Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Archive for the ‘On seeing’ Category

Monday, not Sunday

Monday, February 20th, 2017

While in the past I’ve been happy to celebrate Washington’s birthday, or Lincoln’s birthday, I’ve never wanted to celebrate President’s Day, for the simple reason that I don’t celebrate all of them. I didn’t like it when George W. Bush was the president, I don’t recall liking it before that, and I certainly don’t like it now.

In addition to not-celebrating the holiday, another reason I had a hard time just a minute ago remembering that it’s Monday and not Sunday is that I spent the morning eating a leisurely breakfast with strong coffee, horsing around on my iPhone playing far too many rounds of Drop7, and making mental lists of things I should do today but probably won’t. In other words: Sunday activities. I was especially confused when the newspaper was even slimmer than usual — pretty slim for a Sunday! … Oh.

Yesterday, on what felt like Saturday but was actually Sunday, I took my daughter to LACMA to see the exhibit of German art of the Renaissance. My forebears were torn between two factions (in this case, the Catholics and the Protestants), an awful conflict that gave rise to some great art and some very snotty illustrations that reminded me of the underground comix o the 1960s. (Good thing nothing like this is happening these days.) The work was deeply beautiful and generally disturbing — very warlike, with representations of the chosen arbiters (Martin Luther or the Pope) swinging between deific and demonic, and with much heraldry, spilled blood, and tortured Christs. The portraiture of the one-percenters (who, of course, could afford portraits of themselves), was necessarily flattering. Hats off, then, to Albrecht Durer, who had the audacity to depict one such Burgermeister as a thin-lipped, cold-eyed coot. I can only wonder what this person thought of his portrait.

While we were there, we paid extra to see the exhibit showcasing the work of Diego Rivera and Pablo Picasso. I’d never thought of the two together, associating the former with a sort of socialist-peasant art and the latter with modernism, and I wasn’t aware of their friendship, but now I’ve been educated. I was especially interested to see how informed Rivera’s work was by Mayan art, with its simple uninflected portrayals of people, and also to see Picasso’s elementary illustrations of a translation of Ovid; it’s astounding how much he could convey with just a simple fluid line.

My friend and former playwriting workshop member Tira Palmquist is having quite a year or two or three. She’s been racking up productions all over the place, and just broke through the LORT curtain with her play “Two Degrees,” which is currently running at Denver Center for the Performing Arts. She says a number of smart and useful things in this interview, and is even so kind as to give me a shoutout. In with all the other wise things she says here, I particularly recommend this advice: “Write as much as possible. Set difficult goals.”

Go to the gym. Do the grocery shopping. Write as much as possible. That’s my to-do list for today.

Fringe appeal

Thursday, June 9th, 2016


Starting today, the Hollywood Fringe Festival is upon us again, and I’m carefully marking my selections.

What’s the Hollywood Fringe Festival? It’s 2-3 weeks of new, engaging, offbeat, sometimes hilarious and wonderful but sometimes absolutely horrible theatrical events staged around greater Hollywood. To quote their website, “Each June during the Hollywood Fringe, the arts infiltrate the Hollywood neighborhood: fully equipped theaters, parks, clubs, churches, restaurants and other unexpected places host hundreds of productions by local, national, and international arts companies and independent performers. Participation in the Hollywood Fringe is completely open and uncensored.”

Which might explain how, one year, I was able to perform as a cynical crow in one show and, two years hence, a smart-alecky duck in another. (My acting abilities are clearly limited to playing one-note animals.)

The joy of the Fringe is not merely in seeing as many shows as you can — it’s also in feeling the vibe around town as you pass by theatres in Hollywood and see crowds milling around on sidewalks, even at 2 a.m., awaiting whatever the next performance is. It’s an exciting time for what is, to me, the most exciting art form.

Today, I bought tickets for my first two selections.

