It’s been a pleasure to engage with John Tessmer, who is casting and directing the reading of Infinity Mirror at RAADfest. John direct the La Jolla Theater Ensemble play reading series, so he’s got great experience in doing actual readings. We’ve had a couple in depth conversations about the play and the event itself. This is going to be a very large room with several hundred people in it. So the actors will have to be quite animated to reach them. So far, John has cast nicely accomplished actors to make it happen.
Mark Zweifach and Jill Drexler, who will read the parents, Richard and Edna, both have great experience acting as well as directing. Jill is also Artistic Director at Scripps Ranch Theatre. The role of Jesse will be read by Kenny Bordieri, a talented young actor. And Jesse’s girlfriend, Natalie, will be read by Kate Schott, with her own resume of stage and film credits.
I am flying over to SD next week to do the table read and looking forward to meeting the cast and hearing what they do with Infinity Mirror.
I’m excited that the directors of RAADfest (www.raadfest.com) want to have a staged reading of Infinity Mirror performed, probably on the Thursday evening. I’m working on finding San Diego actors for the reading, and am looking forward to sharing this play with the audience of several hundred at RAADfest.
My nonfiction essay collection, Body Archaeology, traces the arc of my migration out of a middle class American Jewish existence that seemed severed from my body, and into the pursuit of a more physically felt and emotionally authentic way of being. This led me, of all places, to the exploration and advocacy of radical life extension and physical immortality. It’s an unlikely path, one I am seeking to make sense of myself in these essays, by looking back to the moments of suffering and discovery that became stations along the way.
Most of these essays have been published in literary journals including Louisville Review, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Superstition Review, Eclectica, and Rock & Sling, among others. Individually, they touch on everything from moving countries as a small child, playing intercollegiate basketball, a rift with family, loving an older woman, and surviving worst-case scenario spinal problems. But taken together they trace the through-line of a personal transformation all the way back to the very beginning.
I’m excited for the staged reading of Infinity Mirror at Theatre Artists Studio in Phoenix (thestudiophx.org). It will be on Sunday May 7th at 7pm.
In this comedy/drama, Jesse, 25, is always trying to enlighten his family without success. After getting deathly ill while serving in the Peace Corp in West Africa, he confronts his mortality and becomes an immortalist, adopting an ultra-healthy lifestyle as a bridge to living forever. When he attempts to get his family to take this journey of super longevity with him, they react with their usual disinterest, distrust and stubbornness. But Jesse can’t let go. The more he pushes, the deeper they resist, until finally they explode, and he is forced to reckon with his own uniqueness.
We’ve got a strong cast doing the reading: Brenda Foley, Kevin Fenderson, Jason Hammond, Jason Issak, Barbara Acker and Bill Straus.
I’m looking forward to hearing the play read by someone other than me and in a place other than inside my own head!
My screenplay, SEEING MAYA, was selected a Rhode Island International Film Festival semi-finalist. It’s a love story between a younger man and older woman set in Tel Aviv during and after the first Gulf War, and is also a kind of love letter to that city, where my life changed for the better, back in the early 90’s, a much more optimistic time. Somehow love stories have a special power to reveal cities and Tel Aviv is a fascinating place deserving of such revelation. There’s a powerhouse role for a 50 + actress, which is rarity in the business.
I was recently disappointed by a contest, so when I received the email from RIIFF I almost didn’t read it. It was very nice to see us on the short list!
Is there art without death? Joshua Oppenheimer and I have been discussing this with artists, as part of an idea for a film.
Artists want to feel art is eternal. A way of achieving a symbolic immortality deprived to the flesh. But what if the flesh is eternal, and art if transient, of its moment? Many artists I know feel the opposite way: I was just debating this with a painter and a composer. They both feel there is no art without death. I cannot accept this.
You can pick any year, any performance and any movie and I almost guarantee you that the Oscar winning performance of the actor was due to their ability to prove to the audience, critics, etc, that their suffering was real. The revenant is the most recent example of this. Heightened human suffering can be found in film, music, literature and in all mediums were as a human being is sharing an emotion with another. Our common emotion shared as human beings has been suffering.
We’ve joked you and I, about my love of action cinema and I fully admit to it. The films I absolutely love from the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s are so full of human carnage and torture that it actually is comical to enjoy these films. I mean, I can just throw on the movie “Heat” and I’ll love it every time. This is a movie about criminals, heists and for the most part, everybody dying. How can I possibly justify that movie to my radical life extension values? I really can’t, it just is.
I’m a huge blues fan and that genre essentially gave birth to my musicianship. Hearing those African American artists and feeling the realness of their pain / soul was a revelation for me. It took a hold of me and didn’t let go. I couldn’t put my guitar down or stop my singing exercises until I knew I was feeling that soul or suffering too. But here’s what is real, I’ll never know that amount of suffering. I’ll never truly feel it like that. I’ve never been shot at or lynched. I’ve never been physically abused or mistreated. I’ve shot quite a few guns and rifles but I could never shoot someone. I would actually never want to experience that kind of suffering at all.
So in conclusion, I’ve been an artist locked in the fantasy of suffering. I’m an artist who doesn’t need to feel the suffering to experience the beauty. I feel, for myself, a maturity is needed in art that has never been before. An art free from the shackles of never ending pain. An art of feeling the pain but seeing what’s after.
It was a thrill to have my short play , Endless Drive Through, performed in front of an audience of over 900 at RAAD Fest, in San Diego in August. In introducing the play, I asked the audience how many of them had tried to talk to someone about radical life extension who just didn’t get. I think just about every hand went up, so this was an experience they could all relate to.
In rehearsal, I reminded my stellar cast of Berkley Brown, Yaiza Brown and Brittany Bejarano that we would be getting people to laugh at an experience, that at one level or another, has probably been traumatic for them, and made them feel intimidated and wrong. So that was our mission, and when I heard the laughs coming, I knew we were accomplishing it.
Having great conversations with friend, filmmaker and artistic fellow traveler Joshua Oppenheimer about the need for a post-mortality aesthetic expression.
As we have discussed, death is embedded in how we tell stories. Can you imagine Jesus, Romeo and Juliet, or Oedipus without death? Once our culture starts telling stories that are not haunted by death and dying, physical immortality and radical life extension will start to seem second nature. In this sense, we need a cultural revolution against ageing and death. Helping to kickstart this revolution is the most important ambition for any film project about physical immortality. And I think the way to do this is to create a profound artistic experience that moves as many people as possible.
I consider it my mission in life to be a part of altering these archetypes — which inform experience, and are also informed by experience. Somewhere we have to crash that circle.
Death and limitation work hand in hand in our stories. Consider the limiting archetypes of Paradise Lost, Icarus flying to close to the sun, and Jesus on the Cross for that matter.
You become aware — you lose.
You fly too high — you lose.
You care too much — you lose.
We’ve got a huge narrative to turn around.
Dear Joe Bardin:
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The Editors of The Louisville Review
2016-06-21 11:07:04 (GMT -4:00)