The Puppeteers: Simulcra & Pareidolia

As I mentioned back in September (see 9/20/10), I'm writing more and more on the development 'blog for the next Zuppa show.  If you want to follow along, feel free!  Right now the ideas are big and broad.  They will narrow from discussions of theme to tiny details of fart gags, just you wait and see.  My latest entry discusses ideas of creation and recognition.  A snippet to whet:

Many [human] instincts apply to our tendency toward seeing faces in things with whose creation we had little or nothing to do - pareidolia.  We see faces in woodgrain, water stains, toast.  You name it.  Of course we're inclined toward this for a variety of reasons, but what interests me about it are a few possibilities outside the realm of anything logical:
  • Maybe we're more inclined to pareidolia when we're lonely, or feel great need of some kind.
  • What if, instead of seeing faces because of a need, we're seeing them because we in some way recognize an object in front of us in some personal way?
  • What if pareidolia leads to a relationship, the way the supposed recognition involved in "love at first sight" can?
 Read the rest here: Simulacra & Pareidolia.

The Puppeteers; or, In Spite of It All

The development 'blog for the next Zuppa del Giorno show went live today, and here is where you can see it all go down:

.  Watch, enjoy, and comment as you see fit (comments


 be moderated, however).  I'm excited to make this show a little more "open source" to its audience and our friends who for one reason or another may not be able to make it out to Scranton in the dead of winter.

We have also finally scheduled our first official development rehearsal: October 2-3, to be held in New York City.  It was my ambition to have our first this weekend, but with actors in three (count 'em) different states of this great country of ours (well: two states and a commonwealth) it just was not mean to be.  So we'll get as good a start as we may at the beginning of October, and see where we all end up at the end of that.

I've avoided writing too much about this process in the Aviary thus far in the interests of keeping it private until we had a little more sense of direction - but just a little more.  The evolution of this show will be intricate and slow, and I'm excited by the prospects of both our invited collaborators, and anyone else who decides to poke their noses in.  As a result of my excitement, you may be seeing a bit less of me here at the Aviary, for which I do apologize.  But if you need me, you'll know where to look.

Le Provi Specifica

So. Hi. Sorry for the adamant lapses, but I am at this moment sitting in a tiny piazza in Montefiascone where we have discovered available WiFi. This is tantamount to finding gold, or an Etruscan ruin heretofore undiscovered, hence the long delays. Also, we are busy. Very, very busy, so I can't even pre-write and load an entry all that easily. I could no doubt find a few hot spots in Rome tomorrow during our little trip to see a Plautus show in the Roman ruins, but I'll be honest with you -- I care more about my shoulder hefting about Gracie here than I do about 'blogging. Mi dispiace. I'll make it up to you, I promise.

It goes well with me here. Every day is a new adventure in highs and lows, and everyone has had their little panics, but on the whole the group is amazing and the work is wonderful. We've seen no less than three theatre productions of various sorts (not including tomorrows), learned a lot of Italian, learned a classic Scala scenario, been to the hot springs and an arts festival in Spoleto, had some time at il lago di Bolsena, had master classes with two Italian actors, some great meals, and Friend Heather and I even performed our clown Romeo & Juliet for a crowd of appreciative Italians in a renovated Spanish amphitheater. It goes well with me here.

I miss you all, but I wouldn't have missed this for the world. I'll write more in detail soon. Or later. That's me being very Italian . . .

Face to Face

Curious side effect of my acceptance into the Cult of Facebook: I believe it has affected the readership of this here 'blog here. Unfortunately, I am not computer-savvy enough to figure out how to quantify that change. I do know that the readership growth (growth in this context being a very, very relative term) for Odin's Aviary has slowed over the past year, though I attribute that more to Google Reader and RSS feeds than anything related to Facebook. No, the more interesting change -- more interesting by far -- is how many people are now reading my thoughts who haven't been privy to them for five, ten, and in a few cases even twenty years. I could no doubt increase this number by "tagging" friends for each entry, were it not that I'm pretty lucky to get as many posts published as I do with the time I have, anyway. The point is that my audience has had an intersting development in quality lately, in spite of a seeming falling-off in quantity.

