Wednesday, September 20, 2006

George Bush is the Devil. Who knew?

In a stirring speech to the UN by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, US President George W. Bush was outed as being the Devil. To quote President Chavez:


And the devil came here yesterday.

(APPLAUSE)

Yesterday, the devil came here. Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of.

Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world.

I think we could call a psychiatrist to analyze yesterday's statement made by the president of the United States. As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums, to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world.

An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: "The Devil's Recipe."


Indeed, photographic evidence seems to support President's Chavez' pronouncement. Note the horns and the red eyes. The question remains -- how could we have missed it for so long?

Friday, September 15, 2006

New performance date announced


Small Appliance Puppet Theater is pleased to announce that it will be doing an encore performance of Puppet Government on October 21 as part of a fund-raiser for Democratic congressional candidate John Courage. (can you pick out which one of these photos is the politician?)

Unfortunately, I can't tell you the time and location just yet. It's not a deep dark secret; it just hasn't been decided yet. Check back frequently for details: they'll be posted as we get them.

In the meantime, don't eat the bagged spinach (everyone knows that spinach is a biological weapon and that Popeye was the world's first bioterrorist).

Thursday, September 14, 2006

R.I.P. Ann Richards


Ann Richards died of esophogeal cancer yesterday, so I'm going to let her speak to us today. Rest in peace, Ann.

Ann Richards on How to Be a Good Republican:

1. You have to believe that the nation's current 8-year prosperity was due to the work of Ronald Reagan and George Bush, but yesterday's gasoline prices are all Clinton's fault.
2. You have to believe that those privileged from birth achieve success all on their own.
3. You have to be against all government programs, but expect Social Security checks on time.

4. You have to believe that AIDS victims deserve their disease, but smokers with lung cancer and overweight individuals with heart disease don't deserve theirs.
5. You have to appreciate the power rush that comes with sporting a gun.
6. You have to believe...everything Rush Limbaugh says.
7. You have to believe that the agricultural, restaurant, housing and hotel industries can survive without immigrant labor.
8. You have to believe God hates homosexuality, but loves the death penalty.
9. You have to believe society is color-blind and growing up black in America doesn't diminish your opportunities, but you still won't vote for Alan Keyes.
10. You have to believe that pollution is OK as long as it makes a profit.
11. You have to believe in prayer in schools, as long as you don't pray to Allah or Buddha.
12. You have to believe Newt Gingrich and Henry Hyde were really faithful husbands.
13. You have to believe speaking a few Spanish phrases makes you instantly popular in the barrio.
14. You have to believe that only your own teenagers are still virgins.
15. You have to be against government interference in business, until your oil company, corporation or Savings and Loan is about to go broke and you beg for a government bail out.
16. You love Jesus and Jesus loves you and, by the way, Jesus shares your hatred for AIDS victims, homosexuals, and President Clinton.
17. You have to believe government has nothing to do with providing police protection, national defense, and building roads.
18. You have to believe a poor, minority student with a disciplinary history and failing grades will be admitted into an elite private school with a $1,000 voucher.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

New evidence in JFK assassination conspiracy

Less than a year ago, Vice President Dick Cheney shot a friend. It was an "accident", of course. There was no cover up. The leftist press was just trying to turn our warm, sweet Dick into a scary monster.

But now...

The recent discovery of some old photos from 1963 may actually implicate the current Vice President in the crime of the century. In the photo (above, left) a Cuisinart looking remarkably like a younger Dick Cheney is seen sighting his rifle. And the location in the photograph? It has been positively identified as the notorious "grassy knoll" in downtown Dallas Texas.


A second photo clearly shows two individuals -- confirmed as the ever inseparable Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld -- standing just below the tree pictured in the first photo.

By curious coincidence, Cheney and Rumsfeld were spotted in Dallas last weekend, paying a return visit to the scene of the crime. Not visible in the newer photo is Cheney's "lucky penny" which he carries with him at all times and which is dated...1963.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Evil twin?

Can you pick out the evil twin in this photo of Donald Rumsfeld and his alter-ego Red Rumsfeld (murda murda)? The one on the right? WRONG! Sure, gangsta rappers talk violence and some of them may even engage in it. But if you're keeping a body count, then the one on the left is the more evil of the two. How many thousands of dead in Iraq? Even if you counted only the American soldiers -- not counting the journalists, contract workers, Iraqi soldiers and citizens -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is responsible for more deaths than any bro from the hood could imagine.

