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Hearts Full of Blood - design by Tara Sissom

Awesome news!  With everything else going on, I failed to mention here that the play I wrote that The New Colony produced in Chicago last fall remounted for the New York International Fringe Theater Festival.  Well, as part of the fest, I finally got to see the show for the first time, and the director (Andrew Hobgood) and cast (Sarah Gitenstein, Gary Tiedemann, Mary Hollis Inboden, and Evan Linder) did a fantastic job.

And New York thought so too.  The show got great reviews, was picked for the festival’s Encore Series, and won an award for “Outstanding Achievement in Playwrighting”!   SO, if you or anyone you know are in New York this week (and like theater) get your tickets for Hearts Full of Blood in the FringeNYC Encore Series!

The Players Theater – 115 MacDougal Street, New York NY
Performances:  9/09 @ 9:30  +  9/10 @ 7:00  +  9/12 @ 3:00  +  9/14 @ 8:00

PRAISE (TO MAKE YOU MORE INTERESTED IN GOING):

“FringeNYC Encore Series…includes my favorite play of the fest, Hearts Full of Blood. The tightly constructed play from Chicago’s New Colony theater group begs for an off-Broadway run and is better than most of the plays currently running.” – Huffington Post

“**** the play’s snappy dialogue, shocking subject matter and remarkable leading performance give the Fringe a welcome infusion of quality.” – Time Out NY

“This is the kind of gritty, heartfelt, intelligent, and fearless work that I want to see and I imagine you will want to see it as well.” – Theater Is Easy

“Asmus is a talent. His ability to create realistic, natural dialogue for the stage is sensational.” – NY Theatre

Plus – a bucket load of praise for all the artists involved since the original run is round up HERE if you’re interested (Mom).

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That rant about people ignoring their reviews was not what I set out to write.  But I thought I’d let it fly.   Maybe I’ll circle back to what it was supposed to be later.  But in the meantime, I thought it’s worth mentioning a few things I learned about my own work from reading reviews:

1. I’m Accidentally Racist Against Eastern Europeans! - The cumbersome title X-Men: Manifest Destiny: Nightcrawler - For many reasons, I developed multiple blind spots on my first full-length comic.   But my favorite being that when I created a moment to Nightcrawler’s Frankensteinesque mob-with-pitchforks origin – I didn’t even think twice about having them carry torches.   Which several people pointed out is such outdated technology, that even rural Czech families would have upgraded to flashlights.  It NEVER even occurred to me as an option.  Seriously.

2. Even People Shunned By God Don’t Want to See God Kicked Too Much! - Sodomites!!! - In the musical retelling of Sodom & Gomorrah, we took very few creative liberties.  Faithfully retelling the story is pretty f**ked-up and hilarious.  But if we were to make sense of all the self-contradiction and irrational judgement contained therein, we had to add an explanation from our sexually frustrated God.  Actually, more of an apology.   In a song by Mike Descoteaux that serves as a coup de gras* to a comedy that already played rough – The Lord ultimately confesses to everything from watching us have sex to having “raped a 13-year-old girl…named Mary”.  I know, I know.  While we fully knew what we were getting into, I was shocked that even of the GLBT publications in Chicago said that it might go too far.  So if they’re saying that – a life of dark comedy has really blown out my understanding of people’s thresholds.

3. I Am Out of Touch With Today’s Youth!Runaways (vol 3) #10 – While this story is a step toward smoothing out my rough edges in comics, I did make one mistake repeatedly.   Fellow St. Ignatius alum Brian K. Vaughan created fantastic characters for this series and infused it with a pop culture awareness that felt real and current without being pandering.  I had a lot of fun playing with that.  One mistake though – I used my pop culture references.  And even though culture redeemed my GI Joe joke as relevant again – NO 16 year-old knows Small Wonder.

4. In General, I Am Still Learning! - Amelia Earhart Jungle Princess – To be 80% less glib, I should start by saying that I am still amazed by the work everyone did on this play (the first for The New Colony).  But the reviews completely disagreed over what was good and what was bungled about the play.  In fact, they disagreed on what the show WAS.   I expected a certain degree of that going in to what I, myself, referred to as an “action-adventure political dramedy.”   I knew what I wanted people to get from it, but that was getting lost in translation.   And once I realized that, I could see every misstep I made in the script.   Thankfully, though, New Colony let me write for them again.  And the results were much more successful.

But that’s part of it.  If you want to believe the praise, you have to also believe the criticism.

*- Mon dieu! Nous parle français!-

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A little too late, but it’s worth recording for posterity that my latest play and first full-length drama “Calls to Blood” just closed its extended run at Royal George theater in Chicago.

I never got to actually see the show, but I am so incredibly grateful for the hard work of everyone involved and how well it was recieved.   I really, really look forward to revisiting this piece for future productions.  I’m 90% sure that it’ll have a different title, BTW.

—————

A few quotes, all from writer/editor recommended reviews (!):

“Sex, relationships and intensity done right – when I search in my memory for a comparably provocative, promising and closely observed experience, I can only come up with the early LaBute scripts I saw at the old Cafe Voltaire in the mid-1990s.” — CHICAGO TRIBUNE

“Calls to Blood masterfully manipulates dramatic clichés, veering from cheerful chick-flick to terrifyingly twisted quick enough to cause emotional whiplash — manipulating audience mindsets, too, along the way.” —CENTERSTAGE

“Lots of people have nuggets of experience that could presumably anchor a drama, but not many of them have Asmus’s technical chops…Asmus uses an improbable but apparently true scenario to demonstrate his gift for capturing the rhythms of contemporary talk. ” / “Both gut-wrenchingly tragic and very, very funny.” —TIME OUT

“Revealing a horrifying family secret straight out of Sam Shepard…Asmus packs his seemingly incompatible scenes with accurate, telling observations of human behavior.  Against all odds, nearly everything in this New Colony premiere rings poignantly true.” —CHICAGO READER

Trust me that once again, The New Colony has gone to a place most theatre companies wouldn’t even think to go. [Asmus's] skill in writing sharp comic dialogue shows he’s a writer to watch.”  —TALKIN’ BROADWAY

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