Our Role in This as Artists

May 29, 2014

chasbelov:

Time to reread my plays for possible edits.

Originally posted on Bitter Gertrude:

Like pretty much every blogger, the plan I had for my next post got chucked out the window after the violence at UCSB. I’ve been closely following #YesAllWomen on twitter, the news stories, the many, many blog posts, the many discussions on facebook. Like we all have been. Like so many women, I’ve been repeating the truth: This isn’t at all surprising. This is just the extreme example of what women experience all the time.

The reaction to that, honestly, has surprised me far more than the attack itself. I expected some blowback, but I didn’t expect the AMOUNT and TYPE of blowback I got. Things like, “We need to wait for more information because I didn’t believe a word of that manifesto,” “You need to have more compassion for men. We’re sick of this vitriol,” “You’re just making men angry and scared,” “A lifetime of being nice to women down…

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Single-Field Password Set/Reset: Threat or Menace?

April 28, 2014

This post is dedicated to everyone who ever had trouble logging into a website (myself included, way too many times) or whoever had their account hacked because their password was too simple (way too many friends and acquaintances, way too many times).

This is for us.

Dear website designers and programmers:

Every modern website adds new features. Google added Maps, Books, Street View. Yahoo! added its latest e-mail layout. Twitter added hashtags and now is thinking about revoking them, but has added line breaks. And, most importantly, I have the choice whether to use them or not.

Then there’s the We-Have-a-Great-New-Feature-and-You-Must-Use-It Syndrome. Think Facebook Timeline. Well, that doesn’t cost me any time and I got used to it. And it doesn’t slow me down.

(By the way, Yahoo! initially took away Yahoo! classic e-mail, but after not too long a delay, restored it, if I recall correctly. Thank you for listening to your customers, Yahoo!)

Now there’s a new We-Have-a-Great-New-Feature-and-You-Must-Use-It Syndrome feature.

Your wonderful new feature is giving me a negative view of your website. Negative enough to write a 3300-word blog post complaining – occasionally ranting – about it. What would your advertisers think of that?

Day by day your numbers are growing, User Interface (UI) designers following the siren, zombie call of this new feature.

I mean you, force-me-to-use-a-single-field-when-setting-or-resetting-my-password-UI website. Yes, you. You’ve turned simple inconvenience into dread.

Warning: This is a scattered, discursive essay. Much like my experience of dealing with passwords on your website.

My first draft was about 500 words. But, as I thought about the complexities of what you are asking me to do with regard to the care and feeding of my password, the article grew and it grew, much like the burden you’ve placed on me.

Please stick with it. I’ve done my best to make sure it will be worth it. And I’ve actually proofread it.

And, hey, if your response is TLDR (too long, didn’t read), feel free to skip to Here’s the ideal situation and hope your customers – isn’t it time we retired “users”? – aren’t saying Too Hard, Didn’t Log In.

Continue reading Single-Field Password Set/Reset: Threat or Menace?

Cumulative advantage and women playwrights

March 12, 2014

chasbelov:

I feel like I’m up against this as well, as an unknown non-MFA gay/queer white male playwright. Still, I’m just one guy, and this is a whole gender. A must-read about who becomes well-known and why.

Originally posted on writing.performance:

At The Summit, a public conversation with prominent DC theatres’ artistic directors convened by Washington Post theatre critic Peter Marks, Ryan Rilette tried to explain why it was more difficult for prominent theatres to stage women playwrights than to stage their male peers. Part of his reply–that there were fewer women “in the pipeline” (meaning a production circuit from major London and New York stages) went viral on social media, inspiring some very funny memes like Daniel Alexander Jones’:

Daniel Alexander Jones' meme

Daniel Alexander Jones’ meme

.

It also inspired Elaine Romero to initiate WE EXIST, an open-source, editable list of female and trans* playwrights to which anyone can add herself or another playwright. (see my previous post.)

But I don’t want to make Rilette the bad guy here; his theater, Roundhouse, is committing to gender parity in future seasons, and is part of a group of 44 DC-based…

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Unpopular Chinese New Year sentiments: on prosperity

February 1, 2014

chasbelov:

心想事成 (Xīn xiǎng shì chéng / All wishes come true) to all my Chinese friends (and may you have good wishes). Happy new year.

