What a weekend in store - Homecoming parade, game on Saturday, Art Walk Redux tonight (and I'll be at Black C Gallery at 6 P.M. for an early 2nd round showing of "NYC On Our Minds - Digital Collage by Ani Collier / 201 SE 2nd Pl #111), The Martin Family Band at The Bull (Saturday Night 7-9 P.M. 18 SW 1st Ave.) and again at Soma Arts Market (Sunday afternoon 1-4 P.M. 619 S Main St. Ste 3). Lastly, a terrific free concert at Bo Diddley Plaza TONIGHT (Friday). See the poster below. Hope to see friends at ALL these events. Have a great weekend and stay creative!
So much to unpack, so I’ll expand this post at some point. Also, so many people to thank. Dreams don’t happen all by themselves. But for the time being, I’m going to stick with Le Bernardin and what I ordered, Standouts included the scallops, lobster (duh), and that signature dessert in the egg. Sublime. Thrills included just getting a seat, the appearance of Chef Ripert in person, the mind-boggling steady hand and presence of one of the world’s greatest sommeliers, Aldo Sohm (the man’s last name is Sohm, come on), and the possible appearance of one Larry David who may have been the man dining behind me. I won’t swear to it. Here’s what I chose.
What if I told you not to read this review? What if I told you to burn it? Because if you read it, there might be a spoiler. And we wouldn't want your mind spoiled. You've been warned. Here's the first spoiler: Fahrenheit 451 at The HIPP is pure fire. Brilliantly directed by Dr. Ralf Remshardt, this co-production between the Hippodrome Theater and the University of Florida is one of the best shows you'll see anywhere. It feels like it was written yesterday precisely for our modern times. Yet, I know some in the audience will miss the many literary references taken to task by the characters who defend and attack literature in this play. Books mentioned in the script such as The Corsair, The Pickwick Papers, The Martian Chronicles, Wuthering Heights, Alice Through the Looking Glass ... Have any younger folks had a chance to comb through any of these tomes? Ah, that's okay, I didn't read any adventures of Harry Potter. I went to the movies. Doom-scrolling Social Media and Corporate news fares better than books these days. I did my own research! I discovered (through vetted original and independent sources) that children are reading less than ever. Further, they enjoy not reading; time better spent being influencers and content creators on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, AOL (Oh, come on!), which pays big money with which to buy lots of stuff. Even so, there's no missing the primary message: If we don't get our act together, humanity is gonna' burn. The motivation for this immolation will be fear triumphing over love. Over what kind of love? Love of others, love of literature, and storytelling. In a little book I once read, a chap named Paul Atreides said, "...fear is the mind-killer." In truth, all books have buried within them some variation of this warning. You might not know it, but the true antagonist in Dune is fear. It's the antagonist in every book, even the Farmer's Almanac. Because people write books, and people are afraid. Hell, I was afraid of my algebra book.
The acting is uniformly excellent with a number of characters playing multiple parts. Niall McGinty as Guy Montag literally sears the stage. His is a complex and nuanced performance. Guy holds so much inside that we wonder why he doesn't explode. Eventually, he does. Inside-out acting at its finest. You just can't take your eyes off Niall's performance for fear you'll miss the heart, guts, and blood ready to burst out from beneath Montag's cocoon.
Alexandra Rose Horton is mesmerizing in her role as Clarisse. Speaking of Harry Potter, she reminded me a bit of Luna Lovegood. She projects an instant dottiness to Montag, a free spirit of sorts. One might say she's naive when, in fact, she's the entirely opposite. That's an easy description to read, but just try acting it. Horton is as natural on the stage as the proverbial ghost light. No respectable theatre survives without one.
Katelyn Crall as Mildred understands something about playing addiction that most actors don't get. See, drunk people in reality are trying not to act drunk. Katelyn doesn't play, "Look how messed up I am," she plays the intention and the moment. She plays the truth of the character. Her Mildred (Montag's strung-out blank wife), when not asleep on pills, is awake on pills. She drinks too. But most certainly her addiction is to a kind of facile imitation of lost pleasures: TV. In this dystopian future, it's probably no coincidence that the TV is, for all practical purposes, the wall. She stares at the wall and basks in television shows that call you by name and include you in their enchanting soap operas, sans conflict, sans sense, sans knowledge, sans teeth, sans anything. And no doubt she'd like to spend her waking hours with her vacuous neighbor friends surrounded by three, no FOUR! walls of TV, imprisoned in dazzling hypnosis where no effort is required to be entertained, nay, occupied. Think of shrimp frozen in place at the spectacular wonder of a flashlight. Then comes the net. Montag's version of the Enlightenment disturbs her TV. She turns him in.
At this point in the review, I would like to remind you that Honey Boo Boo was aired on the Learning Channel, and Ancient Aliens aired on the History Channel. Really.
