The brothel, the moors, the dream of the city

December 21st, 2014

My desk is a crossroads now – a throughway for writing in various guises and genres: the script adaptation for nerve’s April production of Wuthering Heights . . .

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. . . another script adaptation, in collaboration with Cary Brown, of Under the Poppy . . .

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. . . and a dreamscape/essay about Detroit, in collaboration with Julia Solis.

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Fun is being had, of course, and happy education, working with other artists. And at times, with the eyes of the mind half-closed, all these landscapes blur and converge into a pleasure-palace of wind-torn heath and lacelike decay, the scent of hot skin and clean dirt, the feel of old velvet, the taste of tears. All of these places know pain and know love. All of these places are real.

 

[Photos: WH: KK; UTP: Rick Lieder and anonymous; DET: Julia Solis.]

Home for the HEIGHTS

December 16th, 2014

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The space that is the moor, the room that is the heart: nerve is thrilled to announce Gallery 17 is our site for WUTHERING HEIGHTS.

 

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The gallery’s space lies within the precincts of Detroit’s Russell Industrial Center: a dark expanse of brick and gravel, under the sweep of skies … An urban moor.

Many thanks to John Sippel and Ben Kramp for the gallery’s hospitality – we’re so pleased to be part of your creative landscape!

Getting the gift

December 10th, 2014

WUTHERING HEIGHTS is – lives in – the intersection of love and loss; of desire and death. (And one outlasts the other.) Working on its nerve performance adaptation is a gift, but one I’d never imagined being given. All the best gifts are that way.

I went to the Clarion workshop, to learn about writing and about being a writer; not the same thing. I remember asking Kate Wilhelm, in our final-day, post-workshop meeting, “Should I do this? I’m going to – but should I?” And I remember her answer as off-hand, amused by the question; the pure shrug of it – of course; why would you do anything else with your life? – as, maybe, what I had come to learn in the first place.

In her book STORYTELLER: WRITING LESSONS AND MORE FROM 27 YEARS OF THE CLARION WRITERS’ WORKSHOP, I was delighted to find myself in a roster of writers she recalls – Kim Stanley Robinson, Cory Doctorow, Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang, Eileen Gunn – and “Kathe Koja, unaware yet of the potency of her dark, sexual symbolism” – yes! That given gift of awareness took me from the workshop into all these years of my working life, through stories and books, and now, into writing for performance and leading an ensemble.

Who knows what gifts we have to give? – not even us, maybe. Until we’re told.

Thank you, Kate.

Kate Wilhelm Storyteller

In that quiet earth

December 4th, 2014

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The smell of leaf mold, the dirt already turning cold: but its darkness opens easily, to receive, like a seed, the book, this book, this copy of Wuthering Heights, to sleep all winter underground, then emerge in the spring for our performance.

What changes will it undergo? How will it look when it lives again?

I lingered …under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering  among the heath and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.

 

Come to the Heights

November 22nd, 2014

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Come to the Heights, to the moors – 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, a destination, an ambition, folly, pleasure.

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

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I’m adapting Emily Brontë’s masterwork with respect, with verve, with energy – with nerve! – working to be worthy of its power.

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Rachael Harbert is Cathy, Steve Xander Carson is Heathcliff, Marisa Dluge is Nelly Dean, Matthew Deneka is the Musician.

 

In April 2015, nerve presents WUTHERING HEIGHTS.

[All photos – fireflies image, Rachael Harbert (as the Red Queen), Marisa Dluge, 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.