Too Frank?

Notes on Arts, Culture, Politics, and the Academy

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Surrender and Black Watch

December 23rd, 2008 by Frank Episale · No Comments

The final CUNY Advocate of 2008 includes some of my thoughts on International WOW Company’s Surrender and The National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch:

Despite the failings of its third act, Surrender is a uniquely worthwhile experience that finds theatre practitioners and audiences thirsty for engagement with, and relevance in, the world around them. The show’s many successes and admirable ambition go a long way towards making up for its lapses into pretention and self-satisfaction.

Ultimately, Black Watch is about the seductive dual tragedies of masculinity and nationalism, two of the forces that have driven so many generations of men to their graves in the name of causes that have not been adequately explained, but which they are expected to take on faith and to defend with their lives.

Full review here.

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recent past

December 7th, 2008 by Frank Episale · 1 Comment

I flatter myself to think that you may have noticed I haven’t been generating any content for this blog in recent weeks. Okay, going on months. I’ve been meaning to write a post called “On (not) Blogging,” and I still might get around to that, but if I don’t have the time and energy to blog much, it seems unlikely that I will come up with the time and energy to write about WHY I haven’t been blogging.

Anyway. Every semester, the Theatre Department at the Graduate Center publishes an e-newsletter with recent news from students and faculty. My entry in the Fall 2008 edition of The Green Room follows:

Frank Episale writes: At ATHE this summer I presented some remarks on “Queer Space” at the LGBT pre-conference, coordinated and chaired an interdisciplinary session entitled “Spectacles of Incarceration: (Im)prison(ment) and/as Performance,” participated in a session of play readings, and made some useful contacts. Also over the summer, I worked as Assistant Editor on Cinema Journal, a position I’ll be taking up again soon. This semester, I’ve been teaching a section of Intro to Theatre and a section of Intro to Acting at Brooklyn College, and Fundamentals of Speech (Public Speaking) at BMCC. I’ve finally submitted my second-exam lists and started learning Spanish in preparation for jumping through the hoops separating Level II from Level III. Boris and I have proposed an interdisciplinary session to ATHE 2009 called “Rethinking ‘Asian Theatre.’” I’ve also been serving as the Theatre department’s rep to the DSC. In addition I’ve taken over as Theater Editor for, a site that was once very active but has more recently fallen into hibernation and disrepair. It’s up and running again, and I’m trying to build a stable of writers who are willing to write penetrating, pithy reviews in exchange for free tickets to off and off-off-Broadway shows.

→ 1 CommentTags: academia · navel-gazing · self-promotion · teaching · theatre

Gap casting call rejects

November 18th, 2008 by Angela Episale · 1 Comment

→ 1 CommentTags: parenting · photography

correspondence to the teacher

November 18th, 2008 by Angela Episale · No Comments

Hello there.  Hopefully you are enjoying your Sunday, and are far away from the computer.  Gabriel came home very upset (and angry) about an incident with a backpack.

His version:
He was happily playing at latchkey when you came looking for Trevor’s backpack.  He was surprised to find it attached to HIS backpack, and gave it to you as soon as he became aware.  He states that you were upset with him, and said that you would talk to him about it on Monday.  He, for some reason, believes that Abby hooked it onto his backpack, but his grandmother and I told him not to jump to conclusions.

He insists that he was completely unaware of Trevor’s backpack being hooked to his backpack.  I can believe that he may not have noticed.  However, the story is very odd told through the perception of a 7 year old boy.  I don’t quite understand what all of the drama is about.

Can you please give me your version of what happened so that I can set him at ease?

Thank you for your time,

He is reading over my shoulder, and would like me to tell you that he is not angry anymore. :)  (also, he does not like the sentence where i referred to him as a 7 year old boy.)