Originally posted on Scribbles from a Singaporean girl:

Warning -these are my own reflections and not opinions I derived from anyone else. We can agree to disagree. 

It’s the eve of Chinese New Year. Families are gathered around tables brimming with delicacies, busily smacking their lips and rubbing their full bellies. The rare evening of the year that people gather to celebrate a one-ness that is made possible only by the ties of blood. Ties of patrilineal blood, the tiny voice of anthropology in me cries.

The annual steamboat

The annual steamboat

I’m thinking of what everyone is saying, wishing to each other and to themselves. Huat ah. I see on Facebook statuses and posts. We’re eager to usher in the new year with catchy phrases and sayings. Do we really mean what we say? Do we even bother to mean what we say?

Huat ah. Gong xi fa cai. Nian nian you yu. They sound good to the…

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Hi-Ho, The Glamorous Life: I Don’t Want to Wait

January 9, 2014

chasbelov:

While I’ll acknowledge I’ve hurried some of my plays to readings too quickly, yeah, the quest for perfection gets old. Williams and Albee produce(d) their plays and then revise(d).

Originally posted on San Francisco Theater Pub:

Marissa Skudlarek gives us her longest blog ever, because she’s got a lot to think about. 

As Allison Page noted here last week, self-producing is a hot topic among theater-makers right now. On Facebook, the group “The Official Playwrights of Facebook” frequently plays host to conversations about best practices for self-producing, and last week, HowlRound led a Twitter conversation on the topic.

In these discussions and conversations, there always seems to be someone (or multiple someones) offering advice along the lines of “Before you even think about self-producing a play, make sure you’ve done tons of drafts and multiple readings and workshops.”

Here’s why I think that that may be dangerous advice.

(Caveat emptor: I haven’t self-produced a play before, though I am planning to do so this year. Therefore, I may be writing this column from a place of naïve ignorance. If the play I self-produce this year…

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Six Things Playwrights Should Stop Doing

January 4, 2014

chasbelov:

Words to those of us who would be wiser.

Originally posted on Bitter Gertrude:

Image

Because what says “HAPPY NEW YEAR” better than a judgmental listicle?

One thing I want to say right at the start is that this is a list borne out of my own personal experience. These are things I personally see early-career playwrights do over and over and over. I also expect that there will be people who disagree with me, or who say, “But [name of play] does that and it’s the BEST PLAY EVER.” Sure. A genius can take a tired trope and use it ingeniously. But these tropes, I’m telling you, are tired.

The second thing I want to say is that your play is not irrevocably in the suck pile if it uses some of these. I know you’ll iron these out in development. Brilliant writers make a lot of mistakes early in their careers, or copy what writers of the past did when these things were new…

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The Politics of Accents

December 23, 2013

Originally posted on Bitter Gertrude:

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This guy.

While I could write plenty about nonsense like Asian actors being asked to do “the accent” in their audition for “Prostitute #3″ and “Kung Fu Master Criminal,” or Black actors being asked for a more “urban” accent or audition piece, I’m actually heading in the opposite direction.

There’s a “Shakespeare accent” that American actors are taught to use, or sometimes just pick up on their own through exposure. I’ve seen plenty of teachers throughout the years refer to this as “RP,” “Standard American,” or “Mid-Atlantic” (not to be confused with the actual accent of people in that region– more on that later). The terminology is confused and not always accurate. “RP” stands for “received pronunciation,” which is in actuality a British dialect considered “proper,” and “Standard American” refers to an accent that uses a harder final R than these actors are being taught. But the accuracy of the…

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Post 1: Femme Visibility and Subjectivity in Technical Theatre – A Backstory

December 23, 2013

Originally posted on prettyunbearable:

Recently, while I was sitting in on a rehearsal, a director asked me, “Why sound?”

My immediate response: “Because it is like acting, but without being looked at.”

“Good answer.” he said thoughtfully, and the matter was dropped.

