Thursday, January 27, 2011

I'm so sorry for this...

...but my good friend Kate emailed a bunch of us this video, and I can't stop watching it, I'm obsessed. 

It just makes me so happy.

Now there's some HIGH stakes!

Everytime, I notice something new: the matching pants with the striped, shoulder-padded sweater, the meaningless two-second cut to parked cars, the obvious stunt double in the wheel chair when it goes over, the mysterious bandage on the crazy woman's hand, the extras at the party, the abstract painting on the wall while that old woman is having her head slammed againest it, the INSANE editing/close ups, the fabulous, thudding score...


Saturday, January 22, 2011


Today is Tommy's Birthday, but we both have to rehearse all day (Tommy for "Ajax" and myself for "Giovanni's Room") and then perform our shows at night ("Buckminster Fuller" and "Hysteria").
So we won't get to celebrate until late tonight.
But until then:
Happy Birthday, Tommy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Hotel Nepenthe: Sounds

Creepy Hotel Hallway, Shanghai, China
This travel blog photo's source is TravelPod page: Holiday Weekend in Shanghai 04.10.09 - 04.13.09

Cars -- driving, starting & revving,

Doors opening & slamming closed

Baby cries

A Terrifying Sound

Street & traffic

Televisions on 4 channels overlapping -- game shows, soap operas, old movies, news reports

Car crashes

An old Elevator -- doors opening, gears whirring, dings on arrival

Footsteps in corridors

Keys in locks

Doors slamming

Sex noises, heavy breathing, masturbation

Game show buzzers, bleeps, dings

Cell phone rings / musical ringtones

Breaking glass

Telephone rings

Applause / studio audience responding with oohs, ahhs, and etc.

Clock ticking - slowing down and speeding up

Musical Themes by Angelo Badalamenti ("Twin Peaks," "Mulholland Drive," "Blue Velvet")

Musical themes by Ennio Morricone (From the Album "Crime and Dissonance")

Musical Themes from Hitchcock Films ("Rope," "Vertigo")

Horror Movie Themes: "Halloween" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street "

Franz Schubert's setting for Ave Maria

Game show themes

Porno movie soundtrack (bow-chicka-bow-wow)

Theme from Bewitched

Theme from The Odd Couple

Theme from Knight Rider

Theme from One Day at a Time

Theme from The Six Million Dollar Man

Theme from Wonder Woman

I Want the One I Can't Have  - The Smiths

Heal the World  - Michael Jackson

Afternoon Delight -  Starland Vocal Band

Bohemian Rhapsody  - Queen

Hell of a Life -  Kanye West

Stairway to Heaven -  Led Zeppelin

Wake Me Up -  Wham!

(Note: This is a list of sounds our director, David Gammons, created for the play.  Strange to see them all listed here like this...)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Flip Book

Note: My good friend Paula sent me these 20 pics she took of me being foolish.  I think this was at the ASP benefit last year.  If you move them real fast, it's like an oldey timey cartoon!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dali and Bucky

We've opened Hysteria last weekend at the Central Square Theatre, in which I play surrealist painter Salvador Dali.

Meanwhile, Tommy opens R. Buckminster Fuller: the History (and Mystery) of the Universe this weekend, in which he plays the title role.

That's a picture of the spiral staircase in the lobby of the new Dali museum in Tampa.

And overhead is a riff on the geodesic dome, the invention of R. Buckminster Fuller.

I'm really excited to see Tommy play this role.

The play is really fascinating and moving and inspiring.  (I've been running lines with him on the couch when I can: It's a 65-page, very dense monologue!)

Tommy saw Hysteria on Saturday, and liked it very much, for the same reasons I like it: it takes gigantic risks in its shifting tones: wildly farcical one second, dark and disturbing the next.

