WBEZ | Write Club http://www.wbez.org/tags/write-club Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en The Paper Machete Radio Magazine: The Trouble Episode http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-09/paper-machete-radio-magazine-trouble-episode-93891 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-November/2011-11-09/chad the bird.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center; "><img alt="" class="caption" height="333" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/Cayne Collier as Dr. Charles Neerdringer.jpg" title="Cayne Collier as Dr. Charles Neerdringer (Photo by Ali Weiss Klingler)" width="500"></p><p>Before Daylight Savings ended, there was a whole lotta trouble, starting with Samantha Irby, who paints Herman Cain as the lady killer he is.&nbsp;Cayne Collier&nbsp;becomes a gastroenterologist who educates us on&nbsp;fecal transplants (a real thing!). Chad the Bird wonders whether those wearing Guy Fawkes masks really know what they mean. With music from Diego Sol and the Metronomes, specifically, an excellent cover an excellent Prince song.&nbsp;And as usual, if you can hear us, this magazine is LIVE. &nbsp;Download at iTunes <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=450280345">here</a>, or listen below.</p><div><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483815-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/2011-11-05-papermachete-radiomag.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>At this Saturday's show at the Horseshoe,<a href="http://billayers.org/"> Bill Ayers</a> returns to <em>The Paper Machete</em>. He'll be talking about a looming scandal in for-profit education. Other topics in the queue: the Mississippi Personhood Amendment and the CTA's social media tactics. With <a href="http://www.youtube.com/crashpad3d">Chad the Bird</a>; <a href="http://vimeo.com/12219540">Jason Economus</a> of Write Club; comedian <a href="http://vimeo.com/12809584">Matt Kelly</a>; writer and performer <a href="http://www.coyapaz.com/">Coya Paz</a>; <a href="http://www.tangelopie.com/">Tim Sniffen</a> and <a href="http://www.improvisedshakespeare.com/">Brendan Dowling</a> of Second City, and Jessica Young of <a href="http://2ndstory.com/">2nd Story</a>.&nbsp;Check&nbsp;<a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/2011/11/08/1112-line-up/"><em>The Paper Machete</em></a>'s&nbsp;site&nbsp;for the updates on this line-up as the week goes on.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/chad the bird.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 400px; " title="Our regular Chad the Bird (Photo by Ali Weiss Klingler)"></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/samantha irby again.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 400px; " title="Samantha Irby rocks you like a Herman Cain (Photo by Ali Weiss Klingler)"></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/diego sol.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 400px; " title="Diego Sol and the Metronomes (Photo by Ali Weiss Klingler)"></p></div></p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 16:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-09/paper-machete-radio-magazine-trouble-episode-93891 5 Machete Questions with Ian Belknap, the Dean of Mean http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-16/5-machete-questions-ian-belknap-dean-mean-92088 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-September/2011-09-16/smellcrap.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Surly but studious Ian Belknap is <em>The Paper Machete</em>'s official Dean of Mean. He's also the host of the hit spoken-word show WRITE CLUB at the Hideout; the next show is Tuesday September 27 at 7 pm. We've asked him to play 5 Machete questions.</p><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-16/smellcrap.jpg" title="WRITE CLUB host Ian Belknap" width="500" height="272"></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>1. What's stuck in your craw this week, and how will you be approaching it in the Machete?</strong></div><blockquote><div>I'll be the first to concede that my craw is an exceptionally tiny aperture, in which stuff is GUARANTEED to get stuck. You could drop me in the middle of a sun-dappled meadow, throw a rock in any direction, and hit something that would piss me off. I believe that if you are not beside yourself with rage - I'm talking about really verging on the berserk more or less all the time - then you're just not paying attention. But this week in particular it is the phenomenon of the Renaissance Celebrity - the film star who has a parenting blog, the singer who publishes a book, etc. The epic self-absorption of these people and the towering presumption implicit in their insistence that they are qualified or entitled to occupy new and uncharted swaths of the Attention Landscape is sickening to me, and I want it stopped. My approach will be to persuade people that it is past time that somebody use Gwyneth Paltrow as a weapon to beat James Franco to death. My plan is rock solid. Justice shall be ours. Take back the night.