Monday, September 11, 2006

We TOTALLY Heart Dallas HUB Theater!

Puppet Government has now played in four theaters, all of which have their own charms. Hyde Park in Austin gave us great audiences during FronteraFest 2006. The Blue Theater was just what we needed for launching ourselves into New York where we were at the Players Loft, a sweet, clean, just-the-right size venue (with, apparently no website I can link you to). But this past weekend at the Dallas HUB Theater? That place ROCKS. The facility was exactly the right size and configuration; the sound system was amazing. But what was even better were the fabulous people we met there.

Tim Shane (pictured at right) is the owner and artistic director. A more generous, helpful person and gracious host never existed. Originally from Chicago, Tim has taken on a mission of making Dallas more indie-theater friendly. If Dallas HUB Theater is an indication of his work, then he's doing a great job. Dallas, are you paying attention?

Jeff Swearingen is a cast member of Puppet Government, and a resident company member of Shane Arts Theatrical Ensemble Rep. We love, love, love Jeff and can't say enough about the amazing contribution he made to this production. Here he is holding Red Rumsfeld (murda murda). Jeff is the author of Rummy's rap and the actor who plays him. We can't wait for another opportunity to work with this amazingly talented, hard working, consummately professional young man.

Any friend of Jeff is a friend of ours, of course, and that's especially true of Cassidy Crown. When we did our fund-raiser here in Austin, Cassidy came down to see the show and ended up running errands and working as an usher. And we didn't even have to ask her to do it -- she volunteered. Her crowning achievement (no pun intended), however, was her own inspired creation of Red Rumsfeld. Again, this was strictly on her own initiative. She found a fruit juicer almost identical to the one we use for Rumsfeld, and she created Rummy's alter ego for Jeff to use in this weekend's production. Does she not rule? Cassidy is also a kick-ass singer, dancer and actor.

Subliminal message to casting directors: Hire Jeff and/or Cassidy! NOW!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Big D (little a-double-l-a-s)

We're off to Dallas today, yee haw! For those of you who have never been to Dallas, let me give you just a little history. It was settled in 1841, incorporated into a town in 1856. It's been growing ever since. Above is a photo taken in the early 20th Century. At right is Dallas as it appears today.

Some interesting facts about Dallas: In 1855 immigrants from France, Belgium, and Switzerland settled west of town to organize a Fourierist utopian community, La Reunion. In 1937 Dallas blondes went on strike. In 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald was murdered live on TV. In 1984 George W. Bush purchased the Texas Rangers. I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions about what all that means because I sure as hell don't know.

And now Small Appliance Puppet Theater is going there. Pulse rate up, adrenaline pumping. First we took Manhattan, now we take Big D! Come see us at the Dallas HUB Theater tonight-Sunday, Sept 8-10.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Red Rumsfeld (murda murda)

Dallas audiences will be in for a treat this weekend! It seems that Small Appliance Puppet Theater super star Jeff Swearingen accidentally overheard this conversation between Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney:

Rumsfeld: Nobody understands Don Rumsfeld. You know why, Dick? I’ll tell you. It’s because I never wanted to be the bureaucrat you see before you – my secret dream is to be a poet!

Cheney: Like – Emily Dickenson, right?

Rumsfeld: Do I look like some reclusive, sexually ambiguous New England chick? No! Deep inside, I’m an urban poet. Like Heavy D! And Snoop Dog! Don Rumsfeld is down with his homies.

What a revelation! Upon hearing this heartfelt confession, Jeff immediately contacted the Secretary of Defense and offered to collaborate on a new song for the upcoming performance of Puppet Government at the Dallas HUB Theater this weekend. The result was a brilliant Rumsfeld Rap aka "Red Rumsfeld (murda murda)" which will be performed live for the first time this Friday-Sunday.

