The Audience Laughs at the Clown - The Bouffon Laughs at the Audience

Hey folks. Glad to be home in Juneau as the First Folio is on display at the new State Museum and Theatre in the Rough is in the midst of making Juneau, AK the only city to read the entire First Folio aloud while it's in town! Hazzah. I am returning from two incredible workshops at my new favorite retreat, the Celebration Barn, in Maine. I was fortunate enough to attend thanks to the Juneau Arts and Humanities Individual Artist Grant program.

The Bouffon and the Ecstasy of Mocking with Giovanni Fusetti was a powerful journey into the ancient human energy of parody. An extraordinary pedagogue, Giovanni took us into a deep remembering (to put memories into the body once again) of the joyful passion of mocking our fragile lives. The fantastic creative energy that can be generated by a cohort of artists opening to the heated flow of improvisation was restorative.

Spymonkey's Creating Clown Material with Aitor Basauri was equally challenging and rewarding. Another deep examination of the performer's power to create visions for an audience to dream. Though this work opened more questions for me as to where I go next, paired with the bouffon workshop I have been renewed and coagulated - inspired for the next level of creative work and the next projects!

Celebration Barn
Celebration Barn

On my way

Hey, everyone! Thanks for all the support and assists and conversations. I'm excited to be heading back to Rhode Island for to finish this Sans Everything...that is the title of the show. If any Alaskans will be back East in March, we will be in lovely Providence March 3-6 at AS220 and in Boston at the Charlestown Working Theatre March 10-12. Even though my gps is saying this photo was taken in 'Inner Mongolia', I'm pretty sure it is just the international cloudspace outside the Alaska Airlines window on the way to Seattle.

And thanks to the great State of Alaska for helping pay to get me on this flight and create new performances. I get my own tag line in the program, too: "Roblin Gray Davis is supported, in part, by a grant from the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts."

Be well.

Trigger warning: Strange Attractor Theatre Company Fundraising E-mail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -Jed


A few days ago Jed sent out his fundraising plea to his individual list. It alone is such an impressive piece of writing, we decided to share it on the blog. There are many many links, but because I copied and pasted this from email into blog the links don't appear the way I'd most like them to. Just hover over the text and you'll see where to go. Enjoy.