Speaking of the neighbors, we have Alice and Helen as portrayed by Jacqueline St. Pierre and Roxanne Fay. They're a pair of ducks. They waddle over to Montag & Mildred's place and eat corn together. The TV show knows who's watching and it calls them by name too; in that robotic way, the same way the children are welcomed at Kamp Krusty:
St. Pierre and Fay play this pair perfectly, like proper church ladies looking longingly at a martini. They take umbrage with Montag's emergence into the light. TV always looks better in the dark. And sure, they stand up for Mildred's commitment to the shallow false pleasures of comfortable numbness, but they're quick to retreat at the sheer terror of Montag reading to them Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach from a book of poetry; one woman reacts with tears, the other with anger. See, this is what poetry does! It gives emotion. We don't want that. We want algae! We want corn!
They're shrimp. They're superficial. Shrimpducks.
In counterpart, we have Black and Holden played respectively by Jay Nixon and Jack McKenny. These are the enforcers. They buy it all. Burn books. That's their job. They play cards. They do as they're told. They might be the scariest characters in the story because there's no arc to them. It's over. This is who they are. They'll not go deep about it.
Both characters are superbly played by their actors. What I've described of Black and Holden may seem flat, but Nixon and McKenny are no less interesting to watch than any other of the characters. They're all in, 100% invested in the roles. They move with certainty. Their voices are strong and loud. They exude confidence. They scare the shit out of you.
Mrs. Hudson is the stunning character I'll never forget in this production. She's played by Roxanne Fay in a double cast, and one would not imagine it's the same actor who played Helen. Far older and different, Mrs. Hudson hordes her beloved books. When the firefighters find their way into her home having heard of her valuable collection, it's as if she expects them and welcomes them. Almost as if she's proud to have finally earned their attention. But by God, she will not let them burn her books before she burns them herself. It's an act of martyrdom. It is she who lights the match. It's the first time we see any of the firemen blink. She robs them of their power and authority. As the fire consumes her it's as if she smiles. Like Mona Lisa. Absolutely chilling. Counterpoint to this, the enigmatic Captain Beatty burns, screaming on his knees. But we'll get to him in a moment.
In his effort to understand why he's comatose, Montag solicits a former English professor who lives with regret. Read about the guilt many Germans felt when they saw a tsunami coming and did not speak out. Think about the current wave headed our way, and the guilt we will feel if we don't speak out right now. History does nothing if not repeat itself. We know this from books.
Professor Faber knows this. Played by David Carey Foster, Faber is reluctant at first to teach Montag anything about books. As things go, he realizes--not only can Montag learn, he can be something like Faber's younger faster stronger avatar. He wires Montag up with a two-way secret radio device and like Cyrano speaking through Christian, Faber finds his faculty. This character arc is beautifully realized by Foster. He's able to show the reluctance and trepidation, then the gradual confidence, and finally an almost cathartic scene-chewing thrill that his actions will finally be given meaning. But pop-goes-the-weasel, Captain Beatty discovers Montag's earpiece and through it, gives Professor Faber a hard lesson in heartbreak.
Ah, Captain Beatty. He begins as a hardass. Books are to be burned, and he's the chief burner. Come to discover, there's a reason. That, I won't spoil for you. But I will tell you this: As Beatty, David Patrick Ford puts on a master class in acting for the stage. You'll not see a more powerful performance than his any time soon. I've read other reviews for other productions of this play in which the extended monologues of this character were savaged. They blamed the "self-indulgent" script, largely penned by Ray Bradbury himself. The critics are wrong. It was the actors who were not up to the challenge of Ray Bradbury's dialogue. The fire has to burn inside the actor to give it life. It's that simple. And Ford kills! His performance as Captain Beatty may be among the few finest performances ever to grace the stage of the Hippodrome. He earns every drop of emotional content he wrangles out of the audience. Watching Ford and McGinty go at it in this production makes U.F. football look like tiddlywinks. Yeah, I said it. They'll burn me for it. So be it. Truth.
As for the production, the technical requirements of this play are mind-blowing. From Bob Robins' magnificent lighting to the brilliant projection design of FIVE OHM, the outstanding costume designs by Amanda Jones, scenic design by Mihai Ciupe, insane props by Elaine Shoaf, technical direction by Warren Goodwin, combat direction by Tiza Garland, lead electrician Bill Boothman, dialect and voice coach Susan Schuld, the work of these behind-the-scenes artists checks every box Aristotle ever came up with, and possibly a few he could have never imagined. And they are seamless and awe-inspiring.
Especially deserving of recognition is the outstanding original score by Jing Zhao and the exquisite sound design by the fabulous Amanda Nipper. The sound design and music are the heartbeat of this play. Unusual to most plays, there is something in the sonic field from the very beginning of the show until the very last moments. Never intruding upon the actors but always present, ratcheting up the tension in such sublime subversive fashion, the sound design is very much its own character. In the production, it plays The Mind.
See this play because Ray Bradbury adapted the stage play from his own novel. See this play because the actors and production are top-notch. See this play because it's the warning before the wave, and you can help. Don't be a duckshrimp. Love conquers fear if you want it to. Theatre is the love you're looking for. See this play to nourish and inspire the fire of your mind and then talk about it civilly with folks you don't agree with. If any references in this review were obscure or unknown, read up on 'em.
Here's where to get tickets. The HIPP has wisely extended the run. To the Hippodrome: welcome back! If Fahrenheit 451 is any indication, this is going to be a great season!
