Monday, August 30, 2010

Interview with Kirk Lynn

This morning I got a chance to talk to Kirk Lynn, the mind behind the incredibleness that is Cherrywood to talk about life, love, and moving on after the Cherrystorm. He was just as gracious and polite as a Texas man should be.


Hi Kirk! How's your summer going?


Best summer ever.

I had a baby with my wife

I have a novel that is maybe just about to be bought

and I am working good these days.


Are you a professional actor?


No way!

I acted in a couple shows and it was miserable.

I stay nervous the whole time.

I can't get it through my head that people can't hear my thoughts.


So I am definitely an amateur.


I see. Plus you live in lousy Texas. I bet it's too hot to be an actor there.

Did you get to see Cherrywood in Chicago?


We are getting into what we call THE ACTING SEASON, when the weather cools down enough to act.


I know the acting season.


I did see Cherrywood in Chicago with a good good friend of mine who was from there and was always like, NO, Chicago is not just a big mall in the midwest, it is an actual city. So I went with him and was so happy!


What did you think?

Of the show in general, and the chicks in particular.


I had a lot of thoughts. At first I was embarrassed, because I thought OH NO, THE WRITING IS GOING TO STINK PANTS.

But then I relaxed and got to just be there in the acting and the direction and forget about myself.

Seeing 49 people on stage is hot.


Was that what you imagined the show to look like? Were you in discussion with anybody before it got started?


they just kept coming on...which is how i like it. And Ithink there should be more people making out in plays. always...

Cromer would text me these great questions. So i had some idea what he was thinking. But it was funny to only be able to respond by text.

I think we have only spoken once or twice by non text.


Do you think David Cromer is a witch?


Super witch.


So...Why do you hate WalMart so much?


They paid for all that product placement. Mr. Walmart was like, MY BUSINESS IS DYING BECAUSE I CANNOT GET MENTIONED IN PLAYS...

and I was like, I WILL MENTION YOU... FOR A PRICE!


Ohhhhhh. Ok.


I love Walmart. I really would like to steal a bunch of their stuff.


Good luck with THAT, buddy. You know where you can steal really good stuff? Forever 21.


i need diapers. do you realize how much a were baby poops!


You have a WEREBABY!!?


also, I heard a rumor that Barnes and Nobles, as a policy, does not stop shoplifters. I am just saying I heard it.

My baby drinks the milk!!!!


Your baby sounds creepy, but still beautiful.


It takes one to know one


So Kirk, if you could say one wonderful thing to the now defunct cast of the hottest play of the miliennium, what would it be?

And don't say something gay.


Oh please, I want to be with them. In a serious kind of way. I want to get a lake house and have a reunion in which a lot of shit gets broken and then in the morning when they all wake up and the cops show up and they all get arrested I want to leave a note that says, THIS ISn'T EVEN MY LAKE HOUSE it is just some random Lake person's lake house who doesn't even live here but wastes their life in the concrete city when they know they are a lake person, so don't you waste your life too like are too beautiful! And then I would arrange it so that I pay for all their bail and David Cromer is their parole officers, all of them.

That answer can be printed out and cut up and smoked.


That is beautiful. Best of luck, Kirk with everything from your fans in Chicago, and raise your baby right and have a taco for lunch.


kisseessss! See you at the opening of Cherrywood II, the Milkening!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This Fat Guy Has Something To Tell You

Cherrywood is fucking sold out this weekend, mang.  So, FUCK YOU.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Ok, everyone, that's it.  I'm so sick about this.  I just want to puke and have God clean it up while Satan laughs!


Are you dummy people, Mary Arrchie?  Not playing the BIGGEST hit of the summer on a fat weekend when NOTHING ELSE IS HAPPENING?  CAPS LOCK!!!!!!!

I just don't mind is reeling.  AND rocking.  But, do you want to know the biggest insult?  Cherrywood is being replaced by the absolutely ridiculous and past its prime Abbie Hoffman Died for Your Sins Festival.  Sorry, people who are saving theatre!  We have to kick you out because it's time for the 22nd YEAR OF CRAP.