Family, friends, well wishers and loved ones all,

The following email is indeed an ask email. I know that at this point there is a lot of exhaustion around crowd funding and maybe there is even exhaustion around people being exhausted about the exhaustion around crowd funding. I don't know really know, it's been a while since we ran a campaign, but...I get it.
So, I'm going to make it real easy for you and along those lines this e-mail functions like a choose your own adventurer novel.
You have
You could stop reading now. It seems obvious, but I just want to make sure I cover all my bases.
If you want to keep reading, but don't want a long story and a song and dance about why it's important to give and what the project is about and blahblahblah, then please skip to section A now.
If however, you like a good yarn, and maybe even want to sit down with a mug of coffee or glass of wine and click all the links (there are probably too many, ok definitely too many) and want to discover how this project came about and how it is connected to the national dialogue on performance through a generous exchange grant please skip to section B now.
If you say to yourself, "Jed knows I'm broke, why would he send this to me right now? It's already hard enough for me to just make it out to one of the shows." please skip to section now.
Or if you think to yourself, "Wait, I don't even like theatre and why is this man bothering me? I only like dark seventies Sci-Fi flicks" please skip to section now.
-"Ok, so where do I click to see whether or not I want to give?"
-"Jed, it's been a while friend, what's all this about a campaign? And also, did I hear you are making a play about outer space and Shakespeare? Oh and oh, and also, why...oh gosh, I'm out of breath. (heavy breath in and out) I have so many questions, but you better just start talking while I drink my (insert beverage of choice here)"
Ok, so the long story is that four years ago, while we were working on this in Juneau (which eventually became this in Providence) we had a meeting over halibut fish and chips at the Sand Bar near Auke Bay where I proposed that our next show should be very loosely inspired by my experience working as a museum security guard, which two years later would become this. At the same meeting Aram proposed that we make "As You Like It in space". Roblin, Rebecca and I were a little taken aback. "As You Like It in space?" we thought. "Isn't that a bit like setting the Tempest on the Moon? Or doing Hamlet on roller skates?". Instead of balking out loud we three read a lot into Aram's proposal, talking as best as we could remember about the themes of Shakespeare's "As you like it" as they might to relate to space. "It's a pastoral comedy, right? Space in this instance is the Forest of Arden!", etc. while I think we also wondered in the back or our minds "Are we really going to do Shakespeare in space?".
As the three of us internally began to reach our own individual concept driven Shakespeare resistances, Aram clarified that he really just liked the title(!) When we pressed further he told us about his parents taking him to a summer stock production when he was a little kid on vacation in Maine and that the experience had really stuck with him. Before we dismissed the idea, Roblin asked the basic question, "But, would we really just be doing "As you like it" set in space?" To which Aram replied in the lucid, yet still shrouded in mystery way that only he could respond, "We will play highly trained astronauts that are forced to perform As You Like It". 
Imagining these explorers in a world so far in a future where Shakespeare had been forgotten and touched by the idea of a group of incredibly skilled people having to give a command performance (or else), bereft of the resources and knowledge to do so, inspired us to take the last two words from one of the most famous monologues in the play and to tentatively title a piece we knew very little about "Sans Everything".
Flash Forward two years, we have continued to ponder the mysteries of space, look at Lexicons, and read about the great chain of being but not yet had time in the studio to work on it. Meanwhile we were now working on the security guard play in the evening at Pig Iron Theatre Company's School space in Philadelphia, when we meet Scott Sheppard, Jenn Kiddwell, Katie Gould, and Alice Yorke who are all finishing their second year in the program. Together with Mason Rosenthal they have formed their own company, Lighting Rod Special(LRS). That year at the Philly Fringe they watch our show about guards and we see their quirky character driven absurd exploration of contemporary masculinity through the lens of the mythopoetic men's movement. We get drinks, we chat about art projects, we get generally intrigued by each other's companies. When we get the opportunity to start work on Sans Everything again at Roger Williams University a year later we ask if they are interested in collaborating on it with us. They say yes and come to Rhode Island, we have a great week of work together in a warm barn in a cold January in Bristol and we decide to apply for a big national grant to get back together the next year. We do not get it. We continue to...
-"Jed I'm sorry, but this is getting long and there are a lot of links and I've got laundry to do. ...Can I go now?"
-"Jed, seriously, I gotta go, this is more than I signed up for."
Ok, but go to section A before you go. Or better yet, if you want to come back after you're done <insert more pressing thing here>, you can. I'll just wait here.
-"Ok I'm back, so...you didn't get that big grant?"
