Monday, November 5, 2012

Do we need a blog and a website?

I don't know. We have both - but this is easier to update and I find myself reluctant to let it go. I guess our hope is that you'll check AND read what we post here. But maybe that's unrealistic. For me, this conversation seems more imediate and less formal. More of a conversation -while the website seems a place for big announcements and a more professional tone. What do you think? We haven;t updated things here as often as we should....and that's something I'm going to start remedying. Ix this a conversation you want to continue...or is the website a good central place for all of that to happen. If you care, weigh in. Of course, not weighing in is a vote in an of itself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Theatre is what happens when you are busy making other plans....

Ha ha ha. Hoo hah! Ha ha ha ha ha! HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
That's Life, laughing at us. Life just read my last post and keeled over laughing so hard it split a gut. You see, we made plans. Big ones. Provocative ones. A production of Mike Daisey's THE AGONY AND ECSTASY OF STEVE JOBS in May. Cool, huh? 
But then, Mike Daisey imploded. Crashed and burned publicly. Spectacularly. You can read about it here: 
It's a sad story, really. And it meant cancelling the show we were so excited about doing. 
But we'll have the last laugh, Life. Cause we have an ace in the hole and her name is Staci Swedeen. She has her own one-woman show. And she didn't have to go to China or make up stories in order to write it. All she had to do was stand in her driveway and let a rabid raccoon gnaw on her ankle a little. Okay, a lot. But in her funny, breathtaking, heartbreaking play - she dances with raccoons, balletic policemen, doctors, her husband, and Death.
Oh, and me. I'm in there too. This show is every bit as good as Daisey's and I can personally vouch for it's veracity. 
So why didn't we schedule it in the first place? Good question. We planned on doing it, but I suppose we didn't want Staci to have to act as producer and writer and performer all at once. But Life thinks it will be funny to make her work her ass off. With my help, we'll wipe that smirk off of Life's face and set audiences laughing instead. And crying. Because it's that kind of story.
Please don't miss this! You can buy tickets on our website: on the 2012 Schedule page. 
And here are some critical raves, if you like that sort of thing, which we do!
"A woman is attacked by a rabid raccoon in her driveway.  Bad for her, good for us, for in a theatre piece worthy of Woody Allen and Stephen King, playwright Staci Swedeen proves that, in the right hands, personal catastrophe can lead to uproarious comedy, spiritual transformation and triumph. You'll be moved by her dark, hilarious and heartbreaking journey -- and you'll never look at a sweet, furry raccoon the same way again!"

"Staci Swedeen, in her incandescent one-woman show, “Pardon Me for Living,” establishes a perfect May day made for sitting in a perfect chair on an appealing patch of lawn in front of her home in Sleepy Hollow, New York."Then all hell breaks loose:  insane shopping lust at “Beyond Bed and Bath” is but a precursor to a harrowing encounter with a rabid raccoon; flashes into quantum timeless-spacelessness informed by a little girl walking a top-of-the-wall tightrope; husband, neighbors, balletic policemen, EMS and Death crowding the stage with this astonishing, versatile solo performer.  All of these players, with the radiant Ms. Swedeen at the center, catch the viewer up in real events surpassing surrealism. You must see this compelling, hilarious, deeply moving performance, written and performed by Staci Swedeen.  And fasten your seatbelts." 

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Hare Emerges

After all the tortoise months, suddenly it's jackrabbit time! Things are moving so quickly it takes my breath away. We have our website up - check it out at And we have a first production scheduled.

Here's a blurb:
Flying Anvil Theatre presents THE AGONY AND THE ECSTACY OF STEVE JOBS, by Mike Daisey. A searing and funny look at the global economy; if you love your cell phone, you should see this!

“Riveting, hilarious, but ultimately gut-wrenching” Michael Moore. “I will never be the same after seeing that show.” Apple co-founder Steve Wozniack. 

May 5 and 6. Information and tickets available at

Okay, we don't have full details on our website yet - I'm  scheduled to do that update tomorrow. Which will be a good test of my very recently acquired website editing skills. 

Suddenly there are so many decisions to be made, money to be spent and an exhausting list of details to sweat. Makes me want to take a nap!

But this is what we signed up for - the frustration, the panic, the thrills and chills of daredevil actors performing an emotionally scary piece of live theatre. 

Hey y'all, watch this!!!!!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Devil and the Details: Welcome to Techno-Hell.

You buy a new piece of computer equipment and the only easy thing about installing it is opening the box.  Or you try to link several cyber accounts, and have to change passwords.  You no sooner change passwords than you forget what the password was. You try to change it again. You get locked out of the account. You call the help number and get an automated message system asking you for information you don’t have. 

