Come out to the moors

November 22nd, 2014


For the sake of desire. For the sake of life as it dances through death. For the chance to tell the world what you most desire –  a person, place, destination, ambition, folly, pleasure.

We’ll write on the walls. We’ll make an altar of a bed. We’ll listen as music celebrates the hard beauty of all the love that’s lost, and all the love that can never die.

I’m going deeply into this text, adapting Emily Brontë’s masterwork with respect, with verve, with energy, working to be worthy of its power.

Steve Xander Carson as Heathcliff, Rachael Harbert as Cathy. In April 2015, nerve presents WUTHERING HEIGHTS.


Red Queen Welcome1


[All photos – fireflies image, Rachael Harbert (as the Red Queen) and Steve Xander Carson - courtesy Rick Lieder.]

Do quit your day job

November 13th, 2014

She’s a little bit older than I am, a lot more financially settled, very smart and very crisp. We’re talking about my writing (she likes my books); we’re talking about how one goes about producing immersive events, about working with young performers. And she smiles and says, “Well, I hope you tell them not to quit their day jobs!”

And I remember a moment a few months before, sitting windowside at a cafe waiting for, yes, one of those young performers, paging through some information I’d brought to share. A service van stopped outside at a traffic light; its logo was somehow familiar. And I realized, Jesus, I used to work there! Years and years ago, my last day job was as service manager for that very business, sending trucks just like that into the world to fix restaurant refrigerators and cooktops. The logo had gotten a little more streamlined and modern, but it was the same business.

And I thought: I could still be working there.

Making a steady paycheck. Meticulously planning my vacations, and then my retirement. Planning for the day when I could write novels, when I could start my real life…. The light changed, the truck drove away.

So I turn to the soigne woman, and “Actually,” I say, “I can’t tell them that.” Because time really is money: we don’t know how much we have in the bank, that’s all, we never do until it’s all gone. Because I could have spent the time that is my life behind that safe and steady day job desk. Because I never made that choice and never would.

Spend your life doing your real work. Quit your day job. Now.

Eyes on you

November 12th, 2014

Graffiti eyes Berlin

Eyes wide shut. Eyes without a face. Eyes that see in the dark.


Eyes are the windows of the soul, who said that?


Eyes without a soul … What then? The work-in-progress asks that question. Answer, forthcoming. Or is it a response?


[Photo: Chris Parsons.]


Going to the Heights

November 5th, 2014

You think you know it, but you don’t. One of the blackest, funniest – yes, funniest – most passionate novels ever, it shocked the dumbass reviewers of its time and continues to speak the language of authentic desire.

Vintage WH


I wrote that about Wuthering Heights, one of the greatest novels ever to speak that language, to know what desire is really like: its energy and brutality, its consummating heights, the gaping, arid wound of its denial – not loss, because neither Cathy nor Heathcliff ever really loses the other.


WH contemporary

I first read it when I was young – 12 years old? Maybe younger – and what spoke to me then, what continues to speak to me now, is how Cathy and Heathcliff met their desires, knew themselves as their desires, very early: and the tragedy of the story comes from Cathy’s attempt to engineer, augment this fact of her existence, an attempt that brought only misery, and ruined other lives in the process of ruining her own.


WH Penguin


WH F Eichenberg

Out on the moors, in the light of a fire, in the sound of rain, of breathing, the sweet tickle of sweat, the exhilaration and the fear, the mouth bruised in kissing … Desire is the engine, the fuel, the destination, as I begin an adaptation of this work for immersive performance. Spring 2015, and the 1800s, and always. Because we are who we are. And we are what we desire.


WH 4

What it sounds like in Wonderland

October 30th, 2014

It gets loud, it goes still, a balloon (was that a balloon?) explodes, the White Rabbit tries to make a getaway …

The Carpenter in the dark


October 26th, 2014

Hare readies rl

To make a world requires citizens – in nerve‘s case, citizen-artists, all of whom bring all they’ve got to the task and pleasure of making. It takes big talent, absolutely. But it takes more than talent to keep the world you’ve made alive: alive to every interaction, every word and moving moment, every second of Wonderland from the moment the entrance doors open until they finally close.

Carpenter watches rl

Pale King waits rl

There is no “offstage.”

Red Queen 4 rl


This process takes a lot of energy – a lot. And it takes a combination of bravery and brio, to trust (and keep trusting) yourself, and the other makers – and our patrons, who make the world along with us, every night.


Cheshire Cat pounces rl

After every performance – in the eventual light of the “real” world, outside, that somehow doesn’t feel all that real anymore – our patrons tend to linger, to ask questions of each other, to laugh or to debate or all of the above. They come to performances, then come again,  seeking to see every bit of that world, to watch all the characters going about their business and their lives.


WRab vs Tweedle room rl


If you’ve come to us, stayed with us, played with us in the shifting landscape of strobe and twinkle and shadow  … This world is yours. Which is why we call what we make consensual art.

Because you, you’re making it, too.


[All photos – John Denyer, Marisa Dluge, Chris Jakob, Rachael Harbert, Marianne Brass, Steve Xander Carson, Egla Kishta, Laura Bailey – courtesy Rick Lieder.]