workshop showing by kristinmarting

top: Irene, middle : Mari, Jen, Paul, bottom: Rudy, Dax and Suzi

So we finished up our six day workshop with a showing of  an hour of really rough material for 7 guests today – we used placeholder text for this phase, but were able to explore some exciting conceptual approaches in terms of interactive activities, one on one interactions, live video interviews for our intimate audience  and applying a school play sensibility to historical material — it was fast and messy but interesting to explore –

The performers were all phenomenal at jumping in gamely and making the most of what we were starting to explore  – Sincere Thanks to Suzi, Jen, Irene, Rudy, Paul, Mari and Dax –

Jane Shaw made so much fit together smartly with her intuitive sound work. And Yana with her smart notes.

Tal added the biggest discovery for me of the workshop with the live video interviews and the open and intriuging quality of the questions we explored.

Karyn & Anne were phenomenal at keeping us organized and where we needed to be

very helpful feedback from our guests about live vs recorded video, lush valley vs usa , etc.

we learned a lot and can’t wait to start working with new material from our two writers Sylvan & Thomas — we start our next phase in December, but have several dramaturgical sessions between now and then — lots to shape and determine.

i am really looking forward to where the next growth takes us –   Kristin


more about the Workshop by talyarden
October 25, 2010, 10:51 am
Filed under: American Dream | Tags: ,

Off to work at Baruch today continuing our residency for Lush Valley. Last week we tried out a fun exercise as we took turns interviewing one another from a set list of questions based on out 8 central tenets. These simple yet ambiguous questions cut to the core of what people think of when they imagine Freedom, express Hope, or consider Honor, etc. This was done with a simple camera setup in an isolated closet. We had a great time watching the live feed on projector. I am editing the footage to watch with the wonderful group of collaborators. I keep looking for the most basic, simplistic, unifying human experience that might illuminate the american dream. Right now I’ve landed on “threshold” – we’ll see where that leads.   – Tal

Day 3 of the workshop by kristinmarting
October 25, 2010, 10:35 am
Filed under: American Dream | Tags: , , ,

Hard day today – finding an engaging way into the dramatic structure and figuring out what language fits and what doesn’t is what we are wrestling with. Sylvan wondered if stylized movement and dance could fit at all.

The most exciting discovery today was a video interview exercise which Tal designed around the central tenets of the American Dream – each actor worked both as questioner and as respondent – they worked both within the frame of characters and as themselves – it was fascinating and exciting.

We also worked with the Oath of Allegiance that all immigrants to this country are required to take – it was interesting how almost everyone of us had discomfort with one or more of the statements – we really wondered how many Americans would be willing to take it as it is written.

Work-in-progress showing at Baruch College by kristinmarting

We are excited to spend a week in residence at Baruch College from October 20-28. Joining us for this phase are writers Tom Bradshaw and Sylvan Oswald as well as new performers Jennifer Kidwell and Paul Zimet and designers Clint Ramos and Oana Botez.  Continuing with the project are Marc Bovino, Irene Longshore, Rudy Mungaray, Mariana Newhard, designer Jane Shaw, Suzi Takahashi, and Dax Valdes.  We will share what we develop over those days on Wednesday, October 27 at 4pm.  We have limited space for guests so please email if you’d like to join us.


Three Quotes by talyarden
October 9, 2010, 2:11 pm
Filed under: American Dream | Tags: ,

Antwerp 10/3: My friend Scott help up the Herald Tribune as I entered the hotel courtyard. In an article cleverly titled “On Wall St,. it’s the piñata that wears the blindfold” Anthony Scaramucci, author of Goodbye Gordon Gekko, is interviewed. “There are probably some bad people at Goldman but it would be very bad if the American government took out Goldman Sachs. Goldman is the American dream factory. They can move people from the lower middle class to the ultra rich in one generation.”

John Hockenberry of NPR’s The Takeaway says
“America’s middle class, though, has been threatened by its own success. The definition of the middle class is that people of generic roots like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Robert Johnson, and Sam Walton can become billionaires. But their success is not duplicatable in 2010.:

I’ve been reading Jonathan Lethem’s very amusing (and touching) Chronic City. in it his character Perkus Tooth riffs on Marlon Brando “…when he sent Sacheen Littlefeather to accept the Oscar in his place. I mean, it’s the most amazing conflation of the American Imaginary, just think about it! In one gesture Brando ties our rape of the Indians to this figure of our immigrant nightmare, this Sicilian peasant doing the American dream, capitalism I mean, more ruthlessly than the founding fathers could have ever dreaded. We’re as defenseless against what Don Corleone exposes, the murderous underside of Manifest Destiny, as the Indians were against smallpox blankets.”

An in case you ever wonder what the derivation of the phrase “when the chickens come home to roost” is look a bit past Malcolm X to Aesop’s fable of The Bee and Jupiter.

A rose by any other name by talyarden
August 9, 2010, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Ambition, Images, Opportunity | Tags: , , ,

Nick Grillo, as a boy in Italy, dreamed of America and its opportunity, Southington, Connecticut. He saved enough money for boat passage to this country. Today, after 22 years, he is one of the world’s outstanding flori-culturists, developer of the famous “Thornless Rose,” an age-old dream of his craft.

One of 1600 rare color photos from the Great Depression were compiled by the Farm Services Administration from 1939 and 1944. Available here:

Lush Valley at NACL by talyarden
August 4, 2010, 5:50 pm
Filed under: Events | Tags: ,

I’m long over-due to post about our wonderful retreat at North American Culture Laboratory (  It’s a wonderful place in Highland Lake, somewhere between Port Jervis and Liberty in Sullivan County.  Our lovely hosts Tannis Kowalchuk and Brad Krumholz have worked tirelessly for the past 10 or so years restoring an immense house and the church next door into the perfect workspace for people like us.  It’s really a testament to what the performance making community  can and should be.  Open, peaceful, provacative, evocative, focussed, dreamy, etc.  Morning swims in the lake across the road, amazing food made by wonderful people, leisure, reading, talking, interviewing, writing, playing – all of it – just wonderful.  10 of us were there together for varying lengths of time.

Highlights included a series of interviews we did with people waiting for the annual Port Jervis Firefighters Parade to go by. We asked them about what the American Dream meant to them; was it being fulfilled; was it realistic;  was it different for each generation, and so on.  Answers ran the gamut from great despair to determined hope.  This is one of the oldest Firefighter parades in the history of the USA and takes place in this town on the Delaware river where NY meets, NJ meets PA.  It’s a very economically depressed area.

Some thing I just found out:  Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo Journalist, lived near Port Jervis in Cuddebackville early in his career, until he was fired from the local newspaper after physically assaulting a vending machine.  It’s relevant because “Fear and Loathing” was one of the many books being read as the actors developed stream-of-consciousness texts for the camera’s eye segments of Lush Valley.  Among the many things we talked about, when not staying up late drinking and playing poker, was the relationship of the “road” and the “grid” as icons of the American Dream.  Think Las Vegas – a grid carved out in desert valley at the end of the road.  A capitalistic mecca/mahagonny where all dreams seem possible and the boulevards are littered with a million broken ones.  I suspect that what’s left of his cannonball ashes are still settling to earth and that his spirit had joined us to give us a clue.  “Myths and legends die hard in America. We love them for the extra dimension they provide, the illusion of near-infinite possibility to erase the narrow confines of most men’s reality. Weird heroes and mould-breaking champions exist as living proof to those who need it that the tyranny of ”the rat race” is not yet final.”