Thursday, May 03, 2007

Taylor Mac

Taylor Mac is the most talented solo performer that I've seen in a long time. He often sells out the venues he appears in -- e.g., recently, the Public Theater and the Sydney Opera House (presumably one of the smaller rooms). But in Bath last night he drew only 23 adults, and a well-behaved baby, to the Rondo Theatre.

Taylor tells us that his performance is actually a play, which he has written himself. Very clever people, he added, refer to it as performance art, and other complicated things, but really it's just a one-man play. And so it is. But a very unusual play.

He came onstage via the auditorium, and we are at once faced with a kind of deranged Carmen Miranda; or possibly an unusually colourful and mad bag lady. Anyway, there he is. You could say that he appears in drag, except that his initial 'dress' last night was made from surgical rubber gloves and his wig was more Rastafarian than Elizabeth Taylor. So at first no one knew quite what to make of him.

However, before long you realise that Mr Mac is harmless, and that, in his curious, larger than life way, he is really rather beautiful.

And what does he do, you will want to know. Well, he talks a bit, and he sings songs, accompanying himself on the ukulele. And he changes his clothes once in a while. How then does he make any impact?

The answer is that he makes an impact by being human. And sensitive. As are we all.

The main purpose of this post is to alert UK readers that Taylor is touring, and, if you're close enough, and interested in theatre, I recommend that you go and see him. During the rest of May he is appearing at various places in London and the provinces: a full list is at the bottom of the front page of his web site.

In case you're worried whether you might or might not like him, the web site provides plenty of pictures and some videos. Again on the front page of his web site, I recommend the song about Fear Itself. But none of these, please note, compares with a live performance.

Well, Mr Mac is very definitely an acquired taste, but in any case, you may be wondering, what does he have to do with books and publishing?

The answer is that there are, to my mind, significant parallels between Mr Mac's writing and performance, and the activities of self-published writers.

Taylor Mac appears to be a young man who does pretty much whatever he wants to do in the theatre. Of course he pays some attention to general conventions. He produces a show which runs about 75 to 90 minutes. He uses lighting, sound, costume, music, movement, and so forth. But within those broad boundaries he does whatever comes into his head.

A similar freedom is now available to writers. Just as Taylor can put his videos on his web site, and use them to advertise his public appearances, so, nowadays, just about any writer can publish their work, or tasters of it, on the web, and make it available for a modest charge in book form. Within that framework you can do whatever you like.

If you want examples, try The Greatest Show on Earth, or Bed, or Blazing Embers. Just to mention a few that pop into my head.

Now it may be, of course, that Taylor Mac dreams of becoming a Broadway star. And he might. But he probably realises full well that it is more likely that he will remain something of a cult figure, known mainly to the gay community, but also admired, from a safe distance, by elderly Englishmen with very odd tastes. And so it will be with self-publishers. The best -- the very best -- that they can reasonably expect is that they may become known to a small coterie of readers (with exquisite sensibilities, naturally). But they will, with luck, find an audience.

However, there is one other point that I am morally obliged to mention. And it is one which is frequently overlooked in enthusiastic paeans to the new publishing paradigm. It is that, to succeed even in the most modest manner that I have described, a performer or writer does need to be very, very talented. In fact very to the power of ten or so. The talent may not be immediately obvious. Indeed the wise performer/artist will not flash it around and thrust it down people's throats. But it's gotta be there. Otherwise it ain't gonna work.


Andy O'Hara said...

I've followed you for many moons and this is one of the most fascinating and insightful posts I've ever seen written by you, particularly as you draw the parallels to writing. I do recall 'Blazing Embers' and would add to this Ron Hogan's daring 'Tao Te Ching' as well as the photographic masterpiece, 'Doorbells of Florence' by Losowsky.

A most inspired post.

Eric Mayer said...

This is so true. I excerpted a chunk on my blog. Anyone who is doing creative work is fortunate just to get anyone to pay attention. There are a lot of talented people in the world.

bhadd said...

Luck beal aid E too. Night!

The Hood Company

Anonymous said...

put this book in your stock and i will come to sign books one day


put this book in your stock and i will come to sign books one day


Midrash and Working Out Of The Book
G David Schwartz
(2004, AuthorHouse, Indiana
Alan Parks
Children have always had distinctive beliefs and it is interesting when they are humorous. Schwartz, in his interesting study of Midrash has a small remark which is very humorous. It is about the end of days. His daughter Michelle gives an interpretation which takes away all he fright and gives a bit of humor to that terrifying day.
The end of days means it is all night and there will be no more school.
But this text is for adults, who also need a bit of humor with their studies and worries

Midrash is a shard above what is necessary. It is a voyage from the mere ordinary into the attractive. It is a work of art through words up to rewards. Any author who changes truth is a survivor of the world. I have just read a book which attempts to survive the world, and I my opinion it does a very fair job. Midrash and the Working Out Of The Book is an interesting and intelligent work. Schwartz ranges, as the rabbis of old did, from deep and strong interpretations of the bible to short but not dull remarks of the meaning of what we may have thought just had a simile meaning.

I truly thought that the rabbis of old did little sensible. I am not saying that hey were ignorant, just too high flouting. Schwartz dos a very well job in showing that the rabbis made great sense by drawing truths not easily seen in the bible. One cannot read scripture after this book without both saying thee is more to this than I can see and then actually going on to attempt to dig it out. And there ids nothing wrong with doing this, trying to improve on the biblical writings, and not only noting wrong but necessary.

Midrash and the Working Out Of the Book, is an excelled introduction to the ways and means of reading the Jewish bible and a catalyst to make and help readers to not only appreciate the bible and take it further. I particularly liked the way Schwartz made it seem that fiction and deep truth are closely related.

This book will appeal to and have something to teach certainly those in religious studies and philosophy but also those who teach English and comparative readings. It is an excellent statement on what religion can do for humanity beyond the area of belief and worship. I felt sat times that some of what Schwartz was espousing was on the verge of blasphemy but it was sown to just be a remark which really was exposing religion in a deeper or more modern sense.

I truth liked and appreciate Midrash and Working Out Of The Book and hope to see more of Schwartz’s studies

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