Thursday, January 31, 2008

Voices in print and on the air

Big press day for Stolen Chair and our Pirates of the Aegean party. We're a VOICE CHOICE (with the inset picture taking up almost the entire page!) in this week's Village Voice, and a podcast I moderated about indie theatre fundraising hit the NYtheatrecast website today.

So...hit the new stands, plug in your ipods, and get inundated by Stolen Chair's media-industrial complex :)! YOUR TICKETS!!!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The new news: 1/30/08

Last newsletter of the month went out today. The pirate party headlined, accompanied by a reminder that admission is 33% cheaper if you buy online before party time rolls around. it. Buy online. Now.

Only other item was a plug for the K'spiel photos and the announcement that K'spiel DVDs are now for sale. $10 if you want 'em. Just email me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kinderspiel long last

Wow it took me a long time to get Aviva's lovely K'spiel photos on the company hard-drive, into our Picasa page, and then on the website. Here they are, looking quite Kantor-ian, if we do say so ourselves:

Monday, January 28, 2008

The busiest weekend of Stolen Chair's life...or one of them

Whoah. I am astonished I've survived to write this. This weekend (by which I only mean Saturday and Sunday) featured 2 marathon rehearsals of the swashbuckler culminating in a semi-staged reading (for which nearly 25 people showed up: surprising, since we were expecting 3), a podcast for I moderated about indie theatre fundraising (posting later this week), a decorating party for our fundraiser (less than a week away! visit and buy your tickets now!), and our quarterly board meeting.

Here's what John Clancy over at Scrappy Jack's had to say about last night's reading. (He even manages to plug like mad for our party. Oh, John, how we do love thee!)
Saw the first reading of the first part of Stolen Chair's latest last night, working title The Tragic Swashbuckler. Going to be great. Part three of their Cinetheatre Tetralogy, this time it's Errol Flynn meets Sophocles. So fucking funny and smart. Everyone needs to go to their big Pirate Party this weekend, Saturday the 2nd at the Underwater Lounge out in Dumbo. Nancy and I will be out on Long Island, partying like respectable people, but the rest of you can party like pirates. Live swordfighting, a Delphic oracle, DJs, all like that. Info and tickets at
So, yeah, the reading went pretty well (I will post a pic as soon as we get them downloaded); we never know what to expect with these things. It was great to hear people laughing at the reading. Sure, we camped up some material that might be a little more earnest in production, but I think a lot of laughs showed that people were on board with this crazy concept. Still working out the kinks with the tragic chorus but I feel like that's a pretty universal struggle for all playwrights and directors dealing with that trope.

Mission for the next few days is to turn our working title into a title that works...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Raping and Plundering and Photoshopping!

Here are my faves from our ever-so-much-fun photoshoot with the brilliant Carrie Leonard, shot on location at our party venue, the Underwater Lounge (one swanky space, if I might add!).


Monday, January 21, 2008

Aviva Meyer's swanky design for the pirate party website is now uploaded and pretty damn cool. Check it out at and buy your tickets now!!!

We just did a photo shoot to promote the party. Best. Stolen Chair activity. Ever. I'll post photographer Carrie Leonard's gallery for the day tomorrow or later in the week.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The new news: Party like pirates!!!

January newsletter #1 of 2 just went out to our subscribers. Read it here and sign up here to have the next one delivered straight to your email.

Here's the headlining news:
Stolen Chair presents Pirates of the Aegean (2/2)
A swashbuckling pirate dance party with an Ancient Greek twist.

Dust off your eye-patch and finish sewing your tunic, because on February 2nd, Stolen Chair will be swashbuckling our way into the Underwater Lounge for our Pirates of the Aegean fundraising party. DJ's, live swordfights, a Delphic oracle, and more.

Buy your tickets now at

  • Enter an underground pirate ship and maraud the coasts of ancient Greece!
  • Witness live swordfights fought with naked steel on the dance floor!
  • Discover what the fates have in store for your future at our Delphic Oracle!
  • Savor a glass ’er two o’ Captain’s Blood!
  • Dance as our sails are filled by music from three rockin DJ’s:
    -Been Jammin makes you shake your booty with Soulful Funky House Beats o
    -Friar Tuck’s hip-shakin' mix of funky house, breakbeat, and electro-techno will get you on the dancefloor and put a smile on your face
    -Shane Digital brings you thumpin mashup and some Baltimore club

…with clairvoyant performances by Lulu Miller and Jonathan Harford, spectacular swordplay by fight master Barbara Seifert, and d├ęcor by Laura Sheedy and David Bengali.

Doors open at 9pm and the party runs until 3am.

Tickets are $14 at the door (or $9 in costume) and $9 advance tickets are available at

@ The Underwater Lounge
located in the Water Street Restaurant
66 Water Street, Brooklyn
-Click here for map-

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


This is the much much much belated recap of our mid-December creative retreat for The Tragic Swashbuckler (working title). It was easily the best retreat in recent memory: good interpersonal vibes, good food, good drink, and um...good theatre! Click here to skip right to the photos.

The goal of the retreat was to figure out how the production's concept would balance the two influences: swashbucklers and Greek tragedy. Was this going to be a swashbuckler staged in Ancient Greek period? Would this be a Greek tragedy set on the Renaissance high seas? 20% swashbuckler, 80% tragedy? We left very confident about how to steer this ship (oh the nautical references are only just beginning, my friends!). We decided we would borrow some plot tropes, use of the chorus, and portrayal of violence from Greek tragedy and fuse it with the character archetypes, overall plotting, and moral/national fluidity from swashbucklers.