-- Tom Miller
Tom, I've seen your posts. You're always asking for money. You're like, uh, businesses. But unlike businesses, the only thing you offer is entertainment and skills. I want a taco. Sure, Martin Scorsese asks for money - begs for it really, because he's already rich. But he doesn't make his films with his own money. Why? Because that's not how art works. He says, "Hey Netflix, Hey studios, give me some money. I'm Martin Scorsese. I'm friends with Leo. I'll get mob guys to wreck your shit.
Yeah, I know what you're thinking. You ain't no Martin Scorsese. Hugo only lost 80-million bucks. I've only lost about three-grand making films in the last thirty years. You're not betting on me? Most films lose money. Bet you didn't know that. And most artists get funding from people who believe in their visions and getting their investments back isn't their first idea. It's just; get the thing done. They're just happy to help make art and be credited as a champion of making art. That, you knew. But when I'm driving down the street and there's a guy there with a cardboard sign nobody can read, and he's been on that corner for about ten years, I don't get mad. Really I don't. When he looks me in the eye, points to his wheel chair (he can totally walk), and performs his schtick, I think to myself, it's fuckin' hot out here. He's out here every day, morning to night. He's sweating, pacing up and down, his stuff is in the road, this guy's working his ass off. But I don't have to give him my money. Sometimes I do--sometimes my last dollar--, but I don't have to. And if he's asking, and someone else gives him a buck, why would that piss me off? Makes the giver feel good, puts some change in the hard-working dude's pocket. I'm happy for the whole deal.
It's free to get into Tabernacle shows. Nobody gets paid - except in beers. In fact, I don't accept payment. I say, give me all the beer I can drink and leave us alone. We all gather and share and perform, and hone our craft. We get good. We get valuable. Some of the folks go on to great careers in their fields - art, comedy, music, etc. Some don't, but so what? They got on a stage and braved the lights. Braved the wrath of the demanding audience. Hey Tom, can you play my benefit? Sure. Hey Tom, can you do the skills you paid to learn (three degrees from college, cum laude) for me as a courtesy? I'll buy you a drink. Sure, man. Hey Tom, can you make me a web page? Yeah, no problem. I've made three-dozen web pages for friends I like, for friends who've died, for friends who just don't know how to make a web page. We drink a beer. Now, they're Internationally available. They got great web pages.
So If I say, hey, you got five bucks to give to our show? Our stage? You got five bucks to help pay for some tubes of paint? Hey, you got five bucks for this twenty dollar coffee mug I designed? You can do one of three things: Cough up the dough and say thank you, don't cough up the dough but keep coming to the shows and contribute your attention & applause, or otherwise you can fuck off and die. All's I'm saying is, don't be angry.
Here's where you can cough up some dough:
# # #
ANGELS OF THE TABERNACLE OF HEDONISM!
WE ARE HAPPY TO ANNOUNCE OUR TEMPORARY LOCATION. WE COULD NOT CONTINUE WITHOUT YOU, AND IN TWO YEARS FROM NOW, WE WILL HAVE PROVIDED A FREE SPEECH STAGE FOR FOUR DECADES! THANK YOU!
Thanks to you, the Tabernacle of Hedonism continues at our temporary new location. Please support our cause and consider a modest donation to help with promotion, equipment, props, and ecumenical church activities.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 5/29/2022
The Reverend Angeldust's Tabernacle of Hedonism with your Host, Tom Miller provided final services on the Hardback Cafe's Last Days in Undertown on May 25th, 2022. The Hardback is in transformation and when it returns, The Tabernacle of Hedonism will return to those beautiful shores. Until that time, we have been granted a safe haven at our new temporary location.
BEGINNING NEXT MONDAY, JUNE 6th, 2022:
THE REVEREND ANGELDUST'S TABERNACLE OF HEDONISM WITH YOUR HOST, TOM MILLER holds services Monday Nights, 10pm at UNIVERSITY CLUB - 18 E. University Ave. Upstairs - Top Floor Bar with our signature bartender Daryl Marshall!
Daryl was our bartender back in the Club 1982-days for many a night, and the University Club has been home for the Tabernacle in several different past incarnations over three decades, so everybody involved knows what we're getting into! We hope our regular parishioners will join us, along with our beloved regulars in the cast and crew. The University Club is a full liquor bar, the cover to our show remains FREE of charge, and there is a patio for SMOKE BREAKS!
The show will be very much the same, and also very different as we prepare the way for Jamba the Great Dumpster Goddess and Doobietopia in 2022. Expect some surprise guests, some new features, and a different feel. All paths lead to Ojamba Care and Hempness Almighty. Rejoice. Hallelujah. We are not a cult, so far as you know.
As always, the Tabernacle of Hedonism welcomes all, regardless of race, color, creed, sexual orientation, age ... mostly (18 and up, must be 21 to drink), gender, socioeconomic status, or religion. We welcome free speech, but not violence. You bring violence up in here, we'll beat the living shit out of you. Our open mic is available to all. The sign-up list is available at 9:30 at the club. No outside booze is allowed inside. Inside booze, however, is allowed outside.
We'll see you in a week! Long live the Hardback Cafe.
