuss what went well, what went wrong, and how you improve for the next time.
I have to say, having Tea Krulos helm the creative side was fantastic. A single creative director made a huge difference. Motionary Comics is much more about the magic of process (making) as opposed to product (a painting), but that doesn’t mean we didn’t want the best comic possible. The cohesion that a single individual made helped immensely.
The benefit for the United Way wasn’t as successful as the art event, though not for lack of trying. Christine and Joan did amazing work pulling it all together, but there simply wasn’t enough time to put it together. When I say “put it together,” I don’t even mean getting stuff to bid on. They did that. But organizing the benefit on the “production” end – we should have had announcements during the evening, ideally we would have put the tables in a room where they weren’t quite as bludgeoned by sound, we would have made a bigger deal about the competing storyline ends…
In other words, I discovered the shockingly obvious truth that benefits need to be as solidly and 100%-ly produced as the art event. It was not a wash – we raised a couple of hundred dollars. But we did it the hard way. Talk about a learning curve.
I drove up to Milwaukee last Thursday morning and put in about 7 hours. Friday ran from 9am to 1:30am Saturday morning. 5 hours of sleep and back to Moct to take down lights and get them back to Jason Fassl, who generously loaned them to us for the operation. I’m almost not-tired today, but I think it’s really tomorrow before I’m back on track energy-wise.
I had a meeting today about a different kind of live-arts event, a sort of musically-conducted painting, but the budget for that is probably $5-6,000 and the two Motionary Comics have already been largely out-of-pocket, in spite of all of the volunteer labor. Really what I need to do is figure out what to do with Bad Soviet Habits. For the moment, though, it’s going dormant.
All photos (c) Kelly Crandall, 2011.
Who somehow found out about the Dancing Building. Of course, Frank Gehry had something to do with it.
Chase and Molly asked for dancing in front of the dancing building, and the pirouettes just weren’t taking.
We like to this of Kelly’s picture as “Fred and Ginger in front of Fred and Ginger.”
Plus right to our left is the craziest statue! She’s like a superhero traffic sign. I’ll post that later, once I get it uploaded.
Thanks, Chase and Molly!!!
Who as his Kickstarter reward requested a photo in front of the Charles Bridge or on Petřín Hill. The latter proved unlikely, the former, accomplish-able.
In this picture, Andy and Kurt imagine what the other must have been like at UWM.
Thanks to Kirsten Stolle for the help!
Many many thanks to Julie and Tomkin Coleman for their support on Kickstarter!
Not much in the way of time right now, so I’ll just say that we had a good opening yesterday, and a decent paragraph review in the Prague Post.
Let the panicking begin… NOW!
The lights are in the air – now with safety cables! That’s so big chunks of metal filled with light bulbs don’t fall down on anyone’s head. We care about you.
We did a line-through in the space yesterday to start thinking about the practicalities of the acoustics. Moct is a a former garage – high ceilings, steel beams, brick exterior walls, drywall interior, concrete floor. Sound really bounces around in there.
Tonight we’re working with Matt Daniels of goats&monkeys (who just did a bang-up staged reading of THE TAMING OF THE SHREW), who’s helping us with some of our gestural stuff, then we’ll do a full run. And somewhere in there I actually have to focus the lights. There’s only four, so it’s not like it’s that big a deal, but it’s more stuff to do and it has to be done at night.
Print programs for the Thursday show. Print paper props.
LEARN MY LINES.
Apparently, multi-tasking is a bad idea. Last night in rehearsal Andy and Kelly each said something to me, at the same time. My brain froze up. I couldn’t make out a single word. It didn’t even sound like language.
I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t do two things at the same time very well, but that tends to be more physical. Even on the mental level though, when you can in theory keep it all together, something still suffers. For example. Lose a train of thought, maybe. Take the wrong turn. Drive auto-pilot home instead of going to the movie theater you’d intended to visit.
Most “multi-tasking” isn’t simultaneous, though, it’s serial. We do this all day, right? Walk the dog, get the groceries, pack the office, feed the cats, did you remember to hit the store on the way home? Uh, nope. Nope, missed that altogether.
I’m good at planning and at executing, but at a certain point of sustained intensity, something starts to suffer. Or more typically, everything starts to suffer equally. I’m producing THE HEART OF A DOG, doing all the graphics, doing some of the props, trying to take care of my house as much as I can, be a reasonable partner to my spouse, do the dishes occasionally.
