B: Bloom

art, Theatre Business, Theatrical Process

In preparation for The Immortal Jellyfish at the Capital Fringe, The Jellyfish alphabet continues!


Drifters-in-the-sea: salps bloom off the coast of New Zealand. Credit: Seacology

Drifters-in-the-sea: salps bloom off the coast of New Zealand. Credit: Seacology

A flock of seagulls.  A bunch of bananas.  A parliament of rooks.

Groups of animals have curious names.  Some make a pack, some a pride, but Jellyfish bloom.   Like a cherry blossom festival, but with carnivorous, occasionally immortal, hydrozoans.

While a flock or a bunch might contain some tens of members, jellyfish blooms number in the thousands and millions.

To be fair, jellyfish are much smaller than other species, and blooms form only on a seasonal basis.

As discussed in the Anatomy post, jellyfish are more stomach than brain.  Some contend that jellyfish lack the sentience to intentional cluster into groups, so the size of blooms depends on water temperature, salinity of water, and ocean currents.   Because jellyfish are more adaptable to salinity and temperature than many of their competitors and predators, the sizes of their blooms may only grow larger, season by season.

Tomorrow’s post will be on C: Cytosine.

For more on The Immortal Jellyfish premiering as part of the FallFRINGE, check out our show page!

Thanks for reading!


A: Anatomy

art, Theatre Business, Theatrical Process

A: Anatomy

What is the anatomy of an immortal jellyfish?

As a multi-stage organism, the jellyfish’s anatomy changes through its life cycle.
Beginning as a polyp, the immortal jellyfish is formed as a polyp in a colony of such forms, called hydroids. These hydroids have stolons to connect them to their resident surface, and upright branches which bloom medusa buds, which eventually are released from the main colony.
The immortal jellyfish’s medusa form can reach an even 4.5 millimeter diameter, making a circular bell shape. This bell is made of a jelly, or mesoglea, covered by two layers of epidermis (like a peanut-butter jelly sandwich, minus the peanut butter). This mesoglea is somewhat thicker at its topmost part, and replaces a respiratory system in that the ‘skin’ of the jellyfish is thin enough for diffusion to deliver oxygen to the body. Also contained in the skin of the jellyfish is its nervous system, a kind of ‘nerve-net’ starting at the ‘rophalial lappet,’ the ring around the base of the jellyfish’s bell. This jelly-skin encapsulates a bright red, cross-shaped organ called a manubrium. The manubrium is a mixture of stomach and mouth, where a stalk protruding from the bell’s interior dangles down to a mouth at its base. The mouth opens into a gastrovascular cavity, which digests nutrients for the rest of the body. The smaller renditions of this creature have but eight tentacles, whereas the larger, older specimens have ten times that number.

Voodoo Macbeth: Magic, Madness, and Murder

art, Plans, Theatrical Process

Coming up soon: I play Lennox in The Voodoo Macbeth with TACT!  We’re performing at Gunston Theatre 2 in Arlington, VA.


This show is pretty cool – it’s like the original Macbeth, only with Even More Magic.  Hekate’s a bigger character, and the witches appear more frequently, or rather… well… okay:

What I really enjoy about it is that, in our rendition, the combination of roles means that the witches are playing multiple characters.  This leads to the question: are the witches the base character (the root of the other onstage manifestations) or are they a character which imposes itself over another base ( maybe possession, maybe inner id, what have you, take your pick…)?

For our rendition, the witches are not their own base, but more a state of being (to see how we get there, you’ll have to see the show!).  What I love about this is that my base character is a priest.  This means that the witchery he undergoes deals a good deal with a crisis of faith, with the question of prayer versus magic, and from there, the question of madness.  What happens to him in the work, you’ll have to see to know…

I have had a fantastic building this character.  I invite you all to come see me perform, starting the 22nd of March.  Tickets are on sale here!


Thanks again for reading!

Mead Theatre Program Round II!

art, Theatre Business, Theatrical Process

March 4 is a pretty exciting day.  Nerve wracking, marvelous, exciting, horrifying.  Kind of like an avalanche.  It’s beautiful from far away, but the closer it gets, the more you realize, ‘man, this thing is a huge.’  And then it hits you.

as subtle as

an avalanche. serene. majestic. cataclysmic.

Now, for a while, March 4 meant the end of our Kickstarter.  It still does, but that’s not all it means anymore.

