Author Archive

Performative fiction

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Faustus KK

Some people were surprised when I began working in theater. I was one of them. Though an enthusiastic audience member for years, I’d never dreamed, dreamed to dream, that I’d find myself adapting fiction – including my own – for performance, and immersive performance at that.

But really, it’s no real surprise at all. Because it’s all same job of telling stories: watching characters move through space, bringing the details of the setting to life. And giving the words primacy, letting them play, to make of that constructed life a breathing thing. Page, stage, same task, same joy.

The real change comes in the process of collaboration, investigating the text, playing with the makers who make up nerve.

MD Omar Poppy rehearsal

Pale King 3:22

Faustus aloft

Because the energy of the story, the performative fiction, grows exponentially when wild talents are invoked. And having a novelist in the mix makes nerve a different kind of performance entity.

It’s all been a glorious and inevitable surprise. And it’s just beginning to tell its own story. Read on!

[Photos of KK, Marisa Dluge, Chris Jakob, Steve Xander Carson: Rick Lieder.]


Real enough to touch: Puppet Alice

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

Puppet Alice

The beauty of text and bricolage, of accretion, of one thing becoming an integral part of an aggregate whole: Puppet Alice is just like us, created piece by piece by the life we lead.

Puppet Alice is in the process of creation by Rena Hopkins/the Divine Iguana.

Puppet Alice & Rena Hopkins:Divine Iguana

Writing for the fans

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

. . . in this case, specifically a barn fan. SASHA Farm, the largest farm animal sanctuary in the Midwestern US, is in need of some heavy-duty fans to help keep the animals cool in the barn.

The care and kindness SASHA provides is evident to anyone who visits, in person or virtually (such as via this video Diane Cheklich and I created). . .


. . . so I posted an offer on my Facebook page:

“If you buy a barn fan for SASHA, I will write a story for you. Deal? Inbox me if you’re serious.”

Within a few hours, acclaimed historical novelist Sarah Miller contacted me, and now SASHA will have a barn fan, Sarah will have a story written just for her, and the work I do daily has done demonstrable good. Win-win-win!





Friday, May 30th, 2014

Marlowe memorial marker

“When we consider the significance, the originality and power of his work … when we think of the inspiration as yet not fulfilled, the force that was in him to carry him forward, we may conclude that this was the greatest individual loss our literature has ever suffered.” – A.L. Rowse, from CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE


Whose voice we hear has as much to do with our own inner receptors as what the voice speaks: it’s as mysterious a process as friendship, which it much resembles, this meeting of writer and reader. Christopher Marlowe’s work spoke to Anthony Burgess, whose A DEAD MAN IN DEPTFORD I read – was ravished by – and then turned to the source, a turning that deepens, again and again, as friendship does, as I read and reread his work.

"Settle thy studies, Faustus"

Adapting the FAUSTUS text for nerve‘s immersive performance (with Steve Xander Carson, seen here in the title role) was a different way to hear Marlowe’s voice. Always his heroes begin at the top of their arc: always the brutal, lyrical, self-observed descent. He knew what it was to fall.

Faustus aloft

Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight: but the voice remains. He was 29. His work is immortal.

Then though death rakes my bones in funeral fire

I’ll live, and as he pulls me down, mount higher.

[from Christopher Marlowe's translation of Ovid]


Puppet Alice

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Puppet Alice 1

Puppet Alice sketch 4

“What is the use of a book, without pictures or conversations?”

Our intrepid journeyer, Puppet Alice, is in the process of creation by artist Rena Hopkins, aka The Divine Iguana. Being fans of Rena’s work and her vision, we were delighted when she agreed to be Alice’s maker!

And Alice’s question is our own, as nerve recreates Lewis Carroll’s doubled Wonderland, going through that Looking-Glass as well, to make a world for our patrons to wander, a world that turns on the axis of a single question: What does it mean to be alive?

The Red Queen

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

“Generally good advice: if the White King asks you to play chess, think twice, but if the Red Queen invites you to dance, you should probably run. Unless you’ve encountered these royal figures during Nerve’s “Welcome to the Rabbit Hole” in which case, the very best advice is to dance, play and experience everything fully. You’ll be safe. More or less . . .”


Red Queen Welcome1

This rave review of nerve’s “Welcome to the Rabbithole” event tells you what happened, there in the glowing windows, below at the bottom of the stairs . . .

“Nerve’s ‘Welcome to the Rabbit Hole’ was just a sampling of a full production coming this October. The very, very best advice: If you are fortunate enough to find a White Rabbit leading you to this dangerous, sensual Wonderland, follow!”

And watch your step.

[Rachael Ahn Harbert as the Red Queen. Photo courtesy Rick Lieder.]