Friday, March 30, 2007

a fantastic little song I learned in Brazil

I have been trying to figure out all the words to this song since I first heard it. Initially, knowing nothing about Iemanja (who, it turns out, is the same as Yemaya - a mother goddess who was initially associated with rivers, but eventually came to be linked to the sea - she is the mother orixa of Brazil), I presumed it was something about eating on the beach (Janga Beach, yellow fish ... "mangia" -- oops, wrong language!).

I now know, however, that it's actually a frevo song (and someone can - please! - jump in and correct me if I'm wrong), from the Recife area in the northeast of Brazil. The ciranda is, I think, the name of the dance I learned to accompany the song. It involves holding hands in a circle.

Frevo Ciranda

Eu fui na Praia do Janga
Pra ver a ciranda
E o seu cirandar.
O mar estava tão belo
E um peixe amarelo
Eu vi navegar.

Não era peixe, não era.
Era Iemanjá, a rainha.
Dançando a ciranda, ciranda.
No meio do mar...

It's quite a snappy tune.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

more photos from Brazil

My friend Amos,

a warm and wonderful young performer (who makes a mean moqueca baiana, I might add - for more info on moqueca, check wikipedia ... but, in a nutshell, it's a very hearty stew with seafood [in Amos's case, camarao - shrimp] dende [palm oil], coconut milk, onion, tomatoes, garlic, chili, and whatever else one fancies including in the mix) from Salvador, recently sent me his photos from our time with Lume.

Here are a couple from the evening henceforth known as "A gringa palada" (the naked gringa).

A fantastic clown trio from Sao Paulo performed a fantastic show called "Los Kamaradas" in the Feverestival. My Portuguese comprehension was barely approaching functional at that stage, but their physical work was so strong that I understood nearly everything (and I had my friend Gui on hand to assist with the occasional phrase). The story, peppered with generous and highly amusing audience participation, centered largely around the clowns' quest for love (and the endurance of their friendship). Near the beginning of the show they asked, among other things, "quem e solteira/ao" (or something like that - feel free to correct my abominable spelling/grammar/etc) - "who's single?" - and "who's from Barao Geraldo/Campinas/Sao Paulo/Brazil/nowhere near here at all?" A French guy and I raised our hands appropriately. That evening I wore, as I often did (see photos for evidence), my bikini top in the sweaty, summery soup that is Brazilian weather in February. The show continued, some minutes later one clown asked the other, "Whom do you fancy in the audience? Who catches your eye?" "I like the gringa pelada!" he replied (we'd already had a little exchange about New York and my name and so on...). Much to my delight, they integrated me into the performance and, at the end, I participated in the finale - the wedding of the two main clowns - and I left the theater, at the clowns' urging, with a lovely accessory (pictured below). I tied it to the bike I borrowed while I was there (tragically, foolishly, I didn't take any pictures) and left it for Carol, the owner of said bike. Carol, incidentally, is a dancer who has a small, beautiful, semi-public yoga studio in her home and the studio was where I slept.

We are in Bar do Jair, a lovely, bustling place with extraordinarily tasty coxinhas (deep fried snack things often with minced chicken in the center and, at Bar do Jair, always with catupiry [a very creamy cheese] and massa di mandioca [mashed casava]).

With me is Gui, a dancer and professor of performance and all-around fierce fella. I think it's possible that the caipirinha next to Gui wasn't the first one of the evening. That's why I'm all sideways-like in that first one. Really.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

a beautiful bit of Barao Geraldo

I've managed to post the picture in which we all look woefully exhausted and/or totally unprepared to be photographed. This picture was, after all, taken moments after our final night of around 11:30 or midnight, if I recall. And, frankly, we were exhausted. But giddily so. I won't identify everyone, but this group was the "Personal Dynamics With Objects" crew.

The "Technical Actor Training" crew.
Now we can play "spot the gringa!" (yup, she's the one who's all pink and sun-scorched)

I love this photo

oh, how we danced

Monday, March 19, 2007

more theater stuff

Before I left for Brazil I had the chance to see the world premiere of 1001 by my friend Jason Grote ( at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

It seems very likely that the play will have its NY premiere some time soon and, hopefully, many more productions outside NYC. I was fortunate enough to have read an early draft and to have read stage directions in a staged reading of it last summer courtesty of Page 73 Productions ( at NYTW.

Many other people have already written many things about it and these things probably bear repeating. But I'll be concise: it's a great play, go see it.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


You'll have to forgive my blog, or, really, me, for being relatively devoid of pithy insights right now (you know, in fact, let's make that a blanket request for forgiveness, because I can't really promise to provide pithy insights ever [phew, covered my ass there]). I was pretty hermetlike and self-involved today, emerging from the house only for a walk, an hour and a half jazz class with a teacher who recently had both knees replaced (and her recovery from bilateral, total knee replacement surgery in just over two months blows my mind and rivals the state of my knee three years-and-change post-ACL debacle...thus proving that she is either superhuman or that the debacle was even more massive than I knew at the time), and to do some grocery shopping. <---check out the length of that sentence

Okay, I'm going on a knee tangent. She's not doing a lot of high-impact stuff and her balance is a little shakey, but MY GOD her extension is un-fucking-believable and her flexion is almost all the way there. She's a powerhouse! I still have to work like a beast to get to 0 degrees on my right leg. She's a pro, in every sense of the word, having had multiple surgeries on both knees in the past and I certainly hope not to have any more of them myself. I just think it's astonishing how varied the effects of surgery and the process of rehabilitation can be...this reminds me that I'd love to see the photos Rick Ritter, my first post-op PT, took of my leg when I arrived on the table in front of him. I can't believe I went through all those months of being a walking hematoma without documenting it.