Because as of two days ago, March 4 also meant my interview with the Mead Theatre Lab Program (aaaagh wahoo excitement blaarggh)

The long and short of it is, Jellyfish has a shot at performing at the Mead Theatre Lab’s space for a few weekends next fall, and in order to secure that spot, I have to have made it past round I and II.  So.  Very exciting.  And a little bit scary…

Here’s the deal.  Even if this project takes off at the Mead, I’m going to need $3k to finance it, most of which will go to actors and artists.  So, if you want to see what the big deal is, help me get to $4000 raised on Kickstarter by Saturday at 5:oopm.

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If you’ve already donated, thank you!  You’re already helping.  Tell your friends.  Tell your families. Facebook it and twitter it.  Pin our video, what have you.  Because if we can get to $4000 by Saturday, I will make an openly viewable and comment-friendly google doc of the Immortal Jellyfish so you can all see just what is getting me so excited.



10 Great Valentine’s Gifts that Don’t Require Jogging on Friday

art, Theatre Business, Theatrical Process
AAAAAAGGH! Balentine's Jay!

AAAAAAGGH! Balentine’s Jay!

“Oh god god it’s valentine’s day and I didn’t get myself or my significant other a gift!”



“Crap. It’s Valentine’s Day, and I don’t want to jog today off tomorrow. Because tomorrow is Friday.  That’s like, weekly Valentine’s day to myself.”

Life is like a box of these. Delicious, and CALORIC.Don't make your loved one/self do this.

Fear not!  Avalanche Theatre Company may have JUST the solution you need.  Like, 10 of them, for all budgets!

1) A Tweet about your loved one/ yourself.

Cost: $10.  Twitter Immortality: Check.

2) A glitzy letter full of sequins!

Cost: $20.  Sexy Letter to Self: Awesome.

3) A Handknit Scarf!

Cost: $50.  Take that, February.  However you pronounce yourself.  My scarf is handknit by the Liz Hansen.

4) An abstract painting.  

Cost: $50.   Nothing says ‘I love you and/or myself’  like abstract art by Liz Hansen.

5) A thirty second video      

Cost: $50.   Except making a monkey dance for all posterity.  Yours truly would be the monkey.

6) A digital image, done up by yours truly.

Cost: $50.   I’m a very good artist.

7) A Poem!

Cost: $50.  Don’t write yourself/ loved one a poem this year.  Let Jon Jon do it.

8) A Short Story!      

Cost: $50.  Genius!  You get to be the 1% inspiration while Jon Jon is the 99% perspiration!

9) Tickets for two!  

Cost: $100.  It’s a date!  To any of our shows.  Or heck, take yourself out to two of them.

10) VIP Passes        

Cost: $500.  You make it rain, Valentine style.  Impress that significant other of yours.  And/or yourself.

Plus, they all help support an awesome new theatre company.  And look at that, none of these require you to jog on Friday.  Treat Yourself Here.

Rumble Rumble.


Over Three Thousand!

Theatre Business, Theatrical Process

Lookout, world! We’ve raised over 3000 dollars for Avalanche Theatre Company’s first full season, ‘What is Living Without…’

That’s $1000 per show! Thank you so much to everyone who has helped so far!

Most of our show budgets go to help pay out actors. What better way to say ‘happy Valentina’s day’ to an actor you know and love than by donating to a company that focuses on actors?

Share this post to encourage your friends to support us! Find out more at our kickstarter!.

Jellyfest Begins!

art, Theatre Business, Theatrical Process

Working on taking my play back to the polyp stage!


Jellyfish lifecycle from the Baltimore Aquarium

Immortal Jellyfish is a work about the ancient theme of fearing death, and everything that entails.  I was basing it off of the myth of Gilgamesh at first, and wanted the characters to run parallel to the characters from that story.  That said, I didn’t want the piece to feel ‘grand’ or ‘sweeping,’ this was intended to be maybe an hour long play about people, not Kings or Gods.  The work is about real people doing real human things in an implausible time.

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Jellyfish at the Baltimore Aquarium

So far, Jellyfest has kind of reflected that.  I got together with four very real people last night and sat down for what wound up being about two hours of reading.  I am immensely grateful to Randy Snight, Elizabeth Hansen, Robert Bouwmeester, and Kristen Pilgrim.  Randy and Elizabeth get extra snaps and the special mystery prize box because they were there on time, waited for like half an hour, and didn’t even know each other.

