Sunday, January 29, 2017

Please Write Your Senator and Congressional Representative

There have been so many outrageous political happenings this week that it's hard to know where to start.  A sweeping new immigrant ban (temporary?  really?).  Cutting all funding for the arts and humanities.  Muzzling the EPA and National Park Service and many more governmental departments, while nominating leaders for them that hate those departments...  It's a blitzkrieg.

But a good place for a concerned citizen to start is by writing their congress people.

To that end I've designed a couple postcards.  Inspired by the anthem that flash-mobbed at the Washington DC Women's March...

"I Can't Keep Quiet."

MILCK and the GW Sirens at the DC Women's March
singing "I Can't Keep Quiet" 

I love the song.  It captures exactly my emotions right now - seeing America going wrong I just can't keep quiet.  I won't keep quiet.  Let's each become "a one woman riot."  

(Guys very welcome!  Crowds!)

A great illustration, by the way, of how Art can reflect and influence current events.  Just as the musical Hamilton has.  As artists we have - sometimes - real POWER.  

Inspired by the protest song, here are these postcards:

These designs are gifted to the Public Domain.

These are designed to be printed at 4 1/4" x 6", the largest size U.S. Post Office rules allow.  Please feel free to print these on card stock.  Use 'em, share 'em, most of all, mail 'em!

Write to your reps and senators with your opinions on current policy.

Or call them.  Or visit their offices, or march, or...


Thursday, January 26, 2017

I Needed the Laugh

Awards can get a little... crazy.  

I just found out this year's nominations for The Column Awards.  

Perhaps you remember a couple of earlier posts of mine on the intricacies of scenic design and plagiarism versus legitimate reuse etc.  HERE and HERE. The short version is that a tree - and the rest of its set - for A Midsummer's Night's Dream somehow ended up, to its designer's surprise, on stage again as a set for Camelot.

A Midsummer's Night's Dream, Trinity Shakespeare Festival - 
set design DEFINITELY by Bob Lavallee

Camelot, Lyric Stage - photographer unknown 
set design still by Bob Lavallee... or, and... well, it's complicated

So... now BOTH sets have been nominated for awards!  The Shakespeare play's set as "Best Original Scenic Design of a Play - Equity" and its Camelot zombie-after-life as "Best Original Scenic Design of a Musical - non-Equity."  This is credited to both it's actual designer and to its imaginary nom-de-repaint-it-we-won't-say-plagiarism designer, Cornelius Parker.  

That rascal.


As a side note, I am appropriately honored to discover that two shows of my own are also so honored:  Kind Lady, for Mainstage Irving-Las Colinas and The Winter's Tale, for Trinity Shakespeare Festival.  

But I'll happily lose - twice! - to that gorgeous tree.

PS I'd be very happy to credit the photographer of that Camelot photo if anyone knows?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


Unknown photographer, please allow this usage

Today sees the new Trump Administration taking a swing at the environment.  

You know, all those "purple mountains majesty" and "amber waves of grain."  


some of us are kinda fond of the stuff.  It being our birthright n' all.  Protest has begun.  (See above, Greenpeace protest flag.)

The new government's first steps have been to stop the EPA acting and to muzzle it and Department of the Interior - along with Human Services and still other departments.  No public communication, no tweets or texts or blogs or talking to journalists or to the public.  Wiping websites of climate and other scientific data.


some brave park rangers aren't having that.  Here's their response, an alt-National Park Service twitter page.  Here facts and science and truth still have a home on the range.


How could we pick this leader?  As usual, Shakespeare says it best:

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day

Well, Donald Trump gets sworn in today.

Yesterday's political-news leak was that his proposed budget cuts spending for the Arts and Humanities to $ 0.

The Hill's Alexander Bolton reports that Brian Darling, a former Heritage Foundation staffer now a Paul Ryan aide, said about this budget:

"The Trump Administration needs to reform and cut spending dramatically, and 
targeting waste like the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be a good first step ..."

Sure, every civilization up till today has created its Great Public Art - pyramids, Versailles, operas, Sistine Chapel ceiling, Bolshoi Ballet, Muppets - art that survives its era and glorifies it.  Historically, it is Art that makes a civilization remembered as great.  

Or remembered at all.

But that junk's all "waste" so why should the United States of America spend a nickel?

public domain image messed with

The Washington Post has a good article on the stupidity of this "budget" idea HERE.

Addendum #2:
Need the dollars and cents?  According to the NEA, the arts adds $700 billion - that's $700,000,000,000 - to the American economy every year and employs 5 million Americans.  For comparison, the oil and gas industry (as best I can figure out) employs around 2.1 million workers - less than half!

Watch a nice NEA film:

Monday, January 16, 2017


Now, I may completely enjoy the way gaf tape and paint are the lifesaving tools of theater construction, but I also appreciate real craftsmanship.  

Enjoy this video showing the crafting of a wooden box:

Did you feel all swoony at the dovetail joint bit?  Okay forget that gaf tape!  I demand dovetail joints on all my theater sets from now on!


Feeling calmer now.  

Speaking of craftsmanship... I'm feeling pretty happy with the progress of my next show for WaterTower Theater, which opens on the 23rd.  Silent Sky.  Meanwhile, here's a glimpse of the crafting of this set:

Silent Sky, WaterTower Theater, back of the flats

You're looking at the back of the curved wall - which is meant to suggest the astronomical observatory where much of the play's action happens, as well as the night sky.  Notice the tidy carpentry and the neat way the (mostly) concealed curved! door sets into it.

Silent Sky, faux "planks" going up

And here you see the opposite side of that wall, which has cardboard light-blocker underlayment with faux "planks" being attached.  These are slices of lauan, cleverly painted.

Silent Sky
BTW that apparent jog in the front edge of the stage?  Just a tech table gettin' in the way of my camera. Sorry.  I didn't want to disturb Tech by bobbing around to get a better shot.  The tornado warning sirens that brought 30 teenaged actors into the room for shelter that night seemed disturbance enough.  (They were very quiet and well-mannered actually - better than the weather.)

The painting is responding very nicely to changing theatrical lighting... and there's a little surprise to come too.

Come see!  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

New Year New (late!) Start

Superhero Baby New Year - public domain image.
Now, in the funny Doctor Who voice, "Welcome Citizen!"

Okay, I've been bad at blogging lately.

Been a little caught up with holidays and politics and work.  And writing actually.  One of my New Year's resolutions is to Finish the Book.  (There it is, out in the universe as a goal!)   Also eat better, exercise, sleep, yada yada...   Another big resolution is to be a more active citizen.  

Whatever your personal beliefs and political leanings, I think this past presidential campaign has proven to us all that:

A.  We all really really HATE politics.


B.  Politics is too important to be left to politicians, pundits, and idiots.

So.  Time to go talk to our friends and neighbors and - even more important - to listen! to them.  Past time to be better citizens.  No one party or person has a monopoly on good ideas or good will.  Let's work some stuff out sensibly, together. 

Me?  I'm talking politics with one neighbor now.  I've started donating (small amounts anyway) to groups involved with issues I care about.  I'm calling my state and local representatives about issues and leaving messages.  (This is supposed to work better than last year's emails.  For more advice check out HERE.)  I'm gearing myself up to go stuff envelopes or something for a political party - though I'm really an independent.  And I'm trying to decide where to volunteer in a social-help kinda way.  Where would my weird talents be most useful?

On the theatrical front, I'm working on several shows.

Sketching, sketching, sketching...

WaterTower Theater's Silent Sky techs this weekend!  It's going to be a good show.