Anyway, back to what I was saying...

It's the four year anniversary of the official start of Vietnam II, sorry, I mean, the CURRENT Iraq war. I was pondering this fact when I was very nearly barricaded in to 35th and Broadway by some very boisterous post-Paddy's Day police officers manipulating large metal, civil disobedience and congregating-curtailing/random-person-and-cyclist-corralling structures.

I'm not sure what to say about all this. If anything, it makes me think of the day the bombing started...all of us sitting in the SF Circus Center with a work-in-progress showing scheduled for that afternoon, debating what to do. And that moment I knew we would create something together and perform it in the streets...there was nothing else we could do but commit multiple pie-icides and yield pies of mass destruction and make giant, raving fools of ourselves because...really, some levity amidst the tragedy, some breath amidst our anger...we all needed that.

Here I am, amidst a bazillion more people in NY and a bazillion more actors and what I'd like to know is...why am I not making theater in the streets? I might also ask "why am I not making theater in a theater right now?" but I've actually got some answers for that one.

yes, it's fucking cold outside
yes, there's snow on the ground

there will be auditions at the actor's equity building
there will be commercial castings
and I can only imagine what else

and I will be practicing yoga and going to the gym and running lines from Macbeth and, therefore, talking about murder

and what else? what is it that tomorrow or any other day for that matter...what is it that, like the Fools for War, seems so urgent, so inescapable that I know I will do it?


Right, here's something else I want to talk about:

Conni Convergence's Avant Garde Restaurant

Ask me about it.

In the meantime, here's a picture of me on my way there, having just left the house last night.

I like the relationship among the brown of my jacket, orange of my sweater, and the green of the walls and door, even though my face also looks a bit orange in the photo.

Since returning to NY I have, of course, seen quite a bit of theater.

I caught Blessed Unrest's ( Measure for Measure just before it closed - it reminded me of the work of a certain company I know and love in San Francisco (

I enjoyed Particularly In The Heartland by The TEAM (, which closed tonight at PS 122 (

I had the privilege of seeing The Bird Stories, a new play by my new friend James Ryan Caldwell, at the Tank @ Collective Unconscious (

And I finally got to see the work of Double Edge Theater (, an ensemble based in Ashfield, MA about whom I've been hearing interesting things for years.

I'm going to catch the Wooster Group's Hamlet before it closes - my first time seeing a Wooster Group show. I'm bummed I didn't get a chance to see Darko Tresnjak's Merchant of Venice with F. Murray Abraham (and SITI Co member Tom Nelis) at the Duke.

photos from Brazil

After a blogging hiatus (partly induced by numerous computer woes), I'm back.

Here are some photos from my time in Brazil. I will post the rest as soon as I have time.

If you're in a photo and you'd like me to remove it from public view, I will gladly do so.

I'm back in NY, training with SITI (, auditioning, practicing at Vira ( and Shri ( There are many future plans in the works, but I'll wait until formal offers are made, contracts are signed, and arrangements are definite before posting any details.

In the meantime, I'm very disappointed to discover that the photos from my final three days in Brazil have vanished in the electronic maelstrom. There was a beautiful picture of me and Gra taken in this delightful vegan Indian sanctuary in Sao Paulo and some hilarious shots of me and Sintya wreaking havoc in Guarulhos (I really ought to have documented the comedy of errors that ensured en route to the airport).

The first of many:

taken on the balcony of Gra and Bruno's gorgeous apartment in Vila Madalena, Sao Paulo

in the studio at Lume with Julia, a woman I'm thrilled to have met. Generous, playful, honest, a brilliant polyglot, a dancing, singing sister. I look forward to the time that we work and play and celebrate together again (hopefully in Germany, where she lives).

one of the cachoeiras in Chapada Diamantina

rappelling from the top of Lapao cave

fresh agua de coco in Itacare

Felipe and Elena, two wonderfully generous people originally from Sao Paulo but now resident in Itacare (a town on the Bahian coast, about 7 hours by bus from Salvador), took me to their friend's home on some gorgeous and very fertile land. We bought a kilo of fish before leaving the town and made a huge feast with fruta pao (a tremendously sweet and starchy fruit), fish stew, fresh cocount water, and tabouleh with tomatoes, spinach, and cucumbers. More photos of our culinary adventures/gluttony to come.

Sintya and I leap tall buildings (or small gates) in a single bound.

that last one is in the same spot as the first, one month later (check out that gringa's tan!)