No, but we then manage to get a small grant from RISCA to meet a year later for another week of work and again have a great time and make more progress on the piece and again apply for a big national exchange grant from the Network of Ensemble Theaters, but this time we get it!!
-"Oh! Wow! Congratulations! I'm going to go watch Netflix now."
Yes, thank you, we are super excited, but wait. It's a matching grant and it was for $10,000 and both companies actually have to raise about that much each.
-"Wow, that's a lot of money. I hope you don't think I have 20,000 dollars to spend on other people's art projects."
Don't worry! We are only trying to raise $10,000 through the crowd funding site indiegogo. The rest we are hoping to raise through private foundational support and other granting organizations. The good news is that we have actually raised nearly $3,000 dollars through 61 contributors already. You can give as little as $1 and as much as you like and it's tax-deductible through our wonderful fiscal sponsor AS220.
1.) "Ok, I'm ready to give, where do I go to donate, and also can you tell me a bit more about the themes of the project?"
Great! Thanks a million! Please go back up to section A or just click here.
2.) "Ok, I'm convinced, however I'm a bigwig and want to deduct my donation, but don't want Indiegogo or their payment system to take money out of my donation. What should I do?"
Thanks for your support! Just reply to this e-mail and let me know or send an email to info@strangeattractor.org and we can work something out with our fiscal sponsor.
3.) "I donated already. Why are you still pestering me and why did I read this far?"
Oh no, I'm truly sorry! Thank you for your support! These lists get big and a lot of us our friends with a lot of you. We do our best to eliminate names that have already donated, but sometimes one slips through. Maybe you want to skip down to section E and peruse one of the 70's sci-fi movies listed there?
4.) "I'm still not convinced, $30,000 seems like a lot of money. What do you need all that money for, I mean it's just a play... right? Can I look under the hood?"
Sure thing! $30,000 is a lot of money, but with stipends for 10 separate generative actor/creators, two companies involved, two separate month long development processes and travel to 4 different cities and not to mention, space costs that are not donated, housing that's not donated, festival entrance fees and hopefully a lighting, costume and set designer who will join the team, this is truly our largest project yet.
I won't paste our spreadsheet here, but if you want it, just e-mail me and I'd be happy to send it you. The thrust of the exchange grant is primarily administrative in nature and so we are happy and prepared to get into the number nitty-gritty!
-"I don't follow rules and I will read EVERY PART OF THIS E-MAIL!!!!"
Ok. Alright, um....I wasn't prepared for this, but maybe go here or I guess here.
-"Come on, I really like your shows, and I know you can't cover all the expenses of making a show with ticket sales alone and I would give you more if I could, but I can barely afford to see shows as it is."
No problem. If now is not a good time to give and coming to see one of our shows is all you are able to commit to, then that's great! We love you guys! If you have an extra second and have enjoyed what we do, please consider sharing a story of something you have seen by Strange Attractor on your social platforms with a link to our campaign. Or forward this email on to someone you think might like to give with a sweet note attached. We love when we are able to offer live cultural events throughout the year and with your help and support we will continue to do so in the future. Also, please make sure to check back in later in the fall on Facebook and at the website for more info on our showings in Philly and at the New Orleans Fringe and then again in FEB/MARCH 2016 for showings at AS220 in Providence and then outside Boston at the Charlestown Working Theatre, where we are performing as part of their 40th Anniversary Season!
-"Alright, so... I'm still reading this, but what's in it for me, I told you I only like dark 1970's sci-fi!!!"
I hear you. Please, stop yelling, why don't you just check the following flicks out. You got to be a little internet savvy and click thru a bunch of links, and you know maybe it won't still be there by the time you click it, but if you get there I hope you enjoy Ridley Scott's and Dan O'Bannon's 1979 masterpiece. Also, If you're a real nerd and haven't seen it already, you might also like O'Bannon and John Carpenter's goofy, yet still dark precursor Dark Star, which is hosted on a slightly more legit site.
Ok...and, since you're still here and while I'm at it, you might also like the sweet and sad, elegant, and sometimes earnestly cheesy eco-sci-fi film Silent Running complete with two songs performed by Joan Baez, starring Bruce Dern and directed byDouglass Tumbull, visual effects master (of 2001, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Blade Runner fame) in one of his rare turns as Director.
-"I like to read and don't really understand the choose your own adventure format, but thanks for the email. It was a lot of links, but here I am, still reading. You got anything else to say?"
No, but thanks for reading everything and I hope I get to see you this year or in the next at one of our showings. We love to make original theatrical events and feel pretty lucky to know people who want to see them and are generous enough to allow us to keep doing them without going bankrupt! Thanks for all you do and see you real soon!
Many thanks!, Jed

