20 (or maybe just 6) Questions with Dan

May 26, 2009

Find Dan VanHoozer at Source Festival this July 1, 3, 5 with his mash-up group performing Unscheduled Track Maintenance

Hi. The Source peeps have asked me to write a blog entry. Since this is my first time ever writing for (is that the right preposition or should it be ‘in’?) a blog, I’m going to make my (and the 12 of you reading this) life easier by just answering the questions the nice people were kind enough to give me on what the hell to write. Although, that seems kinda boring, so let’s do this is as a sort of impromptu interview…

What is your creative focus and what have you been a part of in the past?

What the hell kind of question is that, Mort!?

(Really, there’s no one named Mort. But if you’re going to be interviewed by someone and then get irate right away, his name should be Mort or possibly Morty.)

Okay, okay, okay, I apologize Morty. You don’t mind if I call you Morty, right? Oh, you do. Well, this is a pisser. Say what? Oh, the question…yeah, yeah, yeah. My creative focus…hmmm? Well, I care about the audience a lot, so I like making experiences. Most often they look like plays surrounded by a bit of tomfoolery.

What you talked about at your latest meeting with your group?

Well, Waldo talked about being loaded on some cruise after drinking too many hefeweizens. What’s that? Oh, Morty…Mort, sorry, you meant about the piece. Geez…just say so next time. Uh, we talked about various things. Mainly, about the conflict and what we’d like the audience to feel in the middle of the piece. The piece we’re making…what’s that? Oh, Unscheduled Track Maintenance. Yup, that’s the title. Yeah, the structure of rehearsals is always about everyone contributing from writing to movement to whatever. So, in the last rehearsal we rewrote the conflict together. Changing bits, words, moving things. Oh, we also talked about when the next rehearsal would be.

What is your concept and what does it mean?

Seriously? (sigh)

Well, the idea is that at any one point a DC metro car is the most unique environment in the world. Mainly because you can’t visually identify power or maybe it’s asking what the value of identity is in that environment. As far as what it means, well…you’ll just have to come and see it and judge for yourself now won’t you Morty.

What are the different creative disciplines that are a part of your group? 

Well, Psalm – who I was originally paired with to make this – is sort of a quadruple threat: singer, actor, dancer, writer. But, he asked his band – PS24 – to be a part of this thing with us. And that’s Waldo and Jali. Waldo plays the guitar and Jali is a writer, drummer, ETC. And there’s Josh who is an actor, and Joe is our sound guy.

What is your “portion” of the mash up performance? 

God knows at this point. Maybe I’ll be the bloody guy in the aisle.

What it’s like to work with artists from different creative backgrounds?

It’s cool.

Oh, is that it? Alright then…take it easy Big Mort. Yeah, come and see it – July 1, 3, and 5. Werd.

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This Just In – 09′ 10-Minute and One Acts

May 20, 2009

And… It’s official. We have announced the Source Festival 10-minute playwrights and one act playwrights. First – a big thank you to everyone who submitted, the work this year was exceptional. Second – Yes! Congratulations to the 18 10-minute playwrights and the five one act playwrights for your stellar work. We can’t wait to see your plays in action at Source Festival – June 20 – July 12, 2009. Check out the full details on the winners in the Source news section.

Source Festival wants YOU!

May 18, 2009

An appeal from Cultural Development Corporation’s Mary Clark Gaston, programs impresario, volunteer manager, artist and keeper of 10,000 more interesting and fantastical thoughts, activities, hobbies and interests (just ask her).

We are working super hard to generate three weeks of inventive, smashtastic art at Source Festival. 200+ artists have been writing, rehearsing, “mashing-up” and putting their blood, sweat and tears into the best performances you’ll see this year. What next?

We want you to join the Festival! Your blood, your sweat, your tears. Ok, maybe not that dramatic, we just need your hand in making it all run smoothly… For each performance, we are looking for two fabulously fantastic, spectacular volunteers to set up and sell concessions. That’s 58 volunteers total.

SAVE the date. SPREAD the word. SIGN up! And in return, SEE the show (for free, of course). And while we can’t promise you an actual seat, we do promise that you’ll get the best standing room in the house – where only the best and brightest volunteers watch the show. Who cares about sitting anyway, right? I heard fashionably standing is the new black.

And for those of you looking to be more involved (come on, you know you want to!) – we are also looking for a few volunteers to serve as Run Crew during the Festival. If you have experience in theatre, a flexible schedule and want to make connections or gain some behind-the-scenes experience – this is the gig for you!

Questions? Contact me – Mary Clark – at maryclark (at) culturaldc.org.