Just to whet your appetite, here's a tasty little sample:

I believe what I said, I don't know what I said
But I know what I think, assume it's what I said.
Risen' from the bed I possess up in my head
The locations of weapons in Tikrit and BagDEAD
Time to kick Iraqian ass to simply put it best
Cuz the weapons are located to the south east and west
And to the north somewhat, who you callin' a jerk
It's not my business to do intelligent work

Now doesn't that make you want to buy a ticket? Like right now? You can, you know. Tickets can be reserved in advanced by calling 214-749-7010 or E-mail tickets@shane-arts.com.
Please include your
1.) Name
2.) Phone number (preferably mobile)
3.) Number of tickets (and any discounts)
4.) Date, Time and Show.


See you there?

Monday, September 04, 2006

The audience -- the great unknown

Every audience is different. Everybody knows that. We've had some lively ones and some dead ones. We've cracked some folks up and we've offended others.

The Austin audience was definitely in our corner. We live in the only blue county in an otherwise red state, and folks here are all too happy to vent.

The New York audience was mixed. The 18-30 somethings thought we were the funniest thing to ever come down the pike. Many of the middle agers were too cool to be amused. The 65+ crowd ate us up. That's just the way it was.

The big test, though, comes next weekend when we take this little political tirade called Puppet Government to Dallas, a city not known for its liberal leanings. Who will come to the show? Will we make new friends? Piss off some folks? Open some eyes and hearts? Receive death threats?

These would be easy things to worry about. But I'm going to print something here that one of our cast members shared with me a year or so ago, something she 'borrowed' from another director here in town. I have no idea who wrote it, but I thank whoever it was.

Cast members, I know you read this blog, so this is for you. Audience members, this is for you, too.
To do something really well is rare, and the doing of it is, or should be, its own reward. Hopefully, the audience will appreciate this gift you're giving them: the gift of yourselves. But -- and this is a dinger, this is -- you don't have any control over what the audience does, so you can't expect them to give you anything. Appreciation is hard-won. In order for them to give it, they have to give of themselves as well, in the same way each of you is giving. They have to allow themselves to commune with all of you. But they're tired, they've had long days, many of them are probably getting up in years, so they're totally unprepared in many ways for what you have to offer...

Do you want them to give to you? Of course you do. That's why you're here. To connect, to commune. If that's what you want,... then do what you came to do, do it consistently, for and with each other, and they will give. The easiest way to get someone to give is for you to give first, and here's the tough part -- without EXPECTATION of return. What you should be expecting is not for them to give, but that each of you, individually, will be there for all the others, individually, and tell this story as well as you've been telling it. That is the greatest reward -- the work you do well together. Play for each other, WITH each other, and tell your story well and they probably WILL give to you. Not 'will' but 'PROBABLY will.' And don't hold it against them if they don't. The story is the hand you're holding out to them that says, "Come with me." Whether they choose to take it is unimportant. Some people no longer wish to travel. What's important is that the offering is made.
Gosh, I wish I had written that. And I really appreciate the Dallas HUB Theater taking a risk with us. But hey -- isn't that what theater is all about? Taking risks?

Are you dead... or DANGEROUS?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Puppets in sick bay

Michael Brown is recovering from extensive back surgery. Tony Snow lost both arms AND his tongue. Poor old Bush Sr. lost everything except one eyebrow. The ride home from New York was obviously not a gentle one.

But who complained the loudest and longest? It's a toss-up between Condoleezza Rice, who lost an earring, causing delays for some of the more critically injured patients while she insisted that the earring in question be found, and Donald Rumsfeld (pictured at right) who needed just a touch of physical therapy on his arms. "Oh Jeez, it hurts, it hurts! Make it stop! Make it stop! Get your filthy hands off me! You're hurting me!" he cried before the physical therapist even touched him.

Though no physical injuries could be found on his body, it is clear that Kermit the Frog, spotted lying semi-
catatonic in his crate, curled up in a fetal position, bore severe psychological wounds. Once he was finally able to talk again, assisted by the gentle coaxing of the Small Appliance Puppet Theater staff psychiatrist, the show-biz veteran said, "I have traveled the world over with actors and artists from many walks of life, but I have never, NEVER sunk so low as to hang out with people like these politicians. All the scheming and back biting! The plans to dominate the world! I felt like I had descended into the pits of hell from which there was no escape. These people -- especially Dick Cheney, if I may be so free as to name names -- make even Oscar the Grouch look like Mother Theresa!" He then tearfully begged not to be forced to ride again in the crates with them to Dallas next weekend.