Sabbatical, a note from Rebecca

I remember just after college I took a workshop with the incomparable Mary Overlie. At the time I was really nervous about whether or not I would still be an artist; whether or not I'd ever perform again or be in rehearsal again or if I'd just be an office drone for the rest of my days. In the workshop Mary explained that in the life of her career she'd had several periods where she'd stopped making art for long periods of time -- seven years, ten years. And then she'd return. The reasons were varied and the return was a rebirth. In that moment I realized that sometimes not making art was a significant part of being an artist. Members of Strange Attractor are confronting some personal and life-changing moments right now, forcing us to take a break from art-making. We think it'll be for the rest of the year, but really, these kinds of moments are not ones that you should try to plan an end date for. Truth be told, we're not positive when we'll come back or what we'll do when we come back, but we can say, if Mary Overlie has anything to teach us, we will come back, and it will be a rebirth.

At first I wasn't going to say anything, but I hated our blog being so inaccurate and I hated the thought that you might come here and think we just had stopped for no good reason. I hope this explanation will suffice. I hope we see you when we're back. I hope in the interim you see and make really good art. Or that you take a really good break, wherever you're at.

Take Care,

Rebecca (+ Jed, Roblin, & Aram)



On Monday March 10 Strange Attractor PVD and Strange Attractor JNU participated in a cross-country reading of As You Like It as a part of Juneau's very first Bard-a-thon. It for sure gave us lots of great ideas about the ways Shakespeare and technology interact, as well as the amazingness of reading Shakespeare over a speaker phone with a multi-generational audience.  Here's some of what we experienced. Here's where they were in Juneau:


Here's where we were in Providence:


And here are the remnants of the Barbie recap the Juneau folks created to summarize the play before the reading:


Tenakee Springs!

Hooray! About 1/2 of the population of the remote town of Tenakee Springs came to our show July 12th. It was an intimate performance at the community center followed by the warmth and hospitality of good local desserts and conversation.

The small float plane ride out and back from Juneau was as exciting as the community hot springs was soothing.

Big thanks to Chris and Darius Mannino for their generosity, great food and hospitality!

Let Us Say Goodbye to the Lost Moments

Along the way in play creation, we inevitably get rid of some things that worked well, that we liked, that were FUN. But for whatever reason, they stopped the ultimate progress of The Work. As we reach the tail end of developing this piece, I wanted to take a minute to pay those cut moments their much-due respects. In no particular order, here are the moments (which probably won't, but may return) to Enlightenment on E Floor North.Getting Dressed:


In a couple different forms and iterations we have messed with this idea of seeing the guards get dressed while hearing some voiceover about work and museums. At long last I think we have decided that the piece can just start with guarding. Well, guarding and singing, but you know, no getting dressed.

The Dance


We tried really hard to keep in our funny choreography. We even added more in Philly, but a few days before performing in April we realized that we no longer understood what it meant at all and it all was feeling a little too cliche. Out it went.

Cleaning Yogurt


The yogurt scene definitely still exists -- tightened and polished, ready for action. However, we decided after Phase II that Turner should not actually clean it. In fact, no one cleans it. Ever. Drama ensues.

Arm Wrestling on a Windowsill


This one doesn't really count because we are on tour and so haven't had a windowsill again. Especially not one that is just the right height for Aram, but not for Roblin. However, the show now has the arm wrestling happening on a stool that is close to a wall. I keep it in here because anyone who has seen the show in AK would see it differently than the people who saw it in Philly (not to mention the people who saw it in New England where there was NO arm wrestling), and I think this is the magic of touring a piece with space variables.

Guards Playing Patrons


Jed says this one may come back in, but we haven't put it back in yet, so it has made my list. Including this part where Gene pretends to be a madman and gets taken out by Mike, which Jed tells me will never be in again.


The Mating Ritual


This scene went away in Philly, and became an actual sceney-type scene with a very small mating ritual -- almost invisible. In Philly it even included a big kiss, which has also now been cut. But just to prove it happened, here's the pic:


I could fill a whole other blog with all we've added and changed since our first shows in February, but my gosh, I would rather folks just came to a show.

Sitka, AK


It's our first day in Sitka: an amazingly beautiful town in coastal Southeast Alaska. Jed, Roblin, Aram and I arrived by taking the ferry from Juneau. Here are three pictures of that experience:


The Sitka Fine Arts Camp, which is hosting us while we are here is an amazing story that you can read more about here. The short story is that the camp is housed at the Sheldon Jackson Campus which the town is revitalizing through a huge volunteer effort. Here are some photos of the Allen Center:


One person's stupor is another person's reverie.

I don't remember exactly how I came across this idea - sometime while ruminating about enlightenment in a museum gallery and the long hours of alone-time guards must experience while working - but I thought it would be a great way to explore a kaleidoscope of shifting perspectives about differences in dreams, hopes and satisfactions, or dissatisfactions, while passing the time on the clock!