Every so often, I stop everything and ask myself: "Where am I? What am I doing here?" The way my brain works, I'm rarely cognizant of my surroundings while fully immersed in the work; whatever that may be. As a multi-disciplinary performance artist, that could mean anything from studying a role for a play, fashioning an independent movie, recording a music album, painting pictures, editing a screenplay … the possibilities are endless. And so I find myself writing a blog about my peculiar connection to a mysterious place called Black C Art, owned and operated by Ani Collier. I sit at the desk. From 11-3 P.M. most Mondays-through-Fridays. If you happen by particular space, I'll be there to greet you and answer questions. So that's the "where": Black C Art - 201 S.E. 2nd Place, Gainesville, Florida - the Known Center of the Universe. That's where I am.
What am I doing here?
I first became aware of Ani Collier and her performance art work at the Hippodrome Theatre. I was the manager of the HIPP bar at the time; this is around 2008. Normally, the HIPP had professional plays on the Main stage often directed by the force that is Lauren Warhol Caldwell. But every so often, I'd hear of an unusual show happening, something involving dance and performance art, with a classically trained Bulgarian ballerina. The show was conceptual, unusual, provocative, challenging, risky, strange, all my favorite words when it come to arts. And these shows were not easy to get seats for, and they were pricey tickets, and they felt like some underground spectacle that the hoi polloi were not necessarily aware of. No, this was for the folks who dig to find art like buried treasure, who will adventure around the corner, into the unsafe darkness to find the light. Inside the HIPP, Ani Collier and company would fashion a show and utilize whatever set was currently on the stage. Hell, sometimes, I've heard, she'd just dance right over the seats, down the Voms, in the rafters, wherever necessary to tell a story and engage an audience.
"Of Air and the Water" - a collaboration with Ani Collier, Mark Tanner, Lola Haskins - Poetry, Music, Dance. "Mistresses of Many Voices" - a collaboration with Ani Collier of dance & monologues. "Swan Song" - featuring dance and musings from Carlos Somoza's novel "Art of Murder". "The Nightingale and The Rose" - a romantic fifty-minute "movement poem". You can see more here at Ani's web page: http://anicollier.com/public_html/performances.html
I never found my way into even one of these performances, but they were highly regarded and people talked. Without ever having met Ani, I knew she was Gainesville's secret epicenter of exploratory mixed-media, dance and expressionism. She also danced with and choreographed for the world-renowned Dance Alive organization and was a classically trained ballerina from Bulgaria. And that's why, when Creative Director Lauren Warhol Caldwell parted ways with the Hippodrome and found herself creating new work with Ani Collier at the little black box space around the corner, Black C Art, I took a more direct interest - me, being a long-time Caldwell fan. I attended and reviewed some of those performances, and found them to fill a niche that simply didn't exist in any other performance spaces in town. The work was inspirational, confrontational, community and issue-minded, and compelled more questions and dialogue than it answered. It was about exploration and discovery for artist and audience alike; often accompanied with refreshments and an interrogative talkback. Between these two enigmatic power-house women, it all gets covered; photography, art, dance, theatre, storytelling, music, lights, spectacle, romance, the kind of stuff Aristotelians spend their nights dreaming about.
I don't want to be too specific. That would ruin the magic.
But I can tell you I find myself now as a strange passerby; or better, passer-through. We amuse and muse each other in the search for childlike fun, adult matters of cosmic significance and also happenstance, and a hunger & thirst for adventure, exploration, risk, and bedazzlement. I've been authorized to be influenced and to influence, all to the better undiscovered downtown where art is the strangest, finest, most perplexing, and fiercely rewarding.
Lauren Warhol Caldwell (she got permission from Andy Warhol himself to use the name), yes, was Liza Minelli's personal assistant. Did you hear me? And beyond that, the Creative Director at the Hippodrome for much of my Gainesville residency. You can read about her here:
Lauren Caldwell - Gainesville Downtown
I'll tell you another story too. I've reviewed a number of plays at the Hippodrome, Directed by Lauren Warhol Caldwell. You'll see my reverence for her work in the reviews and I'll list them below. But also, know that at one time I was a student of non-traditional age (shut up!) at the University of Florida where I dug out and escaped with a Bachelors in Theatre Arts. One of my beloved mentors, Tim Altmeyer, got a role and had to take some days off. In his place, Lauren Caldwell appeared. It was an audition class. She scared the living shit out of me! In the best way, of course, by being demanding and uplifting and never letting anyone take a free ride. You had to step-up, earn your stripes, deliver your best work, or suffer your own disappointment. She'd never shame you, but in her presence, you might sure shame yourself. (Why didn't I remember the lines? Why was I late? Why didn't I have a resume and a great headshot with living dazzling moist eyes?!) You'd feel an almost mystical compulsion to not bullshit, to deliver the goods, to rise above mediocrity and earn her respect. I think I did so.
Because you see, she's directed tons of shows, held the Hippodrome during it's best formative and durational years, on her shoulders like Atlas - never compromising her vision, her audacity, her voice, her style. To be admired, here are several reviews by Tom Miller (that's me) written in the afterhours of experiencing a Caldwell-Directed show:
THE TWO MUSKEETERS
THE ELEPHANT MAN
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE
MR. BURNS - A POST-ELECTRIC PLAY
THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK CHRISTMAS MUSICAL
… Just to name a few.