Granted, we met at the marvelous Soho Tea and Coffee shop on 2150 P St NW – a little hub which has basically become Avalanche’s unofficial incubator space – so you really couldn’t have picked a better place to have to wait.

Meanwhile, the rest of us got wonderfully lost.  Kristen was taking a car through rush hour, and Rob and I took the metro in to Dupont and then made like Alice in Wonderland going the wrong way down P street.  The numbers should be going up to get to 2150, just you remember that.  Because I didn’t.  And it was COLD.  Like, NASSA cold.  That cold.

So we wound up starting around 7:30pm and got to reading around 7:45pm, armed with tea and food and brilliant people.  I do believe Randy’s Torry voice may be one of the strongest choices I have ever heard for Tara.  Really entertaining stuff.

Now you may not know this, but Randy and Rob are both working actors, meaning that they both act for work and make it work.  There is one kind of person I admire most in this world, and that is the working actor.  Kudos to both of you gentlemen and my thanks for joining me on this largely social outing.   Randy was able to fit in my reading between choreographing FOUR SHOWS and I caught Rob just before he left to start in a Main Role in an Off Broadway show.  I count myself blessed to have gotten such brilliant men to read for me, and more so for getting a chance to see them in the mad dash that is our lifestyle.

Kristen, Liz, and I are in this Jellyfest bash for the long haul, so we’ll see plenty more talented readers together.  Liz, as you all know, is a co-Company Director with Jon Jon Johnson and myself, and Kristen is my director for Jellyfish next fall.  Liz is the fuel behind the fire of Avalanche, to put a phrase ironic on it, and Kristen is one my favorite directors.  She can fight, she can build props, she can get results out of her actors.  You go girl.  I couldn’t ask for better pair to have joined me on this first night out the gate, either.  Both Kristen and Liz have keen critical eyes and solidly grounded personalities, so they give excellent constructive criticism while still making me feel like I’m Neil Labute.

Liz read for Tara, Rob read for Will, and Randy read for Kid.  The work ran about an hour and a half, thanks to a few starts and stops for notes, and one vital phone interruption from the inimitable Mary Myers in Italy (joy, and sadness).

In the script, we found places of repetition, snipped at the odd phrase, jumped on a few lines that could definitely become pregnant pauses, and discussed areas that could be more fleshed out.  Randy helped me keep on where and when the scenes were occurring, and I’ll be adding those notes into later drafts.  We all had a good discussion on the world of the play and its myths, as well as places where I could build character development to make the choices have a greater contrast.  We had a good look at what’s eating Will, being as his character is like, the supreme jerk overlord.  We decided to flesh out Tara’s past a bit, and to give Kid a bit more backstory, while cutting some scenes which really repeatedly get into ‘sex versus death.’  It’s a heavyweight match that really doesn’t need to go longer than three rounds in the ring.

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Jellyfish at the Baltimore Aquarium

In other words, we made The Immortal Jellyfish act like its namesake, taking it from the adult stage, putting it under stress, and reverting it back to infancy.  Kind of fun, really.  I found a good number of places to expand the world I’m making while getting rid of repeated themes and lines (i.e. the phrase ‘speaking of…’  swear to God, that was said four times in the span of two minutes, and both Liz and I just looked at each other and wrote it down as a note).

What I liked about the reading was that despite all the corrections we had for the work, people still seemed to really like it.  I am definitely looking forward to retooling this number and getting more readers exposed to the work.

Thanks again, Randy and Rob, and to Kristen and Liz – cheers!

Those of you who like the sound of this Jellyfish thing, support us on Kickstarter!




Avalanche $1000 Challenge

art, Theatre Business, Theatrical Process

Avalanche Theatre Company has just reached 10 backers on Kickstarter!

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This kickstarter project is an omnibus fundraiser raising money for three shows.  The first show is A Bid to Save the World by Erin Marie Bergman!

The budget for this project is $1000!  Help us reach that goal this week, and help this story come to life:


In a world where death has stopped, three stories intertwine.  

                         …Two scientists try to figure out how people used to die…  

…A girl goes to speak to death itself…  

                       …A librarian who catalogs death tries desperately to reconnect with the man she loved…


Also, due to the nature of kickstarter, you do earn great prizes when you help make great art. Just saying…

For more information, check out the Kickstarter page here!

Follow avalanche theatre company’s blog!

Follow avalanche on twitter @as_subtle_as!


Thanks for reading, everyone!  Help Avalanche reach $1000 this week! (we’re halfway there already!)