</div></blockquote><div><strong>2. If you could do anything else on this Saturday afternoon besides perform against your will in the Paper Machete, it would be...</strong></div><blockquote><div>Swatting that Antonin Scalia in his face with one of those long-handled pizza paddles. Or launching "author" Dan Brown down those stone steps from "The Exorcist". Or dragging Glenn Beck around by his eyelids. Or executing bankers. Or napping. Probably napping, most likely. This time of year? Some classic napping weather.</div></blockquote><div><strong>3. In your entire schooling, what was the subject you in which you performed most poorly? Have you been required to demonstrate knowledge of that subject since?</strong></div><blockquote><div>Physics. Totally sucked at physics. Completely eluded me. Every time an object is launched at me, which happens with greater frequency than I care to admit, actually, it serves as a disastrous reminder of&nbsp;</div>my failure to grasp the fundamentals of physics.</blockquote><div><strong>4. a) Name your favorite Palin or Smurf, and give at least one sentence of explanation. b) Name your least favorite Palin or Smurf, and give at least one sentence of explanation.</strong></div><blockquote><div>a) Track. The one you never hear a goddamn word about. And it's completely unfair to ask that single out any one Smurf, since they are, as a species, uniformly delightful. b) In descending order of the malice I bear them: Sarah, Bristol, Todd, Sheeran, Willow and Trig. In a fire, I would save the latter three. If there were no dogs in the house.</div></blockquote><p><strong>5. As a member of the Chicago performance-art community, what lucrative career do you now wish you'd chosen to pursue instead?&nbsp;</strong></p><blockquote><div>There is no greater or more rewarding work than what I do. As long as one does not measure "reward" in money. Or recognition.&nbsp;</div><div>Or fulfillment.&nbsp;</div>Or prestige.&nbsp;<div>Or contentment.&nbsp;</div><div>But if I HAD to select another path, I'd rather be a provost someplace.</div></blockquote><div><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/">The Paper Machete</a><em>&nbsp;is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 pm, it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Listen to the most recent&nbsp;</em>The Paper Machete Radio Magazine <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-14/paper-machete-radio-magazine-91011-passage-time-91994">here</a>, or download it from iTunes <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345">here</a>.</em></div></p> Fri, 16 Sep 2011 18:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-09-16/5-machete-questions-ian-belknap-dean-mean-92088 SALONatopia: A discussion about the salon renaissance sweeping Chicago http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-30/salonatopia-look-salon-renaissance-sweeping-chicago-91203 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-29/tn-500_julia-jenniferbaker.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Ever since I saw <em>Midnight in Paris</em>, I can't get Gertrude Stein out of my head: She was the queen of the salon scene that made and broke some of the 20th century’s greatest artistic talents. But I’m not sure Gertrude would be proud of or feel connected to Chicago's current crop of&nbsp; salons. They run the gamet from glorified cabaret to a bunch of authors sitting around and reading stuff and they seem to be gaining more and more traction. (See <a href="http://timeoutchicago.com/arts-culture/theater/14899103/salonathon-and-other-bar-based-performance-samplers">this recent piece in <em>TimeOut</em></a> for a few of the newest examples.)</p><p>Christopher Shea has written for the aforementioned <em>TimeOut</em>, as well as for Steppenwolf, and is a script reader for the Goodman Theater. We decided to take a look at the city's salon spectrum and parse what they might mean for Chicago culture.</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>This year, it seems everywhere I go I step on a salon espousing the endless brilliance of "culture," running its mouth on pop culture, high culture, low culture, performance culture, etc. So Christopher, tell us a little bit about the two salons we've specifically chosen to examine as examples of this new movement.