Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Leaf Rap: The OK Leaf Corral

Many people feel a strong impulse to blow their leaves out into the street in the fall, creating a sense of catharsis, but also a big public mess. Here's a call to all, to ride herd on them-there leaves, but in the opposite direction, to giddyap and get 'em on back, to the OK Leaf Corral.

The script can be found at this link.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Climate Theater: Complaint Training

Friday the 13th in March, 2015 was one wild and crazy night at the Princeton Public Library as the Climate Cabaret launched, if not into space, at least into the space better known as the Community Room. Seven actors, a Princeton High School a cappella group, a jazz pianist, and three singers bearing an uncanny resemblance to Doris Day filled the full house with wonder, joy and laughter--perhaps not the sort of response you'd expect from material dealing with climate change, but there it was.

For those who missed it, the event was not lost in space, but recorded by The Little Camera That Could, tucked off to the side. Some of the sketches are posted here, at, so that they're accessible to Earthlings everywhere.

The evening began with a piece called Complaint Training, in which The Three Grouseketeers seek to fill any void there might be in instruction to the human race on how to rant higher, rant lower, rant louder, rant longerrrrrr.

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Sustainable Jazz: Waltz For Ruth

Climate Cabaret has a jazz component, specifically the Sustainable Jazz Ensemble, a group I compose for and lead. Keyboardist Phil Orr played music before and after our Climate Cabaret debut back in March, 2015, and I joined him on sax for a rendition of Waltz for Ruth just before the show began. Google "Waltz for Ruth" and you discover that bassist Charlie Haden wrote a Waltz for Ruth dedicated to his wife. My Waltz for Ruth is part of a trilogy I wrote prior to traveling to Cleveland to be at my mother's bedside during the last day of her life. I played the melody for her on the clarinet I had taken along, not knowing if she could actually hear it because she was unconscious the whole time. Something of her upbeat nature comes out in the melody.

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Contributing to The One-Minute Play Festival

In 2014 and 2015, I was asked to contribute plays to New Jersey's annual One-Minute Play Festival. Six different directors, each with six actors, converge to bring fifty plays to life with just seconds inbetween.

An online video documents the January 19, 2014 performance at Passage Theatre in Trenton. The show's intro starts at minute 12:10 on the video. My two plays are at 40:40 (When Time Went On Forever) with actors Steve Caputi and Susan Gaissert, directed by Steve Gaissert, and at 58:00 (Stronger Than the Storm?) with actors Amy Crossman and Scott Brieden, directed by Artem Yatsunov. Other plays before and after the "Stronger than the storm?" also explore NJ's response to Hurricane Sandy, including a piece by Clare Drobot that asks the question, "How can you be stronger than an inanimate force of nature?"

The 2015 festival doesn't appear to have been archived online, but was performed May 3 and 4 at Luna Stage in West Orange, NJ. My two pieces, "One Day Stand" (about planting a raingarden) and "The Economy Gets Hers", were directed by Steve Gaissert.

According to the 1MPF's website, "The One-­Minute Play Festival (#1MPF) is a NYC-­‐based theatre company, founded by producing artistic director Dominic D’Andrea, and is America’s largest and longest running short form theatre company. #1MPF is a barometer project, which investigates the zeitgeist of different communities through dialogue and consensus building sessions and a performance of many moments."

Twenty cities now have One-Minute play festivals, with each one drawing from its own region's playwrights, directors and actors.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Climate Theater: The New, Improved Mr. Sustainable

"As long as we must choose between present comfort and future climate, there can be no joy!" So declares Mr. Sustainable, as he searches for a way to feel good while doing good. In this before and after, can new advances in ultra light winter wear and "fresh perspectives on intergenerational relationships" help Mr. Sustainable and his spouse end a long, tense period of thermostat wars? Actors are Steve Hiltner, Basha Parmet and Cheryl Jones. Performed in wintry March, 2015, at the Princeton Public Library as part of the Princeton Environmental Film Festival.

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Climate Cabaret: Around 8 Sings "99 Too Many Cars On the Road"

Princeton High School's a cappella group Around Eight was a big hit at the March 13, 2015 premier of the Climate Cabaret at the Princeton Public Library. Here they offer ways both large and small to get from 99 down to zero too many cars on the road. At the beginning of the video, they refuse my offer of printed out lyrics, this being the digital generation. A paperless performance--very sustainable. Around Eight led by Landis Hackett. Lyrics and arrangement by Steve Hiltner.


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Climate Theater: Breaking Up With Your Car

"It's guys like me driving cars like you that are messing things up forever," says Johnny, as he struggles to come to terms with his car's addiction problem. Will he run off with that "anorexic chick with the two skinny wheels", or will he and his car find a way to work things out? This performance was part of the March 13, 2015 premier of the Climate Cabaret at the Princeton Public Library, written by Steve Hiltner and sponsored by the Princeton Environmental Film Festival. Actors: Basha Parmet and Steve Hiltner.       

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