"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." --Rainer Maria Rilke Photo (Photo ©julenisse/Fotolia)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Intimacy and Conflict Share the Stage at Hollywood Fringe Festival

Jason Rosario and Nikki Muller
Definition of Man: A Duet in One Act embraces many of the messy and seemingly disparate fabrics essential to our beings. Creators and stars Nikki Muller and Jason Rosario, under the direction of JJ Mayes, have tackled a very tall order of issues—love, sex, relationships, families of origin, class, race, misogyny, feminism and mortality. Through words, mostly spoken and sometimes sung, a multitude of languages, and a physicality of shear gymnastic proportion, they have stitched together a beautiful love story which, in less intuitive and talented hands, could have been frenzied and even slapstick, but instead is thoughtful, logical and elegant.

The play, in one act, takes us through an arc comprising the two characters’ early lives and love affair. It seems they are now the last pair on earth, which has caused considerable consternation because, besides being isolated and filthy, what now?

Definition of Man is palpably intimate, from its baring of souls, fears and bold truths, to its stunning choreography, which often places the two in push-pull, stay-go, love-hate, tug-of-wars. This is all-in storytelling with the actors using every fiber of themselves to invite us into their predicament. Despite the obvious post-apocalyptic setting, this is in many ways a classic tale, a dialogue that could have been set in ancient Greece, Jane Austen’s Regency England, the Vietnam era, or even today. But the dystopian backdrop helps sew urgency and poignancy through this tale, while we reflect on age-old conflicts between lovers and within ourselves.

Definition of Man is featured at the Sacred Fools Black Box as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. It has been extended for another weekend. Tickets at www.definitionofman.com 

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Is Paris truly the City of Romance? It all depends on who you're with.


                                      (Washington Post Illustration/iStock images)

The first time I went to Paris, I was a newlywed. The last time, I was a mother. Both times, I was disabused of any notion that Paris is the most romantic city on earth.
When my husband John and I went to Paris two years into our marriage, I thought it would be like a “real” honeymoon, our first having been just two gray days in Chicago.
For weeks leading up to our departure, I hummed a calliope of French movie themes while slow motion pictures flickered through my mind: John and I strolling hand in hand along the Seine… gazing into each other’s eyes, whispering Je t’aime over romantic dinners in candlelit bistros… sipping champagne atop the Eiffel Tower as the sun set and the city lights twinkled below. In every scene, I wore a little black dress. My lips were pouty, plump and red, and my hair was swept into an elegant chignon. I weighed 15 pounds less and glided down the Champs Elysees in an ethereal cloud of Chanel No. 5.  
I awoke from my reverie when reality wacked the needle on the imaginary record player in my head. The theme from A Man and a Woman scratched to an abrupt halt and my fantasy film snapped and flopped round and round on the reel like a broken projector in a discount movie house. 
In my Paris directorial debut, I’d forgotten about a major character: I’d left my mother-in-law on the cutting room floor. 

This story also appeared in the Chicago Tribune June 1, 2017