The Water is Rising….send sunflowers!

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A post of just collected flotsam and jetsam that is floating around out there....wherever 'there' is exactly. http://blackagendareport.com/content/citigroup%E2%80%99s-role-rape-haiti I recently was reading through facebook -- and found a thread on the posting of affirmations. The seemingly endless stream of sunflower photos, or memes on positive thinking (if life gives you lemons, make lemonade etc). The predictable response to the original complaint was to defend these memes, and to reinforce this belief (very much a US phenomenon I think) that life is about YOU and YOUR happiness, and that if only people would 'think positive' everything would magically improve. Its really that, a form … [Read more...]

Dialogue 2

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A new dialogue, this time with my friend, playwright and director Guy Zimmerman.... http://john-steppling.com/dialogue-2/ … [Read more...]

Dialogue #2

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DIALOGUE #2 A dialogue with playwright, director, and teacher Guy Zimmerman. Drive GZ John, looking back at the last year in popular culture Refn's film Drive with Ryan Gosling stands out as having a bit of a pulse - some of it is quite good, in fact - and I thought it might provide an okay jumping off point for a broader look at where we are at currently. Curious what you made of the film generally. ----- JS: Its interesting, if we’re sort of just talking film as an entryway to broader issues, that you mention Drive. I was running a Cinematheque out in Palm Springs at the Ace Hotel, and then later Palm Desert, and it was mostly quite young film enthusiasts (sic). … [Read more...]

Presentation of Self

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One of the most striking aspects of living in Scandinavia is to realize that the level of paranoia one is used to, as an American, is no longer relevant. I experience this dislocation daily. I can observe myself in social interactions, with strangers, preparing for the defensive self protective reflex to be called forth. I think it's hard to grasp the degree of paranoia and anger in US culture. I think part of this is both reflected in and created by the culture industry. There is almost not a single US TV show in which the narrative does arrive at a moment in which someone apologizes...and this apology then refused. "I'm sorry" is usually, almost always, met with "that doesn't cut … [Read more...]

Odds & Ends

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Odds & ends. When I was growing up, in Hollywood, in the sixties, and as a young boy in the late fifties, it was a given that people came *to* Hollywood (and by extension, LA) and that it was a city of domestic immigrants. They came to be in 'movies'. The general career arc was from aspiring young actress and actor, to second career that usually began around the age of thirty -- maybe a bit more for the men. That second career for woman was (this became the joke) beauty school, massage school, or they got into real estate. For men it was move to places like Lake Havasu or often not even that far....just the further ends of the San Fernando Valley, to start up a small business in sporting … [Read more...]

Consuming Culture, Consuming Education

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Several related topics rattling around in my head today. Let me start with a nice piece by my friend Rita Valencia....http://www.timesquotidian.com/2012/06/07/go-ask-alice-i-think-shell-know/ I've never liked nor trusted Sellars. The reason has to do with this brie & chablis network of rich people culture he rambles through, with his cuteness and faux enfant terrible persona. The truth is, what Sellars does (and he's hardly alone) is to create the right variety of kitsch, tricked out in high culture drag, and calibrates it perfectly so as not to offend anyone or actually say anything. I am immediately reminded of Marina Abramovich, who also has built a franchise on emtpy posturing...with … [Read more...]

Theatrical Forensics

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I lived in Poland for almost eight years, so thats possibly why I find this such an intelligent look at the space and architecture of "oldtown" Warsaw: http://nastybrutalistandshort.blogspot.no/2011/07/reconstruction-time-again.html I also link this because its germane to several other topics I intend to discuss. All of them related, in the broad sense, to theatre and writing. I realized today, after adding several links to the blog roll at the right, that I dont have a single blog pertaining to theatre linked over there. I can't say for sure this isn't just my negligence, but I have a suspicion whatever good ones are out there, are not in English. But I digress... Something stopped … [Read more...]

Dialogue #1: Death of a Salesman

Various discussions with other writers and artists, as well as critics and academics on various topics relating to culture. Some were my idea, some not. JS Namna Norway June 2012 A conversation between a theatre professor at a California community college in the Bay Area and and playwright John Steppling regarding Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. John Steppling: Well, first off, lets focus on the Miller play. I don’t think it’s an accident that this play has retained an extraordinary popularity. I can think of no American play more performed at a collegiate and even high school level.  Something in that fact suggests there is nothing that really disrupts the general public’s … [Read more...]