It must be noted that George W. Bush came through totally unscathed. Again.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Good-bye New York; hello Texas

Good-bye, New York. Good-bye Players Theater and Players Loft (on the second floor where we performed).

The puppets arrived in Austin yesterday evening. I arrived in Austin around 2 this morning -- after my flight was delayed by an hour and then I sat in the plane taxiing on the runway for TWO whole hours. Got to watch almost an entire in-flight movie before we even took off!

After sleeping nice and late and then having lunch with my daughter, I'm almost ready to open the crates to see how our little puppet pals fared on their truck ride home. I can hear Rumsfeld and Cheney grousing, and frankly I'm just not quite ready to deal with their complaints yet. I think I need a little more sleep.


Not too much, though. I've got to hold a puppet first aid clinic this weekend and get them ready for their trip to Dallas on Friday. It's almost showtime again, holy moly! Yup, these little guys are becoming seasoned travelers. Check out Puppet Government at the Dallas HUB Theater Friday-Sunday, September 8-10. It was listed in today's Fort Worth Star Telegram, so the word is out, yee ha! See you there?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

This is how rumors get started.

In what may become THE sex scandal of the current administration, Condoleezza Rice was spotted yesterday in the arms of an unidentified man. He does not appear to be in the Secret Service. A personal "body guard" perhaps? Condi, we didn't know you had it in you! And why aren't you on the UPS truck with the other puppets?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Mostly photos

Day eleven. Today I'm going to give you photos. These were taken yesterday, our last day at Player's Loft. Since we were the last show of the festival in that particular venue, we helped the festival folks with load out. So here's the construction of our set, some new friends, and the deconstruction of the theater.

1. All hands on deck to set up the set. From left to right that's Joe Bowen, Jeff Swearingen, Ben Johnston, Paula Gilbert and Steve Barney. Those tubs in front contain the puppets.

2. Puppets finding their places.

3. Ready ... set...

4. Showtime!


5-7. Two new pals and one old one. Left to right -- Anna Halkiatis (light board operator); Maria Johnston (venue director); former Austinite Geoff Brown (sound board operator).


8. Load out. Small Appliance Puppet Theater helped FringeNYC clear the theater. Many hands make labor light.

9. All done and waiting for the truck.

The puppets and the puppeteers are on their way back to Texas. Rumsfeld finds this whole notion of ground transporation tremendously insulting, of course, and has been grousing about it ever since getting packed back into his tub for the long truck ride home. This was not lost on the puppeteers who are enjoying the extra leg room, TVs and satellite radio available on Jet Blue.

I'm staying a few days longer to unwind a little, think about things, catch up on my sleep, take a zillion photographs, hang out with my new pal Maria and my other new pal Nancy, maybe finally have a chance to get caught up with Geoff. I've got an interview with Newyorkcool.com tentatively scheduled later in the week which should be fun, assuming it actually happens.

Then it's back to Austin and preparation for the 2nd weekend in September when Puppet Gov does Dallas!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Final show. Time to take a load off!

Day ten. The festival ended today with one final sold out performance from Small Appliance Puppet Theater. We stuck around to help load out all the equipment then headed to various parts of NYC with suitcases, tubs of puppets, and cartons of set pieces.

President and Mrs. Bush were glad to finally be able to kick their shoes off and have a few minutes to unwind before packing for tomorrow's trip back to Texas.

"We've had a great time here in the Big Apple," Laura quipped. "The FringeNYC folks have been incredibly hospitable! We've had some wonderful food, seen a few of the sights, attended some of the other performances, met some wonderful people in other shows. This has been such a treat for us."

"Wow! New York is really big!" said the president.

Scotty and Tony and the thief in the night

Day nine. We caught up with Tony Snow and Scott McClellan sitting out on the front stoop of their hosts' home in Brooklyn, guzzling a bottle of wine and trading war stories about working as Press Secretary for President Bush. Putting a positive spin on the bizarre words that come tumbling out of the president's mouth is a full time job that requires tremendous powers of concentration and creativity. It's no wonder that the President is on his third Press Secretary.