Dance Fever, Philanthropic Fervor

April 27, 2009

Cultural Development Corporation Development Manager Merin Guthrie breaks down the 2009 Gala – our 10th Birthday Bash… 

Once April showers give way to May flowers, I know that that special time of year has arrived. No, not summer (thought it’s cool too) – Gala season! When invitations, silent auction forms, guest lists and vendor contacts dance merrily around my desk, a pile here, a stack there, until they drive me half mad…

We spend countless hours thinking of zany ideas to make our gala the best party in town. No rubber chicken for us. Nix the black tie and the seated dinner. And, the cut that was the most difficult to make this year, the smashing queens. We went for great food (thanks Well Dunn!), a hot deejay, fabulous art and the right mix of people: artists, supporters, politicos and the occasional mover and shaker. And of course a fantastic location.

This year’s Gala is on May 2nd at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Atlas is near and dear to our hearts for many reasons: we helped connect the Sprenger Lang Foundation to what was once a crumbling old beauty of a movie theatre and many of our fave arts groups resident here (tip of the hat to Step Afrika and Savoyards, once Flashpoint residents). So it was the ideal place to ring in our 10th birthday.

We hope that you will be there to celebrate with us. Tickets are still available online or by calling 202.315.1322, though we’re getting tight on space! See you soon!

All the fun of a kick line, but better.

April 20, 2009

Delia Zielinski of Source resident organization the In Series takes us behind the curtain at Source. Tickets available through the In Series site and at the door.

“Life is a cabaret…” or at least the In Series likes to think so! During the month of April, the In Series takes possession of the Source black box to showcase two cabaret-style performances in rep: Berliner Kabarett and From U Street to the Cotton Club. The shows share similar time periods, but are quite different in style.

While Berliner practically invites the audience to pull up a bar stool in a 1930’s-era German cabaret bar, From U Street to the Cotton Club celebrates the African-American journey in song as well as puts the spotlight on our very own U Street neighborhood corridor. While some of the songs in Berliner are in German, you will certainly recognize the odes to Marlene Dietrich with “Falling in Love Again” and “Lola.” The cast of characters is made up of a madame, two working girls, and two male customers, and they riff on raunchy jokes and perform mild strip teases. This show is not appropriate for little ones, which I hope only intrigues you more!

U Street, on the other hand, is lots of fun for the whole family, although not without soul and heartache. You will quickly be singing along to some old American favorites, such as spirituals and Duke Ellington tunes. The In Series has made an effort to invite local business owners to the show, several of whom came opening night. It has been our goal, especially with this particular show, to utilize Source for its intended purpose: as a neighborhood “source” and center for the performing arts. And what better show to take advantage of this purpose, but with one whose very neighborhood gave us a large portion of this rich musical heritage?

So, what are you waiting for? “Come hear the music play. Life is a cabaret, old chum; come to the cabaret!”

We Make Space for Art

April 20, 2009

Did you know that you can rent Source? You can check out sourcedc.org’s venue pages for all the details, but here’s the low down in 100 words. Source has a theatre, rehearsal studio, classroom and conference room all available for rent. These spaces are all excellent for performing arts peeps, but you could have a party, meeting, roundtable, or anything you can dream up at Source. And because Source is operated by the private non-profit Cultural Development Corporation, the rates are artist friendly. So, check out the venue pages or contact our rentals experts at rentals (at) culturaldc.org or 202.315.1329. And we’re at exactly 100 words (!) – not including this celebratory sentence, of course.

What’s Up at Source: April

April 6, 2009

Source is bustling in April and The In Series is all over the place with a barrage of shows that capture the zeitgeist of two outrageously fun, yet politically charged, eras in history. They will offer us a cabaret that takes us across the pond and a revue of a musical renaissance that took place in our back yard. I think I can speak for everyone – we are looking for a little bit of relief from the madness out there with the economy. Both of these shows will deliver. Make sure to wear your Michelle O-style best (this goes out to the men as well, it’s time to step up your dapper game) and lets party like its 1922.

From U Street to the Cotton Club is a jazz age and Harlem Renaissance revue that starts on U Street and travels to Harlem. Berliner Kabarett is an edgy cabaret of songs and satire from Germany between the World Wars. Mack the Knife, The Pimp’s Song and many more by Weill, Hollaender, Brecht and others.

Check ‘em out. All tickets and information are at The In Series web page.

Also, not to be missed from new Flashpoint resident and veteran GLBT advocate/film festival sensation One in Ten – Know Your Homo Superheroes! on April 20. Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band will be screened and Jon Ginoli of Pansy Division will be on hand for a special performance.

All the deets can be found at Source’s What’s Playing page.

The Attempt to Invent Lightning (Kids, Don’t Try This at Home…)

March 31, 2009

By Playwright and Source Festival Mash-Up Participant Allyson Currin

After a number of meetings and brainstorming sessions, prior to last week we only knew one thing. We liked each other. Nice, of course, but not necessarily useful if the task at hand was supposed to be creating a compelling work of art. Not one that people are actually going to SEE. Our initial aesthetic seemed to be, “Art, Shmart, let’s just go to The Diner and get a burger.” Followed shortly by the inevitable cell phone call, “I have the flu” or “I can’t find parking.” Still, we did find ourselves artistically on the same page – on a number of the same pages, actually – so narrowing the field to a topic, or a notion, or a gut impulse we wanted to explore as a team was our first challenge. Lesson Learned # One:

Figuring out how to do this makes you surrender to the process. Surrender. Breathe. Surrender.