So immediately my interest in Black C Art is peaked. What in the world are these two artists now doing together? I knew Black C Art had been in the Downtown because, as I state clearly in all my work, Downtown Gainesville is the Known Center of the Universe. To be fair, I stole that line from Shamrock McShane, who is the official discoverer of this fact. All I did was to repeat it until the universe gave up and agreed with us. Between Shamrock and I, we pin-pointed the precise Center of the Universe as being the inside-right seat just as one enters Maude's Café. Sit there, and know all!
Back to Black C Art. Fascinating performances are there, and shown only to a limited audience. The inside space feels like a gallery, but transforms easily into a black box theatre with theatrical lighting and sound design. It wasn't always the case, Ani tells me. The space began as a formal gallery and dance space, primarily to present the works of Ani Collier. But a confluence of invited "Creatives" enter and exit the space over time colliding and exploding in a surprising diversity of happenings. So in a way, Black C is to enter the mind of Ani, and also to engage her playfulness, dance, theatricality, imagery, and artistic vision as one converses and collides with the forces that exist in the Known Center of the Universe. That makes sense to me, I hope it does to you fair reader. I began to attend these experiences and to review them as I had the Hippodrome shows.
A couple of my reviews are below:
I saw Oedipus ReDux: (Lauren Warhol Caldwell recruits my long time band-leader, Charles Ray Martin to interpret Oedipus from Jocasta's point of view, with original contemporary Rock-a-Billy songs!)
I saw Ani Collier shows featuring photo-collage superimposed on metal structure - sideways glimpses of New York Buildings, Flowers, Dance, Shoes, Movement, Colors, Umbrellas open inside where no rain falls, waterfalls of plastic bottles; their beauty destroying, preserving, transforming, colluding.
I saw "There Was a Girl" - a collaborative reading in which Ani Collier expresses, by movement, what is spoken in the script), with another mentor of mine, Gregg Jones, taking a role as antagonist, player, villain, muse. Just look at some of the imagery from these collaborations!
Look at the beauty and mesmerizing tapestry of visuals and dance in "In search of ... " with dancer/collaborator Tzveta Kassabova. This is what you might experience inside the Black C!
And at some point, Ani and Caldwell asked me to participate in a play. It was called "White Rabbit, Red Rabbit". Here's the thing: This play has rules. The actor is not allowed to see the script until the night of the play. He/She/They must prepare some specific moments in advance, but the play itself remains a mystery until the night of the performance. Ani performed this piece first, then (she tells me) she enjoyed watching me and after, the profoundly awesome Sara Morsey performing on night #3. These shows were well attended. You're not supposed to see the show performed by ANYONE until you've personally done it. You can never perform it again either. So I won't tell you anything about the play.
I begin tending to the gallery, welcoming the few stragglers who venture downtown, find a place to park where they won't get towed or have to use their smart phones and navigate an app and surrender their credit card information and license plate and be sur-charged until their time is accounted for. They pass by, peek in cautiously, and I say, "Hi. Come on in." They respond, "What is this?" And I say, "Come on in! Enjoy. This is Ani Collier's space."
While we're deciding what to show for ArtWalk -- Ani dances and ponders and goes into the back room to look through her voluminous photographic work -- "What should we do?" She asks. I act like I know what I'm doing. "How about this?" She emerges with some balled up paper and silver air-conditioning insulation. She positions these on one of the display areas in the gallery. "What do you think?"
"Cool!" I say. Then, I suggest, "It's making art from what's around." She agrees, and retreats to the back area. After a spell, she emerges with a brilliant image of an old woman in Cuba smoking a cigar. "I got this in Cuba," she tells me. "Look at her. She knows the good life." That's it, we decide. We call the show, "The Good Life." Lauren Warhol Caldwell arrives. She taps into the creative vibe. "What about this!" Lauren says. Her visual sensibilities imbue the process. We are all standing, moving, dancing, adding and creating together. There is a joy that permeates the gallery. Lots of laughter. When it's all said and done, a show is up on the walls. It makes sense, if only to us. Patrons will come during Gainesville Art Walk - the last Friday of the month - and decide what they see for themselves. I remember the one woman who, after careful consideration of everything displayed in the gallery, says in a calculating tone, "Where's the art?"
I think: If you don't see it, it's not there for you. It's there for us. Come back again in a few days, it will all be different. Or it won't even be an art show, it will be a play, or a dance, or a photography session or a video. Or maybe the place will be in-between shows and nothing will be on the walls. And someone will walk in, take a measure of the place--the empty walls--, and say, "This is fantastic work!"
Since I've been in residence with Ani Collier and Lauren Warhol Caldwell, we've come up with an invisible piano player named Morine French, we've used scraps of paper and tape and red fabric flower petals to present "The Good Life", the gallery has been drenched in red light, where cinnamon candy looks like butter scotch and vice-versa, with Ani Collier dance photo collage printed on metal; cityscapes, and roses have adorned the space. While all this is going on, Ani just happens to be working in parallel with Dance Alive choreographing/playing/dancing a primary role in freakin' Carmina Burana at the Performing Arts Center with a cast of over 250 performers. Later, Ani throws a retirement reception in the Black C for the conductor, Dr. Raymond Chobaz. Champagne, catering, suits, ties, a brilliant piano cake, the works!