Listen, we all know that Abbie Fest is a vipers nest of demonic sin and a self loathing orgy for useless college grads.  Go hang out at the Sovereign, you dirty punks!

Cherrywood is a Sunday School for real artists.  It's a magical place where the hottest people in town are saying the most important things in America.  And you, Mary Arrchie, decided to throw a party where JACK FUCKING TAMBURRI GETS TWO SLOTS????


You know what, fine.  FINE.  I'll still go to the Abbie Fest, since I'm directing the Factory's "The New Adventures of Popeye the Sailor" which plays at 11pm on Friday.  Anderson Lawfer and Esteban Andres Cruz will be in "The New Mrs. Anderson" at 10:55pm on Saturday.  And all my good pals will hang out on the street drinking beer in complete defiance of JESUS' WORD.

But...I'm so disappointed.  Between this, Brett Favre, and the Blago trial...well, it might be time for a bullet salad served with a side of Heartbreak dressing.

Enjoy the 22nd Annual Abbie Hoffman Festival at Angel Island theater this weekend folks!  But not Cherrywood...because everything is balls.

-Eric Roach, Anderson Lawfer

Friday, July 30, 2010


Don't even try and deny it
'Cos you're gonna have a Party tonight
And you know we're gonna do it tonight
We're gonna lose it all
When you open your door!
Party, Party, There's gonna be a party Tonight!

-Andrew WK, It's Time To Party
I wish Andrew WK was in Cherrywood.  Then he could have stopped in and helped everyone out with some really good party tips, like lining your chip bowls with paper towels for easy blood cleanup.

So, Cherrywood...I mean, if you're reading this you probably know what it is and what it "represents."  Apparently the hipsters are saving theater for 20 bucks a head over at the Angel Island theater on West Sheridan.  If by hipsters you mean a 47 year old director, a 25 year old storefront theatre stalwart, and a cast and crew with ages that range from 20 to 100 (Rich Cotovsky).
In the play werewolves stand in as a symbol for change as the all-night party is an opportunity for transformation. (I'm immediately reminded of hipster wolf t-shirt phenomenon from a few years ago.) But just like hipsters, it's a mistake to assume this play is concerned only with fashion disguised as politics or intellectualism. What is the play about at its heart? It's vaguely about change, especially, at the end, about the irony of being faced with the real possibility for change after you've been abstractly ruminating about it all night--but it's phrased as an inquiry and not an answer, which is basically what hipster culture is about. Which is a legitimate political position in its own right. We are the first generation of bohemian youth culture that's not going to look like idiots--like the hippies and the punks--later for pretending to have all the answers, when all we had was a new way of dressing stupid. ("I get depressed when I realize I'll never know how human history ends" one character says--we know the limits of our knowledge.) We know we dress like idiots and we know, as the play's characters do, that when they're talking about Aerosmith's disappointments as the play's characters do, they're also talking about our own failed (for now) potential if we refuse to be more than wittily, babblingly, unsubstantially uncommunicative.

-Monica Westin, Why Hipsters Will Save Theatre: Cherrywood
Monica, you are a good writer...and you are the first person I've ever met who ever WANTED to be a hipster.  I think you make some cogent points, disguised in a love letter to aloof skinny kids who shop at American Apparel, but tell people it's from Brown Elephant.  But, I think you may be experiencing what Aristotle and my dad called "hubris."  You seem to be claiming a play for a subculture, when the play desperately wants to be claimed by EVERYONE.  That's the point, and even after two viewings, you seem to have missed it.