We also spent some time messing around with the biography of John Paul Jones, the "American" (really Scottish) pirate who is considered the father of the American navy. And it disturbed/delighted me oh so much to see us play around with the idea of American patriotism in an earnest way. Scary potent stuff. Talk about alienation-effect: scream at a downtown NYC audience and flash bright lights at them and they'll eat it up; but offer them up a slab of American patriotism (without the side of irony) and you'll have people lining up at the exits. Who'd of thunk that could be so darn provocative?

Another visceral discovery: combining swashbuckling and tragic modes of violence. In a swashbuckler, laughter abounds in climactic duels to the death but the deaths in the tragedies are...well...tragic. They are heavy. Devastating. Irrevocable. You get the sense that Sabatini (the novelist who penned most of the stories that would later become swashbuckler films, most of which starred Errol Flynn, were directed by Michael Curtiz, and scored by Erich Korngold) would hardly blush at the idea of bringing a character back from the dead after he's been run through, but Sophocles...if Sophocles is bringing someone back from the dead, it's to torture the already miserable protagonist. So, the idea of watching two laughing antagonists prance around with swords as they exchange witty repartee and then deal with the actual tragic consequences of their actions just gives me the shivers. I like the shivers.

One more thing. Or rather, one more thing before I paste in a few pages summarizing our activities over the weekend. Read Sabatini's Scaramouche and see the awful Mel Gibson movie The Patriot right now. They are both tragic swashbucklers, brilliantly and manipulatively dealing with the same cliches and contradictions that we're exploring in this piece. Do not, however, SEE Scaramouche (an awful unfaithful adaptation) or READ anything Mel Gibson says.

Here's what day 1 looked like (sorry for the wacky font sizes and any obscurely named exercises):

10:15-11:15: Warm up and Exercises

  • Personal Warm-up
  • One-Two, Princes Who'll Adore You
  • Chorus work:
    • Balancing the stage
    • 2, 4, 6
    • Shipwreck: using only the body and voice, create a shipwreck. you are the elements (water, wind), the boat, and the people on it.
  • Swashbuckling characters

11:15-11:35pm: "Ha ha ha ha ha" (Comp #3)

  • Plot of Robin Hood
  • Only text can be laughter
  • One moment of Choral laughter

11:35pm-1pm: "Pirates of the Aegean" (Comp #4)

  • Use plot from Trojan War (Greeks vs Trojans, Gods), but each character on stage must correspond to a swashbuckling archetype
  • Chorus is onstage the entire time and two actors play all roles.
  • Chorus watches a battle which is appearing in the audience
  • An oath declaring what separates the Greeks from the Trojans
  • Use 4 different levels
  • Curtain peels back to reveal tableaux of tragic ending
  • Use 5 lines of text from the Iliad and 5 lines from Sea Hawk screenplay (Spend no more than 10 minutes finding text)

1pm-1:45pm: Lunch

1:45-2:30: "Captain Blood Curse" (Comp #5)

  • Adapt plot and characters of Oedipus Rex into swashbuckling archetypes
  • Use a maximum of 10 lines from Sophocles' text (Spend no more than 10 minutes finding text)
  • One "sped up" fighting sequence
  • Do not use a chorus
  • The entire scene must be set to the soundtrack of The Sea Hawk

2:30-4:00: "I have not yet begun to fight" (Comp #6)

  • Plot from the biography of John Paul Jones
  • The scene must be structured: Prologue, Parados, First Episode, First Stasimon, Second Episode, Second Stasimon, Third Episode, Third Stasimon, Exodus (
  • The chorus is American revolutionaries
  • The song "God Save the Thirteen States" should be the Parados (stanzas 1, 3, & 4) (
  • 6 purposes of chorus pg 148 of packet
  • Use quotes from biography

4pm-4:30: Coffee break

4:30pm-6:30pm: Swordplay exercises (@ Molinari Hall)

And day 2:

10:15-12:15: More swordplay exercises

12:15-12:30: Snack Break

12:30-1:30: Comp #7

  • Work in partners
  • Use text from Prisoner of Zenda
  • Sword fight itself should be in swashbuckling style
  • When Rupert is stabbed, his death should be "real" and Rudolf is stunned and horrified by the murder he has committed

1:30-2:15: Lunch

2:15-4:00: Comp #8

  • Setting is Jacobean England, English colonies, and Caribbean Sea
  • Plot must include:
    • Incestuous relationship unknown to lovers
    • Someone's life must be sacrificed to save a ship
    • Protagonist must avenge a death even though he/she will be punished for that vengeance
    • Hubris
  • Characters must include:
    • Captain Blood archetype
    • Queen Elizabeth archetype
    • Rupert or Basil Rathbone archetype
    • Colonel Bishop or Prince John archetype
    • Arabella Bishop archetype
  • The protagonist must go through 4 identity transformations (pirate, Englishman, etc.)
  • Laughter in every episode
  • Choral prologue and then no chorus after that
  • Call and response speech ("What are we going to do with this money?" "Give it to Richard!")
  • A sea battle
  • 6 levels
  • Patriotic pageantry
  • Sped up duel which ends in off stage tragedy which is revealed in tableaux
  • Happy ending (not ironic!)

And now...silly photos:

Thanks to Dave Gochfeld and Barbara Seifert for joining the Chairs for the weekend!