Community Board 3 Is One Righteous CB!!

Resolution passed unanimously (no abstentions)
by Community Board 3
March 24, 2009

WHEREAS: Arts and Entertainment is one of the largest industries in New York City with the economic impact of non-profit arts estimated to be $5.8 Billion and 40,460 jobs (NY Alliance for the Arts, 2005);

WHEREAS: Small to mid sized theaters and other arts organizations are an integral part of the Arts & Entertainment industry: A) as an entry point for actors, playwrights, and other artists, B) for the expression and exploration of the diverse culture of New York City communities, C) for sites of creativity, experimentation and innovation, D) for jobs;

WHEREAS: Small to mid sized theaters and other arts venues are closely tied to their local neighborhood small businesses, for instance one theater in CB3 had 70 restaurants contribute food to a recent festival;

WHEREAS: Small to mid sized theaters and other arts venues are economic drivers of local neighborhoods, and are crucial to the cultural and economic resilience and diversity of our neighborhoods;

WHEREAS: A cyclical economic downturn is the TIME TO INVEST in our neighborhood economic drivers and NOT TO DISINVEST in local economic drivers;

WHEREAS: The proposed disinvestment by the City and the State in community based arts may have an adverse multiplier effect on the small businesses and neighborhoods in which they are based;

WHEREAS: Foundation funding and government funding are down by 20-40 percent, yet small to mid sized theaters and other non profit arts venues have fixed real estate costs;

WHEREAS: Government funders recommendations to small to mid sized theaters and other arts organizations to cut back on programming in this time of crisis will not work, as programming constitutes the revenue for fixed costs and employment;

WHEREAS: CB3 has been a historic incubator and concentration of Off-Off Broadway theaters and has lost many of its small theaters in the late 90s and other performing arts venues in the last decade due to real estate competition and speculation, resulting in spaces constructed for performance being repurposed and irretrievably lost;

WHEREAS: Areas (CB2, CB4, CB5) surrounding CB3 have recently lost 25-30 percent of their small to mid sized theaters in the last five years predominantly due to real estate competition (New York Theatre Innovative Theatre Awards study, Dec 08);

WHEREAS: CB3 remains an important viable center for theater and performing arts;

WHEREAS: There exist innovative policies (land use, tax, public buildings)to sustain and retain theater and other performance venues that other cities and states have successfully used;

WHEREAS: The New York State Assembly member O’Donnell has proposed increased capital funding, and NYC Council member Alan Gerson’s office is proposing a bill to create a property tax abatement for commercial landlords that rent to non-profit cultural groups;

WHEREAS: CB3 Art Task Force Town Halls, and the recent joint Community Board Forum on small to mid sized theaters have been well attended with extensive expert and public testimony on the loss of theater and arts venues, the importance of theater and arts venues for local communities, and the severe financial crisis hitting small to mid sized theater.

THEREFORE IT BE RESOLVED: CB3 calls on its elected officials to acknowledge small to mid sized theaters and other arts organizations to be crucial to the cultural and economic resilience and diversity of our neighborhoods, to recognize the arts as economic drivers and integral to local small neighborhood businesses;

THEREFORE IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED: CB3 call on its elected officials to develop and adopt land use, tax and other governmental incentives and policies to retain and secure theater and other arts and cultural venue spaces and to retain arts and cultural organizations in our district and the City of New York.

THEREFORE IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED: CB3 calls on its elected officials, and the Governor, to act in order to restore the 100 percent funding cut from remaining funds of the New York State Council of the Arts (NYSCA) for Fiscal Year 2009, to restore NYSCA funding to sustainable levels in Fiscal Year 2010, and not to discriminate against small to mid-sized theaters and arts organizations.

THEREFORE IT BE FURTHER RESOLVED: CB3 calls on its elected representatives of Congress to include small to mid-sized theaters and other arts organizations in job retention and economic stimulus funding, and not to discriminate against the arts and non-profits in urban stabilization, job retention, and other funding and policies assisting other small businesses.

***
Next up: CB4 Theater Task Force Meeting, on Tuesday, March 31 at 6:30 p.m.

CB 4 Office, 330 W. 42nd St., Between 8th and 9th, 26th Floor.

