I DO! Communal Review: The Lily’s Revenge

I think it’s fair for me to say, as a guy my age dealing with my socioeconomic level, that I’ve seen a lot of theater. While most boys save their pennies for the latest videogame system or computer game, I was busy reading something, not working, and trying to scam a door guy at some low level performance art house. That said, you won’t catch me at too many Broadway Productions, but I’ve seen enough to understand what they’re about. I know experimental theater best. You know, the weird stuff. The stuff so off the wall an audience member might be paid to see so the creative team doesn’t feel their work was in vain.

I can’t help myself. I love theater. I’d go to more Broadway shows if I could afford them, but I can’t, so I stick to shows at PS122 or wherever I can get a reasonably priced ticket. When I first heard of The Lily’s Revenge, I was excited that for $20 I’d get five hours of theater. It’s like a junky suddenly getting thirty bags for the price of ten! But then there was the fear of overdosing and I felt that fear creeping in as a probability as I waited in the rush ticket line from 9am-7pm the first time I saw the show, feeling ever so terrible from my escapade the evening before involving no sleep, lots of drugs/booze and casual sex.

It’s been about a year and a half, and I remember thinking as I waited in line, “This is it. I’m gonna walk outta here a full blown junkhead or I’m going to overdose and be really pissed off.” Even as the play began and the actress playing Time warned the audience that we’d all die or be stuck inside the play forever, I knew it must be fate. I’d waited this long though so there was no way of turning back, a junky never turns back…

Now zoom forward a year and a half and my life has radically changed! I’m living in NYC and I’m a full-fledged Lily lovin’ zombie! Oh what a difference five hours (and a year and a half) can make when not planted in front of the television munching on popcorn and slurping fingers for tidbits of greasy chicken. Living in NYC afforded me the lovely opportunity to meet Taylor Mac (whose theatrical outer exterior suggests he’s a club kid that got smart and done good!) last winter and after listening to him gush about the re-staging of The Lily’s Revenge in San Francisco, I knew I needed to return to that city to mainline my favorite drug, and so that’s exactly what JT and I did. We contacted the Magic Theater, found a way to get tickets without having to pay for them (THANK YOU PATTIE!) and headed west…

It was weird for me because the first time I saw The Lily’s Revenge I had traveled in opposite directions: I’d come from my old homestead in San Francisco to NYC to dose myself on ten days of theater. For ten days JT and I saw one to two plays a day, and The Lily’s Revenge was just another name of a play I was supposed to try and see before I saw it. Now, The Lily’s Revenge means so much more to me. It’s the one show that I know will “take me there.” Nothing I have ever seen is as unique and thoughtfully put together as The Lily’s Revenge. Future play writes beware: your works have major competition in my heart…

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Reminding us of Our Humanity: An Inclusive Interview with Taylor Mac

Taylor Mac isn’t just our favorite living theater person, he is one of our favorite artists making work today period. After seeing “The Lily’s Revenge,” his five hour manifesto at the Here Arts Center in 2009, we became full on Mac fans and haven’t missed out on anything he’s done in New York since then. We recently had the honor of being able to meet him for a two on one interview just before the final week of performances for his newest play, “The Walk Across America For Mother Earth,” took place at LaMama’s Ellen Stewart Theater. Since our interview, Mac played a number of successful shows down under in Australia and he is now in rehearsals for an all new production of “The Lily’s Revenge” in San Francisco, which Stephen and I will both be going to see in April. (Californians and travel savvy theater lovers, get your tickets now before they sell out and you have to wait all day like we did for rush tickets.)

It is our pleasure and privilege to offer you this conversation. May it thrill and touch you as deeply as it has us.

Enjoy!

MP: Hi Taylor! We’re both very excited to sit down with you and discuss your work but are finding it a little tricky to figure out exactly where to start with so much to talk about… Could you maybe tell us a bit about what it was like to be part of the first production to go up at La Mama since Ellen passed away? What sort of feelings has that brought up in you?

TM: I never actually met Ellen. I’d seen her a lot though. I saw her introduce shows with her infamous cow bell and I had a lot of respect for her and even more so now after having read various obituaries that have come out. I am so amazed that she created her legacy in her forties. It’s really remarkable that she was able to do it at a time when women weren’t able to do those things, let alone black women. She led a very inspiring life and I feel honored to be part of the first show at LaMama since her death. I also feel honored for the chance to work with The Talking Band who had worked with Ellen for so many years.

That said, my goals are different. Ellen’s goals were committed to Off Off Broadway and the Talking Band is committed to Off Off Broadway, but if I never do another Off Off Broadway show in my life I will be so frickin’ thrilled. It’s complicated. The industry is such a mixed bag. I’m so happy to be part of its legacy…

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Camp Wanatachi Review

I’m very excited to announce that JT and I sat down with Taylor Mac today for an interview that will be published here in the next coming weeks. After the interview we felt compelled to go see some theater so we headed over to La Mama for the opening night of Camp Wanatachi.