You yell into the receiver “Let me speak to a person, damn it!” and when you finally do speak to a person you don’t understand them They don’t understand you either. You ask if they can transfer you back to the automated system.

You know what I’m talking about.  Techno –hell. 

That’s where I’ve been living the past month.  Jayne and I have been ironing out issues to take our web site live, to create a PayPal account for donations and to make sure the bank recognizes us as a non-profit. (We got the official letter in January!)

Once you’re in Techno Hell, you have also entered a time warp. I’d written an “end of the year” blog post on December 31 but was unable to put it up until now. Why?  The password was changed.  Yeah, baby. We all burn there.

But I still want to share the previous unposted post – because other than the cyber devils, 2012 has gotten off to a very good start.  I’m currently in Oregon for a production of a play I wrote, Jayne is pedal to the metal working on artistic issues for the Anvil.  Good, good, good. Stay tuned!

PS:  Pretty much everything has happened on the list below except that 35 pound thing.  I’ve decided to make that my Saint Patrick’s Day goal.

PPS:  I'm gonna go take a relaxing bath and calm down after my most recent tour through techno-hell, which involved numerous attempts to access this blog and post.  ARRRRRRR.....


Written Dec 31, 2011
Count down.

Every December the same thought passes through my mind.  Where the hell did THIS year go?  I’m convinced that time is picking up speed, Einstein’s equations to the contrary, and it’s daunting to get to the end of 2011 with so much left to do.

By my reckoning, I have 36 more hours to accomplish the following:

1.  Pack up and complete moving out of my home of 25 years.  The good news is that our house in Sleepy Hollow has sold. The bad news is that when you have lived in a house this long every room is a repository of memories and objects, making cleaning out a layered and laborious process.

2.  Write that killer stage play.  Or screenplay.  Or write – well, anything, damn it! I have been so distracted by this moving to Knoxville process that the only thing I seem capable of writing is a “to do” list.  My friends who have moved tell me that the “fog of moving” will lift.  I’m counting on their experiential wisdom in this arena.

3.  Lose 35 pounds.  Gee – that’s about a pound an hour.  (Insert Homer Simpson growl….Mmmm, cake.)  On second thought, scratch trying to accomplish that.  The thought of cake makes me want to find a piece and eat it.

The challenge of an End of The Year Review is that it is so easy to focus on everything that wasn’t accomplished so let me list a few of the things that actually were put on the board.

1. Founded Flying Anvil Theatre with Jayne Morgan
2. Applied for non profit status with the state of Tennessee
3. Applied for non profit 501(c) 3 status from the Internal Revenue Service.
4. Got a great logo from graphic artist Tarrer Pace
5. Contracted with VIEO for a terrific new website – coming soon!
6 Compiled a list of possible plays for our first season- to be announced soon!
7 Began assembling a terrific team of people in Knoxville to work with us on this vision.
8. Began looking at spaces and clarifying what we need in a space and where it might be
9. Did a fair amount of important daydreaming
10.  Had fun in the process.

So its time to make a few goals for 2012 – especially as the sun sets across the Hudson River and I realize I only have 35 hours left before 2011 is history.

1. Get Flying Anvil Theatre off the ground and launched
2. Put writing at the top of my personal goals list
3. Don’t delay happiness. 

Plagiarism alert - I heard this on Laura Linney’s Showtime series, “The Big C.” Just because someone else wrote it doesn’t mean I can’t use it.  Literally.

So let the count down begin.  

Five, four, three, two – blast off.
Happy End of 2011! 
Happy Beginning of 2012!
May you find yourself thinking that this next year just might be the best one ever, because you know what?  I’m having that thought right now.
Happy New Year! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

talent, generosity and bladder control

We were sitting at Staci's oak dining room table, munching on salad - six women from different backgrounds, with different skills sets. And what skills they were! One woman could build you some new kitchen cabinets, then grow you a bountiful garden and can all that goodness til the cabinets were filled. Another could rewire your house, sew up a cool purse and give you a stunning makeover. Another could plan your campaign for public office and then write a novel about the experience. Then someone else could write a play about it, then adapt it for a screenplay. Which several of us could produce and direct and then create a film festival to show it. One of us could throw the kick ass premier party, and another bring the shrimp etouffee - the real thing, mind you. And if you get too rowdy at the party, we even have someone who could read you your rights and run you downtown.

In other words, it was one hell of a lunch.

We were meeting to brainstorm about all things Flying Anvil. To share what we've accomplished so far and plan our next steps. Staci and I are opening up the process to people who have said they want to help, which is exciting  - and a little scary. Adding in more voices and hands will means sharing the load and benefiting from the rich experience these women bring to the table. But it also means letting go of some control. Which is a challenge for me.