</p><p><strong>SHEA: </strong>We spent a few lovely evenings together at Beauty Bar for&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Salonathon"><em>Salonathon </em></a>and at<em> <a href="http://castpartynyc.com/">Cast Party</a></em>, the New York-based cabaret which seems to be aiming to be a recurring presence at the Mayne Stage in Rogers Park. But there’s also <a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/"><em>The Paper Machete</em></a>, which, for full disclosure, I've performed in. [<em>WBEZ: And which I am <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-07-13/introducing-paper-machete-radio-magazine-89106">clearly connected to</a></em>.] There's also <a href="http://www.theplagiarists.org/">the Plagiarists</a>' salon, a monthly gathering where theater groups host an evening of their own work. Then there’s some different but maybe like-minded outlets like <a href="http://writeclubrules.com/"><em>Write Club</em> </a>and <a href="http://themoth.org/events"><em>The Moth</em></a>.</p><p>It's interesting that we both had the impulse to group these as salons. They do (mostly) share a common format: a series of 5-minute-long performances, held in bar-ish locales. And they're often forums where emerging artists can perform snippets of their work in front of people, or established performers can branch out a bit from their standard repertoire (a combination I've noticed across the board).</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-29/tn-500_julia-jenniferbaker.jpg" title="Billy Stritch, Jim Caruso and performers Julia and Jennifer Baker at 'Cast Party' in Chicago (Photo by Steve Handwerker)" width="600" height="398"></p><p>But I feel like their goals are also surprisingly diverse -- something that really struck me when we saw <em>Cast Party</em>. In some cases (<em>Salonathon</em>, for example), the goal is more, like, Mlle. Lespinasse 18th-century Paris salon. The lineups -- a playwright reading from an old journal, Dean Evans performing dressed as some sort of donut figure -- are usually either laugh-out-loud funny, or sort of intellectual, bent towards achieving an “a-ha” moment. Emotionally wrenching moments -- like the moment when I fell in love with one of the actors in <em>Salonathon </em>-- are mostly accidental. I sort of expected something similar from <em>Cast Party</em>, albeit in a setting that harkened back to whiskey-swirling 1950s Manhattan (or, you know, whiskey-swirling 1950s Hoboken). But the lineup there was almost all numbers from great musicals sung by local performers (who ranged from middle school students to Jeff Award winners), and it felt eventually like the goal was to elicit an endless stream of emotional peaks and troughs. It was like a dozen tearjerker musical moments crammed into one short evening, strung together by jokes from our very shticky host. So is <em>Cast Party</em> just the outlier, as it's a bit more of a “cabaret”? Does every other salon aim for some more balanced blend of the funny and the intellectual? Or does each of these salons aim for something entirely different from the others?</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>It could be argued that it's unfair to compare <em>Cast Party</em> to something like <em>Salonathon</em>, or even <em>The Paper Machete</em>. Musical theater is, even at it's best, going to be just so campy, no matter what you do. But the participants of <em>Cast Party</em> like it that way. The best description of it is a open mic for musical theater dorks -- but that doesn't make it less of a salon, in my opinion. I think these different shows can be compared because they’re all so thoroughly shaped by their organizers. Jim Caruso's <em>Cast Party</em> is just that -- it's Jim Caruso's. He's hosted his New York show for seven years at Birdland, and has featured "real" stars like Matthew Morrison (now known more for <em>Glee</em> than his storied Broadway career), Liza Minnelli and Alan Cumming. When the show first came to Chicago in April, <a href="http://chitheatreaddict.com/2011/04/11/a-packed-jim-carusos-cast-party-gives-chicago-performers-a-chance-to-show-their-stuff/">critic Bob Bullen wrote</a> that he was disappointed that Caruso had "no clue who some of Chicago's well-known musical theatre talents are," and that he hoped as the show returned, Caruso would become more acquainted with the scene here. Refresh my memory Christopher, but I'm not quite sure that happened this time around.</p><p>Or take the special edition of <em>Salonathon</em> we saw a few weeks back. It featured films from the Chicago Underground Film Festival, which one wouldn't necessarily put in the "salon" category (after all, the people performing weren’t doing so live). But I feel like it still rocked that format because of how outspokenly the hosts defined their interest in the pieces, and how invested they were in the vision. But when does this vision become derailed into something else? Are popular programs like <em>The Moth Storyslam</em> salons, too?