Now up on ACT-I-VATE: “Operation Les Subs”

I'm back home from Lyon and still processing the incredibly, energizing experience of Les Subsistances' "Points de vue, Nouvelles du monde" festival. Today I'm posting the photo comic which served as the introduction to each of my nightly performances. I produced the photocomic in the two days (June 21 –June 22) leading up to the festival. It's a satirical look at the "journaliste BD"'s process of producing a daily comic on the news. (This is an English version — the original is in French.) The beautiful and talented Sari Wilson took the photos.

Once the 120 members of the audience had entered and were seated, the photo comic was projected on a screen, accompanied by a soundtrack. I was waiting in the wings, out of view. Right as the last image came on the screen, I burst into the room (to some applause!), and distributed copies of the day's comic to the crowd. Then (with the help of a translator) I presented the comic on the projector as the audience followed along.

I've set this up so it's Chapter 1 of the "Points de vue" comic. Chapter 2 is my first 8-page mini-mini, on Chinese dissident artist Ai Wei Wei. Chapter 3 is the 8-pager I did on Friday, on the exorbitant fines being handed out to bloggers in Taiwan. Tomorrow, I'll post Chapter 4, the 8-page comic I did on Saturday, the festival's final day.

Operation Les Subs

Advertisements

Now up on ACT-I-VATE, “Ai Weiwei: Free in Body, not in Voice”

Today is the final day of Les Subsistances‘ "Points de vue, Nouvelles du monde" festival. It’s been a thrilling — and exhausting — journey. I’ve really enjoyed mixing with the rest of the participants: Congolese dancer Faustin Linyekula, French experimental theatre company Hauts & Court, Italian theatre troupe Compagny Motus, American radio producer Benjamen Walker, French anthropologist & writer Eric Chauvier, and Haitian-Candian writer Dany Laferrière.

In the two days leading up to the festival, Sari & shot and put together a satirical fumetti (photo comic) about my process as a "journaliste BD." And then each day I researched, wrote, drew, and assembled an eight-page mini-comic in response to a news event of the day. For the first day of the festival (Thursday, June 23, 2011) I chose a story about Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei and his release that day from prison.

I’ve just posted the comic up on ACT-I-VATE. I’ve got to get to work on today’s project now, but if I have time I will post yesterday’s project a bit later. Enjoy…

Ai Weiwei

Off to Lyon with Les Subsistances

So I’m flying to Lyon, France, tonight, for a week. I’ve been invited by the “international creative research laboratory” Les Subsistances to take part in “Points de vue, nouvelles du monde.” For three days, me and a group of other creative spirits will create “on the spot” evening news bulletins in response to the events of the day (as reported by Agence France Press).

As Les Subsistances explains: “We know about and react to world news more and more quickly. What should we do with this overload of information? Distance ourselves from it? What if artists could transform news into ideas, into a vision? Les Subsistances asked four artists, two writers, and one web-radio producer to create “on the spot” reactions to news topics. Every morning, each of them will select a news story and they will have all day to develop a performance or a short story around it. Every night, the audience will be able to see world news through the eyes of the artists and watch the evening news in the shape of performances and readings.”

I’ll be doing this public experiment with the Congolese dancer Faustin Linyekula, French theatre director Joris Mathieu, the Italian theatre troupe Compagny Motus, American radio producer Benjamen Walker, French anthropologist & writer Eric Chauvier, and Haitian-Candian writer Dany Laferrière.

I really have no idea how this is all going to transpire. All I know is that the group of us will commune for four days at Les Subsistances — on the grounds of an old monastery — maybe coming up with a plan of attack once the official performances begin. Yes: performances. Every evening from June 23–25, four times a night, we’ll be presenting our “on the spot” creations to live audiences. This’ll be like doing editorial work for a daily paper, having to pick a topic and create something from it in a super-tight deadline. Oh, and with the little added detail of having to “perform” the work.

I sure hope my new collaborators have a plan! Because I sure don’t. I’m petrified! Fortunately, I have an ace in the hole: Sari, who’s coming along on the trip (along with darling Phoebe). Sari’s been my traveling companion and creative partner for going on twenty years now, so it increases my intestinal fortitude a hundrefold to know that Sari will be there for me in a pinch.

Oh, and, yeah, I did the art for the event. I’ve been named the “official” Les Subsistances illustrator for the 2011–2012 performance season.

Points de vue poster

23 Feet in 12 Minutes: The Death and Rebirth of New Orleans

What looks like an amazing one-woman play about New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina will debut next week at the New York Fringe Festival. Written by Mari Brown, 23 Feet in 12 Minutes: The Death and Rebirth of New Orleans follows six real-life New Orleans characters whose lives were irrevocably changed by the storm. Their raw and poignant stories are based on over sixty interviews conducted over three years with Katrina survivors and New Orleans transplants. All six characters are brought to life by actress (and real-life post-Katrina volunteer) Deanna Pacelli, and directed by David Travis.