Below are some actual quotes from the prez (in bold) followed by the Press Secretary's interpretation (in italics), as recalled by the two men on the stoop.

But Iraq has—have got people there that are willing to kill, and they're hard-nosed killers. And we will work with the Iraqis to secure their future.
What the president meant to say is that reconstruction of the Iraqi prison system is complete.


It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it.

Er, uh, you will find a summary of the budget in your press packet. Next question, please.

One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.
And the president is actually reading a book without pictures this summer. Big boy!

For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It's just unacceptable. And we're going to do something about it.
Could somebody just shoot ME please and get it over with?

People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history.
Uh, I don't think I need to elaborate.

By the time Mr. Fox and Mr. McClellan had reached the bottom of the bottle of wine, the former rivals were best of friends, enjoying the kind of intimacy that combat troops find in the trenches.

"Hey Scotty," we heard Tony say, "do you have Ari Fleischer's phone number? We should, like, totally give him a call, dude, and see if he wants to come over. I'll bet he's got some great stories. And tell him to pick up another bottle on his way over."

"Dude!" Scotty replied. "Let's do it! And we should totally get him to tell us about the time W said that thing about how hard it was to put food on your family."

"Oh god," Mr. Snow said, laughing so hard that he tumbled down two or three steps. "I'd forgotten that one! That was, like, totally one of my all time favorites. Yeah, we gotta call Ari. Do it, dude."



In other news, day nine being extremely busy...

I think I can say we have truly performed theater in New York after tonight's experience. We have earned our stripes, indeed. We are now seasoned professionals.

We got to the theater a few minutes early, only to be told by our venue director that...

Unfortunately, someone had stolen the sound system the night before.

Fortunately, Fringe Central had sent over a boombox for us to use.

Unfortunately, the boombox sucked and was a bitch to operate.

Fortunately, Anna, our light board operator, had run light and sound for the previous show, so she could show Geoff (our sound operator) how to use the new system just as soon as he got there.

Unfortunately, Geoff was late and didn't have a chance to practice.

Fortunately, Geoff rocks and did a great job anyway.

Unfortunately, when we got into the theater, we learned that the thief had also taken our large duffle bag -- to put the sound board in, no doubt, and to implicate us in the crime since the bag was clearly marked SMALL APPLIANCE PUPPET THEATER.

Fortunately, he had taken the painted drop and the poles that make up the frame of our set out of the bag and left them there for us.

Unfortunately, he got away with all the bungee cords that hold the entire set together.

Fortunately, there is a hardware store just around the corner from the theater so I was able to make an emergency visit and get what we needed.

Unfortunately, surprises like the one that met us at the theater can sometimes be a distraction to the cast and throw them off their game.

Fortunately, Small Appliance Puppet Theater chose to let the incident bring greater focus to the performance, and they rocked the house!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Working hard

Day eight. It is said that 'all work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy'. The reverse is just as important -- one must insert some work into the playscape as well, and our President knows this. He called a cabinet meeting today with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. They shared notes about last night's performance, did some vocal exercises, and ran a speed-through of their lines. In his opening remarks the president said, "I know tonight's show is an important one, so I want to be focused. Get grounded. Center my-- hey! Are there any more bagels? Gimme one with raisins. And a diet Coke."

Meanwhile, his cabinet members carried on without him, practicing their song The Plan.

A plan! A plan! A figurehead man
Who never went to fight in a foreign land.
A plan for a man with no attention span...
The hard work paid off, as the appliances nailed their performances in front of another sold out house tonight.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pre-show preparation

Day seven. Every night we have exactly 15 minutes to put the puppet stage together before the show and 15 minutes to take it down after the show. The cast has become a highly trained pit crew, similar to the guys at the Indianapolis 500. Each person knows his/her tasks and they get it done quickly and efficiently.

The puppets, too, know where they're supposed to be. As you can see from this photo, several of them have already taken their places in eager anticipation of the show. Pictured (top shelf left to right) is George Deutsch, Scott McClellan, President Bush and the Bullhorn; (bottom shelf left to right) Tony Snow, Kermit, Condoleezza. See if you can spot other essential props that every administration needs: a disco ball, a birthday cake, a can o' war, a price tag. The human in the blue shirt and holding the roll of tape is Ben Johnston, one of the set designers and a puppeteer.


