Sans Idle

What an incredible Sunday. Strange Attractor's creative life is bursting at the seams. It's the end of our first week of building Idle in Newport. In six days we reconfigured the entire show with a new frame, three new dance numbers, a new actor, built a few new scenes and made huge strides in uncovering how we put it in a house. Then tonight we met with the majority of the crew of Sans Everything and touched base about logistics for that massive undertaking, which starts in the fall. I mean. . . look at this hang out window! Roblin is in Sitka, Clara's in Providence, Jed and I are in Newport, and Jenn, Mason, Katie, and Aram are in Philly.


With so little time to actually talk to each other, this hang out was full of planning how to get money and how to get time; where to rehearse and who to invite. Next time I vow we'll do more than just brainstorm ways to find rehearsal space. As the director of the piece I feel like I should give them an assignment. . . Like maybe even a writing assignment? . . . Or a viewing and a writing assignment? There's time.

Stars of Wonder. Stars of Light.

Oh my goodness, but are we enjoying diving back into this world. Tonight -- after four days of rehearsal -- we created a proposal for the entire show and then did a crazy improv-thru of the whole thing. I love Jed and Casey (and Clara!) so much and this video is a perfect example of why. As they improvise their way through a half-baked proposal I find myself remembering that my greatest joy is watching actors who just  love to play.  

Rehearsal Again.

We had rehearsal for Idle tonight. We first worked on this piece in February 2014 and performed it as a part of a residency designed by Erik Ehn at the Mathewson Street Theater. After our March 1 performance we had all kinds of dreams about working on it again, taking what we'd learned in that first enthusiastic process and building a play, but life sort of got in the way and we wondered if it would even make sense to pick it up later. Thank goodness that little voice told us to yes, do it, make a joyful and weird experience. Jumping back into rehearsal felt fantastic. So much of the material we'd made before will be useful compost for the play moving forward, and for sure the creative team is a joy. However, the stroke of genius that makes it REALLY fun to work on Idle right now belongs to Jed, who months ago proposed we take it out of the theater setting.

It all brings home a true true fact. The best thing about life intervening on art: returning to art.


Enter Deep Space (but just for a week)


Our friends from Lightning Rod Special in Philly arrived Sunday night. Ever since, we've been working fast and furious on a show we might love, but have yet to get to spend significant time with. The short story is, a year ago we worked for a week on the piece. There's a lot we can do in a week, but we cannot make an entire play. We had a wonderful showing and went our separate ways, dreaming of space ships far into the future.

Life got in the way and now it's one year later. Thanks to RISCA, Roger Williams University, and Trinity Rep we've been able to enter the studio to work on Sans Everything again. Again, only for a week. How odd to work for one week a year on a play. Certainly not efficient, but you know, still fun. . . And amazingly we actually are getting things done.  (I know they look like they're napping, but they're practicing choral text. That's legit.)


I can't wait until we figure out how to be together even longer. . . We're working on it.


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:


Positive Moves

It's rare for us to share random things we like on this blog, but I have been feeling the winter doldrums and so Jed recently shared this video with me and I thought it might be nice to share it with everyone who peeks in here. We are getting ready to move into the studio again, which is always a Positive Move, but in the meantime, 1980's Angela Landsbury also has some good tips for all of us.

Click Here to Watch:


We are all home now. Home and away from each other, breathing that huge sigh of relief over good work done. We're home wondering about our next projects. We're planning for a New England tour of Enlightenment this summer, plus starting two new projects this winter, not to mention our constant hopes of continuing to work on Shoot a Boot with Ana in Spain.


But life is not just made of projects. From here in Providence, I can only imagine what the guys in Philly and Juneau are getting up to on a day to day basis. I know Aram is working on Team Sunshine's Sincerity Projectand I'm sure Roblin is busy with family and kids and teaching. But what do their days look like? What are those secret little obsessions and interests just blooming now? What are the thoughts percolating today that will grow and grow until we see each other again? I can ask them at our next company [google hang out] meeting, but you can't really know that stuff unless you arearound people -- not meeting with them, but just around.

For me, Jed has been acting at 2nd Story in Sons of the Prophet and we've both been spending a lot of time working on our house -- painting is next, plastering complete. I've been thinking about outer space, thinking about twins, making the plans to produce those shows. The School House Long House came down from the RISD Museum and tomorrow we are installing it in our back yard, which is daunting and exciting. I can't decide if we are geniuses or idiots.  I burned my fingertips on a candle two weeks ago and have been monitoring the blisters as they now turn to callus and then to finger. I am catching up on all kinds of Rhode Island Performance Exchange projects, and last night I tried to build a fire in our fireplace over the course of two hours. I never got it to light, but apparently madethe room very smoky and got depressed at my inabilities. I am creating a tour of Enlightenment, solidifying venues, applying for funding and I started running this summer, am still running, and am back in yoga.

Gimmie Shimmie

You know what's really fun? To just make stuff. Jed and I (PVD) AND our friend and buddy Carolyn from the Wonder Show are doing a performance piece inspired by the movie Daisies at this year's Foo Fest and we are having such a blast creating something that has nothing to do with security guards or performance in the traditional sense. I know it may seem like an odd thing to do with our month off, but I think it may be the perfect way to gear back in. Anyway, here's a photo of the banner we're making to be on the outside of our tiny performance booth at Foo Fest. The mouth and eye of the snake will actually be cut out for us to offer instruction to the passer-by. And so on from there. . .