MyAlamoWarOn Monday, June 20th, at 7 p.m. I’ll be seeing “My Alamo War,” a one-man show written by and starring my longtime friend the playwright Ernest Kearney. Ernest is a fiercely talented and principled writer-performer whose work I’ve been following (and, one time, producing) for 20 years. Last year he wrote and starred in what was perhaps the most beautiful and heartfelt show I saw all year — a slideshow documenting his year or two managing a storage facility that fronted on Hollywood Boulevard in the 1980s. During that time, Ernest took at least one photo every day, and grew to know the people who passed by his workplace window. His story — and their stories — merged into a searing, funny, and deeply moving event that, if he ever repeats it, I will invite many, many people to. His new show concerns his “war” against the Tony and Susan Alamo Christian Foundation, a nefarious group whose awful booklets and pamphlets I’ve been collecting since the 1980s in order to keep my bile duct working. Ernest, who, as well as being funny and clever and a severely talented writer, is a fearless fellow, evidently engaged in some sort of guerrilla war against them for two years — and I’m eager to find out who won. My money would be on him.


designatedmournerOn Saturday, June 25th, I’ll be seeing “The Designated Mourner,” by Wallace Shawn at 5 p.m. at Theatre of NOTE. Close friends and long-time readers of this blog are aware of my deep interest in Mr. Shawn’s writing. (I’m currently reading his book of essays, where I find once again that I’m drawn to his writing while shaking my head at the “logic” of his arguments, or lack thereof.) I’ve read the playscript version of this play several times, and have seen the filmed version (which is very good) twice, and am looking forward to seeing it staged for the first time. In the play, we’re there for the moment when America (it seems) slides into being a banana republic and we’ve lost our cultural and moral anchors; it’s a world where no one will care any longer about John Donne. One could argue that we’re already there. But then, one could also argue that because the Internet has created access for everyone to everything, now more people than ever know about and appreciate John Donne. (And the latter, clearly, is my argument.) I don’t fully buy Shawn’s story of how the country will fall apart, but he may be having the last laugh under President Trump.

When I get the time, I’m going to do my best to squeeze in as much of the Fringe as possible. Some of it will be terrific, and some of it will be terrible, but the totality of those two or three weeks will be intoxicating.

Plot lines of your life

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

At some point or other, and as along as they’re still living, you will once again run into everyone you’ve ever met. Sometimes we can thank chance for that (as I’ve seen every time I’ve visited Las Vegas in the past few years, including last week, and come across someone I know), and we can thank the Internet, and Facebook most specifically, for that. And when running into them, you can sometimes piece together elements of your life in new and surprising ways.

My childhood friend Keith Reamer, whom I haven’t seen in the flesh in 37 years, Facebook-tagged me tonight on a post about the Little Art Theatre, a single-screen movie house of the 1980’s that was tucked away back in the woods of Bargaintown, NJ. I wrote about that cherished movie house, and how much it affected my life, in this post from October, 2007. I thought Keith was just nicely tagging me because he knew I’d been a devotee of that space (as was everyone in that time and space who wanted offbeat or obscure film offerings).

No, it turns out that this remembrance of the Little Art Theatre quotes my piece on this blog — and then the author states, “Disconcertingly, this is the only direct recollection of the theater’s existence I can find online.” Disconcertingly because it was a big part of his young life:  He was the son of the owners. Which means he was the kid taking my tickets before showings.

He also mentions the Atlantic Film Society. When I was 14, Keith Reamer invited me to the premiere Atlantic Film Society event. The entry was a door in an alleyway in what I recall as a not terribly inviting area of Atlantic City; inside, in a small dark room, about 16 of us watched films screened from a portable projector (16 mm? 35 mm?), and one of the films shown was “La Jetee,” the inspiration for “12 Monkeys,” which scared the bejeebers out of me. I knew no one there but Keith… but over the years, I came to meet probably every other person who was in that room that night, including someone I later did a newspaper feature on (who, it turned out, also knew Keith), various friends, the woman who was to become my dearest college professor eight years later and, I’m now assuming due to the story linked above, the couple who later opened the Little Art Theatre.

Working backward from all this:  When I was 12 or so, I started writing letters to other comics fans with New Jersey addresses. We’d find each other through the letters pages of Marvel and DC comics or through fanzines. That’s how I meet Keith. Keith and I start doing fanzines together. He’s more interested in movies than comics, and invites me to the Atlantic Film Society’s inaugural screening. There, I meet a handful of people who will later make a significant impact on my life (what Kurt Vonnegut in Cat’s Cradle called a karrass, a “group of people linked in a cosmically significant manner, even when superficial links are not evident”). One attendee will introduce me to Theatre of the Absurd and will get me a scholarship in exchange for writing a play — which turned me into a playwright, and which led to graduate school, which is what brought me to Los Angeles. Two of the other attendees will start the movie house that happens to be the site of my first date with the woman who turns out to be my wife.

Without these odd connections, I might have become, say, an unmarried electrician living in Mullica Township, NJ.

Maybe not a bad life — but certainly a very different one.