Back in the Ring

Festivals are funny animals. You have odd schedules and wind up having to do a revival in the middle of it. I had my first show last night since my matinée on Saturday. The 6pm Weds crowd was good but it was a little disjointed. I can tell now where they are before I make my first entrance. This bunch was talking over the recorded announcement I made so I knew I’d have to grab them with physical work to get them on the same page. They were not listeners first and foremost. Some crowds respond to things visually more while others ride on the emotions. The stage combat bit in the beginning was what clinched it for me.
The mechanism for the slide projector was jostled early in the show so all the videos were about 3 feet higher than the target. That threw things off a bit but the crowd got used to it and was good after the 2nd or 3rd clip. I came out for my 3rd monologue and saw that. I wanted to stop things and adjust it. It would have only taken 2 minutes but the festival wants to run on a tight schedule.
The great thing about last night was that a lot of people from the film Two Toms came out to see the show. They were a good crowd and seemed receptive. I was worried they might be offended by parts of it but it didn’t seem to be that way. A couple of the guys are firefighter/actors, which I think is the coolest combination in the world. It was a relief that they liked my New York guy in the show and found him believable. That’s the real test.
I feel like I’m finally getting it where I want it to be but only have 2 more performances. There are a lot of little things I’m beginning to do now that give the characters more dimensions. The old man I play steps up on a chair to get out a candy bar. At first, I was doing that carefully and steadily. Now I add a little more wobbling so no one’s if he’ll stay on the chair or not. There’s other pacing things and emphasizing or framing certain words that make it all ring differently. While I do need to run the lines a couple of times a day to be on top of them, I don’t feel it’s as difficult getting through the show anymore. If I were doing the show every night, it would be a different animal.

Another Day in Sideburns

Went back to shooting Two Toms today. I love how long we’ve worked on this and having it come together. There’s lots of Italians on the set so we eat really well. 2 huge pans of ziti today. I love the freedom and intimacy of performing around the table. I’m getting away with murder clowning this character who is stoned. What I’m not crazy about is the time it takes. I don’t mind it, per se, but I had my call bumped up 2 hours but didn’t even get into make-up until 3 hours after I arrived. There are doing a good job but after your 10th hour, you get punchy. I try to use it as much as possible. I’m still conditioned to working in the theatre where you damn well better be 15 minutes early and going by the clock, especially on Equity shows with a stage manager who has a stopwatch. This is a different process where you work until you get it and then you move on. In theatre, you move on knowing you will get it when you go back through it (hopefully). When you aren’t involved in what’s happening, you hopefully are set free so you can go learn your lines or do other things like go over fight choreography or work on your accent. This just keeps plugging along.
The cast and crew for this are great. All of them are truly wonderful people. Ok, every group has to have a couple of bad apples but I do hope I get to stay friends with most of these guys and gals for years to come. Jason each of us a picture in costume. With my fake sideburns and Hawaiian shirt, I look like Wolverine meets a surfer dude. Some of the takes are outrageous. I think Jason will have a nice movie on his hands. I have been trying to set up spin-off ideas for a romantic comedy/horror film. Stay tuned.
On the American Badass front, I sent out more email blasting to press and people on my list. I’m getting a little better at that. I don’t know how it will pan out. I am not going to send out to anyone again, except to write personal things to specific people I really want to have come out. I don’t like blasting. I also learned gmail will lock you down if you send out too many emails or if you have too many bounce back at you, which I did with some weird bounce of 59 hotmail emails. I’m not comfortable talking myself up like I’m a refreshing can of soda or the sports car. But you have to do it, otherwise you run into tree falling in the woods territory. That truly sucks.
I had one solo where I got to the theatre and had no reservations. Being an optimist, I stayed thinking there had to be at least a handful of walk-ups. No one. I did the show for the artistic director and treated it as a special extra rehearsal. I say one in the audience is a rehearsal; 2 is an audience. 4 with some energy and receptiveness are the bedrock of a good audience. In any audience of 100 hundred people you usually have a couple or 3 ringleaders and people fall into camps with them. A good laugher helps train the rest of the audience. An annoying laugher can just make things worse.
Lately I have been giving quite a bit of thought to breaking my addiction to laughter. It’s a form of a need for approval and seeking recognition. It’s dirty money. I think laughter as a by-product is good but as a goal it tends to poison things. I rely on it at times as measure of whether the audience is there with me. Do they get it? Are they making connections? Is this hitting them on a certain level? But then, I also reach out for it as a balancing bar when feeling insecure about crossing the tightrope. Do they like me? Am I worthy of them? Will they go all the way to the end of the show with me or will I need to wrangle them the whole way?
Once I have a show down, I can let some focus go toward indirect energy being put out by the audience. It’s clear who is listening and who has tuned me out. There are times when I’ll go out and feel like I’ve reminded the whole place of stuff they avoid thinking about and have done a huge social faux pas.
In certain styles of acting, thinking about the audience at all is wrong/bad/sinful but in solo work, it’s necessary. They become other characters in the piece. They give and take the way a scene partner might. There are times when there might be one person who is radiating displeasure. One day I will become crazy enough to stop the show and ask what’s wrong. I try to find other ways to that so as to not be confrontational but sometimes I just want to find out if there’s anything I can do to help them or let them know they are free to leave.
I don’t know what response this show will have. I think I will be pushing and pulling the audience at various times. I wrote another one without direct audience address. Should I expand this one, I want to put in one piece that goes right to the audience and brings them out a bit. With this, as long as I can keep the information going across my brain and my mouth moving, I should survive.
Carolyn took her slides and illustrations to Daniel’s to add them to Debby’s sound design and Evan’s film. She showed what they did while we watched the Oscars. It looks freaking great. They did an amazing job in just a few hours (on top of her spending a long time putting the images and drawings together). I’ll get Debby’s theme song for the show tomorrow. You deal so much with ingredients, you forget there’s a cake being made. Actually, this show is more like a pint of Ben and Jerry’s.
I’m really fortunate to have a brilliant group of people working with me on this. Makes things easier and keeps me motivated. I need to find a great stage manager and my team will be pretty complete. We have 3 hours of tech on Tuesday in the Kraine. We have to be on the ball. This is when Maryvel will be bringing it with the lights.

