Stories for Bad Children: Kelleen Conway Blanchard Plus Puppets

Stories for Bad Children: Kelleen Conway Blanchard Plus Puppets

This weekend, a favorite local playwright (Kelleen Conway Blanchard) teams up with a great local songwriter (Rick Miller), an always-entertaining local actor (Basil Harris), and a puppet company I confess I don't know that much about (Vox Fabuli Puppets).

The project is Stories for Bad Children, an attempt to raise the ante in Seattle's already crowded cabaret/revue field. Miller will sing gallows-humor songs, the puppets will do something puppety, and Harris will recite a couple of monologues written by the wicked-witted Blanchard. (One of the monologues takes a jog through the porn world: "I don't have an industry-standard penis, but luckily I am very limber and can crush a can of pork 'n' beans with my thighs. Still, after a while, you're lying under four sweaty ladies with bleached assholes and you can't help but wish for old-fashioned romance... I think I want to ride the real bull now. If you know what I mean.")

Vox Fabuli has put up previous shows in a small Georgetown theater called Tin Can Studio, which has a seating capacity of 30 or so. West of Lenin is a small theater by most measures, but it's three times the size of Tin Can. "This one is a sort of proof of concept," says coproducer Michael Hayes. If it goes well, it could be the first in a series: Stories for Procrastinating Children, Stories for Demented Children, and so on. Hayes is a designer around town—he's helped design sound for Keri Healey's Torso, a Mike Daisey show, Sgt. Rigsby & His Amazing Silhouettes, etc.—and has worked with most of the folks involved with Stories for Bad Children. "We've all road-tested each other," he laughs. And now they'd like to road-test you. recommended


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Fried Worms 13
Y'all got trolled.
Posted by Fried Worms on November 19, 2012 at 10:19 AM · Report this
The anonymous rant is especially curious because it targets Annex's community... even though the show in question isn't even an Annex show!

The reason the puppet theatre community and KCB get so much run is because their work is fucking funny, and good. Many working with the puppet scene are talented comedic improvisers (note that a lot of great actors in town are improvisers themselves or started out there), and that talent shows whenever they pick up a puppet and go to work on a new scripted production.

It's no wonder they draw so much interest and attention.
Posted by Gomez on November 16, 2012 at 2:27 PM · Report this
thelyamhound 11
Seems worth mentioning that everyone who commented here is either fucking or very desperately wants to fuck someone involved with the show.
Guilty. And . . . ?

I happen to like puppets. And let's face it, if theater has any interest in competing for an audience other than the aging, self-satisfied, academic neo-bourgeoisie--if we want to compete with superheroes and CGI and American Horror Story for someone who's looking to be entertained as well as edified--we're gonna have to find ways to make our game a little more exciting and/or inviting.

Now, as it is, we can only take your word for it that your work is any good. And it may well be; I'm the last person to argue with prospect that any one of us in the arts may be that rare, true genius doomed to go unrecognized in my/your/our/his/her lifetime. It might even be brilliant if it features modern dance and zither music, which may, after all, fill that same need for spectacle that some are trying to offer through puppets, or that groups with whom I work try to offer through acrobatics, physical comedy, and dissonant, postpunk noise.

I have to say, though, that attacking other artists as somehow overrated or undeserving is a terrible tactic, even if I happened to agree with you (which, in this case, I don't, though, as you point out, it might just be that I'm infatuated with the likes of Kelleen and Scotto). To call a work or an artist "underrated" says less about the work than it does about your regard for your own powers of discernment, and to blame theaters or audiences for failing to recognize your genius (which I'll assume arguendo is real and valid) is rather like, say, a politician blaming the electorate for losing at the polls.
Posted by thelyamhound on November 16, 2012 at 12:04 PM · Report this
Oh @9, you do know unmitigated jealousy IS the sincerest form of flattery!