Camp Wanatachi offers a witty account of a group of high energy young girls spending the summer exploring themselves at a Christian Church Camp. The dialogue and scenario’s explored by the writer and cast consistently revel in the absurdity of the truth Michel Foucault brought the world to attention to in “The History of Sexuality.” My father is a minister and my childhood could be summed up as one long church camp, so the characters discovery of sexuality through negative imagery and anti sexual discourse brought back a flurry of memories of jacking off boys in tents and copping feels of breasts at an extremely young age between prayers, meals, and hours spent pretending to worship in order to save face and convince my objects of affection that I wasn’t a demon and that yes, my needing their genitalia is fine.

The play is centered on four tween girls torn between physical and spiritual love and their camp counselor. Obviously my favorite character was Daisy – the self described FREAK FOR CHRIST – and her need to come to a just reason for Kurt Cobain’s suicide in the name of love. My favorite aspect of the play is it’s ability to show the multifaceted face of love and the many hats it wears as it continues to haunt the human condition. I expected Daisy and the other girls to all end up in some sort of orgiastic love triangle, after all the play bills itself as a lesbian musical. Instead the play remained safe the entire way through and only offered a PG look into what I remember to be a very an often times XXX experience. Yes, I may be guilty of perversion but while I do strongly feel the play had its head in the right place its choices could have been much bolder. Many good ideas were expressed, like the camp counselor teaching the girls to write a love song using a violin riff from a Peking Opera as the sound accompaniment to a chorus, but instead of fully carrying out the idea the play jumped elsewhere. There were many moments like that one that would have benefited from a bit more danger and risk tossed into the mix. If the choices were a bit bolder the show could have made the LGBT tween drama an engaging experience for serious theater goers rather than a sweet and amusing Off Broadway musical. Continue reading

Ellen Stewart Passes But Theater Lives On @ La Mama With Taylor Mac’s Walk Across America For Mother Earth

Ellen Stewart was one of the most important founders of the off-off Broadway movement, starting the La Mama Theater and giving birth to the non-commercial, artistically audacious and visionary theater that started the careers of artists as widely recognized as Robert Wilson and Richard Foreman. La Mama also gave writers such as Sam Shepard and Harvey Fierstein places to cut their teeth and develop new work as well as providing a first home for performers ranging from Al Paccino to Bette Midler.

The list goes goes on and Ellen Stewart’s legacy deserves a full article on its own. Tonight however, as the lights of Broadway dim for a whole minute in honor of her passing on the 13th of January, (just two days before Taylor Mac’s new play opened at the theater that bares her name) all the tourists in Times Square will share a moment of confusion on their way into whatever dreck they spent one-hundred plus dollars to see, involuntarily participating in a theatrical legacy that transcends the confines of their fluff and spectacle seeking minds. In the days of post-apocalyptic Broadway, this is perhaps the best that we can wish for.

Back downtown at La Mama, Taylor Mac‘s newest work, “The Walk Across America for Mother Earth“, has just premiered and some friends and I had the pleasure of seeing a bit earlier in the week. Although I’d heard about Taylor’s work for a long while, I hadn’t seen anything of his until I got to see the manifesto/extravaganza that was last year’s “The Lily’s Revenge.” Plainly put, that show changed my life. It is still, and may perhaps always be, the single most generous piece of theater I will ever take part in. When that work is re-mounted in San Francisco this spring and I go to see it, I will discuss it more and hopefully will have also contacted Mr. Mac and talked him into giving us an interview. In the meantime, we have his new play to enjoy and while it’s not as epic or multi-faceted as “Lily’s” was, it is something to be seen and celebrated just the same.

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Re-Introducing Classical Theatrics: Taylor Mac

Last fall I saw the five hour epic, “Lilly’s Revenge” at HERE Arts Gallery. Needless to say, the show took up quite a bit of space in my mind and it’s been hard for me to think about theater since the show without instantly reverting back to the spectacle I partook of. In last weeks Village Voice, Taylor Mac took the cover for the Obie Award he won for “Lilies Revenge”. The sudden resurgence of Taylor in the media was plenty of insight to get me off the couch and online to buy a ticket to his first ever cabaret at Joe’s Pub. Continue reading

Our Lady J: All I Want For Xmas is my Two Front Tits!!

Everyone knows to never deny a lady everything she wishes, so in the spirit of proper etiquette and the holiday season I’d like to call you attention to Our Lady J.  She is currently throwing a “Boob Aid” so she can acquire the proper sized breasts to match her luscious physique.

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