Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday is the New Tuesday

...because it's time for a Trip Report. The Vagina Monologues wrapped this past weekend, and it was an amazing experience. I had a crew of supportive family and friends (possibly even a motley one) there to cheer me on, and these family and friends were surprised and moved by the content of the show. It's important material for anyone-- for everyone--to think about. A lot of really terrible things happen to women around the world. Even so, the horror and brutality of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo does not invalidate the less pressing but still keenly felt issues of women in this country coming to terms with their womanhood, and with the cultural attitudes which surround it. Examining this process and these attitudes is crucial for us as we learn to be in the world.

On a more personal level, the show made me realize that I miss doing theater. Not that I ever really Did Theater-- my post-high-school acting career consisted entirely of a small group called Artistic Masturbation Theater. I did not, in fact, masturbate artistically on stage with this group, although I did once have a role which required me to fake an orgasm. The company began with a group of my friends who wanted a place to produce the scenes, monologues, and vignettes they wrote. It was a brilliant idea, and during its run I was involved as an actor, a writer, and a director.

College is, of course, the sort of place where one does these wildly creative things. It should not, however, be the only place. Why doesn't everyone put on their own productions? What's stopping them? I don't know, but I'm going to find out. I'm planning to move to Madison in July, where a large collection of Artistic Masturbation founders and collaborators live. My first project while there is to start an independent theater group and produce some of the things we've written.

Now, I've got no idea what, practically, is involved in such an endeavor. Renting a space, marketing a show, all that stuff-- I guess I'll figure it out as I go. Adventure!

This leads me to my second order of business: A Project for Emily. My first plan for this theater group is to put together an evening of Film Noir-inspired scenes, because I've already written one and I have a friend who is filming one. Two scenes does not an evening make, however, and so I plan to solicit submissions from any aspiring and talented writers who would be excited to see their pieces performed. Emily, your mission, should you choose to accept it: Write a one-act play that involves some of the conventions of Film Noir. Subject matter is open, but aesthetic must fit the theme. If the result is workable in the show and with the resources I have to hand, I'll produce it whenever I get this crazy biplane off the ground.

Posted by Silent Five @ 8:29 PM :: (1) comments

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

WTF Wednesday Brought To You By Stephen Fry

I'm not writing a WTF Wednesday post today partly because I am post-rehearsal and exhausted, but mostly because I think that your time would be better spent watching Stephen Fry talk about the Catholic Church. He makes a brilliant, moving argument that the Catholic Church as an institution is no longer a force for good in the world, if it ever was-- while being compassionate toward believers and generally wise and humorous. Check him out.

Posted by Silent Five @ 9:38 PM :: (1) comments

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Trip Report from Vagina Country

Trip Report Tuesday is back with an update on my longest-running project. I auditioned for the Vagina Monologues in December, as well you know (Eddie Izzard voice). I didn't try out with any particular part in mind-- my main goal was just to follow through on a spur-of-the-moment impulse. Just to prove to myself that I could do it.

Well, I did it. I sailed through callbacks and was cast. I have two monologues: Hair and Not-So-Happy Fact. For those of you who have seen the show, you know the incredible range of women's experiences it chronicles. I'm lucky to have one of the very funny bits and one of the very sobering bits. When I started out this was a throwaway endeavor, but now that I've committed to participate, I'm very glad to be a part of something so powerful and far-reaching. Also, I get to say the word "vagina" an awful lot.

For those of you who may be interested, the show runs Feb. 19-21 in Gregory Hall on the UIUC campus. Drop a comment for specific dates and times.

I'm already thinking about my next project, but February is going to be rather packed. One of the things I'm considering is a sign language class. There's one which starts in April and for which I can get a pretty awesome discount. I've always wanted to learn sign language.

Opinions? Ideas? Anyone want a project of their own? You know what to do.


Posted by Silent Five @ 6:55 PM :: (2) comments

Monday, February 08, 2010

Etymology Monday EXPLODES onto the scene!

So, it has been brought to my attention that I fail hard for allowing this blog to lapse for so long. Fair enough, and where better to start than with my favorite new feature: Etymology Monday!

Philology is one of my foremost passions, and today's Word of the Week pretty handily illustrates why. It's a perfectly ordinary word, albeit an awesome one: explode. Chances are you've used it today, especially if you're Bruce Willis. When it was suggested to me as a topic for today's post, I didn't expect it to be particularly diverting. But get this: Its roots are the Latin ex-, meaning "out of," and plaudere, meaning "to clap." It was originally a theatrical term, meaning "to hiss or clap a player off the stage." The Oxford English Dictionary has its earliest appearance in English in the 1530s, where it is used to mean "to reject with scorn." Throughout the 1600s, the definition broadened from impromptu drama criticism to the more general " to drive away with expressions of disapprobation; to cry down; to banish ignominiously." ("Banish ignominiously"-- I love the OED.) In the late 1600s and early 1700s,  the focus seems to have shifted from the act of rejection to the loud noises which accompanied it. It came to mean "to drive forth with sudden noise," and began to be used to describe gunshots, lightning, and coals ejected from the fireplace. By the 1790s, to explode meant "to go off with a loud noise," which the Online Etymology Dictionary quotes as an Americanism. Its use in the current sense, "to burst with destructive force," is not reported until 1882.

The OED also reports a similar verb, displode, which arose in the 1600s. From the same Latin root, but with the ancient prefix dis-, derived from a Proto-Indo-European root *dvis, meaning "two, in two ways" and by extension, "asunder, in twain." Latin displodere meant "to burst asunder," and the English word "displode" is glossed as "to drive out or discharge with explosive violence." It seems a far more likely verb for our current needs, but "displode" fell out of favor. Its last attestation in the OED is in 1812. Why "explode" and not "displode?" Was it more familiar? More evocative? I don't know, and this is what fascinates me about etymology. Even the most ordinary word carries within it a secret history not only of the language, but of the people who speak it, of their preferences and their prejudices. Words are like geodes-- scratch the surface and you'll find shimmering layers of meaning.


Posted by Silent Five @ 9:55 PM :: (0) comments

Word of the Week

gymnosophy [jim-NAH-so-fee]

n. Philosophical, amusing, or nonsensical insights realized when naked, as in the shower or in bed. (recent coinage: att. S. Galasso, 2010)

Victoria and Albert enjoyed a spot of postprandial concupiscence culminating in a night of gymnosophy and coffee and crumpets at dawn.

The Silent Top Five: Bacon-Flavored Desserts

1) Bacon cheesecake.
2) Bacon gumballs.
3) Bacon ice cream.
4) Bacon-orange bars.
5) Bacon apple pie.

Standard Disclaimer

This is all in no way meant to incur copyright-infringement-related wrath. I'm harmless. I promise. Oh, and if you're offended by anything I may post herein, I guarantee I didn't mean to do so (unless, of course, you are a humorless prig. In which case, go right on and be offended, with my blessings.)