Amphibian Stage’s production of White Rabbit Red Rabbit is never the same experience twice.

One of the most beautiful aspects of the White Rabbit Red Rabbit experience is that it’s never the same show twice. The delivery of Nassim Soleiampour’s “experiment” written during the period he was prohibited to travel outside of Iran depends entirely on the actor invited to the stage for each engagement.

One could observe them all and each observation would be much different. It’s as much about the possibility of permutation as it is about uncovering specific aspects of humanity.

In her Thursday night performance, everything Sarah Clarke brought to the stage was her own, and in some aspects, it was quite beautiful.

The most we can say about all of it is that Sarah’s ostrich/cheetah hybrid performance was phenomenal, and her delivery of a challenging script was as playful as it was entertaining, and was a distinct, but not unwelcome change in mood from Xander Berkeley’s  more serious Wednesday night performance.

Her choice in how to navigate the two glasses on the signature table was also interesting — and showed great trust in the process, as she held them in her lap expectantly.

I look forward to seeing more of Sarah in The Maestro and Short Straw, and hope to have the chance to engage with her again someday in the future, as she takes on ever more challenging work.

Amphibian Stage Productions’ run has three more engagements of this wildly absurdist peek into a space that explores the thoughts of a playwright struggling with his culture and a desire to see more of the world than he could reach.

Liz Casanova, actress and film journalist extraordinaire lent an excellent performance of the “White Rabbit” in this rendition of White Rabbit Red Rabbit. Check out her Cafe Con Cine film journalism project here: http://cafeconcine.com/

Advertisements

Amphibian Stage Productions “White Rabbit Red Rabbit” is an enjoyable absurdist evening that takes on many faces.

Photo Credit: Brian — Instagram: qilinrising

Drama, when it comes to the “experimental” forms of the art, and I am loathe to use the word “experimental” as a general modifier for anything because it lacks imagination and general descriptive value, can be a hit-or-miss proposition when it comes to audience engagement and the longer run of a dramatic enterprise. 2017_Amphibian_White_Rabbit_Red_Rabbit_LobbyPoster_600x400

But when it comes to Nassim Soleiampour’s White Rabbit Red Rabbit, it really might be the only word that fits. It’s not really a “play,” as much as it is a cold reading of a scenario involving rabbits, structural oppression, anti-war sentiment, and audience participation by an actor that is new to the stage for every single performance.

To say Xander Berkeley’s performance of White Rabbit Red Rabbit was especially “brilliant,” or incredibly adaptive in this situation would be disingenuous. There are so many unique performances of this work it’s hard to compare, as each actor only attempts it once, as a cold read. But it is fair to say that it was uniquely his, and that he had many amazing reactions to bring to the table with two glasses on it.

In examining all the portions which are hard to describe in the kind of graphic detail that will not spoil the play for future goers, it’s probably most genuine to say that Berkeley connected with the work best when the script delved into the playwright’s personal history, as he finally had a character he could identify with beyond a nebulous White Rabbit, a more determined Red one, bears and crows.

Soleimanpour’s statements about violence, the travel restrictions he experienced for being a conscientious objector (and quite possibly a feminist, I mean, why does the White Rabbit need to cover her ears, and who exactly is distracted anyway) in Iran, came across in a way where Berkeley’s journey through the text was an excellent guide for the audience — those of us in our seats the whole time as much as those of us who were called upon to play out roles in Soleimanpour’s absurdist dream, which still plays out well despite some dated connotations.

It will be interesting to see how Sarah Clarke’s Thurs. performance differs, and each subsequent performance that Amphibian Stage Productions has to offer as each actor offers a unique acting style of her own. It’s the kind of work an enthusiast can see twice, or even three times and have a profoundly different experience with each casting of the “lively, global sensation.”

Photo Credit: — Dora Instagram: @exploringdfw Check out her blog here: http://exploringdfw.com/ if you’re looking for “fun things to do” in Dallas and Fort Worth.

On Body Positivity, A Healthy Egoism and Surviving Cipro

The body, for many of us in Western Society, is a site of fragmentation and trauma. Events, over the course of life, transpire upon it, and we sometimes have a strong sense of memory about them. We often decide things must be permanent when they aren’t always, necessarily. This statement is true for me about healing, and true for me about gender, because as a genderfluid person, I flow between the boundaries of masculine and feminine identification often.

