April 20th, 2016
Between writing CHRISTOPHER WILD and working on nerve‘s summer Bosch commission, it could seem like the past is my creative landscape now: the medieval wonders and beauties of that “Garden,” and the dark and subtle, sometimes terrible, world of the Elizabethans.
But the past is always present.
We use and refine technology to remake our physical world, for good and ill, but the basic societal mechanism is the same: humans hunger and lust and work and weep and lie. Strive, feast, ruin ourselves, seek to transcend our bodies, to sate or tame our minds, we are what we are, this never changes.
Artists – Marlowe, Bosch, Rachael Harbert and Marianne Brass, me – take that human condition as our matériel and make of it whatever our disciplines and talents suggest. For Harbert and Brass, it will move. For Bosch it will wear a myriad of faces. For Marlowe and for me, it will speak. And when it does, and when what we make is remade by one who watches and who hears, it will be present in the world anew, it will be the present, alive again and again.
[Photo of Marianne Brass and Rachael Harbert courtesy Rena Hopkins.]
March 15th, 2016
“The will to play flaunts society’s cherished orthodoxies . . . transforms the serious into the joke and then unsettles . . . the joke by taking it seriously . . . This is play on the brink of an abyss, absolute play.”
. . . Says Stephen Greenblatt of Christopher Marlowe. Which is another way of saying Marlowe is fun. Marlon James says “He was a rock star.” Which is another way.
All of which is another way of saying, welcome to CHRISTOPHER WILD! If you’ve decided to go bespoke, the fun’s about to start . . . Though it already has, here at the desk, music blasting, ready and willing, oh so willing, to play.
[Painting of Christopher Marlowe by Rick Lieder, collection of the author. Hanging over the desk. Of course.]
February 24th, 2016
“I count religion but a childish toy . . . there is no sin but ignorance.”
“All they that love not tobacco and boys are fools.”
In his own time, they called him “the Muses’ darling” and “the best of poets” and “a notorious unbeliever,” they said he was lucky to be murdered before he was burned at the stake. His erudition and ferocity, both on the page and off, has inspired every sort of artist, from musicians and writers to filmmakers like Derek Jarman and Jim Jarmusch; he’s even inspired a perfume. Poet, playwright, spy, atheist, badass: Christopher Marlowe was, and always will be, one of a kind.
Ever since I first read his sly erotic poetry, and his plays – every one a harsh brilliant thrill ride, but my favorite is EDWARD II – I’ve been his fangirl. And I knew one day I had to write about him.
“Whoever loved, that loved not at first sight?”
So here begins CHRISTOPHER WILD.
It’s a writing project unlike any other I’ve ever undertaken, because this time I’m inviting readers along from the very beginning of my journey, sharing the real-time process of the novel in progress, with excerpts, desk notes, research tidbits both academic and totally not . . . Because this one is going to be such a fucking blast. Wit and sex and death and the turning wheel of centuries, as Marlowe moves across time, finding love and making enemies, always writing, always a rebel, always pursued, always himself.
Come have fun with me. And with Kit the total badass. Let’s go CHRISTOPHER WILD.
[All quotes courtesy Christopher Marlowe. Painting of Marlowe by Rick Lieder, after the Cambridge portrait; from the author’s collection. Marlowe window: Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey. ]
February 24th, 2016
Six sold-out performances at DRACULA’s table . . . nerve took Stoker’s novel of hunger to some dark and novel places, in the hectic jingle of Renfield’s straitjacket straps, the sweet in-suck of Lucy’s breath, Dracula’s glittering eyes, and Mr. Harker’s agonizing, delicious decision every night. And each night I did my best to warn the patrons that they were no longer at the top of the food chain. Oh, and to enjoy their dinner.
Now, I’m heading to the garden, for nerve‘s summer commission from patrons Stan and Robin Mendenhall: recreating Bosch’s amazing “Garden of Earthly Delights” as a shimmering performance of masks and tinkling bells, giant eggs and waving flowers, using music, movement, and at least one enormous owl.
Two worlds, very different, to be sure, but both made of sheer fantastic imagination. And definitely made for play.
January 29th, 2016
The cast. The space. The darkness. DRACULA.
We created this for the ones who came to share it with us, to enter the story, to walk down the stairs and give their energies and presence to the dark. So many thanks to our patrons, from me and from nerve!
[Cast photos: Rick Lieder. Installation photos: Rena Hopkins. DRACULA poster: Antichamber Design.]
January 2nd, 2016
So it says on the snippet clipped and stuck to my desktop–the actual, physical desktop where I sit every day to write.
The chaos of making, when things work or don’t, when I try and succeed, when I try and try and fail, when I write a script or a story or a novel: hoping all the while that, if the conditions have been correctly created, and chaos allowed to do what it must, that beauty–hard beauty, fierce beauty, stealthy beauty, strange beauty–will emerge.
May all the chaos of this new year bring all the beauty it can, to all of us, to all the world.
[Image: “The Neglected Garden,” courtesy Rick Lieder.]