So I took a deep breath, drank a little wine and focused my control freak tendencies on keeping the discussion on track. Yes, I am the agenda Nazi. But I also listened to all the wise counsel and good ideas. I am grateful to have such people in my life. And humbled by their generosity.

Oh, yeah. We all arrived to find a plumbing truck parked in front of Staci's house and two legs sticking out from under her house, like the Wicked Witch of the East in Timberlands, All the water was off for the duration of our meeting and  I was beginning to fear that splitting that bottle of wine wasn't such a good idea, when the plumber finally finished the repair.

We went out and gave her a heartfelt standing ovation.

Yep, her. The plumber was a woman. 


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You know what's scary?

Patience has never been my strong suit.  Originally I thought it might take until the end of July.  Or August. Maybe September at the latest. But it wasn’t until yesterday, October 31 that the envelope went in the mail.  The big, heavy, “we are applying for non profit status” envelope.

The postal clerk behind the Fountain City counter was wearing “tattoo sleeves” in honor of the day.  “It’s the only thing I can wear and stay within the dress code.  Besides, I don't want to scare anyone.”   I thought, Lady, you can't frighten me, I've just spent the past four months wrestling with this 501(c)3 IRS form.  Now that's scary!

In addition to some logistical delays and other pressing matters (like packing up a house in Sleepy Hollow) that seemed to impede the process, there was the fact that the application contains sentences like the following:

“Using an attachment, describe your past, present and planned activities in a narrative. If you believe that you have already provided some of this information in response to other parts of this application, you may summarize that information here and refer to specific parts of the application for supporting details. You may also attach representative copies of newsletters, brochures, or similar documents for supporting details to this narrative. Remember that if this application is approved, it will be open for public inspection.  Therefore your narrative description of activities should be thorough and accurate. Refer to the instructions for information that must be included in your description.”


Or this:

“Do you or any of your officers, directors, trustees, highest compensated employees, and highest compensated independent contractors listed on lines 1a, 1b, or 1c receive any compensation from any other organizations, whether tax exempt or taxable, that are related to you through common control?  If “Yes” identify the individuals, explain the relationship between you and the other organization and describe the compensation arrangement.”

Say what?

So there was a fair amount of wading, sifting, and plain figuring out that needed to be done simply to parse the form.  Now more patience is needed as we wait to hear back from the IRS.  

In the meantime, there is plenty of work to be done. 

We are continuing our search for space and reading plays.  Do YOU know of any places in Knoxville that might make a suitable three hundred seat home for a theatre? Do you have any favorite plays that you think we should take a look at?  Let us know!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Feet on the ground

Finally, Knoxville.  After planning, packing, cleaning and fleeing New York before Hurricane Irene marched up the coast, my friend April and I drove south down 81 to 78 to I-40 and rolled up to the house in Fountain City after 12 hours in the car.  It was an easy drive, made easy by traveling with a friend and much easier by popping tranquilizers down the cat’s throats before putting them in their carriers and in the back seat of the Subaru.
Still trying to catch my breathe, clawing my way to the top of the pile of boxes filled with things that seemed so important at the time. Note to self:  next time either leave or burn everything before departing. Have already had numerous adventures, including being robbed (more on that in another post) but getting my feet on the ground means that Jayne and I can move forward with the Flying Anvil. Fun, but heavy lifting. There's a lot to do, including finding a space.
Jayne, Eileen Conway and I went to look at a building with a "for sale" sign last week - a former radio station with a 500 seat theatre. When Jayne had called the realtor about it, he said, "Go ahead and take a look. It's open. If you find any homeless people living there, call the police." 
We took flashlights, called out loudly, "Anyone here?" No one was.  We spent the next hour with our lights flickering over the seats semi-circling the stage, the falling ceiling, an image of Jesus hovering above. Apparently a church had been renting the building but have since departed, leaving behind coffee cups in the kitchen and plastic children's toys in one of the rooms behind the theatre. The place was a complete, lovely, haunting wreck.  I overheard Jayne and Eileen talking about the history of the building that live broadcasts of Dolly Parton once went over the airwaves from this very spot. What happened here?  We stepped over debris, peeked into rooms, stepped gingerly on the spiral staircase that joined the first and second floors.  The wind blew in from broken windows, carrying the sound of children playing in a near by school.  What if? Could we? No, not this place, too much of a disaster, too much of a project, not the right neighborhood.  Yet it put some gunpowder under our imaginations.  We'll keep looking, plotting, planning, and dreaming.
Oh - and here's a short article on someone else with a dream and an anvil obsession.  Join the group!

Anvil Shooting: Fun, but heavy lifting