Sounds like Dan Baum mixed with The Civilians mixed with Anna Deavere-Smith! (And maybe even a little A.D.…) Anyway, I can’t wait. Here are the dates and show times (only $15 ea.):

The Players Loft, 115 MacDougal Street b/w West 3rd and Bleecker, NYC 10012

  • Monday 8/23 at 5:15pm
  • Wednesday 8/25 at 5:15pm
  • Thursday 8/26 at 8pm
  • Friday 8/27 at 7:45pm
  • Saturday 8/28 at 3:30pm
  • Sunday 8/29 at 1:15pm

All shows are one hour long. To buy tickets, call 866.468.7619 or click here.

P.S. Mari and Deanna are raising money to have 23 Feet in 12 Minutes professionally videotaped. To contribute on KickStarter, go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1362945517/23-feet-in-12-minutes-rebirth-in-new-orleans

Tonight: Comics slideshows in NYC

Cartoonist R. Sikoryak kindly invited me to participate in his semi-regular “Carousel” show of slide shows and other projected pictures. I plan on showing some material from A.D. as well as joining Sari for a dramatic reading of a story from my previous book A Few Perfect Hours. Other reader/performers that night include Sikoryak, man_size, Tim Kreider, Brian Dewan, Jim Torok, and Kriota Wilberg. If you’re in the NYC-area, it should be a fun night. Here are the relevant details:

Carousel
Dixon Place
161 Chrystie Street (btwn. Rivington & Delancey)
New York, NY
April 30, 2009, 8 pm
$15 ($12 students/seniors)
HOWEVER, If “Carousel” isn’t seem like your kind of thing, how about ambling over to MoCCA for the World War 3 Illustrated #39 release party? Now in it’s 28th year of publication! Join them to celebrate the publication of the new issue with live performances by contributors, featuring multimedia presentations of art by:
  • Peter Kuper
  • Mac Mcgill
  • Paula Hewitt Amram
  • Sabrina Jones
  • Eric Drooker
  • Kevin Pyle
  • Chuck Sperry
  • and many others
  • with an animated film by Onur Tukel

Live music by Eric Blitz, Steve Wishnia, Andy Laties, Breeze and others. Details:

World War 3 Illustrated #39 Release Party
Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art
594 Broadway, Suite 401
New York, NY
April 30, 2009 7-9PM
Donation suggested (free for MoCCA Members)

New Caledonian Communard

Fresh from the success of Gone Missing, The Civilians have a new show, This Beautiful City,  already in production in Colorado Springs,  and a second one in the works. To that end, they asked me to whip up an illo for a fund-raiser they’ve got coming up in NYC in May. The play is called Paris Commune, and the illo refers to the captured Communards who were exiled to the Polynesian island of New Caledonia. So here’s our little revolutionary in his new tropical garb:

Paris Commune

And here’s info about the benefit, which your welcome to attend, if you’ve got $25-$150 to spare:

PARIS COMMUNE II
Communards in the South Pacific

Monday, May 12, 8 PM to 1 AM, Performance at 9 PM
Element Nightclub, 225 East Houston Street
@ Essex Street / Avenue A, New York, NY 10002

Enjoy drinks and dancing in this Lower East Side club, surrounded by The Civilians’ artists, friends, and supporters. This benefit event will include complimentary sponsored drinks, full cash bar, light hors d’oeuvres, and a silent auction.

In honor of our production of Paris Commune at the Public Theater, the company will perform a special sequel to the revolution. Following the Communards (in song) from life in the streets of Paris to exile on the French Polynesian island of New Caledonia, this one-time only event is guaranteed to prove that the fight (and the show) must go on.

Tickets $25 to $150. R.S.V.P. at www.thecivilians.org or by calling (212) 730-2019.

Happy Days

Last night I went to BAM and saw Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days , starring Fiona Shaw. When I was a kid, I loved Happy Days, but I had no idea it was set in the 1950s. Being only nine or ten, living in a Southern California hippie/surfer community, and having only limited access to TV, I thought Fonzie, Richie, Potsie, and the gang were just a typical high-spirited group of  teenagers. In my relative isolation from the rest of pop culture, I imagined “normal” surburban American teenagers wore cuffed jeans, rode old motorcycles, and hung out in diners run by middle-aged avuncular proprietors. It totally went over my head that the show “took place” during my parents’ adolescence.

Also, much as I liked the Fonz, it bothered me that he was clearly not age-appropriate. I could buy Ron Howard, Anson Williams, and Erin Moran as teenagers, but Henry Winkler’s lupine mug clearly belonged to that of a grown man. How come no one ever noticed that???