And as of the time of this writing, Ani is in Bulgaria attending to her sister-gallery, whilst Warhol is working with Chuck Martin on a ReDux of Oedipus ReDux! It's a ReDux-ReDux! Further, Warhol and I have collaborated on a new short play called, Jack and Jill Go Downtown - a satirical look at the debacle that is Downtown Gainesville Parking, the inconvenient convenience of modern technology, and how having a good time might just be a product of nature: no assembly required. We're going to play it to small houses on certain afternoons.
Perhaps we are meteors, comets, and particles in a long collision of arts, music, contemplation, and exploration swimming in the ocean of possibilities, and who knows how long it will last, but do see it while you can. Enjoy and appreciate each fortunate moment like drops of water in the sea, and ultimately, move along. Flowers aren't meant to last, they're meant to be immortalized in stories, poetry, and art.
PROJECTS AND GALLERY SHOWS:
MORINE FRENCH, Invisible Piano Player (February 2022):
RED - Digital Collage by Ani Collier (March 2022):
THE GOOD LIFE (APRIL 2022):
Celino - Sculptures in Light (May 2022)
Iris Coe-Gross (June 2022)
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You can drag in .pdf documents, direct URL link to articles, and the themes actually look sharp and professional, you can use it for public relations, a gallery of your work, or even just for publishing and blogging. It carries with it built-in analytics to quickly bench-mark and evaluate your reach. There's an easy contact form that delivers right to your email. And best of all, you can easily integrate into your other social media. How about this: You can export your whole portfolio in a .pdf "resume" and deliver hard-copy with the touch of a button. Lastly, the support is detailed, fast, and personal. Try getting someone to take your calls at some of these other platforms. Seriously, no chance in hell.
The primary reason I'm sharing this with you is that the thing is lightning-fast to get going. I have a number of places where my content can be found. But in terms of organization, JournoPortfolio has been the hub that connects the rest. On the ProPlan, which is currently ten bucks a month, you can connect with your own domain and save quite a bit of money. Literally, the JournoPortfolio can be your primary web page. I promise from personal experience, you won't be sitting there with your eyes glazed over trying to figure out the mechanics. They've done everything for you.
From my experience, this is a site for artists, writers, creators, and musicians. Quick. Easy. Adapts to your style; you don't have to adapt your style for it. A one-stop solution to instantly raise your visibility and share your passions.
For my writer friends, folks looking for a fast online presence, and anyone who's wanting to gather their personal presentation all in one place, give JournoPortfolio a try. I use it. You should too.
Here's the link: http://www.journoportfolio.com
I recently had a terrific breakfast dish at Afternoon, and this inspired me to dole out my current choices of favorite Gainesville nosh spots. In no particular order:
1. La Cuisine (Ocala), and still Gainesville's best restaurant! ;-)
2. Dragonfly - Great cocktails, and they've really stepped up their already impressive game.
3. Superette Wine + Provisions - Super place with great food & wine, and a patio.
4. Alpin - Simply terrific, and a lovely Saturday brunch.
5. Indian Street Food / Indian Cuisine - They don't dial it down for the Western palate.
6. Mr. Han - Among the best Chinese food in town, a strange wonderful place. Dim sum.
7. The Leaning Pig - Killer sandwiches. Don't sit under the tree, the squirrel will piss on you.
8. Sensei - Beautifully composed dishes.
9. Bankok Square - Solid Thai!
10. Yummy House - Dim sum.
11. Fehrenbacher's Artisan Sausage - Spectacular charcuterie and specials.
12. Afternoon - Busy because they're doing it right.
13. Public & General - Great casual spot w/ full bar, charcuterie, specials & burgers.
What are your favorite spots?
Some of the most intimate and fascinating theatre work being done in Gainesville -
"The Known Center of the Universe" - happens at a Downtown space known as Black C Art. Within these walls, multilayered collaborative performance art with rich introspective provocative storytelling is a constant. Productions here can be scripted, non-scripted, improvised, there is flexible seating from one show to the next. In this black box interior, we see dance & movement, and our Director and cast invite reaction during post show opportunities to engage the audience in conversation.
The current show is called Journal Entry and directed by Lauren Warhol Caldwell, features Ani Collier and Sara Morsey. From the playbill: "A woman has kept a personal journal. However, in looking back, her entries cause her pain, unwanted memories, and difficult reminders. The journal ends up in the hands of another woman who understands the entries all too well. And this is where the journey begins."
Of course it is the journey of both characters (as well as the audience's journey) as they engage each other through movement and dialogue, offering in equal measure conflict, support, and transformation. I say we are shown layers because the artists are working from structured original collaborative source material. Certainly, there is plotting and a through-line to the choreography. Yet, the piece breathes with moments of spontaneous improvisation between the characters, keeping us and them excited for surprises as we find ourselves rapt with attention and suspense. What happens next!?