Posted by COMTE on November 15, 2012 at 4:16 PM · Report this
Annex=pretentious wannabees
Kiley blows Annex
Posted by laheeaneah on November 15, 2012 at 2:37 PM · Report this
Would that include yourself @6? Because you sure sound like someone in desperate need of a good fuck yourself.

Maybe, if your show WAS any good, someone might be interested in producing it; but have you actually submitted it to any local companies for consideration? Or maybe you should consider self-producing, as many demonstrably talented local playwrights do around here. Unless of course, you're just another of of those stereotypical "misunderstood artistes" who sit on their 200 page psychologically masturbatory screeds (with modern dance! And zither music!) about their childhoods, while incessantly whinging about how nobody recognizes their "true genius"; which would probably explain why nobody wants to do your "play", if you have in fact already tried to pitch it around town.

Because one doesn't have to have grown up on a farm to recognize the smell of manure when one encounters it...
Posted by COMTE on November 14, 2012 at 4:36 PM · Report this
Annex chooses its season from responses to our annual "Request for Proposals". No previous affiliation with Annex is required.

From these submissions the Annex Company chooses a season. We've decided that this is fair, as The Company is the body that will be working without pay to produce the chosen works. Thus, the only requirement that your play be produced at Annex is that it excite the artists who keep the theatre running.

If for whatever reason you that approach doesn't work for you, you can rent our theatre. The rates are quite reasonable; in fact, we subsidize our rental rates and charge less money than it actually costs us to maintain our space.

Between our own productions and rentals we produced or presented twenty-five different shows last year. And I'm happy to note here that many were created and directed by non-white-male types. Not that it's a focus of ours, things just turned out that way.

And Annex is only one of a dozen venues around town. All run by different groups with varying sensibilities; from the Rendezvous' Jewelbox, ACT's Central Heating Lab, and everything in-between.

Creating art is very frustrating, particularly in modern-day America. My fellow volunteers and I take great pains to afford every opportunity to those who would take to the stage.

In a few months Annex will have another RFP, and we will consider almost anything. Email the theatre and ask to be put on the 'backstage' list, and you'll receive the notice when it is sent out.

PS: I will point out that almost nobody (on a percentage basis) makes a living working in the theatre in this town. Which means for the most part the people you wish to work with are doing it do improve or adorn their lives. I would suggest that your feelings laid out in the toxic monologue above might not be as well-concealed as you think, and that your attitude might be one of your larger impediments.
Posted by Stephen McCandless on November 14, 2012 at 4:11 PM · Report this
Seems worth mentioning that everyone who commented here is either fucking or very desperately wants to fuck someone involved with the show.

full disclosure - no one will produce my show about growing up on a farm, and I am angry about it. It's good. Looks like the lesson here is I'll have to make it about puppet animals fucking to get it produced at Annex.

That poster comment sure got out of control. I mean all posters are terrible, aren't they? If held to the standards of theater posters, then I can see where your coming from.

this dumb waste of blog space got six more comments then it would have otherwise. Look at all the other posts. It looks like the dusty farm where I grew up. Anyone want to hear my pitch about my play? My childhood was awesome.
Posted by Puppets? Really? on November 14, 2012 at 3:19 PM · Report this
Hey buddy, don't go calling me crippled just because I don't have feet or legs. I just don't have 'em, ok? Sheesh.
Posted by Really, A Puppet on November 14, 2012 at 2:39 PM · Report this
Okay, Cowardly Nameless Troll, I'll bite.

(1) Kelleen is crazy-talented. She's fucking hilarious. She's not my personal friend, but I wish I could claim her as one. 'Kittens' (which you obviously didn't see) was practically perfect, and 'Hearts Are Monsters' and 'Small Town' are two of the funniest shows to come out of Seattle in the past decade.

(2) The 'Kittens in a Cage' poster you mocked was designed by Ellen Forney, who is generally regarded by EVERYONE (not just her friends, or The Stranger) as a fucking genius, because she IS ONE. She illustrated a National Book Award winner and a NYT Bestseller last year too. But I'm sure Penguin published her most recent book and NPR interviewed her last week because she's their "friend." Okay.

