Tag Archives: nyc culture

The Leather Skirt Diet

What’s the Leather Skirt Diet, you ask? It’s the diet that consists of “whatever will make me fit into the leather skirt” I’m wearing for a thing next week.

When I first ordered the leather skirt, I knew I was taking a chance. Getting it off the internet, no clear size guides giving waist measurements. But it fit. Not only did it fit, but the price-per-wear is already, like, a dollar. Because I have not stopped wearing it since it got here.

This has brought a new aspect to the Leather Skirt Diet: whereas the initial plan was, “run was hard as I can on the elliptical every day until the event,” all of a sudden I got scared. Because if there’s one thing that’s worse than a black miniskirt that’s too small, it’s a miniskirt that’s too big. This goes double when the fabric is leather.

A loose leather miniskirt is, how shall I put this, pointless.

So a few days ago, the leather skirt diet changed a bit. Now it was about maintaining. I mean, yeah, there are a few pounds that can go (and in case anyone’s worried, I put back on the weight I lost while sick and then some) and that’s safe, but at least I don’t have to be worried about the skirt not fitting. This was good timing, because it was around the same time the skirt showed up that I got a package of goodies from my mom.

In other words: MILLIONS OF COOKIES.

So far I’m enjoying the whoopie pies, and will bring the other cookies to work tomorrow. Because love them though I might, as we get into the home stretch before the event Thursday night, they may have to fall off the list of “Leather Skirt Diet” food options.

We shall see.

While out with my friend yesterday we joked about writing different kinds of novelty diet books. I’d write “The Leather Skirt Diet,” then she’d write the “Artichoke Dip Diet” (or whatever it was – if she sees this, maybe she’ll correct me in the comments), and then sooner or later (as many of our conversations do) we had devolved to a level of ridiculousness the likes of which I shall not inflict upon my dear readers. Suffice to say by the end of it we were laughing hysterically and a fully-fleshed-out idea for a series of e-books where we would pick goals and write diet books about them, but the diet books would be actual reflections of what we were eating, rather than aspirational “plans” that might or might not work.

Other than that, my weekend involved glorious weather in Manhattan, chilling on the Hudson, and getting a seriously amazing foot massage for like twenty bucks from a place where they thought I had fallen asleep *so they let me keep lying in the chair* till I opened my eyes. My feet feel so relaxed now.

What’s everybody else been up to this weekend?

THEATER REVIEW: “To Kill A Kelpie” by Matthew McVarish

First, to declare a bias – Matthew McVarish and I were at drama school together in Scotland, and I’ve previously reviewed his sold-out debut show, One man went to busk (it’s the second review on the page). In addition, he and I will be working on a project about marriage equality together later this year for Glasgay 2012.

That said, I’m pleased and lucky to be able to say that this new work, To Kill a Kelpie, offers an hour of drama both light and dark, and is a strong piece of theatrical art with a message. Co-produced by Poorboy Theater company Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse (where McVarish is also involved), and executive produced by Pamela Pine, the show is directed by Sandy Thomson.

The evening unfolds in two parts: first, McVarish’s hourlong drama about two brothers who finally break their own silence as regards something that was done to them both many years ago, then a guided discussion including representatives from various organizations that try to deal with ending sexual abuse.

As one might expect, there is heaviness to this drama. How could their not be, given the topic at hand? And yet McVarish’s script makes a conscious decision to take place in its own moment, as two brothers try to find a way of communicating through the silence that has plagued their adult relationship. As they try to understand what was done to them, the different coping mechanisms they ask themselves and the ways in which they parse the events that took place while they were children reveal two men who have each, in their own way, carried the scars of their abuse for years. Additionally, the quickness with which the two brothers reconnect lends itself well to lighter moments: this is not a play where the audience should be afraid to laugh from time to time.

The play asks uncomfortable questions: one brother reveals that he’s struggled to even recognize his own sexuality over the years, because he had tangled up the acts perpetrated upon him and his own desire to love other men. The other denies any feeling of having been affected, although it slowly becomes more obvious that, in fact, he has. Both brothers have found their relationships to others, particularly children, impossibly strained as they constantly try to sort through their own baggage.

Performers McVarish (as Fionnghall, the brother who seems, on the surface, to b e more of a loose canon) and Allan Lindsay (Dubhghal, who has returned from doing aid work among tsunami-afflicted natives somewhere quite far away) navigate the questions their characters ask themselves with honesty and frankness. Some parts of their conversation are uncomfortable: one admits he is afraid his sister doesn’t want him around her children, the other terrified he may have the potential to cause the same damage enacted upon him onto another. Forgiveness, revenge, therapy and repression are all tried as the characters range for coping mechanisms; in the end, it is conversation – speaking about their trauma, and about how each has begun the journey of unpacking that trauma – that offers the best hope for healing.