Now, I'm not trying to imply that people I already know who read my 'blog are in some way better than them what don't. By "quality," I mean the overall identity of my audience. (An "overall identity" is a pretty interesting-slash-meaningless concept, but you get what I mean. I hope.) When I first started doing shows in New York -- which is as much as to say, when I started being a true professional actor -- I quickly became fascinated with the relationship between audience and creator. This fascination existed in a very immediate sense, not some theoretical or academic speculation, and it continues for me today. Just who are these people who are coming out to engage in theatre? And, perhaps more interestingly, who are the ones that no one on the production side knows, and what do they come seeking? Odds are, when you're sitting in the audience of an off-off-Broadway show, most everyone around you knows somebody involved in some respect (so watch what you say) but there are always at least a handful who don't, who are there for an evening's entertainment, or for something they don't even know yet. Maybe this isn't as curious as I find it; after all, in big productions all sorts of strange people are filling the 1000+ seats and looking for something other than seeing their friend on stage. Still -- to my audiences -- who are you, really?

So both are interesting, friends and strangers. Hello. Welcome. Try not to rely on this 'blog for too many of those promised fart jokes.

Wife Megan

and I have had several conversations lately about people we feel we know who don't know us -- Neil Gaiman, mostly. It's a very Gaiman-y season. I recently re-read

American Gods

(and I rarely re-read books) and rented


. I just read and loved his two-shot Batman comic "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?", we're seeing the musical adaptation of


this Sunday and seeing the man himself at a talk at Used Housing Works Bookstore in the latter half of the month. May is positively Gaiman-esque. And it's funny, because we both feel awfully close to the man, and he has no idea about us. Really, we have no idea about him, personally. It's just that his writing has influenced us so, kept us company, driven away boredom and provoked thought and emotion in us, that, well . . . it's hard not to want to make the man breakfast the next morning. Oh, you're up! How do you like your eggs,

American Gods

? I have cleaned and pressed your trenchcoat,

Anansi Boys

. Please,

Fragile Things

, don't bother about the bed. I need to change the sheets anyway.

Yes; I acknowledge that analogy as just this side of creepy. Alright: Way over here with me in downtown Creepyburg.

What does this have to do with showcases presented in under-99-seat theatres, or a 'blog that gets in just over 50 hits on a good day? I suppose what I take from it is that we extend farther than we may be aware, we influence more, touch (perhaps at times inappropriately) many more lives than can be evident, even with the aid of all things TwitterFaceSpace. It's a reminder I value. It reminds me, in fact, of a big reason for doing this stuff -- all this exploring, communicating, connective stuff -- in the first place. Because it matters, to people we know and those we have yet to meet.

Coulrophobia: A Voice of Dissent

Now, I don't agree entirely with the below, but it made me laugh:


People Who Claim to Be Afraid of Clowns

"These people (and they are numerous) are attempting to cultivate a cute quirk, but they are really just aping a cute quirk cultivated by thousands of cute-quirk-cultivators before them in a giant, gross, boring feedback loop. Yes, clowns can be mildly creepy. But come on. Among the many things that are scarier than clowns: fire, earthquakes, a guy with a knife, riding the bus, colon cancer, falling down the stairs (it could happen at any time!), rapists, people who just kind of look a little rapey and are standing too close to you in line at 7-Eleven, Marlo from

The Wire

, influenza, and scissors." -- Lindy West @ the Stranger


] The whole article is generally hilarious and true, though with coarse language by the consumption of which some of our less-jaded readers may be forever altered.

See my (potentially wasted) ruminations on coulrophobia heres: 1/28/08 & 7/18/08.

Post script: The above image may take some figuring to associate with this topic, but fans of horror fiction and 80s miniseries should be all set.