Clearly, I'm not much of a blogger these days. With both a two-year-old and a very cramped deadlines-calendar keeping me busy, the writing life isn't really leaving me much room to do what I used to do here in my corner of the interwebs. Maybe one day I'll get back to it, right now I'm just happy to have a place to drop in the occassional entry on matters that really need some expressing.
Two huge events happened this past weekend. One regarding the macrocosm, the other just affected my microverse of downtown storytellers, but both touched my heart in profound ways that will leave me forever changed.
First off, gay marriage is now legal in NY! To see justice and decency prevail in the state that I consider home overwhelms me with happiness. I'll admit I'm not the most leftest leftee in the world and I'm open to discussion on many different issues, but this one I've always only seen one way and I've been very frank in dismissing anyone who considers otherwise. I've never bought the "state's rights" argument, I don't care about people's religious views in regards to gay marraige since in my opinion church and state should stay the fuck away from eachother, and I'm constantly ashamed that in 2011 there are still people so backwards that they're willing to pass hate-legislation like Prop 8. To me, this has always been about freedom, allowing everyone a chance to "life, liberty, and happiness". If you disagree with me, please, I encourage you to defriend me now because I personally have a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who would deny the people I love a chance to marry the people they love.
The second huge event was the closing of The Battle Ranch, my company's home of four years (even longer if you consider the years we used it when it was still under someone else's management as Studio 111). It was our playground where I created my shows, taught people how to fight (both in stage combat and at times in self-defense), an affordable rehearsal hall for all our downtown peers, and, easily the most important element to me, a place to showcase and celebrate my favorite artists in NYC at the show/party that gave me my real "MFA" in theatre, THE SATURDAY NIGHT SALOON! It breaks my heart that it's now gone, but the memories and lessons I learned from that small box in Bushwick I will carry with me forever. Thank you to anyone and everyone who walked through the Battle Ranch's doors, you made it my home.
In case you were curious, this is the origins of The Battle Ranch (From a blog interview Michael Criscoulo did with me a few years ago):
I ain’t gonna lie - I wish I could say I was the one who thought of it, but all cred goes to my wife and our company’s producer, Abby Marcus. The Battle Ranch was her brain child. If you know my wife, you know that she’s a girlie with a lotta passion and a lotta heart. And that heart of hers truly beats for Indie Theater. Seriously, I’ve never met someone so relentless in wanting to promote Off-Off Broadway. And I only say this to help explain how The Battle Ranch came into being because it all goes hand in hand with her dedication to the Indie Theater movement.
When Vampire Cowboys first began, we had very little in the coffers just like any other small theatre starting out. And instead of trying to shell it out to tiny little holes out in Manhattan, Abby decided to bring us out to Williamsburg, Brooklyn to rehearse. There, we were able to work at Studio 111, a large beautifully maintained space that not only was available for only $10 an hour, it also gave us free storage so we didn’t have to tote our many weapons, props, and costumes back and forth at every rehearsal. It essentially gave us an affordable home. And it was here that Vampire Cowboys was able to grow and develop all our shows.
However two years ago, Tanya and Ken, the two curators of the space needed to let it go. And instead of letting it die, Abby corralled all of Vampire Cowboys together and announced that she wanted to take it over. Our response was a bit of a raised eyebrow. One, we could now easily afford rehearsal rental at any hall we wanted in the city. Two, this was a huge financial risk. And three, her plan involved keeping the rental price of the space down at $10 an hour, meaning that there was no way we would ever see any kind of profit from this venture, only potential loss. So why the risk? Why add the burden of running a space on top of our already busy schedules at producing shows? Because it was important, she insisted. Her mantra, “It’s not about the money, it’s about the community. Don’t you think it’s important that others have the same opportunities we had when we first started? We can’t let another affordable space disappear in NYC. It’s for the good of all. We have to do this. Cause if we don’t, we’re just making it harder for everyone else.”
And so, she won. And after two years of seeing all the good it has produced, I thank God she did. Countless numbers of small companies regularly rehearse there and the work that has come out of The Battle Ranch has been awesome. It’s also the home of “The Saturday Night Saloon”, our monthly show we produce during the fall and winter of serialized plays. And the sense of Indie Theater comrade we’ve been able to help promote has been incredible. As most know, since opening the space, we have had to move The Battle Ranch once (since our landlord decided to gut the original building and turn it into apartments), but the spirit and community still thrives in the new Battle Ranch. Again, it was a gamble, but one that has thoroughly paid off.
As for how it got its name . . . that's a question you have to ask Abby.
I just wanted to share that with you guys. Losing the Battle Ranch makes me sad and it made me really sad that I couldn't be there to close the old home this past weekend, but the thing that really breaks my heart is the person who dreamt it all up couldn't be there either. The Battle Ranch and all the things that came from it all started with Abby's vision that a small little box in Bushwick could be something profound...or at least be a really great place to throw a party. Thank you, Abby, for creating a place for all of us to play. I love you, my beautiful wife (Thank God they legalized interracial marriage years ago...yep, another "issue" many churches also had a problem with back in the day).