Upon entering the space, the players are already on the stage. Ani lies prone on a pink fleece fabric which at times presents like a magic carpet, other times like the sea or wind depending on how it's utilized in motion. Sara, downstage right, leans against a wall in repose, in thought. We enter cautiously, carefully, to take our seats. The characters are, to this reviewer's eye, disconnected to begin with. That is, until Ani and Sara awaken to each other and the Journal is shared.
Within the journal are thoughts and messages, secret and revealing. In response, Sara's character offers her interpretation as she digs in to articulate the passages, some in narrative prose and others in the poetry of Sandra Belfiore, Khalil Gibran, and Charles Bukowski. She questions, beckons, advises, challenges, and discovers. Before too long, that which is fearful becomes welcoming. "Don't be afraid to dive in, we were born swimming." Conversely, certain comforts become unwelcome. Are we so safe as to be imprisoned?
From the playbill:
Tell me who you are,
and what brings you here.
What piece of driftwood do you cling to,
bobbing on the swells, and
How do you imagine the raft or boat
you hope will rescue you someday?
I repeat, this play is in layers. The playbill itself is a journal entry of sorts. Within the playbill we are prompted with questions: "What lies in the journal? Who is this woman who ends up with the secrets written upon the pages? What leads them to a reconciliation of the content of the journal?" For me, I was struck with the notion that one is a protagonist and the other is her conscience; the two that are one. These roles are interchangeable. Someone else will find a different meaning in the abstractions offered. They may see mother/daughter, patient/doctor, perhaps it is the journal contemplating itself. All this is the very point. We see their story and leave with our own.
The lighting, designed by Bob Robbins, is a character in itself, filling the room with amber and fuchsia mood, temperature, liquid, sky and land, suggesting the passing of time, the turning daydreams into shadows and back again--an emotional dream-time.
Sound Design by Caldwell feels haunted somewhere in the 1980s, with choices hearkening to both past and future as well; often surprising with jolting disturbance or conversely, sanguine comfort; sometimes mirroring and other times in juxtaposition with the characters.
For the show I saw, the technical operations for both light and sound were covertly and expertly employed by Stage Manager, Paul Gabbard. Amanda Nipper was the technical engineer for Warhol's excellent music and sound design.
Warhol, Morsey, and Collier are of the highest caliber in their respective fields, absolutely riddled with talent and passion. The urgency of Caldwell's storytelling and direction, the commitment of Sara in her acting and voice, and Collier's fierce creativity and athleticism with her powerful dance and movement; all bringing to the stage enormous risk, trust, and empathy transmitting this challenging work to the stage. Both the experiment and the control are present, prescient, palpable and alive. Theatre in motion.
One more thing...
On stage, there is also a box, about the size of a treasure box, covered in that same pink inviting fleece material. The journey of the play, of the characters, and of the audience--it all leads to this mysterious container. If the reader wonders what's in the box, there's one sure way to find out. Maybe it's you in there. Dive in.
will you listen
when I invite you,
Dive in, and sink.
You will not drown
You were born
GET TICKETS HERE: www.eventbrite.com/e/journal-entry-tickets-199401895437
JOURNAL ENTRY - SHOW DATES/TIMES
Thursday December 9th, 5:30pm-6:30pm
and Saturday December 11th, 2:00pm to 3:00pm
MORE AT BLACK C GALLERY: www.blackcproduction.com/
Music by Kevin MacLeod
Production: Michael Eaddy, Ramon J. Otero
Video: Broni Veltcheva
Art & Graphic Design: Liliana Dvorianova
Directed by Lauren Warhol Caldwell
Conceived by Ani Collier, Sara Morsey, Lauren Warhol Caldwell
I'm the Christmas guy. I love it. I start playing Vince Guaraldi's Peanuts music about a week before Halloween. But as a performance artist, I have an obligation to be a contrarian, to crap on Christmas, to belittle and mock the yuletide charm and innocence of yesteryear just to mess with people, just to fudge-up the paradigm. Why would one undertake such a task, you may ask? Because when the soup is stirred, the clutter and fog rises to the surface. The Chef skims off the fat, the detritus, the Scrooginess, the visceral bah-humbugness, and what remains is a clarity, a comfort, a nutritious delicious holiday antibiotic for the soul. If we do it right, Christmas is about compassion, sharing, reflecting, improving, attempting to generate the conditions for happiness and wellness and good cheer. It's about story-telling, and fantasy, magic and wonder. But look at us. I dare not count the ways the heart can darken. How easy it is to throw coal in children's holiday socks instead of into the chestnut-warming fire, where coal probably belongs. We've learned to find comedy in ruination. We've learned to Grinch out, and not receive the lessons. Look, I'm not religious. But I get Linus in his speech about where the Christmas spirit gathers its inspiration. I get the secularism, I get the complaints; that Christmas favors the wealthy or the white, the entitled or the corporations, that it's designed to profit with consumption and consumerism being the ways-and-means of good olde Santa and his weird toy-making elves and animal friends. But hasn't the underlying message always been this: It's not about money or status, nor color, race nor creed nor orientation, gender, self-worth?! It eclipses religion and rites, many tales told in many countries, and becomes a gathering of friends, family, stragglers and strangers; a collective welcoming, affirming, ludicrously sappy if you let it. And that ludicrously sappiness awakens the heart of any shitty character who ever tried to ruin everything in the classic Christmas movies! I won't belabor the points here (I already have...), but when I tell you the story of what happened to me watching the press run of the Hippodrome's new musical, maybe you'll understand.