One Week Ago

Back in RI. We are immediately and gloriously thrown into the opening of the School House Long House design project with the RISD Museum -- the culmination of nearly a year's worth of designing a multi-use performance space for their show, Locally Made. Our Alaskan tour seems like it must have been a thousand years ago. Or maybe it happened to someone else. In any rate, to give a little perspective, here is where we were exactly one week ago:


(yes, that is a horse "parked" outside of a bar in Haines, AK)


The front page story in the Haines paper the week we were also featured: tree stump art or vandalism?

And here is where we are today:


No complaints.

One week left in PVD

One of the best parts of our working relationship is this constant off-balance we go through with shifting geography. By spending time apart and then re-finding each other in different cities, different spaces, different audiences, we intentionally stop habits from forming. It's one of the ways our shows grow so strangely and surprisingly. Say what you will, but we are never predictable. Having worked already in Rhode Island (with a happy small stop in Maine) and Philly, our logical next stop is Alaska, and this time we're touring SE, spending time in towns we've never gone to as a group, bringing Kamili -- who has never been to Alaska at all -- and then also still getting to spend time and perform in Juneau, seeing familiar faces for sure. It's one of those trips where I have to stop and remember, "I get to go on this amazing adventure because I make experimental theatre."

Meanwhile the show is in a really exciting spot, but also delicate. This next phase will tell us so much about the actual piece we are making. It's like we've generated all this raw ingredient that we feel so good about, but now we have to decide what it makes: angel food cake or German chocolate?

For now, I have to tie up all kinds of junk in RI! Leaving your life behind for 6 weeks is a whole other blog post!

The Collective Unconscious

Two articles have come out in the past few days that make us feel caught up in some cultural zeitgeist. The first came up on the Pig Iron blog today about a new Annie Baker show at Playwrights Horizons called "The Flick". Pig Iron linked to it in reference to their recent show "Zero Cost House." In our world, however, it all felt hyper-relevant to "Enlightenment": a three-person play, two men and a woman, about a boring job filled with lots of stillness. Annie Baker's play is about people who work in a movie theater rather than an art gallery, other than that. . .  The similarities aside, the article is all about how much audiences have hated the play because of all the silence. Weird seeing as all the feedback from our showings was to add more silence. Perhaps Playwrights Horizons doesn't have the right audience for our show either. . .

Another amazing piece of press that has come out in the past seven days is a huge spread on museum security guards in the New York Times last Thursday. It held everything that thematically is our show.

When combined these two pieces of writing somehow create the play we haven't completed yet. This either bodes amazingly for us and our piece: we are clearly creating the totally most current show of the moment in the moment it wants to be made. Or it's awful: we are just locked behind some sort of cultural curve and by the time we complete our show everyone will be into something else, like plays featuring only live snakes as actors or something. People will wonder how we ever got away with being such copycats.  Time will tell. Best just keep making.

Click here to read the article on the silent play: Annie Baker


Click here to read the article on museum security guards: NYT

Avoiding Drama


It's all over the news right now -- the FBI has figured out who stole the paintings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston 23 years ago. Ever since we started dreaming up our show on museum security guards, people have been bringing up this iconic museum heist to us. Then we explain that our interest lies in the liminal activity spent the majority of the time a museum guard works, not the exceptional once-in-a-lifetime honest-to-goodness art theft. Still and all, hearing about the discovery in the midst of making this show is kind of thrilling. It adds this extra layer of excitement. Not that the guards had much to do with it one way or the other, but because, as we have discovered time and again, no one champions the museum as much as the security guard. (Also no one complains about it as much. It's a complicated.)

Is this too meta for you?


12:15am EST and I am finishing an email I'll schedule tonight to hit the Strange Attractor subscriber's in-box tomorrow. In the odd way the world works these days, you may actually see the email here on this picture of my screen on your screen on our blog before the image itself actually pops into your in-box. Squint hard and you' can read the whole thing. Or just wait until tomorrow morning, whichever. And of course if you're not on our mailing list, yada yada yada. File this one under the glamorous life of a self-producer!

It's Fundraising Time, Kids!


Enlightenment on E Floor North is raising money! $10,000 to be precise, which, when combined with all the other funds we've raised from the Rasmuson Foundation, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and the Maine Theater Fund, will bring our latest show on work and the museum security guard to Philadelphia, Southeast Alaska, back to New England, and beyond. If you have a few dollars to kick in, we'd so appreciate it. Plus, because we're raising the funds through USA Projects, we've been given matching funds from the Rasmuson Foundation and all of your donations are tax deductible! USA Projects

When Your Company Lives Far Apart Your Exchange of Information Changes (Subtitled, D'uh)

We just had our first meeting since everybody left Providence. We've been emailing each other fairly non-stop, getting ready for a fundraising campaign, getting some grants together, putting the finishing touches on our plans for Philly, but tonight was the first time we made a date to meet on google hang-out to talk. Which is nice. Usually these end up being pretty long, but somehow this one. . . Well, maybe we'd just been spending so much time emailing there wasn't much to talk about. Or maybe we're still too in-the-middle of all the fundraising and finishing to actually stop and chat. Also, Aram forgot about it and was in NYC and so when you're one member down, it's never quite clear what you should and shouldn't talk about. . .

Anyway, my favorite part of the chat was that Roblin's son Arlo really really really wanted his dad to get back to playing Karate/Ninja games and so the background of our meeting was peppered with Arlo making loud Karate sounds. At one point Roblin asked him to be quiet and then Arlo paused. A few moments later these little whispered Karate sounds came through over the speakers. "heeeee-yaaaaaa." (whisper whisper)

I wish I'd recorded it for you or even taken a picture of this meeting, but alas, my mind was elsewhere. Instead, please enjoy this photo of a google hang out past.