The 'Kittens' poster was *intended* to evoke old movies, as the play was set in the classic raunchy Women In Prison genre. Which you'd know if you saw it.

(3) The puppeteers on the show Mr Kiley (not a personal friend) recommended are most of the crazy-talented participants in the 'Manos Hands of Fate' Bumbershoot mounted. Yes, some of them are my friends, but I'm going to see 'Bad Children' because it looks TERRIFIC, and it's set in a fucking BLANKET FORT.

(4) I notice you didn't try to say anything shitty about Rick Miller, but for full disclosure I'll mention that he's my boyfriend. But even if he weren't (and for years before he was), I'd have agreed with Mr. Kiley that he's a great songwriter. Rick wrote the original songs for all the KCB shows I mentioned above, btw, for anyone reading this who isn't an asshat.

I disclosed my relationship status at the risk of seeming biased for two reasons: (a) because EVERYONE IS BIASED toward the art they think is GOOD, and tend to have friends with similar tastes. (b) because I'm about to sign my name, like a non-cowardly human being.

Laura G. McCabe
Posted by Laura G. McCabe on November 14, 2012 at 1:02 PM · Report this
Makes sense you would defend this so violently, since you've gone all-in on puppet stock. You own a felt factory, or what? Wouldn't you have preferred a review of one of your punch and judy shows here instead of this insider handjob? KCBs stuff is great. Glad I didn't trust that garbage poster for the last show. She's good, though the porny excerpt here is dumb. Anyway, point is, your bloviating here doesn't make this any less of a mess. It probably makes it worse. Don't you guys pay for these things anyway?
Posted by Puppets? Really? on November 14, 2012 at 1:00 PM · Report this
RE: @1, Anonymous

Annex received many proposals for our 25th season, two of which made the cut and were intentionally paired as they both involved puppets. Our plans for producing "A Mouse Who Knows Me" and "Audrey & Nelson" were in place well before Balagan announced they would be presenting "Avenue Q".

"Stories for Bad Children" features puppets by Vox Fabuli Puppets, who not coincidently fashioned in part the puppets in Annex's "Audrey & Nelson". The answer to your question regarding frequency is largely the product of a small group of very talented individuals who are seemingly inexhaustible, and the healthy range of smaller, but technically robust venues around Seattle that facilitate such experimentation.

Your comments about Ellen Forney's poster for "Kittens in a Cage" are such a wildly ignorant display they suggest an unfortunate paucity of character. That Ms. Forney is a beloved icon and your comments being simply another frothing screed with a hidden agenda is obvious; I only acknowledge them out of a sense of routine decorum.

Lastly, regarding the work of Kelleen Conway Blanchard. I have helped produce several plays by Kelleen, and have the privilege of having another scheduled next year. You are welcome to your tastes, but I can assure you that a significant portion of the theatre-going audience does not share them. Anyone with such a demonstrated ability to write such closely observed, nuanced, and wildly funny plays deserves to be fussed over in a city that values live performance.

PS: Treating the live-performance community like some zero-sum game is a wretched way to go about what is presumably your business.

Stephen McCandless
Managing Director, Annex Theatre
Posted by Stephen McCandless on November 14, 2012 at 12:27 PM · Report this
What is it with this criminal partiality toward KCB? It's very clearly personal and very clearly a bad practice. There are things that have happened that you can direct your critical eye toward. Instead, you funnel people toward the work of your personal friends. You'll make a special entry for posters for her shows, even if they're obvious rip-off tracings from an old movie poster scratched off in an hour like that Kittens in a Cage mess ("drawn" by another of your friends),and now some crippled-sounding puppet thing. Seriously, another show with puppets? There aren't enough shows with puppets on or coming to the stage? This is just a free advertisement and a favor. You belong in a cell, Kiley.
Posted by Puppets? Really? on November 14, 2012 at 11:11 AM · Report this

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