Miracle on 34th St
Live Musical Radio Play
Adapted from the 1947 Lux Radio Broadcast by Lance Arthur Smith,
Original songs and Arrangements by Jon Lorenz
Nov 26 – Dec 23
Let's do the review:
This musical play has many layers. For fans of Miracle on 34th Street, one of the great feel-good films ever, we have the telling of that story - in the form of a radio play, in the style of Orson Welles classic tales of 1934-1952. We, the audience, are flies on the wall in the KSDMT Studios as we watch characters from the movie perform the characters from the script. The time being 1947 *coincidentally when a pilot named Kenneth Arnold saw some UFOs flying around Mount Rainier in Washington state and coined the phrase, "Flying Saucer". Me, I'm thinking all he saw was Santa, but I digress.
This review has a Christmas Present for you:
Without divulging the story if you don't know it, and the manner of theatre if you haven't seen it, you'll be surprised by a few salient points:
1. The cast is absolutely outstanding. They are having fun, and the chemistry and joy in their performances is infectious - in the Holiday Spirit kind of way, not the Covid way.
2. The quality each actor brings to their role is top-notch. There are standouts, but it's each cast member at different times. You'll remember them all as unique characters, and profoundly talented singers and actors.
3. Speaking of the singing, these are among the finest voices to ever grace the Hippodrome stage. And with that talent, Bryan Mercer's mercurial leadership rewards the audience with tight snappy tunes that sound like a record, if that can be said. I felt as if I was truly listening to a radio broadcast but then I looked at the stage and...
4. This is a radio play. A flash of that classic show, A Prairie Home Companion springs to mind. You see in real time the performers engaging in creative Foley work which emulates the sounds of walking, horses, crowd noises, doors opening and closing, clinking of flatware at a social gathering, and so on. Watching the actors seamlessly performing these acts of physical musicality and dexterity while also singing and "reading" their script lines is a sight to behold. It's a great inside look at what it takes to entertain in the radio medium. You remember...before TV and Smart Phones? Families would gather around and use...yes...their imagination?
5. Carson Holley. I don't mean to highlight any actor over another, but the young genius who plays Gracie Demarco performing as Susan Walker - well, she's going to be famous. Soon. Mark my words. Get an autograph after the show if you can.
6. Although the actors play characters performing as other characters, they also perform as even other characters. What I mean to say is that each character will be doing a number of different voices. And as I intended not to highlight any actor over another, be on the lookout for some comically out-there voice work with the extraordinary David Patrick Ford as Grady Williams performing Fred Gailey among others. You starting to see the layers yet?
7. That said, Laura Hodos as Cordelia Ragsdale performing Doris Walker imbues her character with real-deal humanistic qualities, the kind that beg empathy from the crowd. We cheer and cry for her. She brings the goods. Sophia Young as Olivia Glatt performing--as the press handout says--"Female Character Actor", well she's far beyond that. She, subtly, resonately strikes as the outsider. But her saucy assured no-nonsense power is palpable. By the end of the performance, in many ways, she eclipses the supporting roles. You'll not forget her.
8. David Carey Foster (there's a super-star name for you!) portraying Kristofer Van Lisberg performing as the big man, Kris Kringle (that's Santa for those who don't know), is so beguiling. He's able to give the audience what Judge Judy might call "reasonable doubt" to this Santa character. Is he? Isn't he? Lisberg's vocal cadences as the protagonist in the radio play are spot-on. He's gentle, kind, vulnerable, and human. He's freakin' Mr. Rogers if Mr. Rogers was Santa. And who's to say he isn't? Wasn't? The chemistry between young Susan Walker and Kris Kringle are absolutely heart-melting.
9. Bryan Mercer - holding court at the pian-ah! (That's what Director Stephanie Lynge affectionately called it on the night of our preview.) Wow. He's acting, playing the music, he's arranged the performances and worked with the actors to such a turn, they modulate and land every harmonic cadence like ABBA. That good! (Haters be damned.) Mercer, as the center of the show, holds court but never outshines his orchestral performers. This is a true ensemble with profound collective camaraderie and joy. They get Christmas. They get Linus. They get older cynical rat-heads like me. And they fix my head, if only for a moment. They, through this play, remind us all that we can do good. We can be good. We can share joy. We can overcome adversity. We can triumph over evil. We can find a common ground. We can tell stories. We can, if only for the moments of a play passing in the night, experience blissful innocence, the way we popped out into the infinite mortal coil.
See it, if you have even a hint of light still left in your heart. It's a good blissful burn!
Incredible Technical Direction: Warren Goodwin
Amazing Lighting by: Bob Robbins
Fantastic Sound Design by: Amanda Nipper
Remarkable Costumes by: Erin Jester
Awesome Stage Manger: Amber Wilkenson
Brilliant Assistant Stage Manager - Laura Hart
Ramblings of a Half-Hearted Ideologue