I love the idea that occured to us during rehearsals: that the play is in some ways a Freudian representation of Freud's own mind:

Dr. Yahuda is the Super-Ego (who seems to live in the harsh reality of the present),

Dali is the Id (who resides in the off-kilter world of the English farce Freud just attended, Rookery Nook),

and Jessica a visitor from Jung's garden outside: his Anima, the unconscious - and repressed -  feminine expression, tap tap tapping on his window (she even introduces herself as that, early in the play).

Really having fun performing this play: it's a great group of people, and the audiences seem to be enjoying the show and going along with all the surreal twists and turns.

Tommy's director, Doug Jacobs, who also wrote/assembled the play and is a Buckminster Fuller expert, came to the show as well and sent a very nice email afterwards, which I thought was really interesting, as I had no idea that Buckminster Fuller and Dali actually knew each other. 

But, of course, they did!

Here's part of his email:

"Hysteria had a strong afterlife for me. Much to ponder.

Did you know Dali and Bucky knew each other? As an adult, Allegra (Fuller's daughter) only traveled extensively with Bucky once, going to Greece and then Spain. In one airport, they heard a scream..."Bucky!" It was John Cage running at them with his long legs flying, in Madrid, I think.

Later they had lunch at Dali's home, and Allegra remembers Bucky and Dali talking extensively about the painting I've attached.

This painting was important to my brother and I during the summer of 67, when we worked as waiters in DC, going to the National Gallery on the mall on our days off. This was before I knew anything about Bucky. We'd go into the gallery and stare at the attached painting before moving on to the rest of the collection.
When Dali was alive, he wanted a dome on his museum, and he wanted it flown in by helicopter. He got the dome, but not the helicopter.

When Eleanor Morse died last summer at age 97 (her husband died in 2000), she left behind a request that the new museum bear a geodesic dome — the kind invented by Buckminster Fuller, whom Dalí knew and admired — like the one at Fundació Dalí in Spain. Called the Glass Enigma — the proper name for the architectural feature I keep calling "the blob" — an irreverent take on Bucky's dome. Against the stability of the concrete museum, the globular Enigma stands out as an avant-garde flourish: a dash of mischief layered on top of solid tradition.

"Without being too imitative, it's an example of the two principal ideas of Dalí," Hine says."

This link goes to an article on the Dali museum...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bond Girl

…and in all honesty, I KNEW I didn’t like him,

the moment I met him.

I didn’t like his face.

His whole head.

I didn’t like his head.

But I don’t like my own head.


There you go.

If I was a Bond girl, none of this would be happening to me.

I would be in a glittering, skin-tight gown, at a casino.



Gun in my clutch.

Stiletto in my garter.

If he had been a surgeon, rather than a shrink,

he would have just cut me open, right there.

That’s all they want to do.

Cut you open.

Even when you don’t need it.

It’s so they’ll get paid.

Like they need more money.

Fat cats.


I’m lucky in that regard.

I suppose.

That he was a head doctor.

A witch doctor.

Shrinking heads.

Where is this office of his, anyway?

This is all brownstones, on this street.

These are people’s HOMES, for god sake.

Maybe he LIVES in his office…

These buildings all look the same.

How can I forget where something is?

I was just there last week,

When he gave me these nasty pills.

But it’s about the ANGLE, isn’t it?

How you come IN upon something…

And it’s about context.

Isn’t it?

And I was walking in from Copley last time.

Not from Mass. Ave.

Why is the South End so confusing?

They just paved over the cow paths when they made this city.

That’s what they did.

Boston is just a bunch of cow paths.

For a cow like me.

Where IS this guy?

Why is everyone staring at me?

Shut up, Estelle.

They aren’t.

It’s the pills, those fucking…

I don’t like these pills.

These are NOT good.

It’s some sort of reaction.

Calm down.

Deep breaths.

Just find the doctor’s office.

It’s around here somewhere.

Everyone is talking on a cell phone.

Why is that?

What could be THAT important?

You’re just jealous,

because you don’t have someone in your life like that,

someone to call on your cellphone

while you’re walking down the street.

In your skin tight, glittering gown.


Not stirred.