We’re fully prepared for a whole textbook of Lessons Learned as we navigate what our Mash-Up Mission is all about. Number One is a lesson we all know intellectually, of course, but being practitioners in addition to artists, it is a limitlessly frustrating lesson to live and create with. It’s hard to fight the ingrained impulse to generate RESULTS.

Our team consists of Scott Burgess, composer extraordinaire; Kate McGraw, a dazzling visual artist whose work includes a performance element; and me, Allyson Currin, a playwright. Our first meetings revealed that we clearly spoke the same language artistically, and got jazzed by the same sorts of ideas. We knew fairly early that we wanted to explore the notion of how creativity functions – or fails to – in daily life, how it helps shatter our mundane patterns (if we have the wherewithal to look up from our navel-gazing to see it). All well and good, but how to activate this idea, make it theatrical and energized, fresh and real? AND NOT SELF-INDULGENT. We talked about using music, painting and written word that exploited “found” objects. At one point I seem to recall a bunch of dancers prancing around the stage…Let’s just say there was no shortage of opinions on how to explore this notion of how one unlocks creativity and channels it . Good thing we are all such freaks. Lesson Learned # Two:

We’re not pyromaniacs. (Insert defensive tone) We just have a sick curiosity about it…

I’ll back up. Last week we had our much-needed epiphany when, in the interest of sharing work, I read a piece I had written years ago about spontaneous human combustion. Kate’s eyes lit up. Scott arrived late, having been dealing with a shitty situation at The Atlas (literally: plumbing problems), and when he heard what the topic of conversation was, HIS eyes lit up. Clearly we had a winner.

After grossing each other out with Googled pictures of victims, we actually found that we were onto something: a useful, concrete, theatrically viable metaphor for creativity. Remember Monty Python’s sketch about the World’s Funniest Joke? The second you got the punch line, you died? The Ah-Ha moment, when you connect with something complete and larger than you: what do you sacrifice for that moment of blazing (pardon pun) clarity? The balance between light (inspiration) and dark (death, failure.) is a scary place to be, but it is the place where we as artists should always aspire to land, because that’s the place where all the discoveries are.

What’s this handy-dandy revelation going to mean for our piece? Couldn’t tell you. But it’s a relief to have a hand hold, one we can all grip with equal enthusiasm…we rehearse on Wednesday. God only knows what’ll happen.

Lesson # One Revisited: Surrender to the Process

Calling All Actors, Olly Olly Oxen Free!

March 23, 2009

Source Festival Producer Merry Alderman with a call to action for non-equity actors:

The annual Open Call for Non-Equity Actors for the 2009 Source Festival is right around the corner on April 13, 14 and 15! It’s hard to believe that we are already gearing up to audition for the Festival in June and July.

We had over 160 actors participate in the 2008 Festival and this year’s Festival promises even more juicy roles for DC actors. We have a bunch of great directors working on the festival including Chris Gallu, Derek Goldman, Jennifer Nelson, Shirley Sherotsky, Jerry Whiddon, Alexander Strain and Mary Hall Surface. Source Festival is a great oppurtunity for non-equity actors to work with a director that they haven’t worked with in the past. We hope that everyone in town will come out to audition for the 2009 Festival.

Auditions are open to any non-eqity actor in the Washington, DC area, and will be held at The Source Theater. You have to EMAIL IN ADVANCE to get a time slot.

Please email sourcefestival (at) culturaldc (dot) org by April 6th to request an audition slot. Auditions will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis.

Saint Patrick, We Heart You

March 16, 2009

Solas Nua and Washington Improv Theater are joining forces to bring the St. Patty’s Day party tomorrow at Source with Craicdown! A Hooley of Epic Proportions. Were you on the metro at all on Saturday when 1000s of kids descended to head out to Shamrock Fest? It’s going to be like all of the fun those people had but squeezed into the Source black box. Giant green foam cowboy hats encouraged. Solas Nua is bringing the legit Irish flavor and WIT is bringing the funk.

What can you expect?

-A Riverdancing Competition (Complete with feathered hair + you’re invited to join + the winner gets a bottle of whiskey & books by Irish authors that can’t be found stateside.)

-Free Guiness (Seriously. You think you’re paying to get in, but you get free drinks during the reception, so it all evens out.)

So You Think You’re Irish? (It’s about more than that Guiness you’ll be drinking. Do you have what it takes to prove your connection to the motherland?)

And so many more things, I can’t even list them here, so I’m going to let WIT do it for me. See you there.

Source, 1835 14th St NW, $15, March 17, 8pm. Tickets available online.