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Ko’olau (and Carnival of Samhain)

November 1st, 2008 by Frank Episale · 1 Comment

My column in this month’s CUNY Advocate includes my review of Tom Lee’s extraordinary Ko’olau and a recommendation to check out the 7th annual Carnival of Samhain, curated by Drama of Works:

Photo courtsty of Jonathan Slaff

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Slaff

Tom Lee’s puppet theatrical Ko’olau is a beautifully crafted, highly emotional iteration of the story that draws on a variety of puppetry and musical traditions; Lee focuses less on violence and disease than on the bond that holds this family together as they fight to live and die together, on their own terms. [...] There has long been a thread of theatre theory that claims theatricality must be as invisible as possible if the audience is to become emotionally involved with the narrative on stage. This idea has been perpetuated, in part, by misreadings of Brecht’s writings, and by simplistic statements like “Wagner turned the house lights off; Brecht turned them back on.” It is not my intention to enter into such debates here, but it is sufficient to say that the same audiences who smiled delightedly at Lee’s ingenuous craftsmanship could be heard sniffling back tears at the death of Kaleimanu.

This year’s Carnival runs for only three days (November 6th through November 8th), and misses the more spine-tingling potential of both October 31st and November 4th, but promises to be an exciting event nevertheless. An eclectic mix of puppet and burlesque acts that run the gamut from the genuinely creepy to the semi-sexy gothic farce, the Carnival of Samhain may well be the best way to dispose of $15 in early November.

Full article here.

→ 1 CommentTags: reviews · self-promotion · theatre


November 1st, 2008 by Frank Episale · No Comments

Many of you are no doubt aware that November is National Novel Writing Month ( NaNoWriMo). More than 100,000 aspiring writers participated last year, more than 15,000 of them finishing a 50,000 word (or greater) first draft of a novel.

A couple of years ago, Dorothy Lemoult, inspired by NanoWriMo decided that novel writers shouldn’t have all the fun. She started National Play Writing Month ( NaPlWriMo) in 2006. So far, it’s much more modest than NaNoWriMo, but also has a higher rate of completion. Now that they’ve joined up with a 501(c)3 umbrella organization, NaPlWriMo is hoping to expand its number of participants dramatically.

The official month started about 10 hours ago as of this writing.

So get going. You’ve got some catching up to do.

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Frank’s Twitter Updates for 2008-10-30

October 30th, 2008 by Frank Episale · No Comments

  • still has a crush on Angel Corella. #
  • : Words matter. Symbols matter. Process matters. Empathy matters. Intellectual curiosity matters. Vote Obama on Tuesday. #
  • finally went to the gym but doesn’t seen to have lost any weight. WTF? #
  • took a good look at himself in the gym’s mirror tonight. Panic ensued. #
  • is up far too late. Good night. #
  • @soultapestry I can’t this year. Too many deadlines already. #
  • got a haircut. Hated it. Got another haircut to fix the first one. Should maybe start going to more expensive salons. #
  • Is on his way to host the dtsa happy hour. #

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Frank’s Twitter Updates for 2008-10-29

October 29th, 2008 by Frank Episale · No Comments

  • is annoyed by god’s icy spittle. #
  • is probably going to give up on letting his hair grow. Time for a cut. #
  • wonders if he can lose weight by really thinking hard about going to the gym. #

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Frank’s Twitter Updates for 2008-10-28

October 28th, 2008 by Frank Episale · No Comments

  • : inevitably, the anxiety has begun to creep into my dreams. #
  • @abartelby That’s terrible :-( I hate when the people on “my side” are assholes. #
  • got dressed for the gym. filled the water bottle. grabbed a towel. left the house. got rained on. came back inside. #

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Frank’s Twitter Updates for 2008-10-27

October 27th, 2008 by Frank Episale · No Comments

  • grading midterms, with some trepidation. #
  • @abartelby Heh; still looking at Manhattan, huh? #
  • @abartelby Look at Prospect Heights. It’s a pretty great neighborhood, right by Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Museum, etc. #

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