Stirred up.

“Oh, James…”

You just need a new prescription.

Just tell him: “These pills do NOT work.”

I need to go back to the old ones.

The old pills.

I don’t know him, that’s the problem.

And he doesn’t know me, doesn’t know my body.

How my mind works, all that gray murkiness up there.

That’s the problem, really.

That’s the trouble with getting a new doctor.

I liked my old doctor.

But he was TOO old.

What sort of doctor has the nerve to DIE before you do?

It’s really just thoughtless.

And now this new doctor wants to change everything.

And these new pills aren’t working.

I like the old pills.

I like my old doctor.

My old, dead doctor.

I should be married and be loved, by now.

By someone.

Because that’s a marker.

Is that what that’s called?

Getting married, having children?


Because I have none of those things, and I’m 34.

How difficult it is to find someone to be with when you’re 34?

Don’t answer that.

Keep walking.

Bond girls don’t get married.

They don’t need anyone.

Just adventure.

And some lip gloss.

I have got to change this prescription.

These pills are NOT working.

I’m set in my ways.

That’s part of it.

I don’t like new things.

I have my yoga classes, and I like to eat certain things at certain times.

I flirted with anorexia for a while in college, but who didn’t?

I just like cheese too much.

I think you should take a right here.


A left.

Take a left.

Down that street.

It seems nice.

And the air is so brisk right now.

And I’m not in a hurry to get home, am I?

Why am I repeating myself?

It’s like a song.

Da da da da da.

It’s hard to walk on these brick sidewalks.

I wonder if Cheryl is home.

I want to murder Cheryl.

I have dreams of murdering Cheryl.

Is that strange, to want to murder your roommate?

I think it would be strange NOT to want to murder your roommate.

Why do I have a roommate?

I’m 34.

Am I 35?

I don’t remember.

What sign am I?


When is that?


What am I going to be for Halloween this year?

I was a sexy nurse last year.

Maybe I’ll be a sexy secretary.

Or a sexy scientist.

Like the one in “Moonraker”.

Who was the Bond Girl in “Moonraker”, anyway?

Why am I thinking of that?

My father loved James Bond movies.

My Father is dead.

I forgot all about that!

Thanks a LOT, new pills!

Do I want to get married?

Take a left, and then a right.

And then go straight.

You’re almost there.

Bond girl.

(British accent) “Why Mr. Bond, however did you get in here…?”

This is the street where you saw the two dachshunds that one time.

And you saw the two guys holding hands, and you thought: oh my god, its two GUYS,

and they’re HOLDING HANDS,

and it IS the South End, after all,

I suppose,

but I thought all the gays had moved out by now.

And the yuppies had moved in.

I’d rather have the gays than the straights.

I don’t like baby carriages, in cafes.

They take up SO much ROOM.

It’s just.


And those babies CRY.

And it sounds like murder.

And If I’m paying 8 dollars for a cup of soup.

I want to eat it in silence.


And then right.

Should I go into this convenience store?

I need some lip balm.

It’s chilly.

On my lips.

Chilly lips.

Lois Chiles!

She played Dr. Goodhead!

In “Moonraker”.

I hope she’s happy, somewhere.

Right now.

My Dad would have known that.

I would call him on my cell phone right now.

If he wasn’t so dead.

Lip balm always makes my lips even MORE chapped.

Why is that?

Am I going crazy?

Those pills aren’t working.

The new ones.

I’ll have to tell her that.

Lois Chiles.

These new pills.

Aren’t working.

It’s a juggling act, I know.

That last time, those TERRIBLE pills.

And I was up all night.

And I painted the living room green.

And all the furniture too.

And Cheryl had a fit.

Because I painted her futon.

Who has a futon these days?

It’s SO 1987.

It just seemed like a good idea, at the time.

But it’s was really the pills.

They just weren’t working.

But maybe these pills aren’t working either.

I’m feeling a little anxious.

It’s OK to be anxious. There’s nothing wrong with that.