Everything suffers a little bit. Case in point: I can’t remember my lines.
See you at Moct next Thursday!
We’re opening our adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s THE HEART OF A DOG next week. Something substantive soon to come, but in the short term, here are the details:
WHERE: Moct Bar, 240 E. Pittsburgh Ave. in Milwaukee’s 3rd Ward.
WHEN: Thursday May 6 @ 7:30pm
Thursday May 13 @ 7:30pm
Friday May 21 @ 7:00pm.
HOW MUCH: As much as you want. You want a free show, you got a free show. You want to help a couple of chumps fly over to Prague and drive up to Minneapolis, drop a couple bucks in the hat.
We’ve had our early meet-ups, and as many of who can meet each other have met one another. Now we’re into the details – shopping lists, the last round-ups of volunteers (anyone want to dress up in a Tyvek suit? I still need one more body…), trying to get the pieces in place to keep this event moving as smoothly as possible.
If you haven’t read the previous post, here’s the short form: we’re going to create a mural-sized comic, 90″ tall (that’s 7’6″) and roughly 60′ long between the hours of 5pm and midnight (give or take). We’ll be posting images and maybe even video to this blog throughout the evening, so if you can’t make the event, you can still see us trying to wrangle chaos into multicolored narrative, panel by panel.
We’ve got three colorists, six illustrators, and one writer in place. I know, you’re saying that doesn’t add up to 25, and I can’t dispute your math. While they’re going to be the primary storytellers, we’ve got four people doing documentation, a choreographer and five volunteers whose painted silhouettes will create the primary canvas for the illustrators – who will in turn be influenced by the colorists – and back again. Not to mention the team of wranglers who are going to help make all of this work proceed apace.
It’s going to be fast, it’s going to take a loose hand, and we might work up a bit of a sweat.
Hope to see you there (or here, in the ether).
I’m sitting in my living room and looking at the primed crown molding in three rooms, the primed built-in cabinets, and base shoe that needs to be re-installed.
Today is March 29, and as of Wednesday night, I’m supposed to be off-book for THE HEART OF A DOG. Next week we shift up from 2 nights of rehearsal a week to three in anticipation of our May 6 opening at Moct.
Three weeks before that, on April 16, we’re mounting MOTIONARY COMICS at the same bar.
This morning I looked at my calendar and realized that The Hinterlands are running their clowning workshop (SIGN UP! SIGN UP!) on the 17th, a day on which I will be in no shape to participate. This is a drag, because this is a great opportunity.
I will be picking my battles, however.
Unbelievably, in the not-quite 72 hours since our Kickstarter campaign launched, we’ve received $925 in pledges of our $1,000 goal.
This is pretty overwhelming and we are INCREDIBLY grateful.
We’ve heard (directly and back-channel) that some folks are reluctant to give any money over Kickstarter because it requires that you register with the site – I believe all you have to give is an email address in this regard. I gave money to The Hinterlands at the end of ’09 and haven’t received any spammish stuff from Kickstarter since then. I think the reason for the emails is so that when we post updates you get emails saying that we posted updates. Social media stuff.
Other folks just don’t like giving out credit cards online. Fear not! If you’d like to help us out, we’ll be doing three benefit performances at Moct in May – the 6th, 13th, and 20th – three Thursdays. Alternately, you can make a check out to Bad Soviet Habits and send it in by traditional snail mail, which would make the post office happy.
Here’s how our budget roughly breaks down:
Minimal purchases for production: 50
Plane fare: 2 @ 1050 = 2100
Festival registration: 2 @ ~400 = 800
Prague housing for 2: ~700
Minneapolis transportation: ~150
Minneapolis housing: probably free, the MN Fringe is usually able to house out-of-towners
I’m not including meals and such for either city, but this alone brings us up to about $3800. We’ll get a cut of our box office at both Fringes (we’re not charging for the Milwaukee shows, over which we have control, but the Fringes always charge for tickets). Last year Decaffeinated Tragedy generated about $250. If we do very well at the two festivals, maybe we make $800 and our out-of-pocket is an even $3,000 or so.
The pledges to Kickstarter have already dropped this by a third – SO THANK YOU!
There’s an unsavory – but relatively accurate – phrasing going around in the world of “content creation” these days: process is product. Usually what people mean by that is that you need to sell the process of creation so that by the time your product is finished, you’ve developed enough of an audience that everyone shows up and pays good money to see what you’ve done.