The set consists of four shelving units like the ones pictured here, topped with a faux kitchen countertop and a cloth drop hanging in front of it, painted by our pal Chachalet to look like kitchen cabinets and drawers. All that black stuff at the top of the photo is the cloth curtain that separates the puppeteers from the action on the countertop. Pretty cool, huh?

This photo was made today just before our 4th show of the FringeNYC festival. Three more to go and then we pack everybody up and send them back to Texas. Then the second weekend in September, we load 'em up again for a three day run at the Dallas Hub Theater. Who knows what's next?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

They like us!

Day six. Hey, check out our review on nytheatre.com. It's been a long, long day, and we're all tired, tired, tired. Almost midnight and just home from performing and then seeing another show. But I wanted to post the review, yee haw!!!! More manana.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A day off

Day five. Wow, the second show kicked some serious ass last night! We had another full house, and the place was rocking with laughter, which is exactly what we wanted. We didn't get any reviews from the first show, but with several more press people there last night maybe maybe maybe this one will yield something.

Today is a day off and we're doing the tourist thing. Condi started the day with a nice run in Prospect Park and then told (didn't ask -- flat out commanded) me to take a "typical tourist photo" of her at the statue of Marquis de Lafayette. (She keeps telling us she wants us to think of her as "just plain old Condi" but the truth is, she's the biggest snob in the cast. Don't tell her I said that. She may be pretty, but she's cruel!)

Some of the other puppets have
elected to spend the day getting caught up on their sleep after carousing way too late last night. We won't mention any names, but the ringleader's name starts with DUBYA. And I won't go any further, but I did want to mention that Pat Robertson's halo seems to have come off some time during the night.

While the puppets are snoozing, the puppeteers will be attending Broadway shows, visiting museums, doing laundry and attending other FringeNYC performances.

The icon up the street

Day four. While out running errands this morning, Ben and I encountered an apartment fire. FDNY trucks were everywhere -- ladders, pumps, probably half a dozen or more, all on a narrow one-way street. Cars headed down the street had to back out into a busy intersection to get out of the way, but the police were on the spot to direct traffic and prevent accidents. The noise was deafening, and we speculated about what the city must have sounded like on 9/11 with those screaming sirens coming from every direction. We were both a little surprised at how strong our emotional response was when we saw those men in the familiar FDNY suits and hats running down the sidewalk with all their gear, ready to do whatever job lay ahead or them. And what an icon the FDNY firetruck has become! Every time I see one (and our house is just a few doors down the street from a firehouse), I am reminded of one of our country's darkest days and the selfless heroism of those brave firefighters who were there to serve.

Five years after the event, we are still deeply moved by the events of that day. Life goes on and people keep living; but the sense of loss is still there and not as far beneath the surface as we tell ourselves.


As for the rest of our day, well, w
e've got a show tonight at 9 and then a day off tomorrow, which will be nice. I hope to catch some other shows from the Fringe -- something I haven't had time to do yet. But we're starting to get into a groove here, so a little bit of free time should be opening up for us over the next few days. Tomorrow we hope to see a show about an old man who thinks he's turning into the Olsen twins. Anything goes at FringeNYC!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Opening night!!!!

Day three. Opening night in New York! Holy moly! We did it! Had a full house, a couple of reviewers (we'll see what they have to say tomorrow), some family and friends and even an audience member who was there simply because he loves puppets so much.

Those butterflies in my stomach had grown to prehistoric proportions (with about 9 foot wingspans) by the time the house opened and it was all I could do to greet our audience and hand them their programs. I was a flipping WRECK. The work had been done, the rehearsals were over, the preview was history and now we were in New bleeping York! Could I trust my actors and their puppet pals to do it right? ABSOLUTELY! They ROCKED!!!!!!! I really don't think we could have asked for a better opening night. It was a great place to start, and I expect that each performance will get progressively tighter and better.

After the show, President and Mrs. Bush were seen having a quiet celebratory dinner at East Cuisine in Brooklyn. Cheney and Rumsfeld stayed in the Village where they could enjoy the night life with their cronies Julie Myers, George Deutsch, Phillip Cooney and Claude Allen. Condi went back to her hotel where she visited the spa, then she practiced the piano for an hour before turning in for an early bedtime.