The bottle factory

Friday, April 8th, 2016

More than 30 years ago, I interviewed Denny O’Neil, the foremost writer of Batman comics of the 1970s, the writer who has most influenced the Batman you’ve been seeing in the movies the past 10 years. The interview was for The Comics Journal, and Denny and I got into a heated exchange about low art and high art. He’d once written searing issues-oriented comic-books, taking mainstream comics far far out in new explorations – and now he was writing GI Joe comics.

He defended the GI Joe comics (“Have you read it?” he said. “Basically it’s a superhero comic.”) but I couldn’t imagine how the person who’d tried to address poverty, racism, and drug abuse through the prism of superhero comics could defend writing militaristic toy tie-ins.

Of the entire exchange, and our lunch a week or two later in Manhattan, the thing that made the greatest impression was this: the bottle factory.

I was bemoaning popular low art. (Ironic, for someone writing about comic books, I know.) My lowest-common-denominator example was “Laverne & Shirley.” I don’t know why I hated “Laverne & Shirley” so desperately (nor do I know why my wife’s example later became “Charles in Charge,”), but “Laverne & Shirley” just seemed like the nadir, with its canned laughter and obvious jokes.

Denny’s response to this tirade was this: “Think about the guy at the bottle factory.”

“Huh? What guy at the bottle factory?”

“The poor guy at the bottle factory. He works all day at the bottle factory, he comes off, he wants to take off his shoes, have a beer and watch something simple and entertaining. He doesn’t want to read Tolstoy. It was hard and hot and demanding all day at the bottle factory. He loves ‘Laverne & Shirley.’ It’s what he needs.”

In other words, “Laverne & Shirley” wasn’t for me – but it was certainly for others. A lot of others.

Unfortunately, the choices of those of us who didn’t want “Laverne & Shirley” and its like were severely limited.

At the time, everyone in America was limited to three channels – CBS, NBC, and ABC – and maybe a couple of Ultra High Frequency channels if you could get them (we got 17, and 29, and 48, out of Philadelphia) – and maybe PBS. That was it. And so your choices were: whatever inane original series was on CBS, NBC or ABC; scratchy syndicated shows from an earlier era or old movies; or cheap “it’s good for you” television courtesy of the prim and proper.

For me, watching TV in that era was like working at the bottle factory. With rare exceptions, it was something to be endured.

Now television’s bottle factory has been blown up. It was blown up by cable, which gave creators new freedoms and more opportunities, and the Internet, which did the same and also removed the financial restrictions of needing a studio, and broadcast towers, and expensive cameras and editors and so forth. Now if you’ve got an idea for a show, you can make it yourself and distribute it yourself.

This bonanza of choice has segregated the audience into many little tributes. Today at the airport, a woman near me was excited because a semi-famous contestant from “American Idol” was waiting with us for the same plane. She pointed him out, and showed me his image on her phone as well, but I didn’t know who he was, having never watched “American Idol.” In the 1970s, with so few shows, everyone knew who everyone was.

All of this new choice has also made us pickier. A couple of years ago late at night in some hotel room I fired up Netflix to watch another episode of “Sons of Anarchy” and found myself mostly scrolling through my phone while it was on. Then I realized that not only was I not watching the episode, I’d never watch another one – not just because I didn’t care, but because I had so many choices I didn’t need to settle for this. When the menu is 90 pages long, why order something you don’t want to eat?

A few nights ago, I was watching “Mr. Selfridge” on my DVR and that bottle-factory feeling came over me. The characters I cared about (mostly the women striving to advance in a sexist and classist early 20th century England) were all gone, leaving me entirely at the mercy of Jeremy Piven’s completely ersatz performance. So I deleted it.

In the post-bottle factory age, we have the opposite dilemma. Now that there are an estimated 450 original scripted shows a year, and so many of them are excellent, it would be easy to lose your life to television. I can recommend “Breaking Bad” and “The Wire” and “The Sopranos” and “The Good Wife,” but no, I’m not adding “Orphan Black” or “The Americans” or “Homeland” or, probably, any other show that you’re recommending. I don’t have time. I don’t have the time. Well, specifically, I have just as much time as anyone else alive at the moment – but I’m working harder than ever to guard it for other things.

I read somewhere that when there are too many items on a menu, people are more likely to order less – or to order nothing. The wealth of choices is too daunting, so they lose their hunger. I used to yearn for great TV.

But now that it’s here, I wish a lot of it would go away.