There were two cool old lesbians sitting next to my wife and I at the top of the show.  About 20 minutes in, for reasons unknown to me or my wife (or God, since they are lesbians) they decided to leave.  It's not easy to leave Cherrywood once it's running.  The stage is basically an in-the-round set up with seats lining all four walls, and there is NO intermission.  So, they walked through the show.  One at a time...and what was interesting was that once they entered the playing field, I could not distinguish them from the rest of the crowd.  The second one almost got kicked in the face by a fight scene, but how could she have known it was coming?  It was untelegraphed, and sudden, just like a fight that might happen at a real party with real people.  This play was not for them, and they realized it right away.  That's fine...this play is not for everyone, even though it wants to be.  I'm not sure I've ever seen a play that was so desperate for people to like it, or at least accept it.  It's screaming that even if you hate me, you have to understand that I exist.  I matter, I happen, this is happening all the time.  All the time.

As I sat in my seat in the theatre house, about 5 minutes before the play began, I started to feel nauseous.  I began to sweat and feel very nervous.  The play began, and not 10 minutes in I leaned to my wife and said "Oh lord, I think I might have to vomit or defecate madly!  What will I do, love?"  She shrugged and suggested a possible exit and then I had a small epiphany.  "OH," I said to my brain, "This is exactly how I used to feel in high school right before I went to a party with strangers."  As soon as I realized this, I was totally fine.  So, kudos to Cherrywood for taking me back in time to an extremely awkward and terrible period in my life.

Cherrywood does have some things that don't work.  But, I have to ask, do they not work by design?  Is it boring and weird on purpose?  And the only answer is "Yes, of course, silly, are you a dummy guy?"  My inner voice hates stupid questions.  Yes, the acting is stilted...because when you have 49 people on stage they can't all be bad actors.  Statistically impossible...monkeys can do this job.  Yes, the dialogue is cringeworthy at points.  You will get tired of hearing statements that wouldn't ever get Liked on your News Feed...but once again, by design it is done (Yoda-style).  Haven't you been cornered at a party by Brian Amidei?  Just nonsense that most people keep nodding and nodding along with...ask Geoff Button about nodding, and what it's like to stare at Dereck Garner's chest.  Dear god, he's carved out of marble.  I want to know if he has a sister, so she can film us doing it.

The show does not have a narrative structure that resembles anything close to dramatic, but it is one of the most tension filled shows I have ever seen.  Almost to the point of dread...but then nothing really happens.  Also, by design...and a sign of the times.  It also plays off the idea of many horror films...put people in a bad situation in an enclosed space and make them sweat.  But, then again, modern life has sort of resembled a horror movie for a while now, with no payoff except more and more fear of the future.  So, let's watch some funny cat videos, because god forbid we confront that whole scenario of terror.

There are so many people in the show, and I know a few of them.  Some I've known for years, and some that I've met through the interwebs recently.  But, I do find it interesting that when I would tell people I was coming, I didn't get a standard response and no one ever begged me to come and see it.  It was always, "Well, I'll be interested to talk to you about it!"  What the hell does that mean?  It means, y'all, that there is a LOT to talk about in this show.  That it causes conversation.  I would love to have a chat with someone who absolutely hated it, just to find out why.  I mean, they'd be wrong, but it's always good to listen to people's opinions.  Especially haters, because haters gonna hate.

"But, Eric Roach, what does it all mean?" you shout, pissed off that this might actually be a real review and not as snarky and bitchy as you'd like, "What can you really say about it?"

It does not have a beginning, although the beginning already happened, and it does not have an ending, although we are all headed there.  There is nothing to be said, although if you listen really hard you can hear it.  And sometimes, every once in a blue moon, the best thing that can happen to you is to dance to The Animals at 6 in the morning and not care one bit how it looks or what people think.

Oh, and sometimes Lindsay Pearlman gets sick of your fucking shit and yells at you to shut up.  That actually has happened to me at every party I've ever been to, or will go to.  Good casting, Cromer.

Cherrywood: B+ (because I thought I might puke at the beginning, and that sucks)

-Eric Roach, Anderson Lawfer

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

49 Actors (Guest Reviewer MARK PRACHT)

'If there’s one thing I’ve learned about this particular show, and it may be the only thing, as I don’t know when the hell I’m gonna actually see it, is that if the “4” and “9” keys on your keyboard stopped working, it’d be absolutely impossible to write a review of this play.