Gone Seeing “Gone Missing”

On Saturday, Sari & I went to see the new production of The Civilians’ Gone Missing, at the Barrow Street Theatre, in the West Village. Gone Missing is a wry and whimsical documentary musical crafted from company interviews with real-life New Yorkers about things gone missing: keys, IDs, a Gucci pump… or one’s mind. Directed and written by Steven Cosson with music by award-winning composer Michael Friedman, The Civilians portray more than 30 characters in their signature storytelling cabaret style. This is The Civilians first open-ended Off Broadway production, which is a real coup for them!

As The Civilians cartoonist-in-residence, I was handed the assignment of coming up with art for the show’s publicity materials. Given the subject matter of the show, one of the ideas I came up with was the iconic milk carton image, stuffed with details about the show. Both the company and the venue loved that concept, so that’s what ended up being used for the poster, the program, etc.

The show has received raves (a “Critic’s Pick” from The Times, five stars from Time Out, and various accolades from Variety, The Times of London, The Village Voice,, and all the other New York papers), and I was excited to finally see the show in person. I’ve seen parts of it on DVD, but even though I did a two-page adaptation of one of the scenes for The Vagabonds #2, I’ve never actually seen the show live. And it was all we hoped it would be: inventive, often hilarious, and filled with great music. as always, I was a huge fan of Jennifer R. Morris’s work, who doubles as a woman who loses her pump and a professional organizer.

If you like offbeat live theatre and are in the area, make sure to see the show. And look for copies of The Vagabonds #2 and the (I Am) Nobody’s Lunch/Gone Missing paperback (which I did the cover for) on sale in the lobby.
Read more of this post

Suzan-Lori Parks/The Civilians’ “Action in Inaction”

365 PlaysI drew a play, and my drawing is the play. (Along with some whale sounds.)

The prolific Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks undertook an amazing challenge in 2002–2003, when she wrote a short play every single day for a year. The result is the 365 Days/365 Plays National Festival, which from Nov 13, 2006–Nov 12, 2007, is presenting the work simultaneously across the country, creating the largest collaboration in the history of American theater. The plays may be performed in one night or over the course of the entire week. That, in addition to where and how they are produced, is up to each participating company.

In New York City, The Public Theater is spearheading 365NYC. Over the course of this year, over 60 selected theater companies — curated by The Public and the 365 Days/365 Plays National Festival — is performing these brief, brilliant plays. Each week, selected theater companies are producing one week’s worth of plays, each ranging from one to five pages in length. The theatre group I work with, The Civilians, are producing this week of 365, from April 23 to 29.

In addition to presenting the plays live this week (and later as part of the whole month of plays at the Public), The Civilians are also presenting the plays on their website. Civilians director Steve Cossen asked me to help, by adapting one of the “constants” (short plays which are eligible for presentation by all the theatre groups at any time during the year), entitled “Action In Inaction.” And this is what we came up with. (Make sure the sound is turned on in your computer!)

Personally, I find it an amusing — and shall I say thought-provoking? — presentation of the script. Others may scoff. Your reaction?

P.S. The Civilians will also present the plays as a hybrid live and recorded event Thursday, April 26, 9pm; Friday, April 27, 9pm; and Saturday, April 28, 4pm, at the Barrow Street Theatre, in New York’s West Village. Free; email kyle@thecivilians.org to reserve. The live version of the plays will be reprised for The Public Theater’s First Sundays Series on Sunday, May 6, at 3pm and 7pm. To reserve, call 212.967.7555 from 10am to 9pm, Mon-Sun, or visit the Public Theater Box Office, 425 Lafayette Street (between Astor Place and East 4th Street).

So baby gimme dat “Toot toot”

Image hosting by PhotobucketSo on Friday night Sari and I attended the premiere of The Civilians’ Nobody’s Lunch, and I finally got to see the promo postcard I did. Turns out they also used my art for the posters advertising the show (one of them was five feet high!), and for the program. And perhaps the biggest compliment of the evening was finding out afterward that one of the show’s key props — the “suspicious package” — was based on my drawing!

The production itself was amazing. Nobody’s Lunch is a plotless cabaret-style fragmented mirror image of our current society. We all know we’re being lied to — by the government, by the media, by our own families — and yet we don’t care. Plus alien remote viewers and lizard-men! It’s scary, depressing, funny, and entertaining. The songs were great, and the cast of six wowed us with their performances. Sari & laughed our butts off, and then had a lot to talk about afterwards. (There’s a pretty insightful review in today’s Times that pretty well echoes my thoughts on it.)

I’m tickled to be associated with The Civilians — especially now that I’ve seen one of their productions — and I encourage you to see the show yourself before their limited New York run ends.