Because I’d like to watch it. Really.

Comical weekend

Sunday, March 27th, 2016


This is a little bit of graffiti in my neighborhood.

Okay, it’s the Warner Brothers water tower (still in my neighborhood). On Thursday night, the folks at Warners were kind enough to invite a couple hundred of us to a screening of “Batman v. Superman” on the lot. I won’t say that you’re looking at the best part of the movie (that would be Wonder Woman), but I will say that even with a masters in writing and almost 25 years of teaching dramatic writing, and with five decades of reading comic books starring Batman and Superman, I couldn’t make any sense of whole chunks of the film.

The next day, I went to Wonder Con, the baby brother to Comic-Con, with a couple of friends. Wonder Con, which began years ago in San Francisco and has more lately been in Anaheim, was in downtown Los Angeles this year due to scheduling difficulties with the Anaheim Convention Center. I’m now going to show you the absolutely most wondrous thing I’ve ever seen in Los Angeles. Look closely.


YES, that is my car parked at a white-striped FREE parking spot right on Figueroa Street, immediately across from the Los Angeles Convention Center. You’re going to want to save this photo. Some day, you will tell your grandchildren that you’d once seen a FREE parking spot in downtown LA and they will sneer at you. They will say, “But Gramps, all parking near the Convention Center is $20, or $30, or frequently even 45 bucks! FREE parking? You’re nuts!” But there it is — absolute proof, and unlike Bigfoot photos, obviously not staged or Photoshopped. It exists! At least, it turns out, until 3 p.m., whereupon it becomes a tow-away zone unmarked by signs.  Good thing my good friend the redoubtable Dr. Trek checked for me. Whereupon I moved my car… into $20 parking. But until then, I had this, I had the FREE PARKING! Another grail quest completed!

Wonder Con, as stated, is much like Comic-Con, if Comic-Con were Galactus and Wonder Con were Ant-Man. (You’ll note that unlike Comic-Con, Wonder Con doesn’t even merit a hyphen. That says a lot.) Still, it’s possible to catch up with old friends and have a grand time. Here I am digging in comics boxes looking for a surprisingly hard-to-find copy of From Beyond the Unknown #8, with a couple of old pals.


Even Spidey-Sense couldn’t help me find that issue. The search continues.

Unlike the San Diego Convention Center (and, indeed, the City of San Diego itself), where the structure is laid out sensibly, the Los Angeles Convention Center is the product of a twisted mind whose architectural style pairs M.C. Escher with the Marquis de Sade. The Center has no center — there are actually two large buildings separated by a street and an enclosed overhead byway that gives no hint that one is crossing between buildings — and is shaped overall like clumps of organic matter with roots growing through them. You know how sometimes you’ll find a section of an airport closed for renovation and you’re shunted down narrow passageways serving as temporary workarounds? At the Los Angeles Convention Center, these claustrophobic corridors are permanent. Someone actually designed them this way. (And I’m not the only one to remark upon the terrible Los Angeles Convention Center. Mark Evanier has been going on about it as well.) Take this example:



See the people up top? Perhaps you’d like to join them. Now, barring the power of flight, how could you do it. Well, if you back up 20 feet, you find this:


Yes, that’s a lady in some sort of blue costume. It’s also a stairwell. How do I know it’s a stairwell? I went all the way inside to see what it was. There’s no sign, there’s no window, it’s completely shielded, so there’s no indication that it’s a stairwell — in this case, with a  female Deadpool lying on the steps taking a photo of this lady’s rear end for some reason — but trust me, it’s a stairwell. But then, one shouldn’t be surprised that it’s unmarked:  Most of the interior of the convention center is unmarked. Including access points to the parking garage. It took my friend Larry and me 45 minutes to find my car inside the convention center parking structure on Saturday night, and that was after consulting with a convention center supervisor and a helpful guard who walked us out and still couldn’t find access. (After walking about an hour on our own, Larry and I found it. By luck.)

Even with  the frustrations of parking and navigation, as well as scheduling that left me traversing one end of the convention center back to the other repeatedly over two days during which I burned 550 calories each day just by walking (thanks, iPhone tracker), Wonder Con was great fun. Two added great finds from the Con.

1. I finally got my dream job, and a sense of the benefits.



2. I finally, actually, really got to see someone dragging toilet paper on his shoe. I guess it isn’t just a classic movie joke.