When it comes to physical or emotional trauma, many of us must, of course, work through our sites of pain using the resources we know and understand. Sometimes, a specific resource that once worked begins to fail us. It might be our sense of superstition, a specific system of medicine, or our ego boundary that cannot be permeable in a sense that is holistic.

I’ve found that when this happens, it means it is the perfect time to work through something, let go of my past, and look inward, outward, and forward to the good that is all around me — at every moment, in an ever-present, ever-unfolding way. This recognition of good is not always, necessarily a panacea, but it makes the load lighter when we must bear a heavy burden, and can help us navigate to places where healing is possible, in terms of the healing that transpires spontaneously and the type that requires harder work.

It’s been a long period of unpacking the pain dynamic in my life, as of late. It’s culminated in a submission to an anthology — and I’m proud to say that the letter I wrote and an altered photograph of an art sequence I created and submitted has been accepted for print.

Enough/Enough Anthology is still looking for excellent submissions, so if you are interested in making peace with your body or domestic/sexual assault in a non-binary way and care to turn a pen, this is an excellent opportunity to do so.

When it comes to my journey, the past few years of healing have been a wild ride. I’m a floroquinolone toxcity survivor who didn’t learn what had caused her strange health problems until the FDA updated its black box warning on Cipro a year after I experienced my symptoms.

My transformation in gender began when I was at my peak academically and physically — several months before I succumbed to the proven dangerous combination Cipro and steroids, as I was dealing with a divorce from a religious husband who actively translated Hebrew from the Old Testament to defend abusing me.

In that period, I remember having a strange dream. In it, I was surrounded by sumptuous things I had loved all my life. They were lovely. I appreciated every single one of them. Warm places to sleep. Companionship. Enough of everything I could ever need.

As most memorable dreams are dramatic, in some form or fashion, my thoughts took a dramatic turn. Suddenly everything I ever loved was taken from me. It was a struggle to watch the life I knew turn to dust as I tried to keep the pieces together. It was all in vain. All that was left after everything crumbled were some newly-formed translucent pebbles that I held in my hand.

In my dream, I learned to love the pebbles I still clutched as they multiplied all around me. When I was angry for what I lost, they’d explode, and they’d cut me, like glass. When I was angry at an injustice that someone else built and threw them at a structure, even when that throwing was done in justified anger, they’d explode. The debris would always come hurtling toward me.

Surprisingly, though, in my dream, when I learned to speak with more love than anger, things would change. And things would grow. The good, when I nurtured it, would ripple, fan out, and become, kind, tall, loving — wise old trees with great capacity to bear fruit.

This dream proved meaningful for me. I look back on it when I reflect on my life that has been difficult to bear after being mostly ignored by the medical establishment and embraced by people who actually believe that things that terrible can happen to people — the freaks, the geeks — the people who have experienced great trauma themselves. The problem with that crowd though, when it’s the out-group, is that we all lean on each other for support while none of us is getting exactly what we need. We’re prone to cut one another on our rough edges unless we’re willing — and that’s really willing to take the time to work on smoothing them out.

And so, after all the anger involved in a life filled with periods of achievement despite marginalization, here I am, in this present space. I am working on feeling secure and confident in myself, and who I am — while leaving plenty of room for others to be the amazing people that they are.

I am planting seeds for kind, loving trees, and reminded of the poem that got me out of bed and inspired me to pass my M.A. Exam when I was trying to find a way to heal from a gallbladder surgery I waited months for a surgeon to schedule me into, one that I could never afford even with health insurance– and haven’t been able to bounce back from financially:

13309573511112670181decorative-lines-2_large

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is AUTHENTICITY.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody as I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it RESPECT.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it MATURITY.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment, so I could be calm. Today I call it SELF-CONFIDENCE.

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it SIMPLICITY.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything the drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.Today I know it is LOVE OF ONESELF.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is MODESTY.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it FULFILLMENT.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But As I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection WISDOM OF THE HEART.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know THAT IS LIFE!