The puppets and their human friends are looking forward to another great show tomorrow night and participating in the filming of the documentary commemorating the 10th anniversary of the International Fringe Festival.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Damage assessment

Day two. The puppets are all present and accounted for. Damage during the shipping process was remarkably minimal.

As was to be expected, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld complained the loudest. "What's this ground transportation bullshit?," he screamed as he emerged from his packing crate. "I'm accustomed to first class all the way. And that truck stop food gave me gas. Bad. Just look how bloated I am. Oh Jeez, I'm gonna die!"

Vice President Dick Cheney suffered a similar complaint, saying he had a severe case of heartburn. Upon closer examination, it was clear that his condition could be considered far more serious -- his pacemaker battery had fallen off completely. However, the loss was not as catastrophic as it could have been had he actually had a heart.

Oil lobbyist Phillip Cooney suffered the worst of any of the puppets. Apparently he got into a barroom brawl the night they stopped in Memphis and came away with a broken nose and a missing eye. Fortunately, he received immediate attention from a plastic surgeon with a glue gun, and he's feeling good as new now and looking almost as handsome.

A few other booboos were noted, but it is not known whether these were travel related or whether they were result of ordinary occupational hazards. Both Tony Snow and Scotty McClellan (current and former Press Secretaries, respectively) lost an arm, but then they sustain injuries every single time they go to bat for the President, so it's difficult to say how these injuries originated. The president's father, George H.W. Bush also lost an arm, but this may have been an age-related accident and not attributable to travel.

All in all, the puppets traveled as well as or better than we'd hoped. They have been out stretching their legs today, running their lines and getting ready for opening night tomorrow.

Friday, August 18, 2006

We're Heeeeeeeeeere!

Day one. After staying up waaaaaaaaaaaaay too late and then getting up waaaaaaaaaaaaay too early, we managed to get through a day of surprisingly easy travel. Jet Blue expressed a little curiosity about all the shelves and hardware we were shipping, but not enough to slow us down.

Upon arriving at JFK airport, we called to hire a van to take the three of us and our nine bags to our host's home in Brooklyn. Imagine our surprise when a car -- not a van -- pulls up and this energtic Chinese man hops out and opens the trunk. Our first thought was, "there is no way in hell all that stuff is going to fit into one little car." Being from Texas, we take space for granted and are rarely required to be resourceful about it. But this guy was amazing! He got all our stuff AND US into the car. We cheered loudly and gave him a huge round of applause (and a nice tip).

Once settled into our new home away from home, it was time to eat. mmmmmm. Good food. And the weather? PERFECT. Warm enough to still remind you that it's summer, but about 20 degrees cooler than what we've been experiencing back home. I spent much of the day out walking, taking care of errands, and I loved it!

Jeff arrived around 6, so he and I decided to hop on the subway and get ourselves down to Fringe Central where we could get checked in. Abd what 's the first thing Jeff does? He gets us both crossways with the law!!!!!!! A simple misunderstanding, I assure you -- we just didn't know they were watching, that's all. We had each bought a 7-day unlimited use metro pass. I swiped mine, but I went through the wrong space in the turnstile, and it locked me out. So I swiped it again, but the computer thought I was cheating by using it twice in quick succession at the same gate. Maybe I was handing it off to a friend. So what did Jeff do? He planted me sqarely in the turnstile, swiped his card, jumped in with me and voila! We were in. Right in front of two Transit Authority cops. Ooops. We played the out-of-towner card and they let us go with a scolding.

The folks at Fringe Central, on the other hand, were extremely warm and welcoming. They seem genuinely excited about our show and are looking forward to seeing it for themselves. We learned that our first three performances are completely sold out already, so that was encouraging. The William Morris guy wants to see it on Friday night, and a documentary film crew will be shooting us on Monday. Is this exciting or what?!?!?!?

Ben and Steve have gone over to Manhattan tonight to pick up the puppets; Joe and Paula arrive tomorrow. Then we'll have everybody here and can get about the very serious business of kick-ass comedy. Tech rehearsal Sunday morning and then at 5 o'clock Sunday afternoon, we're ON!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

What now?