</p><p>Maybe they are, if only because they all have this insider feel. "Insider," in that the people at each one do seem to just be a bunch of friends, hanging out, getting each others' jokes. Perhaps this thing we’re debating semi-seriously is just a bunch of glorified friend groups.</p><p><strong>SHEA: </strong>That's an interesting point about the forceful curatorial hand you see across these salons. I know that <em>Salonathon </em>has already had at least three curators (two "in-house," plus our Film Fest hosts), while the Plagiarists rotate performer-curators every salon. It’s a welcome way to protect against the “public party” factor, which is a slippery slope indeed. The trouble is that you (or at least I) want to go to something that’s informal, fun -- like a party that happens to have the most sterling, most articulate guests around. But there's nothing quite as unpleasant as showing up at a public forum and realizing you've stumbled into someone's best friend circle -- a risk a curator runs if the mood gets too lax. That happened to me once in high school. I went off to some ostensibly public cabaret, and ended up witnessing a sort of lackluster re-hashing of <em>Avenue Q</em> from mediocre puppeteers who laughed blowhardedly at their own in-jokes.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-29/288895_229480960429228_214620925248565_658322_6531905_o.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 405px;" title="Les Enfants Terribles at Salonathon"></p><p>I'd say that across the board the salons that are most enjoyable are those that have cornered their niche. <em>Salonathon</em>, for example, has-- in just a few weeks-- come to signify something in my mind: I’ve gone for the fly honeys and open bar; I’ve stayed for the talented young theater practitioners doing something a bit off-the-cuff. And <em>Cast Party</em>, too: bless it. If you're looking for showstoppers made famous by Bernadette Peters, there is probably no better place to find them.</p><p>I feel that another thing that binds these together is the air of subversiveness. It might be my imagination. But all of these salons feel kind of speakeasy-ish, while also evoking <em>Cabaret </em>in some half-kidding, non-political way. Maybe it's because the hosts revel in a highbrow/lowbrow thing: "Here you'll see those glittery starlets and politicos talking the smack they can't say in the <em>Tribune</em>." And a lot of the pleasure comes from seeing a relative square perform next to some outrageous queer dance troupe.</p><p><strong>WBEZ: </strong>Gee whiz, I agree with just about everything you say here. And I love that you've pointed out the speakeasy vibe they all have -- some more than others, of course -- because it seems like an important part of how those who attend salons, and those who organize them, view themselves.</p><p>But I still wonder if the difference between these salons is simply age. Not the age of how long a given one has been doing it's thing, but the age of the given participants and organizers. Salons at large seem like a young thing. Were they always that way? Not really -- but maybe I just think of Gertrude Stein as permanently ancient and wise.</p><p>Along this note, they might just be a way to keep your college-age desire for learning-while-drinking in check. You know, grab a drink, talk about some "stuff" and then just hit the road. As much as I admittedly enjoy them, are they really teaching you anything profound? (And "does it even matter?" is a whole other question). We may exalt the salons of the past for bringing together some of our favorite artists, but as we weren't there, it could have just been an excuse to hang out and talk shop.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>SHEA: </strong>I’m pretty sure that Ben Franklin was all over the salon scene in his day. So, take that for what you will.</p><p>That said, I <em>completely </em>agree with you that this is largely a young people’s forum.</p><p>And a happy one at that. The salons I’ve been to in the past year have for the most part been such a welcome way to casually see a whole slew of new work that I wouldn’t have sought out on my own. Maybe even better, I feel like they showcase a range of odd talents that don’t have an outlet anywhere else. I was just at the Plagiarists’ salon and I heard a friend make a strange, seductive sheep-bleating noise, and I thought, “well thank heavens this is happening.” Because even in storefront shows, there’s not always a place for you to voice that kind of talent. That special kind of sheep-bleating talent.</p></p> Tue, 30 Aug 2011 14:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-30/salonatopia-look-salon-renaissance-sweeping-chicago-91203