Reconstruction

In 1987, Will Eisner wrote, “I came to feel more keenly about the disappearances of people and landmarks. Especially troubling to me was the callous removal of buildings. I felt that, somehow, they had a kind of soul…barnacled with laughter, stained with tears, are more than lifeless edifices.”

Two days ago, I went down to the WTC site around 5pm. It was so different than it was in ’02. On that first anniversary, there were people there being respectful and mourning. The only irritation was the media shutterbugs being nuisances and snapping pictures right in your face as though you were a car or a piece of cake or some other inanimate object.

At 5pm on the 6th anniversary, there was a lot of buzz and anger. People were out shouting about how it was a conspiracy. How there was another building, 7 WTC, that went down that same day. You can’t really see into the site anymore. Now it is officially growing like a pot of boiling water. I don’t know if they moved the piece of scaffolding that was shaped like a cross. The Deutsche Bank building is finally coming down. I won’t argue whether all this is good or bad.

Being there on the 11th, I feel like it should just be a memorial. The economy seems to be doing better without buildings there. I would feel like I was on sacred ground were I to do any kind of business on that site. It seems like we are moving more rapidly into breaking the promise of “never forgetting”. I am troubled by the fact that no one has taken responsibility. I am worried we are tipping the world and messing ourselves up over something that we may never know the truth about.

As I wander around the city, I am astounded by the buildings that go up at the speed of a sneeze. The contrast between these high-priced mega towers with their glass edifices and the small, almost sad but charming older buildings is unsettling. Everyone is going real estate crazy and it seemed to get jacked up after 9/11. Like people lost a bit of themselves with those buildings and now they going out and getting one of their own. Or many. We are getting obese on real estate along with fatty foods. We will be moving back to a time of landlords and serfs before you know it. I saw that The Onion made a joke article about the widening gap between the rich and the super rich. It’s funny because it’s true.