Sunday, May 23, 2010


We have found that some people have a little difficulty in pronouncing the name of our theater and multimedia company.

For the record, it's pronounced SIT-ih-kuss!

Thanks to our dear friends at Theater Workshop Nantucket for helping us out with this one.

The Cyber Room Table

By Chas LiBretto

It’s surreal to be organizing a play in Hollywood from a small beach house on Nantucket. For one, the weather here is really not at all like what one finds in Los Angeles in May (or nearly all the time). Here it isn’t yet the on-season, and there’s always a chill in the air, and at night the tree branches scratch the window panes through all the hours. The ocean here is rough and cold and surrounds us on all sides; even in this highly connected age, the isolation on an island is palpable, and it’s easy to see why people run here to escape the world. The palm trees that rocket from the sidewalks on Sunset Boulevard dwarf any of the salt-water choked scrub that inhabits the island, or the gnarled and ancient Elms that seem to burst from the cobblestones. And the dry, warm desert air of Los Angeles has nothing on the corrosive, moist, ocean breeze that rots and rusts everything it touches here.

But these are all surface-level observations that don’t much resemble what we’re after. Yes, one is isolated on Nantucket, and spends near-$200 and many hours to get across the Sound to Hyannis and to rent a car to Manhattan, but for a theater company that has-not-yet-staged-a-single-bit-of-action, obsessed by the internet as we are, the act of organizing a company, or producing a show from a dining room in a house off the 110 is not terribly different from doing so on Washaman Avenue.

When we’re not typing, bleary-eyed into our laptops, desperately booking theater space, or attempting to coordinate with actors and musicians, we’re off to work, performing in a production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town in the basement of an elderly Methodist Church, at the top of Nantucket’s main street. It’s a show that seems to mean a lot to everyone who sees it here, and to the actors as well. Many reflect how life 110 years ago in fictional Grover’s Corners still resembles, at least at a cursory glance, what life in the off-season of Nantucket is like: a small, isolated (actually even more isolated, as its not just removed by dirt roads, but by an ocean divide created during the last ice age) New England town where everyone knows everyone else’s business and where most secrets aren’t kept for very long.

But at Psittacus, we’re interested in what being alive in the 21st century really means, and though in many ways, life in a small town pretty much looks the same in 1901 as it does in 2010, the interconnectivity of the internet-age makes us into a kind of global Grover’s Corners, with status updates and tweets keeping us all abreast on the mundane, the strange, and the spectacular goings-on of everyday life, much as gossip after choir practice would have done the same for a hundred years ago.

I didn’t expect to come back to Nantucket and yet, it feels appropriate to be doing new work here. I met my business partner while doing Shakespeare here a number of summers ago, and we spent the following years dancing around collaborations of a kind, until we stumbled upon the Psittacus idea in Los Angeles. And yet, here we are, back with old and new friends and realizing that 3,000 miles and an ocean isn’t very far when your friends and collaborators, on Nantucket and in LA, can communicate in an instant. So many artists spend their time analyzing the effect technology is having on society, but we’re interested in embracing it in practice, and finding out first hand what it says about who we were then, and who we are now. So when “A Tale Told By An Idiot” premiers at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, we’ll be streaming it live to the internet, so that our friends and family around the global village can see it in the comfort of their homes, and respond to it via chat or text, be there a palm tree outside the window, or the branch of an old elm.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Behind The Scenes of A TALE TOLD BY AN IDIOT

Psittacus Productions proudly welcomes you to the first video of our "Behind The Scenes" series!

As a part of our experiment in uniting the theatrical art form with the power and immediacy of the Internet and social networking, we will create a series of videos which take you step by step through the process of putting on our show, "A TALE TOLD BY AN IDIOT" at the first annual Hollywood Fringe Festival.

These videos will appear on YouTube, Facebook, Kickstarter, and here on our blog. The advantage of watching them here? We will also include rehearsal journals, photos, guest bloggers...and much more. Check back often!

This mad experiment will culminate in a real-time video stream of our production, live from the Lounge Theater at the Hollywood Fringe.

Video 1: Meet Daryl Crittenden! Originally from Alabama, Daryl has been a professional actor for 11 years - most recently as a regular on NBC's hit, "Heroes." Here he talks about meeting Psittacus co-founders Louis Butelli and Robert Richmond for the first time, and shares his impressions of the show before rehearsals begin on June 1st.

Watch, share, and enjoy. Much more to come!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tips for [creating theater]

A few months back, the Guardian published an article presenting a list of tips for writers from an astounding selection of authors. As one would expect, most of the tips are writer-specific, but many of them are good tips for artists-in-general, and some are simply good tips for life. We at Psittacus have culled the list down to what we feel are helpful lessons for theater artists starting a new company from the ground up.

If nobody will put your play on, put it on yourself.
- David Hare

Try to leave out the part that [viewers] tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them.
- Elmore Leonard

Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.
- Margaret Atwood

Have regrets. They are fuel.
- Geoff Dyer

Do not place a photograph of your ­favourite author [or actor/director] on your desk, especially if the author [or actor/director] is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.
- Roddy Doyle

Have fun.
- Anne Enright

Don't take any shit if you can possibly help it.
- Richard Ford

Don't wait for inspiration. Discipline is the key.
- Esther Freud

Be without fear.
- A.L. Kennedy

Are you serious about this? Then get an accountant.
- Hilary Mantel

The prerequisite for me is to keep my well of ideas full. This means living as full and varied a life as possible, to have my antennae out all the time.
- Michael Morpurgo

Think big and stay particular.
- Andrew Motion

Keep a light, hopeful heart. But expect the worst.
- Joyce Carol Oates

Get lucky. Stay lucky.
- Ian Rankin

The nearest I have to a rule is a Post-it on the wall in front of my desk saying "Faire et se taire" (Flaubert), which I translate for myself as "Shut up and get on with it."
- Helen Smith

Tell the truth through whichever veil comes to hand – but tell it. Resign yourself to the lifelong sadness that comes from never ­being satisfied.
- Zadie Smith

Stop feeling sorry for yourself.
- Colm Tóibín

Turn up for work. Discipline allows creative freedom. No discipline equals no freedom.
- Jeanette Winterson

Ignore all proferred rules and create your own, suitable for what you want to say.
- Michael Moorcock

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