13309573511112670181decorative-lines-2_large

And as I walk in today’s wisdom of the heart, I know that a healthy sense of self that can be touched by others in love, even after life’s great trials is vital. It’s what keeps me going, even now.

Charlie Chaplin’s words are still true for me as we persist in an age where serious materialism seems to be in competition with post-anthropocentrism, and as I embark on the fabrication of a more eco-friendly sense of spiritualism/relationship to the modes of production. I hope to maintain my healthy sense of egoism.

 

 

Vessels: A single and EP with an excellent Rationale

rationale-extralarge_1448995083214

Sometimes a song sounds best when it’s simple. When the canons of soul, funk and folk are considered as genres of music that are meant to move people–the tradition of musicians laying themselves bare in front of crowds in informal gatherings and stadiums becomes clearer, and the purpose behind the art of noise, and the timeless art of composition are equally laid bare.

Sometimes this purpose joins with technology in ways that create fresh, new sounds.

If the four singles Rationale has released from his forthcoming album are any indication, this soulful electropop singer-songwriter’s baritone voice is likely to be a signature, fresh sound of 2017. The collection on its way to EP status is fierce.

Prodigal Son,”  “Palms,” and “Something for Nothing,” are all soulful ballads with electronic tinges that have drawn the artist a fierce following that he’s built over the course of his career, and unique sonic fusion that have been notable. Tracks from his prior LP Fuel to the Fire, such as “Fast Lane” have been equally described as “80’s inflected late night soul.”

‘Vessels’, released in December,  is the latest single from Rationale’s upcoming release of the same title. This single displays the London-based singer’s vocal talent–which has recently been tested in Bastille’s arena tour of Europe. The sparser production of this single, compared to some of his more polished work, is a refreshing departure that is especially apt for work that fits well into the canon that could be called “the travel song.” Gospel undertones and a striking, syncopated backbeat frame simple piano strains and choral refrains in a production that makes married soul and folk concepts work together in an unexpected way.

It’s not surprising though, considering that Rationale, who was born in Zimbabwe, but raised in East London, credits his mother’s “eclectic” record collection as an influence.

The eclectic nature of composition really shines through in examination to the lyrics of this single, which read:

Most people I know wouldn’t know that they’re living a lie/Tracing every penny, clinging on to a lonely life/We have a choice to define our fate/Fall in line or break the chain/Empty vessels, empty lives.

Lyrics from this piano ballad also have a particularly nostalgic feel–and meaning to Rationale, according to an article featured on The Line of Best Fit.

He says, “The lyrics for “Vessels” were written thousands of miles up in the sky on my way to LA. I was missing home and the people I care about–and contemplating the time I’d spent away from them all year. The lyrics pretty much wrote themselves, and the production is a joint [work] between me and my friend Bastian Langebaek.”

Langebaek, a producer originally from Copenhagen who also goes by the name “Goldfish,”  has many production credits to his name, and is responsible for fusion sound of his own right. He is most recently credited with Jack Garratt’s 2016 single ‘Worry,’ and worked on projects that include Sway Clarke II and Tom Micsh.

Vessels is currently available on iTunes and was featured on their Best of the Week playlist. Rationale is touring Great Britain next month. I hope he eventually makes it stateside.

It’s also awesome that he’s quite willing to #Resist, on Twitter.

Journeys and destinations are based on choices. Don’t miss the new CollabFeature film “The Train Station.”

TrainstationPoster

CollabFeature, as studio and production house has a serious aim to create work that is representative of many viewpoints within the same narrative structure. Its latest offering, The Train Station, is best described as a cohesive, yet non-linear romp through concept and time that leaves the viewer with a sense of how all the threads in a narrative work together to take a person to a final destination.

A man is not sure whether to wait to board his late train, or to go home. We see many permutations of his decision. A woman stands in the street flinging a suitcase around after getting locked out of her home — after being stalked in a restaurant. A car swerves to miss her. It crashes. But suddenly this woman is a man walking on a golf course — and the narrative flows together like the threads of a life lived with great regret tinged by some joyful moments. What’s surprising is that the person the narrative follows is actually, no matter how they have been conceived by one of 40 directors, the same exact character, which is a refreshing take on the fluidity of gender and its perception.