In fewer than 24 hours, Small Appliance Puppet Theater folk Chris, Ben and Steve, will be aboard a plane for New York. Jeff will join us there tomorrow afternoon and Joe and Paula will arrive on Saturday. I'm at the point where I'm faced with: WHAT DO I DO NOW?!?!?!?!? The puppets should arrive today, the set is packed up and ready to go. Local rehearsals are over. But the list is still seemingly endless -- the personal packing, arranging for kitty care while we're gone, paying bills before we leave town,
taking care of all the last minute things I know I've forgotten. This is the part that's not much fun, which I think reads pretty clearly in the photo of me on the right.

The clock is ticking and Oh! My! God! Why am I sitting here at the computer trying to write a freaking blog??!?!?!?!?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Puppet Government called a "bizarre left-wing performance" by someone who hasn't seen show!

Ooh, looks like Puppet Government might be hitting a nerve.

"Republicans might consider sponsoring additional performances in middle America and swing congressional districts," said an unimpressed Ray Sullivan, a GOP consultant and former Bush spokesman. "The bizarre left-wing performances can only help us win over concerned mainstream voters." That's what it says in today's
Austin American Statesman article about Puppet Government. The quote, of course, is from an expert who has not actually seen the play; but hey, if a former Bush spokesperson says it, then it must be true, right?

The Statesman article got some things right and did the usual amount of misquoting (why does that always happen?). Maybe in an effort to be fair to the other side, they interviewed this Ray Sullivan person. But why didn't they contact someone who had actually seen the play?

This is rich, folks. And it's exactly the point we try to make in the show. The current administration doesn't care. They are 'unimpressed' with anyone who disagrees with them. Thank you, American Statesman, for helping us make our point.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Music for your ears

Puppet Government is so much more than just a political satire. It's a veritable song and dance extravaganza! And I just figured out how to put an mp3 file on this blog, so today you're gonna get to hear some music from the show!!! Aren't! You! LUCKY!!!!

I can't give you much because we don't have a cast recording yet, alas. But here's a tiny little instrumental tidbit called the WrongCo Waltz (composed by Chris Humphrey) which we hope will whet your appetite for more.

Thanks to our amazing helpers/friends

Small Appliance Puppet Theater would like to send a big, public THANK YOU out to the folks who helped us with our preview performance on Sunday. First of all there was the multi-talented, multi-tasking LISA SCHNEIDER who was our house manager. She made the lobby (which looked like a storage facility) into a welcoming and comfortable space, and she took care of all our guests, keeping everybody happy -- no small feat, especially in the merciless heat. Her husband ERIC VORMELKER had no official title, but he was there all day, too, running errands, climbing ladders, ushing -- basically whatever needed doing. CASSIDY CROWN was visiting from Dallas and jumped into the fray with joy and enthusiasm, lending a helping hand wherever one was needed. CINDY ZIMMERMAN provided ALL of our concession stand needs -- from the Condoleezza Rice Krispy Treats to the Coalition Cookies to the big sign that said "Support our Troupes!" Cindy was assisted by JOHN, whose last name I did not get but who worked hard nonetheless. SILAS BRYAN ran sound for us and did a damn fine job, and the light board was operated by former Small Appliance puppeteer DANIEL NORTON whom we all love and adore forever and ever.

It was a wonderful opportunity to get the show on its feet and play it to an audience (two large audiences, actually). Feedback has been positive and constructive, and we continue to sand the rough edges so that we can be at the absolute top of our game when we get to New York. So thank you, Austin, for watching our preview, for laughing at our jokes, and for offering your support. This is a scary thing we're doing, but it feels really good to have the home folks out there cheering us on.

The countdown has begun

We open in less than a week at the International Fringe Festival in New York! The puppets are on their way, we've got the set almost packed for its flight with us on Friday. A couple of touch-up rehearsals this week without the puppets and then we're gone!

That's an actual, unretouched photo of me on the left, but it could easily be mistaken for any of the cast members of Small Appliance Puppet Theater (well, the humans anyway). The butterflies have landed squarely in our stomachs. We are excited, nervous and eager to get on those airplanes that will take us to the next stage of our adventure.

The puppets don't care. They're psyched and ready. They live for the spotlight and have been grousing for weeks now about "are we there yet?" Almost fellas, almost.