At least, it had appeared to be dropped. Yet my own mind continued to mull over my response again and again wondering how I had come to this conclusion.

In the beginning, I was an actor. Acting is what drew me to the theater. I loved the attention as a child, performance being what ultimately saved me from a shy and lonely childhood. When I became an adult, however, the attention repulsed me. As a female I am taught from earliest consciousness that my value is inherently measured in the realm of the physical. Without outward beauty, or even the correct kind of beauty, I may as well give up on…

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Overdue calendar reforms and conversational breakdowns

November 16, 2013

Calendar programs let you schedule meetings, and e-mail programs have long let you reply to messages and forward files. E-mail programs now let you follow conversations. But a more nuanced approach is needed for all of these. After years of calendar and e-mail programs, I can’t understand why the programmers haven’t gotten these very basic things right.

Continue reading Overdue calendar reforms and conversational breakdowns

Sex on Stage

October 4, 2013

I’ve made a post on my other blog, The Lark’s Nest, about sex on stage. Explicit content/NSFW.

A Bear for all Seasons….

June 24, 2013

chasbelov:

How can I ignore a reference to *ahem* moi? Seriously, this is a cool project and a $36 Kickstarter pledge results in two young people being introduced to theatre, a good thing to do in this electronic age. Oh, and the Panda Kindergarten gets cuppycakes. What’s not to like?

Originally posted on The Panda Chronicles:

Am I not a panda?  What is in a name? A panda by any other name would smell as…well, they would probably be just the tiniest bit whiffy, if you know what I mean….

Every once in a while, the pandas come to aid someone who has a project, be it on Kickstarter, or elsewhere,  because we think it is worth supporting, and so we mention it to you, (some would say obsessively, but hey! we like what we like!) in hopes that you will check it out and consider supporting it too.

With just slightly over two weeks to go, Island Shakespeare’s Kickstarterproject has reached just over 60% of the needed funding to fulfill their goal and get any of the money.

Why should I care?

Well, they are my friends and neighbors and what they are doing is very, very cool.  In a nutshell, they do…

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Monday, Monday, and time for another episode of This Olde Den!

May 20, 2013

chasbelov:

OMG I read this two minutes ago and I’m still laughing. Hoping reblogging this will let me stop.

Hey, it worked!!!

Um, no it didn’t.

Originally posted on The Panda Chronicles:

Greetings panda fans!  I hope you have recovered from the exciting conclusion of Mr. Wu’s most recent adventure, Bears in the Air! If you missed this exciting series, check in on Friday’s post for links to the entire series.

Today, we have a exciting, new episode of This Olde Den, the show that helps your inner panda embrace your outer homemaker. This cartoon also answers the question, “How do you do it ALL? How do you combine an exciting career as a painter, act as the director of The Institute of Contemporary Panda Satire, and still have time to do the dishes?”

I think this should clear up that question.

From a true story!

Based on a true story!

The sun is shining!  Go have fun.

Be the Bear!

Bob T. panda

 

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Having fucked up shit vs. saying fucked up shit

April 21, 2013

chasbelov:

(Some of my plays include strong language. I don’t normally put it in my blog. I’m making an exception here.)

This is something I wrestle with in my plays. It would be very safe for me as a white male, albeit queer, playwright, to write only white male characters. On the other hand, if I write female characters and characters of color – which I want to do to ensure there are roles for such actors and because I want to comment on our world and not a tiny subset of it – I have to try to get it right.

The Ars Marginal post by RVCBard is an outstanding analysis of what it means to actually try. The distinction of whether the fucked-upped-ness is that of the writer or the world of the characters is critical.

Originally posted on Ars Marginal:

One of the things that always seems to trip people up when it comes to analyzing marginalized identities in stories is the difference between a story that has fucked up shit in it versus a story that says fucked up shit.

This is a very important distinction that everybody analyzing narrative media needs to understand.

So I’m going to help a muthafucka out right quick.

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Drawings and plays

April 12, 2013

I want to share a guilty secret. All of my plays – my full-length plays, anyway – are about me. That’s probably not unusual; if my plays didn’t include part of me, they’d probably be pretty lifeless.

