Tuesday, March 30, 2010

But no one has the right to live without being shocked. No one has the right to spend their life without being offended. Nobody has to read this book. Nobody has to pick it up. Nobody has to open it. And if you open it and read it, you don't have to like it. And if you read it and you dislike it, you don't have to remain silent about it. You can write to me, you can complain about it, you can write to the publisher, you can write to the papers, you can write your own book. You can do all those things, but there your rights stop. No one has the right to stop me writing this book. No one has the right to stop it being published, or bought, or sold or read.
--Philip Pullman, talking about his new novel


Friday, March 26, 2010

The latest review of "The Revenger's Tragedy", from longtime Orange County Register critic Eric Marchese:
If it's true that revenge is a dish best served cold, then Monkey Wrench Collective's newest show is a frosty treat...

MWC co-founder Dave Barton has created a new adaptation of Middleton's Jacobean-era gore-fest, giving it a kinky, Quentin Tarantino-type spin. The characters still speak in blank verse, yet their garb and choice of weapons (automatic handguns) would suggest a more recent vintage... [Barton's] staging in an empty building near downtown Fullerton's train station (until his new theater space can re-open later this spring) is as visceral – and as gory – as any revenge tale antique or modern.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The first review of "The Revenger's Tragedy" is in, courtesy Jordan Young of the LA/OC Arts Examiner:
The stage writhes with twisted, unsavory characters in director Dave Barton’s stylish update of the 400-year-old Jacobean dark comedy by Thomas Middleton. This tale of murder, lust and blind ambition is Shakespearean in scope (Middleton collaborated with The Bard on “Timon of Athens” and “A Yorkshire Tragedy”); think “Titus Andronicus” played tongue-in-cheek and you’ll have a rough idea.
"Revenger's" runs through April 11th at the Crystal Ice House in Fullerton.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cristofer Gross of the Orange County Local News Network -- a website whose existence, I have to confess, I was not previously aware of -- nevertheless has done a very nice write-up on the troubled Monkey Wrench space and the (finally! tonight!) opening of "The Revenger's Tragedy" at the Crystal Ice House in Fullerton.
Barton, who was also Rude Guerrilla’s founding artistic director, remains convinced of the rightness of an aesthetic the company website defines as “devoted to U.S. premieres of European work, West Coast premieres of socially provocative new work, and vibrant productions of rarely performed classics.”

It was back in the fall of 2008 that Barton and Jennings began imagining life after Guerrilla. They were in Malta to remount their 2004 production of Kane’s “Blasted,” and getting inspired by the politically charged Maltese audiences and administrators. Video from home suggested a political sea-change may be represented by Obama’s victory.

“We were talking about how enjoyable it was working with people we really liked and doing work that we really wanted to do,” Jennings said. “And at the time, Rude Guerrilla had gotten a little big for itself and there was infighting and decisions we weren’t happy with.”


Monday, March 15, 2010

"The Revenger's Tragedy" by Thomas Middleton
Opening March 20th at the Palace Ice House in Fullerton

Cinematography by Eric A. Wahl


Friday, March 12, 2010

Quoth the O.C. Register Arts Blog, "the Monkey Wrench Collective is not leaving Fullerton any time soon."

Monkey Wrench Collective is pleased to announce that we have located a new venue for our production of Thomas Middleton's "The Revenger's Tragedy", adapted and directed by Dave Barton.

The show's new home will be the Crystal Ice House in Fullerton, located at 112 E. Walnut Ave.

Opens SATURDAY March 20th, 2010 at 8:00pm. ALL SEATS $10.
The show runs Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 6:00 p.m., 
beginning March 20 and closing April 11. 

The U.S. premiere of Mark Ravenhill's "pool (no water)" will be the first performance featured in the permanent Monkey Wrench Collective location at 204 N. Harbor Blvd., with exact dates to come.

Postcard by Jay Michael Fraley.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Direct from Monkey Wrench Collective co-founder Bryan Jenning's Facebook page:
Our meeting with the landlord could not of gone better. The news is very good. He agreed to help us make the changes in the space to open for business. Monkey Wrench will be open in the next month. Now the real work begins. And meanwhile the shows will go on, as we get closer to a temporary move. Viva La Monkey Wrench!!!
Bryan was also good enough to talk to Joel Beers of the O.C. Weekly as well:
The Monkey Wrenchers were given two potentially promising pieces of news today: The landlord of the Harbor Boulevard space in Fullerton told them he will cover the approximately $20,000 in construction costs in order to get the space into compliance with the city's regulations; and it may have found a temporary space to house its two shows.

"It was a meeting of dreams, I suppose, since we really expected him to say 'It's been nice boys, but I'm just going to turn the space back into retail,'" said Bryan Jennings, a Monkey Wrench board member, of the Friday meeting with the building's landlord.  "But he really wants us to succeed and be in Fullerton, and he's prepared to front the money for the changes since he's already seen the $15,000 we've spent."