Fuck, yes

Saturday, December 12th, 2015

Mary Norris (The New Yorker’s “Comma Queen”) on the thrill of profanity in print, which is something I know a bit about. A couple of weeks ago, a playwright friend of mine announced proudly that a play of his had been included in a collection of works for middle-schoolers. I said, “Do you think I should submit? If I take the word ‘fuck’ out of… um… ALL of my plays?”

(Which is not quite the case. For three years running, I’ve had a play performed at the annual Moving Arts holiday party. The first two years, the plays were rigorously clean, just because I didn’t think those particular characters would sling around the eff word. This year, because my characters were plotting a backstabbing school board race, I said fuck that. This play, “Campain,” will not be appearing in a collection of works for middle-schoolers.)

One of the parts of Norris’ piece that I especially enjoy is her noting that highfalutin’ people have made proper use of unmentionable words, including Pushkin, Lermontov, Dostoevsky and others making hash with Russian forms of “cock,” “fuck,” “cunt” and the other usual favorites. Why have these otherwise respectable and noteworthy figures done so? Because these expressions make language fun. You know it, and I know it too.

Speaking of which, the excerpt below may show why in college when presented with my choice of semester-long tutorial, I chose Chaucer (much to my ongoing delight). Here’s a bit of bawd from the bard, from “The Summoner’s Tale” in The Canterbury Tales. The next time you hear someone railing against “kids these days,” remember, this was written by a grown man, a fucking government official and courtier, about 1386, for the enjoyment of his peers:

“Lo, hear my oath! In me shall truth not lack.”
“Now then, come put your hand right down my back,”
Replied this man, “and grope you well behind;
For underneath my buttocks shall you find
A thing that I have hid in privity.”
“Ah,” thought the friar, “this shall go with me!”
And down he thrust his hand right to the cleft,
In hope that he should find there some good gift.
And when the sick man felt the friar here
Groping about his hole and all his rear,
Into his hand he let the friar a fart.
There is no stallion drawing loaded cart
That might have let a fart of such a sound.
The friar leaped up as with wild lion’s bound:
“Ah, treacherous churl,” he cried, “by God’s own bones,
I’ll see that he who scorns me thus atones;

Today’s cool art video

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

For the past 25 years, Dutch artist Theo Jansen has created “living” sculptures, made mostly of trash, that traverse the beach in an amazing simulacrum of mammalian movement, powered by the wind.

This is only my most recent discovery of something artistically astonishing that I’ve been able to find through the wonders of social media. (Thank you, Facebook.) It happens at least once a day, and I’m always grateful.

More about Jansen and his creations can be found here.

Fringe fever

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

The Hollywood Fringe Festival of short-run alternative theatre has been running the past two weeks, and last night and tonight I’ve finally had a chance to see some shows.

Last night, my wife and I and two of our friends went to see “Stupid Songs” at the Lounge. The show, a revue of original, funny, filthy songs with choreography, was conceived by my friend Keri Safran (who was in my play “About the Deep Woods Killer” five or six or seven years ago here in L.A.). The thing was howlingly funny — and will be back later this summer. I’m highly recommending it. Watch their website for dates and times.

And then tonight, I saw “Out my Window,” written by and starring Ernest Kearney. I’ve been following Ernest’s work for 20 years  (producing his play “Meat Market” at Moving Arts in 1996, and seeing several of his shows since then). “Out my Window” concerns Ernest’s adventures in the late 1980’s as a manager of a street-level storage facility in Hollywood. Confronted with a desk facing a large plate-glass window looking out on Hollywood Boulevard, as well as eight hours of tedium per day, he decided to photograph the happenings and passersby in front of that window, resulting in 9,038 photos of the bizarre, the funny and the tragic. That his one-man show is outfitted with Ernest’s endearing oddball delivery and trenchant wit was not a surprise. The depth of his observations about individuals suffering the human condition reminded me of what a remarkable observer he is. No, the welcome surprise was in how deeply humane and touching the show is, as Ernest weaves a tale about drifters and street people, many of whom he got to know personally as his daily photograph-taking sparked relationships. A kind-hearted psychotic winds up dead, a brilliant and educated hooker’s murder goes uninvestigated by the police, a hobo borrows five bucks and then resurfaces, a lady with a moviegoing sombrero-wearing dog becomes a friend, and Ernest meets the love of his life, with the flotsam and jetsam of Hollywood Boulevard serving as witnesses at his wedding. It’s a remarkable show that reminds us that beneath the media machine of marketing fear — for and of the people we don’t know — lies a web of human connection and kinship. I was very glad to be there, seeing this show.