As the play draws to an ambiguous ending, the audience is invited to take a few moments to stretch before heading into a follow-up discussion. Led by Pamela Pine, the discussion first invites comments and questions from audience members before asking audience members if there’s anything they think they might do differently in their lives going forward. Aside from stressing the importance of parental and community involvement to determine when children might be at risk, the discussion also creates a space where audience members are invited to share their own stories of surviving abuse.

What was remarkable about this portion of the evening, to me, was the clarity with which one could see how To Kill a Kelpie had created a space where audience members, whose ages covered a large range, felt they could speak openly about experiences taking place around them. On opening night in New York City, audience members spoke – some at length – about how positive they found the play, and about how well it communicated emotions that echoed reactions they’d had to their own experiences.

For more information about Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse, you can visit their website at www.stopcsa.org. To Kill a Kelpie will run in NYC through April 15th, first in the East Village before heading uptown. More details are available on the production’s website.

THEATER REVIEW: Mission Drift at The Connelly Theater

I always face this problem when I sit down to write about a production from the TEAM (Theatre of the Emerging American Moment). I’ve seen three of their shows: Particularly in the Heartland (Traverse Theater), Architecting (P.S. 122), and now Mission Drift (The Connelly Theater), and it happens every time: exposed to their rip-roaring style of fully committed theater, I’m struck by an incredible loss for words in how to relate that work to those who have not yet seen the production.

After a few days of thinking about their latest production, Mission Drift, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is because the TEAM usually veers away from distinct narrative in favor of ideological, immersive mood. Like the TEAM’s other productions, Mission Drift is a series of parallel stories, grasping for ways to explain what it’s like to be living in a certain kind of America.

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THEATER REVIEW: Farm Boy (the sequel to War Horse) at @59E59

Last spring, I saw the National Theatre’s War Horse at Lincoln Center, shortly after it was awarded a Tony award. While the production was absolutely impressive, in terms of the technical savvy of the performers and techs, in the end the puppetry didn’t strike me as necessary to the dramatic action of the production; at times, it felt like it separated me from the characters’ experiences.

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Theatre Review: DRAMATIS PERSONAE at the Cherry Lane Studio Theatre #theatre #review #nyc

Gonzalo Rodriguez Risco’s DRAMATIS PERSONAE opened at the Cherry Lane Sudio Theatre last week. A narrative that explores ideas of authorship and the construction of a work of fiction, the play tells the tale of a smash hit first novelist and his writing group – consisting of a best friend and a hanger-on – and their process of creating stories from their own lives. Arguing that every work of fiction is actual well-concealed fact, and positing that all writing (or at least, all the pieces it demonstrates, all the fiction of Risco’s world offers us) is actually an expression of therapy for the writer’s soul.

The play is set against the backdrop of Peru’s political coup in the early nineties, which brings up an interesting question about how the demons of this experience might exorcise themselves in the writers’ worlds. As we discover that the novelist’s trick has been burying and re-burying his long-dead brother, rising high in the esteem of his literarily-minded countrymen, we also watch a group of people with individual, damaging secrets try to overcome their demons through the act of creating stories.

The concepts behind the play are more compelling than Risco’s execution of his idea, and director Erik Pearson’s decision to opt for a hyper-realistic set (designed by Michael Locher) makes the transitions from Risco’s reality into the stories of his characters seem jarring and forced, particularly before one grows used to the device of having the characters in each tale-within-the-tale act out the three friends’ narratives in the same guise, over and over.

There was a lack of notable chemistry in the cast, which included by Felix Solis, Liza Fernandez, Gerardo Rodriguez, Bobby Moreno, and Laura Esposito, but each individual performer was competent and earnest. Risco has a gift for telling short narratives that provoke a defined emotional response, but the overall arc of the story was less than satisfying. As someone without a deep familiarity with Peru’s military coup, parallels to that narrative were not readily apparent, but perhaps  a person who had an emotional connection to that event would find the overall arc of the play cathartic – a case where the moving and poignant building blocks that make up Risco’s play could be strung together to make a more compelling, and narratively consistent, tale that made the time and place absolutely critical to the tale, and not just in allowing the best-selling author to devise a theme and plot for his second novel.

One hardly feels like the characters are at risk, except in the moments where they literally under fire from the dissidents across the street, and one wishes this had been heightened. Somehow, while the building blocks of his narrative are individually quite poignant, when strung together they fall short of an overwhelming or lasting effect.

More information on the production can be found at www.playwrightsrealm.org.