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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Archive for July, 2009

I Am My Own Wife

Monday, July 20th, 2009

I Am My Own Wife
By Doug White
Directed by Alan Bruun
Mad Cow Theatre, Orlando, FL

While cross dressing still carries a stigma in today’s occasionally tolerant world, it was even less accepted in the Nazi/Communist world of East Germany during and after the War. In this gripping one man show, Keith Kirkwood sheds his Scots accent and adopts a mélange of “Aw shucks” American and a fairly decent Prussian tinged Deutsch to tell the story of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, nee Lothar Berfelde. As a child, Charlotte took quickly to women’s clothing and spent her childhood in a peasant dress on her Aunt’s East Prussian horse farm, murdered her violent father, avoided Nazi assassination as the Reich crumbled, and survived as an antiques dealer and occasional Stassi informant until the Berlin Wall collapsed in 1990. Besides preserving herself, Charlotte saved on of the last Weimar cabarets, rebuilding it in the basement of her home outside of Berlin.

While the story is convoluted and sometimes self contradictory, there’s a humanity and sympathy underlying it that makes Kirkwood’s precise and carefully thought out actions entrancing. He mixes German and English, sometimes translating, sometimes not as he retells the surreal story in matter of fact tones. The central fetish of his life is a collection of gramophones and mechanical musical machines, and Charlotte amassed 12 thousand disks and cylinders. Many of them may have come from deported Jews and refugees from the Communists, but sometimes all you can save are the bones of the dead. Kirkwood imbues all 37 characters with distinct voices, even if his Americans seem a bit over played. It’s a story of bravery and fatalism, along with a marvelous acting performance.

For more information on Mad Cow, please visit http://www.madcowtheatre.com

Reservoir Dogs

Sunday, July 12th, 2009

Reservoir Dogs
By Quentin Tarantino
Adapted by David Strauss
Directed by Leesa Halstead
G.O.A.T. Theatre, Winter Park FL

There are two general types who shoot up a place – the revolutionary who wishes to transform society, the thief who wishes acceptance in society. Joe Cabot (Bret Carson) and his ensemble of color coded burglars claim professionalism, and that professionalism boils down to not having been caught recently. When a jewelry store heist blows up in their face, bullets fly and its clear there’s a rat in the kitchen, but whom? Mr. Brown (Channing Ogzewalla) isn’t a consideration, he’s dead. Mr. Orange (Stephen Pugh) took a bullet in his gut, and that’s enough for Mr. White (Paul Castaneda). Mr. White and Mr. Pink (Rob Delmonico) debate the other options – Mr. Blue (Charles Dent) is late to the rendezvous, Mr. Blond (Steve Hurst) started the shooting but thoughtfully brought along a cop hostage (Erik Morris) for everyone to torture, and Nice Guy Eddie (Strauss) is Cabot’s son. It takes Cabot himself to figure out what’s going on, but when a Mexican standoff goes bad only Mr. Pink is left to arrest. It’s “Titus Andronicus” with guns.

This is not a family oriented, positive values show. Expletives replace punctuation marks, we smell the demon weed tobacco, guns fire real blanks, and a gruesome mutilation scene half way through will turn your stomach. More than a few blood packs get out of control, including one that made a violent exclamation point on the video screen used to show those tricky exteriors that don’t fit on stage very neatly. The acting had its ups and down – some monologs felt read rather than acted, but Brett Carson scared me with his Uncle Festus make up, and Steven Pugh did a nice job of bleeding to death with his gut shot. Late in the show, Erik Morris did superb blood drool during one of the gun battles. You had to bee in the right seat to see it, so many may have missed it.

The biggest issue on stage relates to the truism “Film is not theater”. Flashbacks are best set in 35 mm, and rapid cuts between short scenes meant the second act was full of blackouts with furniture movement that broke the mood and tension of the show. While some of this is part and parcel for film-to-stage adaptation, it slowed things down when they should have been accelerating. Still, “Reservoir Dogs” is a strong opening for G.O.A.T. in its new space, and the neighborhood and internal space fit right in with the mood of this staged film. Bear in mind there is a splatter zone, and the best seats aren’t necessarily in the front row.

For more information, please visit http://www.goatgroup.com

Feldman’s Infamous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

Feldman’s Infamous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest
With Brian Feldman, Zac Alfson, and Caroline Johnson
Brian Feldman Projects
July 4, 2009 at Dandelion Communitea Cafe, Orlando, FL

I hate to promulgate stereotypes, but they WERE playing Morrissey when I arrived at this Vegan restaurant and community hang out. Somehow, that’s appropriate for a contest where people will attempt to chow down and many Vegan Hot dogs as possible in 10 hours. It’s a low impact version of the Famous Nathan’s holiday eating orgy, and the first question that crossed my mind was “What exactly is IN a Vegan Hot dog?” Since regular hot dogs are notoriously made from all the other wise unusable parts of a cow or pig, I assume these are made from the otherwise unusable parts of a soy bean, and they sort of looked that way when they finally arrived. While the dogs were rather suspect the buns were clearly superior to the normal ones – they wrapped around the tube steak and didn’t split when drenched in condiments. But I’m not here to eat; I’m here to capture the cosmic significance of a Vegan pig out.

It's Vegan Hot Dog Eatin' Time!

Like many Feldman Projects, starting times were flexible, and there were more photographers than independent observers. His 11 a.m. start time slid into half past noon, but he argued compellingly that the contest was on-going, but no one had chosen to start eating. Fair enough, as Feldman and crew were pulling out every patriotic chachka that the party store had for sale. Worse, the Tofu Dogs were late as well. These were special dogs, as Dandelion didn’t have the on menu.

Innovative Hot Dog Buns

Eventually the food was set in front of the eaters, the eaters actually touched the food, and bites were taken. Slow, agonizing bites, smothered by mustard and catsup and the attitude 3 year olds have toward broccoli. Actually, broccoli would have gone down better as one of the eaters (Caroline Johnson) had had bad reactions to tofu wieners in the past. Master of ceremony Dawn Weleski interviewed contestants and anyone foolish enough make eye contact. She caught me twice, once in at the beginning and once when I returned to watch the final push to victory. She didn’t recall our first encounter, and I’m sympathetic.

Brian Feldman, Caroline Johnson, Zac Alfson, Dawn Weleski

From left - Brian Feldman, Caroline Johnson, Zac Alfson, Wendy Weleski

“Push” is a strong word, and by 9 pm a total of just north of 12 dogs had been consumed. Even that was pretty impressive. The energy of the room was about where I left it at 1 pm, and the unconsumed hot dogs and buns had been transformed into transient art works. There was a count down to T Minus Zero as a heroic Feldman choked down one last dog, and we all sang a patriotic song. I left the café and headed North on Mills. Around an unfinished real estate development, I found a flat place with a view and watched the city fireworks. Somehow, it felt appropriate to the mood of the country and the event. This year everything is smaller, from expectations to results. And soy dogs loom on the horizon for more than a few citizens, but my biggest disappointment was I forgot to buy a pack of fireworks at Publix, but at least I had participated in something new and adventurous.

Vegan Hot Dog Art

For more information on Brian Feldman Projects, please visit
http://www.brianfeldman.com/