Afterward, Ernest let me know that he’d seen 54 (54!) of the shows in the Fringe. (And of those 54, he said only four weren’t good.) I’m glad I got to see these two — but I wish I’d seen a lot more. The Fringe ends tomorrow. Let’s hope the better shows get extended, so I can still catch some more of them. And let’s hope that Ernest’s is one of them.

(To see some of Ernest’s photos from the show, click here.)


Today’s (amazing / odd) video

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Wish I’d seen this! Further proof that sometimes the best theatre is done outside of a theatre.



The weekend of dance

Monday, May 4th, 2015

I didn’t know anything about dance, until 10 years ago. And then I learned just enough to love it.

I have Michelle Mierz and Kate Hutter to thank for that.

Michelle and Kate were my students in a business-of-theatre class I taught at USC for a few years. Michelle was a business major and dancer, and Kate was a dance major and choreographer. In 2003, the third year I taught that class, they decided to team up for the assignment to create a theatre organization or production on paper. They came up with the L.A. Contemporary Dance Company — and then decided to launch it in real life. Just doing it for the grade wasn’t good enough. (For the best students, it never is.)

On Saturday night, I attended the 10th anniversary of their launch, in an event at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. (You can see a sample of their earlier work above.)

It was an incredibly rewarding and inspiring evening, with hundreds of wildly supportive people in attendance. Kate was kind enough to recognize me from the stage (as though I had anything to do with their success, apart from, well, making the classroom assignment).

Kate’s choreography was smart, evocative, mysterious, and very physical, as always. She’s obviously good at moving people around the stage in exciting ways. She’s also good at pairing movement and music. In 2004 (I think), I was directing a play called “Big Bear and the Other,” at the same Los Angeles Theatre Center where Kate and Michelle had their event the other night. The play, a dark comedy of sorts, concerned a group of previously forlorn men who had now formed a cult of bear worship; at one point, I wanted a dream fantasia where they would be swept up into cosmic connectedness. Kate whipped that up for me, teaching a group of middle-aged men how to roll and dance and look, well, beautiful and graceful while doing so, all in one night. Her work in that evening far surpassed anything I brought to that production. I remember being incredibly proud of her, grateful for my access to her, and somewhat envious of that much talent.

(An aside: my friend Tom Boyle, whom I wrote about here and here was in the cast of that production. He was effortlessly funny and filled with good ideas. My foremost talent as a director is just to get other talented people together.)

Before and after the performance on Saturday night, I got to speak with Michelle, who now lives in Seattle and works for Amazon. Michelle was the first hire at my nascent consulting company, CounterIntuity, in 2004. (The company was later re-launched as the marketing company Counterintuity, LLC, with no capital “I” in the middle.) Again, what you see here is my talent for identifying talented people: Michelle is whip-smart, something I spotted in about the first four seconds when she was my student. I was damn lucky she came to work for me; in some ways her early imprint on the company is still there. (As are some of the clients.) She was also directly responsible for landing one of our first clients, Dance Camera West, and thereby leading us into what I’ve called “The Year of Dance,” when we did no fewer than six dance projects with six different dance-related businesses: a dance company; a touring program (which we toured with a little); a dance agency; an online dance resource; a dance film festival; and a sixth one I can’t recall offhand.

All of that dance activity in one year left me with a deep appreciation for an art form I’d known nothing about. I’ve been a writer my entire life, and a bit of a musician here and there, and added stage directing (and then video directing) later on. But dance? The deep appreciation I’ve gained is due to Michelle. I thank her for that.

In the spirit of all things circling around, let me also say that the night before, Friday night, was an evening of shorts presented by that dance film festival, Dance Camera West. Dance Camera West is a “dance media festival” that screens the best in dance films from around the globe; these are astonishingly creative films. Here’s the trailer for this year’s festival.

Dance Camera West Film Festival 2015 (Trailer) from Parker Laramie on Vimeo.

This was the eleventh year in a row that my company has been associated with the festival, a connection I’m proud of. Three of us from Counterintuity, plus guests, attended the evening in a beautiful old movie palace in downtown Los Angeles — and today, one of my staff came in to my office to share just how much joy and passion those films had reawakened in him. Precisely right. For me, a person who works mostly with words, to enter a world created by the movement of the body, is to thrill to the excitement of an exotic environment.

I was Michelle and Kate’s professor. But whatever I taught them, I know I learned more.