Because Monkey Wrench plans to perform in the space, it falls under a different part of the city's building code, one that requires far more fire protection than a normal retail space. Most of the fireproofing involves the ceiling, meaning the brick walls that enticed the company into the space in the first place will remain untouched.

Other changes involve finishing a disabled-accessible bathroom and recessing its Harbor Boulevard door three feet so that it doesn't impede foot traffic on the sidewalk when opened.

Jennings is hopeful that, with the landlord's financial generosity, and barring any further surprises from the city, the theater will be fully compliant within 30 days.

"We're going to town right away," he said. "A lot can happen in 30 days if you have the right people."

The long-term future of the Monkey Wrench in Fullerton seems set, and the short-term future of its two shows also looks good. Board member Dave Barton said he's in serious negotiations with an Orange County theater to book both shows for a joint three-week run.

"We haven't signed anything yet, so I don't want to say anything official until the paperwork is done," Barton said. "But I'm hopeful we'll be in a space and have both shows running by early April at the latest." 


Thursday, March 4, 2010

More on the (temporary?) closure situation, this time from Joel Beers of the O.C. Weekly:
The Monkey Wrench will decide by Friday where to open both (pool) no water and The Revenger's Tragedy, a 20-person show scheduled to open March 11. At the moment, the most realistic possibility is one of Fullerton College's performing spaces.

The company will also decide by Friday whether it's even feasible to continue building in its Harbor Boulevard space. The main issue seems to be the space's brick buildings. The brick aesthetics are a big reason why the company chose that space, and having to hang drywall over that brick to accommodate the city's firewall regulation would be tantamount to "mutilating the building and that's something we just aren't prepared to do," Barton said.

The Collective will speak to its landlord Friday to determine the feasibility of continuing to build in the space. Whatever happens with that space and these two shows--the casts of each are committed through April 11--Barton said the Monkey Wrench collective will continue. "Whether we open in Fullerton at that space any time in the future or cut our losses and flush that $15,000 down the toilet we'll know by Friday," Barton said. "But even if we walk away from that space, we will continue as a gypsy theater that rents out spaces."

"We'll open next weekend by hook or crook," Barton continued, but admits that opening in a different space will greatly compromise both shows. "We spent a lot of time on both these shows because we wanted to open with a big bang. By opening in another space, we'll have do so with a much smaller explosion."


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

And the O.C. Register's Arts Blog has a shiny new update on the situation:

Barton said he would have preferred to do things differently regarding the permitting process, but is frustrated by the city’s restrictive codes for public performance spaces.

"We should have followed the rules in that respect. But if we were doing a retail space we wouldn’t have to go through any of this. They’re classifying this (venue) as an auditorium, but it’s a small, intimate space -— 25 or 30 seats. The restrictions they’re placing on us, these things are based upon a 300-seat theater space. I think it’s unreasonable. They don’t have any in-between code here. We have to add a drinking fountain and a separate bathroom for the disabled."

Barton said the current difficulties could well scuttle his theater company’s plans to open in Fullerton. "The inspector said we’d have to pay double costs per permit as a penalty. We’ve spent $15,000 already, and it now might be an extra $20,000 on top of that. That could mean we have to look elsewhere. We need to talk to the landlord and find out how much he can kick in."

"We love the space. It’s not a black box. It looks like a New York space. Maybe we can come to some kind of accommodation on Friday when we meet with the landlord and discuss whether we can proceed.

"If we can’t, we’re walking."


Due to some unpleasantness with our own modern-day equivalent of the Greek gods -- i.e., city bureaucracy -- the Monkey Wrench Collective's official opening has been delayed by at least a week as we scramble to find a new performance space for "pool (no water)" and "The Revenger's Tragedy". Thanks to a series of permit issues that we had not been previously aware of, our brand new, never-even-opened-its-doors space in lovely downtown Fullerton is now quite probably to never see its day in the limelight. We'll have details on an alternative performance venue for "pool" and "Revenger's" presently, and hopefully further details on the permanent space in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, you can indulge your schadenfreude by reading the O.C. Register's Arts Blog piece on the closure -- charmingly devoid of, or at the very least roundly mistaken about, many of the facts of the matter -- and then feel guilty for gloating after you scroll on down the comments section and read Monkey Wrench Collective Artistic Director Dave Barton's corrections to the story. The joys of public relations in the modern world are, manifestly, both numerous and fulfilling.

Anyone possessing a surprisingly affordable and yet entirely up-to-code theatrical performance space suitable for the immediate performance of a pair of plays dealing with subjects including, but not limited to: modern dance; familial bloodletting; resentful friendships; plotting royalty; artists both pretentious and profound; sexual acts both consensual and otherwise; joyfully nude nightswimming gone wrong; murders most foul; and many other such morally inconvenient depictions of human nature at its most human, is invited to contact us at their earliest convenience.