And guys can hold hands.

It’s just

And I know this is crazy.

But if they weren’t gay.

Maybe one of them would be dating me.

And I wouldn’t be so lonely

And taking pills

And plotting to kill my roommate.

And dreaming of Bond girls.

So, in a way

This is all the Gays fault.

I wonder if Cheryl is a lesbian?

Maybe we could get drunk together and explore that one night.

Feminine sexuality is so fluid.

Would I seduce her?

Would she seduce me?

Would that villain watch us?

And stroke his white Persian cat?

All Bond villains were gay.

And effete.

And liked cats.

And then they moved to the South End of Boston.

And found a boyfriend.

And held hands.

All eight of them.

Like Octopussy.

What the fuck does that MEAN?

Where is the door?

I need to get to this appointment NOW.


Right now.

These pills don’t work.

And I’m anxious.

And I’m talking to myself.

But it’s all in my head.

Isn’t it?

I’m just talking in my head.

Not out loud.

Because then people would stare at me.

But why do I feel like someone is listening?

Like they can hear me?

Like they can listen to my thoughts?

Why is everyone on a cell phone?

Are they listening to me?

That’s crazy.

You’re crazy Estelle.

They aren’t spies.

You aren’t a Bond girl.

I should stop in the convenient store and get a roll of tin foil.

Tin foil blocks the cell phone transmitters.

Like the time the aliens were going to kidnap that doctor.

From “Moonraker”

The Bond girl

Dr. Goodhead!

Dr. Holly Goodhead.

Oh, I get it now: her name is a double entendre!

It means she’s going to fuck James Bond’s brain out in space later on in the movie.

Which she does.

Oh Ian Fleming, you’re such a cad!

Dr. Goodhead. Ha ha.

Pussy Galore. Ho Ho.

Plenty O’Toole.

Xenia Onatopp.


Why did I never notice that before?

I have to say: I find the sexism and homophobia of James Bond films



I miss it.

Like I miss my pills.

My old pills.

For my old head.

My good head.

From my dead doctor.

Dr. Goodhead.

I wish I had a good head.

I wish my head would stop.

Where am I?

I’m still in the South End, still.



All the brownstones look the same.

I need to find that office.

I need to find my Doctor.

But all the offices looks like homes.

I need to go home.

Dr. Goodhead.

Fix my head.

I need people to stop calling my head.

Listening to me talking

In my head.

My good head.

Maybe if I took another pill.

Where are they?

Damn, I have to organize this bag.

I’m like a hobo.

Why am I carrying double A batteries around?


Here they are.

Maybe if I take just one, it will stop this.

Just one.

I need some water.

Maybe I can stop into the convenience store and get a Fresca

And some tin foil and some lip balm

Fuck it.

I’ll just chew the damn thing.




Down the hatch.

Maybe that will stop the -



















Saturday, January 8, 2011


I'm drinking coffee that is "bananas foster" flavored right now.

True coffee connoisseurs, I'm sure, are horrified at such an idea.

But damn, it's good!

Very banana


Hysteria has opened to preview audiences this weekend, and it's so helpful/informative to have an audience responding to the comedy. 

This is a strange lull in the middle of the storm: rehearsals are over, but we still have yet to open.

There are still things to work on, but they are technical/non-actor for the most part.

There's this really neat event that is supposed to happen onstage, for example, that hasn't happened yet due to some sort of gremlin somewhere.

You wouldn't really know it didn't happen if you were in the audience.

But, of course, WE know.

And, of course, you never really stop working/discovering/finding out new things until the play has actually closed.

And sometimes even after that...

So anyway, I have to jump back into other projects now that Hysteria is up and running.

Began writing a ten minute play for the Huntington.

They are re-vamping the cell phone plays they did last year for a festival with the ART and ICA.

(Note: A cell phone play is a play you listen to on your cell phone.  VERY different from a Twitter play.)

They invited us all to do it again, which was nice of them.