The Train Station is more than a film that details the inner dialogue and narrative related to travel, or the Bergsonian circular nature of time that inspired many writers and filmmakers of the modern era.

This film is more than an ambitious project involving 40 directors, pastiches that reconceptualize similar bits of narrative from different cultural and narrative perspectives, and pastiches of critical favorites of the past with sequences involving red balloons and trains.

It depicts how all of our choices add up to one singular narrative and are aggregate of one complete and total reality. It’s about how we’re all different, and yet, in some ways very much the same.

It’s also an excellent film made on fewer resources and with a more interesting structure than most. It’s won awards at seven festivals and is soon to break the Guinness World Record that CollabFeature already holds for a prior film, The Owner, which had 25 directors, the most ever involved in a feature film.

Don’t miss it.

Daniel Montoya’s film, TRAIN STATION by CollabFeature (http://www.collabfeature.com/ ), written and directed by an unprecedented 40 filmmakers from 25 countries, follows a single main character played by different actors from different countries, will be screening at the Latino Cultural Center of Dallas (2600 Live Oak St, Dallas, TX 75204), for free for one night only on March 22 at 7:30 pm (with reception at 6:30 pm.)

Check out these photos and clips with filmmaker Daniel Montoya, and actors actors Bob Coonrod and Paul Douglas as they talk more about their unique section of the film which features slapstick comedy stylings.

On feeling especially androgynous on International Women’s Day

The gender dysphoria I have felt all my life reached a ridiculous peak yesterday. I mean, it’s not that I don’t agree with standing for all the things I am being asked to stand for on International Women’s Day in my own space. Fair wages, less violence, less Trump. Yes. All the things.

I just literally couldn’t identify with being asked to stand in the “brain-space”  shoes of “Woman,” for the first time in a long time. Not since puberty has my gender dysphoria felt this strong — even when I was ducking into the “Men’s ” single-occupant bathroom to relieve myself at the Unitarian Universalist church I attended when the “Family” one was occupied.

But you know, I was a child who asked her grandmother at age 5 why I couldn’t grow up to be a boy, and was very disappointed to learn why despite having been educated about sex and all its function at age 3 via elaborate picture books printed in the 70’s at the height of people practicing free-love in a world without cognizance of HIV.

Sometimes when women feel empowered as a collective, I can feel a bit more marginalized, if there are excessive or essentialist prescriptions on the construct of “woman.” I am usually okay with the label as a catch all category of people who choose to identify. I’ve been running into a lot of people on Twitter lately who see it differently, demanding that I be afraid of genitals I can’t see in bathrooms. I find it absurd.

But that doesn’t mean women shouldn’t be empowered by any stretch of the imagination, even if there are essentialists in the ranks. I’m glad people who strongly identify as women felt it in the air yesterday.

The motive of this blog, and my focus is changing, however, until my gender flows in whatever direction it means to take. Right now, instead of “feminism” we are working on “psychological androgyny.”

It’s about the space we feel most comfortable in. I’m still very much a feminist.

I’m not really understanding what the big deal is between Sonalytic and Spotify.

Especially if they’re not going to pay artists enough.

It’s industry standard, but not doing what I want by the way of artists, in terms of prospering them. That’s a real problem.

So Spotify. It’s fun. I’ve enjoyed it despite its problems generating income for artists.

I generally pay for it, but I think I am going to just stop, and spend the amount on purchasing content directly from a local artist every month. And I say this even though it just took on Sonalytic — a four-person (or fewer) company that made the technology for DJs to upload their own mixes quite possible for the platform that has been dubious at best to get sufficient income to established artists.

So does this innovation have a lot of potential? Unless they fix the pay structure, I don’t really think so.

Not as much as each individual contributor makes to Soundcloud, or a band of quality, established DJs looking to make good on their mixes of content.

I am still truly waiting for the kind of revolution that brings artists and writers their fair share of the income quality content created without executives should provide an author.

I’m still loving Conduit, the same way I love local radio, local bands, local food, and personal relationships that are neither long-distance nor exploitative because of a power imbalance.