Continue reading Drawings and plays

OMG it’s Fabulous Furry Friday

April 12, 2013

chasbelov:

With this kind of intro to my Shakesbear Festival, I can’t help but reblog it! Shameless!

Originally posted on The Panda Chronicles:

Well, here it is, Friday at last and I completely forgot to have something ready to speed you to your weekend, with dreams of pandas dancing in your brain.  What was I thinking?  To be honest, the cold that wouldn’t die is still making my head a little fuzzier than usual, but fortunately, there are many pandas in reserve!

But I do like the Friday pandas to be relevant, so today I give you the prologue to the Shakesbear pandas, as I am getting ready (finally!) to start working on some of the Shakespeare for Pandas plays that my brother wrote last year as part of a 31 plays in 31 days project.

Shakespeare is currently on my mind, because Whidbey Island’s very own Island Shakespeare Company is getting ready to launch a very exciting project.  Stay tuned for news of this exciting development!

After all, the playings the thing....

After all, the playings the thing….

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Will the real ovation please stand up?

April 8, 2013

chasbelov:

It’s not quite that bad in San Francisco yet, although there seem to be audiences where its a mix. What’s driving me crazy here is the audiences that applaud after every scene. But not every theatre here is this way. No wonder my last few plays have no scene breaks.

Originally posted on wax and wane:

I’d like to take this time to ponder something that might offend some of you, while others will applaud from their seats. I’m stuck on what has developed into the inevitability of the standing ovation.

A standing “o” used to be special; reserved for the outstanding performance. This once emotional and passionate show of appreciation has somehow turned into a reflex ­‑ a quixotic gesture that now means about as much as a polite handshake. What happened?

"Oh What A Lovely War" at OutCast Productions, Whidbey Island, July 2012.  (Justin Burnett photo)

The author in “Oh What A Lovely War” at OutCast Productions, Whidbey Island, July 2012. (Justin Burnett photo)

I first noticed the phenomenon when I moved from Chicago to the Northwest. An avid theater and concert goer, I began to notice the tendency of folks to spring to their feet at a curtain call, even if the performance wasn’t worthy. By the time I moved to Whidbey Island and jumped back onstage into the theater…

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Playwright, sheath thy checklist

March 12, 2013

When playwrights go to theatre, we presumably go to enjoy ourselves. We may be thrilled, bored, surprised, offended, delighted, so many possible reactions. When playwrights are called on to give feedback on other playwrights’ work, we suddenly become scientists, detectives, housekeepers. Scientist, detective, and housekeeper are honorable professions. Nevertheless, I believe the practice of bringing these outlooks into feedback sessions has become dysfunctional, even harmful in the age of contemporary theatre.

Spoiler alert: This post may briefly give away important plot points, surprises, and endings to 4000 Miles; The Ashes; Circle Mirror Transformation; Clybourne Park; Honey Brown Eyes; In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play; The Internationalist; The Lily’s Revenge; and Se Llama Cristina.

Continue reading Playwright, sheath thy checklist

Color-aware, -blind or none of the above?

January 8, 2013

In the January/February 2013 issue of Theatre Bay Area, Melissa Hillman, artistic director of the kick-ass Impact Theatre in Berkeley, writes about color-blind and/or non-traditional casting. This blog post is not so much a response to that article, “In the Land of the ‘Color Blind’”, as my continuation of the discussion. And continue it must.

Continue reading Color-aware, -blind or none of the above?

How do you recommend to an omnivore?

November 22, 2012

I love iTunes, and I love the variety of songs I can purchase from the iTunes store. But sometimes I wonder what their computers must “think” of my varied tastes. I even wonder whether I might be messing up their recommendation software. And a similar question applies to theatres who want to market to me.

Continue reading How do you recommend to an omnivore?

Not square with Square

November 21, 2012

Several years ago, I had an experience at an Apple store that made me feel out of step with today’s technology. Upon reflection, I realized it wasn’t my being out of step; it was my knowing too much about modern technology. Now that feeling is back with the iPad and Square.

Continue reading Not square with Square


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