Cast and crew after the final performance: Kathryn Noser (makeup, tech understudy, president of the board at Company OnStage), James West, III (role of Bill), Jo Ann Levine (role of Dinah), Karla Brandau (role of Jeanette) Vincent Totorice (role of Neil), Shelia Johnson (stage manger) Jennifer Brown (tech booth), Neil Ellis Orts (director)Read More
The Quality of Life
So Happy New Year. Eventually.
I've been slowly building up this website and by 2020 or so, it should be a great place to visit.
*heavy sigh* Note to self: Vague New Year's Resolutions are the easiest to break.
I'd given up blogging last year. I'd burned out and found little to talk about. I don't know if the latter has changed, but the itch to blog has been slowly returning.
The thing about the Blogger blogs, and that site has served me well, is that I sort of accidentally fragmented myself. I tried to keep my religious self from the arts self, the art-maker from the art-commentator from the goofball . . . and then I found myself not sure what to do with some ideas that crossed those boundaries and ultimately, I confused myself.
Part of the impulse to start my own website was to bring all my disparate selves together, which when you get down to it all fall under "writer and performer" (as most of my bio notes say) but, well, what I write and perform about may still fall under a variety of headings.
But it's all me. And some of those headings are boring to some people, other headings are all people are interested in. Ultimately, though, they all fit under my skin.
And I'm trying to be better about owning it all rather than separating them for different audiences. That separation was really an apology for loving Jesus to some of my artist circle and an apology for loving performance art to my circle that maybe has a hard time seeing it as a legit form (and yeah, I'm kinda side-eyeing you, church).
So, neilellisorts dot com is an endeavor to pull it all together.
I expect it to go mostly unnoticed.
Things I'm Working On
The immediate, big item on my plate is that I'm directing The Quality of Life by Jane Anderson for the Company OnStage. It's a lovely play, full of hard circumstances. I'll be writing more about it, but we only started rehearsals this past week and I cautiously put in print: I think we have potential to create something really special, if not amazing, here. I have a great cast who are diving into the deep waters of this play and I couldn't be a happier director.
I'll say also that the auditions were pretty hard for me. I can't say I've been to a ton of auditions around here---it's been a slow return to straight theater and I just don't know many folks in the Houston theater community---but I had some really good actors show up for auditions, and only four roles to fill. It truly made me sad to turn some of them away. The final decision came down to some caprice. Gut feelings. I think I chose well, but also know there is a pool of middle aged actors that I would work with in a heartbeat.
I also have various writing projects in the works. I've been trying to develop some longer pieces and my CV will show I tend towards the shorter writings. This year, I have two bigger projects I'm really hoping to get into submittable shape. One is a novella, the central character based upon my mother. It started out as a short story and grew into a "day in the life" kind of thing. I have a very rough draft that should really be less rough by now. (I keep doing other things, like theater and arts writing and some other things I'll write about eventually.) The working title on this is simply Cora.
I also have a good start on a full length play, which I did some development on last year in Fieldwork and gave a reading of a few scenes from the first act. I had started work on it again, but will set it aside while I get Quality of Life on its feet. This play doesn't have a working title yet, but I carry the notebook around for it, though, in the event I find moments to write a few lines of dialog . . .
And I'm getting up the courage to think seriously about producing this one-act play I've written and have been sitting on for a couple of years already. It's called The City, A Desert, and is based upon the stories and sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. I recently saw a site in town that would be pretty cool for it and . . . well, we'll see. This would be late in the year, if not early next year. But, you know, looking ahead and all. Putting it out in the universe as they say.
And then, I itch to do some performance art. Somewhere, maybe more on Instagram. I had a great time with the #adventword series of video. Maybe Instagram is my platform for the things I want to do that's neither writing nor theater. Or one platform.
It's a month into 2018, and all the above is ambitious for 11 months. Some of it is spilling over from last year. Some will likely spill into next year. Stay tuned to see how it all goes . . .