Oh these little earthquakes
Here we go again
These little earthquakes
Doesn’t take much to rip us into pieces
-Tori Amos, ‘Little Earthquakes,’ 1992
Good Year for Hunters, a new play from Jess Barbagallo and Chris Giarmo, opened last night as the debut performance at New Ohio Theatre’s Ice Factory 2012. Inspired by Tori Amos’s seminal album, Little Earthquakes, Good Year For Hunters is a queer horror play about a mysteriously orphaned brother and sister who fall in love with a closeted husband and wife. Like Amos, the characters struggle to find their own voices under oppressive religious, cultural, and sexual circumstances. Using a poor theatre aesthetic of minimalist design and physical acting, the Hunters cast creates a darkly comedic landscape of yearning turned nightmare.
Five years ago, Barbagallo approached long-time collaborator Giarmo with the idea to write a play based on Little Earthquakes. “What emerged,” Barbagallo told NYC theater blog Theater in the Now, “was this apocalyptic horror show about growing up queer and closeted.” More…
Though feature films often dominate the conversation at the Sundance Film Festival, the smart filmgoer pays just as close attention to the shorts, many of which are turned into features after attracting attention on the festival circuit. Director Rhys Ernst’s short film The Thing was one of the most exciting shorts I saw at the festival this past weekend. Afterwards, I spoke with Ernst about how the film came to be, a pivotal road trip he took, and his thoughts on trans representation in cinema.
Describe what your short is about?
The Thing is about a couple –a woman and a transgendered man– who are traveling on a road trip with their cat towards a mysterious roadside attraction called “The Thing.” The closer and closer they’re getting toward their destination the further and further they’re getting from each other.
Where did the idea for the short come from?
Since I’m trans I certainly had a stake in putting that character out there. Obviously there’s a lack of trans men characters in film, but I didn’t want to make an identity film, I wanted to have the issue folded into a much larger narrative so it could appeal to all different kinds of audience members. I have gone on a lot of calamitous road trips and when I moved to LA from New York I brought my cat with me in the car.
Isn’t that sort of dangerous for a cat to travel that way?
The cat was okay. He was a little freaked out, but he was okay. My friend and I would sneak him into hotel rooms. It was so comic and strange it was one kernel for the film. The rest of it’s not particularly autobiographical – though I did grow up going on lots of road trips with my family. It’s so American – these tourist roadside attraction places. They’re these nice emblems of something that’s totally mysterious. More…
I met Chloe Dzubilo for the first time at Blacklips Performance Cult at Pyramid Club the night they staged her play “Vagina.” I found it to be a hilarious, mystical and transformative piece, beautiful and transgressive all at once. Chloe herself was beautiful and transgressive, mystical and hilarious. We became famous friends in blue walled dingy basements, in various apartments, parks and diners. Once, at brunch, really early in our friendship I witnessed a healing between Chloe and her father. She shared that intimate moment with me and she cried. I felt like I’d found a sister. I would call her when I was freaking out; with compassion and humor, she would talk me through.
I photographed Chloe a lot. With her band, with lovers, with friends who looked like her, with her dog, alone, nude, clothed, with writing on her body: “precious diva” “family” “love tummy.” When I finally decided to make a film, she had to be in it. It was a girl gang movie, Gang Girls 2000 Betsy came up with the gang name, Blades, which I elaborated to the Famous Blades of Chinatown, prompted by the freely given use of Chloe’s Chinatown apartment as the gang headquarters. Chloe was to play the leader of the gang. I said, “What should your gang name be?” She didn’t hesitate. “Transella Coutorture,” she replied. More…