Like music curated by humans? Try Conduit: It’s definitely more interesting than machine-curated sets.

I like to hang out on Ello. It’s got a lot of awesome creative content on it right now — and is defying all the predictions that it would be a short-lived “Facebook” that is somehow less terrible than “Facebook” in experience. It’s not at all dead.

When you understand what the platform is about, you find that Ello is really a hub for the arts. I don’t know where else I can create something in an afternoon and have people who do similar things respond so quickly. The platform is about so much more than building a fanbase, or a friend base. It’s about being inspired and finding inspiration.

In my Ello travels, I find lots of awesome things.

This week, I found Conduit, and won a free year of the service just by commenting. It was pretty awesome. In the world of music, I’ve won concert tickets in the past, and I’ve gotten the chance to talk to awesome musicians and blog about it. Breaking down the greater experience behind the rhythm and beat is something I enjoy.

And I, like most people, generally don’t tend to think much of “free.” I’ve had several press passes, which are more about the labor involved than “freedom” by any stretch of the imagination. But when it comes to reporting on media, for me, it’s always a labor of love. Art is life. Life is art. I live and breathe it.

I found in an afternoon of listening that Conduit, and its method of human curation, is surprisingly good. Not just good. But notable. This is a service that is actually doing something for me that others aren’t. It’s definitely worth the $1 a month for three months to try. I’ll have to keep listening and examining playlists to see if it’s worth the $6 that is still far under what more “robust” services charge.

In the sets I listened to, there were moments that honestly felt a little more like magic in a way that curating my own lists on Spotify doesn’t give me, in a way predictive algorithms like those pioneered on Pandora can’t match.

I found the kind of surprises I used to look for when I made mixtapes off of the radio off of Saturday night club sets as a pre-teen, and the moments when I’d stand in the middle of an extended set being spun at a backyard barbecue by some of my closest friends, or even their sets at a burn community party.

I really like this kind of magic. It keeps things interesting. You might want to know more about how Conduit works though, if you want to invest in it for yourself.

Here are five solid reasons I’m looking forward to a new listening alternative via Conduit this year:

It’s structured in a way where I can pick a channel to groove to for hours.

These curated sets aren’t about quick fixes. They’re full-on sensory experiences that envelop the listener in mood. I felt like I was in a late 90’s Chicago coffeehouse scene as I brewed my own drip off of ground dark roast and listened to Jahsonic’s Late Night City Vibes set I found in a category called “SoulTerrain.”

It was so much more than sounds strung together in a way they might sound pleasing. It was about a journey through patterns of sound meant to create a very specific vibe. It was legit.

It’s got variety. It’s not just “House.”

I don’t even know if “House” is a big thing anymore, but it was a serious thing in the culture I came from. There are numerous channels, and the hour-long playlists Conduit contains are numbered and indexed. Some of them are even structured to feel like a real, old school mixtape. You can really feel the personality of the DJ shine through in every set.

The categories are entirely up to the artist, a bit nebulous, but 100% wild and fierce.

I am not exactly sure what a tag for “beats like butterfly wings” is representing, but it’s intriguing.

It’s carefully curated by people who love to D.J.

Conduit’s creator literally eats, breathes and sleeps music, and teaches classes on how to DJ in Denver, while serving and working in its tech-conscious community at Dojo4. These people don’t just love to spin, they love to create music that creates a serious sense of flow and have impressive resumes.

It’s easy to categorize and link up to content I can buy, if I love it and want to keep it forever.

I can click links to take me to tracks that are available on Amazon and iTunes. That’s pretty awesome stuff if I want to take something with me to the beach, or for my morning jog.

I can also like songs individually within sets, by clicking the thumb icon in the lower right-hand corner, which is awesome stuff for when I’m so in the groove all of the sounds start harmoniously blending together — should I want to revisit them.

This is more than just awesome music.

So. Conduit. Definitely conducive to fueling my writing and general lifestyle with excellently curated sound. Also, easy to navigate, and responsive to tech problems, as DJ Joel Davis personally responded to me for mine.

If nothing else, it was completely worth it just to hear the DJ Drez & Marti Nikko rendition of Under the Bridge.