We’re not really following that business model.
First of all, what we’re doing only lasts one night, and secondly there’s no charge.
Here’s the short form: there are some 25 of us or so who are going to create a mural-sized comic strip in real time. I haven’t done the measurements, but I’m guessing that it’ll run about 8′ tall and 60′ long. We’ll start a little before Gallery Night really kicks off and end whenever we finish – I’m aiming for midnight.
Here’s the long form: late morning on the 16th, three of us are getting together at Moct to get all of the pieces in place: running tarp, running the muslin, and taping off the cells that the artists will have to use. They don’t get to know any of shapes in advance, how the comic might look. (If you’re not familiar with Winsor McCay‘s Little Nemo in Slumberland, that’ll give you some good ideas of early comics.)
Around 5pm, we start with the silhouettes. Choreographer Elizabeth Johnson starts the event with a shape-driven story. She will be adjusting the bodies of several of our intrepid volunteers: Richard Newman, Liza Bielby, and Brian Moore (all of the Hinterlands), Sunset Playhouse Managing Director, blogger, and man-about-town Jonathan West, his inimitable daughter Dorothea, and one more to-be-determined brave soul. What’s brave about them is that as Elizabeth poses their bodies, they will be painted by the talents of our colorists – scenic painters Carri Dahl, Andrea Toussaint, and Nathan Stuber. Our volunteers step away from the wall, leaving white silhouettes against a multi-colored background.
By the way, they’ll be wearing Tyvek suits so’s to protect their gentle selves.
We’ve got maybe two hours to get this first bit done, and after that things start to pick up.
Our Illustrators step up to the plate: Tea Krulos, David Beyer Jr., Dan Hernandez, Michael Cothroll, Matt Chicorel, and Christopher MacDonald. They fill in the white silhouettes to create the characters in our story.
Pass three, the colorists return to give depth and color to the characters. Pass four, the illustrators give dimension and shape to the background. Pass five, everyone gets one last chance to fill in any details they just can’t live without.
In the meantime, writer Jackie Steffen has to come up with the text, reacting to the images that are up on the wall.
I’ll be working with wranglers Chris Warner, Brent Bublitz, and Kat Danielsen to push things along, facilitate what needs facilitating, and in general try desperately to keep things moving.
Photographer Michelle Sherkow will be doing ongoing still photographer of the general craziness, documenting from specific angles for a layout wall for latecomers (so that you can see what you’ve been missing, should you arrive late), as well as doing the cool work that she likes. And filmmakers Lauren Burke, Jay Bauman, and Mike Stoklasa (the latter two from the well-heeled Red Letter Media) will be following the process and checking out what everyone thinks of the growing work.
It almost sounds implausible. How can you miss this?
It’s a big season.
Every three months, Milwaukee, Wisconsin hosts Gallery Night, in which a whole bunch of galleries, bars, and other excuses for arts venues open their doors, walls, and floors to artists of all scopes. This April 16, Bad Soviet Habits is producing Motionary Comics, in which approximately 24 artists will create a mural-sized comic strip in real time over the course of the evening. We have a common story beginning and we have a common location, but beyond that, it’s a bit of improvisation, with every artist having to react and respond to what everyone else is doing. Think of it as visual jazz. Mark your calendars and come on down to the Moct Bar anytime after 5pm.
A mere three weeks later, playing for three Thursdays in May (the 6th, 13th, and 20th), is the premiere of a new adaptation of Mikhail Bulgakov‘s classic Soviet satire, The Heart of a Dog. We’ve done some updating for the 21st century set, so while the story is relatively faithful, the themes are not. Although we did try our best to keep the pointed humor. The writer-performers are Andy North and Kurt Hartwig, and the reason we’re only performing three times is that we’re taking off for the Prague Fringe Festival the following week, and playing nine show in a row before coming back to the States on June 8. We’ll have two months off, then it’s back to rehearsal to gear up for the Minnesota Fringe Festival. If things go well, we’ll do another short run in Milwaukee.
Fall is the time to start working on new projects, and Bad Soviet Habits are no different. In this case, it’s a puppet-and-actor version of Euripedes’ Medea, slated for performance in May 2011. To say that there’s a lot to do on this is an understatement.
In the meantime, check out The Heart of a Dog on Kickstarter and help us get to Prague!