“wrangling 49 will-bleed-for-Cromer actors—yep, 49” – Chris Jones

“jamming a cast of 49 into the intimate confines of Mary-Arrchie” – Hedy Weiss

“Cromer packs a cast of 49 into Mary-Arrchie Theatre's cramped space” - Justin Hayford

“the cast of this Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company production totals 49 bodies” - Mary Shen Barnidge

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. I think we all get the idea. Big kudos to Kris Vire at Time Out Chicago for leaping to “around 50.” I guess we can always count on TOC to go outside the box. I salute your rebel ways, Kris.

Still, 49. I mean, forty-fucking-nine!

What a bunch of bullshit.

Seriously, Cromer, what? Was 48 not good enough for you? Was 50 just lame? Everyone on God’s green earth knows damn well how pretentious odd numbers are, so OF COURSE you had to go there.

48 would’ve made so much sense. 50 would’ve blown my mind with coolness. But OH NO, not for David Cromer!! He has to go right for that “I’m too avant-garde to go for a round number, buddy!! I’m making FUCKING ART here!!”

Well, you know what, Mr. David Cromer? The Earth is round. A Baseball, the AMERICAN pastime, is round. The fucking UNIVERSE? Y’know what it is? It’s a goddamn spiral. A Spiral! Y’know what that is? IT’S FUCKING ROUND!! Everybody likes round things, except for, I guess…YOU.

God! The only thing worse you could’ve done was use 42 actors, because then I’d have to beat ya with the complete works of Douglas Adams.'

Friday, July 16, 2010

My Cherrywood Nights or David Cromer Stole My Childhood (Guest Reviewer ZEV VALANCY)

Many of you, reading the various articles about Cherrywood (some of which are even based on fact, and interviews which actually took place) might have gotten the impression that David Cromer’s production is the Chicago premiere of Kirk Lynn’s 2004 Austin-set mindfuck. But it is not so. Shade Murray directed it as his first year directing project while getting his MFA at Northwestern. This is the production that Cromer saw, which got him interested in the script in the first place. Cromer then worked on it in a student production at Act One Studios, and now here it is at Mary-Arrchie, the Greatest Chicago Theatre Event In History.

But who remembers the previous productions? I do. I was in Shade Murray’s Cherrywood (and who hasn’t wanted to get in Shade Murray’s Cherrywood?), and I can tell the tale. Cromer used my experiences, from when I was a tender lad of 21, to create his play, and I feel used. And sort of exhilarated.

Shade chose twelve of the best and brightest—or at least twelve of the hardest to embarrass and least likely to ask “what’s the point of this?”—to be his intrepid cast. We viewpointed, we created unscripted moments, we did sun salutations, we didn’t know how the show was ending until about three nights before we opened. It was a little bit of a cult.

We had no budget for tech and no stage manager, so there were no light cues, the set was mostly made of cardboard boxes, the costumes were pulled from storage, and the sound cues came from Shade running his iPod from the booth, with speakers sitting on the back of the stage.

And it was pretty awesome. Yes, twelve people doesn’t make a realistic party, and yes, the script can get a little bogged down and/or weird. But I don’t think I’ll ever feel the same kind of ownership over a play again. We built that damn show with our bare hands. We had three performances in a hundred-some seat theatre and were done. (And it was the last show I did before my graduation the next month.)

But then Cromer saw it, and suddenly we weren’t so special any more. He just had to do it with a greater degree of difficulty: four times the cast size, an actual set, a reconfigured theatre, critics, and on and on. And of course he’s David Cromer, so he’s watched like a hawk by everyone, and doing something like this…well, that’s newsworthy.

So I’m torn between being happy that more people will get to know this show and being jealous that Cromer’s version has gotten way more attention. I’m no longer special for having in Cherrywood—in fact, theatre people in Chicago who haven’t are harder to find these days. And doubtless Cromer took some stuff from our production, or made some changes that feel wrong, or generally messed with my memories of the show. Things will doubtless drive my crazy about the production.

But fuck it. I’m still going.