New this year: they got $ from somewhere to actually pay us a little bit!


I am going to spend that money on snack cakes and spray paint.

The NY Times said today that we will live forever on the Internet.

Whether we like it or not.

So, if I were to keel over right now, my last thoughts to the world would be about Bananas Foster Coffee.

And really: there could be a worse legacy.

I read  - somewhere, during the big MOMA retrospective of her work last year -  of a piece by the performance artist Marina Abramovic.

She stood perfectly still in a space amidst all these different objects and invited the audience to "apply" them to her body in some way.

Amongst the objects:

a scalpel. 


But also a flower. 

Cotton balls.

And apparently the audience began to fight.

Because some of the audience members wanted to stab her with the scalpel, etc.

To hurt and/or maim and/or murder her.

Because they had been invited, somehow, to do so.

By her.

And the other audience members had to restrain them.

And all the while, Marina Abramovic stood perfectly still.  Helpless.  Defenseless.

A strange position she put herself in: to trust a roomful of strangers.

Which I guess is what the piece was about, in part:

To illuminate what might the only thing holding some people back from committing truly nasty deeds:


Which is a really creepy, disturbing thought.

Like that experiment with the guy in a lab coat telling people to "continue" pushing the buttons while someone screams in pain from an adjoining room.

Or like when Kitty Genovese was murdered for over an hour in a parking lot, while all her neighbors watched from their windows above.

And no one called the police.

I'm not sure where this is going.

Just trying to get ideas for the play, I suppose.


I think I just drank too much coffee.

Bananas.  Foster.  Flavored.  Coffee.

This year, my cell phone play is about a woman wandering thru the South End, tripping her brains out on some sort of psychiatric drug.

And Lip Balm.

And James Bond films.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Freud by Dali

We are almost there!

Two more days of rehearsing and tech before our first preview in front of an audience.

Still a lot of technical things to figure out, but it all seems doable.

Dali spends a lot of stage time sketching Freud.

It's a little intimidating, as I'm not a very good drawer (and certainly not the artist that Dali was!) so I try to keep the sketchbook facing upstage as much as possible as I doodle away.

the pencils also have a tendency to disappear during all the farcical shenanigans, so I need to have some extras lying around on the desk, as back-ups!

Here are the actual Dali sketches of Freud, which I'm trying my best to duplicate.

At one point, Dali says Freud has a head "like a snail".  I can see that here, definitely!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Hotel Nepenthe: The Dispatcher

I'm sorry, Miss.  None of the cabs are free...

I'm like that guy.  In space...

Everything is the same, except for one little thing...

Dead.  Instantly.  Did a lot of damage to "Frozen Foods" as well, I heard.

He's in love, but he can't tell her.

She smelled like lemons and Noxema.


A day off today.

Then a ten out of twelve tomorrow. 

(A ten out of twelve, btw, is theatre talk for when you work 12 hours with a two-hour break during technical rehearsals  - "tech" -  at the theatre.  It's usually right before dress rehearsals/previews, when all the design elements - costumes, lights, sound, set and props - are added in, and it's typically very exhausting for everyone, but informative: you really get a sense of what this play world looks and feels like, and how it works.  I didn't want to assume that everyone reading this is involved in theatre and knows what I'm talking about...)

Hysteria is going to be an interesting/unusual tech.

I don't want to give too many of the plays' surprises away, but by the end of the piece, the naturalistic setting literally vanishes, and this hallucinatory, surreal, Dali-like world suddenly takes hold.

There's a stage direction in the script that literally reads:  "The walls melt."

So we need to figure out how to melt the walls of the set.


Lots of other crazy things occur as well, that go above and beyond a typical "this is your costume/prop/exit light" technical rehearsal.

It's also a farce. 

So we need to get the timing down perfectly.

If we get it all right, it's going to be so great!

It's a wonderful team of designers: John Malinowski, Gail Buckley, Janie Howland, Dewey Dellay.

We have our first preview performance this coming Thursday.