Porcelain Bomb Productions would like to thank everyone who came to see our presentation of Kris Saknussemm's The Humble Assessment. Whether you love us or hate us, Porcelain Bomb embodies the cutting edge of Las Vegas culture. We hope that someday many more will join us in our enthusiastic support for risk-taking artists and those who are compelled to push the boundaries of cultural discourse.
We are currently entering the next phase in our development of The Humble Assessment, which we feel deserves further exploration and fuller exposure outside the Las Vegas theater community. While our experience at the Las Vegas Fringe Festival was helpful, instructive and exciting, it marked the beginning and not the end of this fascinating and difficult play.
We would like to thank The Aruba Hotel for their generous and unflagging support, as well as the Las Vegas Little Theatre for hosting what was, at least nominally, a forum for experimental works. Porcelain Bomb would also like to thank the generous and resilient TJ Larsen for digging the trenches and making the Fringe even possible. No doubt LVLT will miss TJ, without whom the technical and moral support for this festival would have been practically nil.
We would of course also like to thank Kris Saknussemm, who was the catalyst for it all. Kris arrived here on a Black Mountain Institute literary fellowship and gave a talk and a book reading at UNLV on March 29th, 2012, in Greenspun Hall. I was interested in the multi-media approach described on his website, which included a feature called the "3 Chings" (a reference to the ancient Chinese book of oracles called the 'I' Ching', which I have consulted regularly for over 15 years).
His reading was accompanied by saxophonist Eric Wyatt, who blew plaintive strings over Kris' sardonic prose. I was feeling a bit tipsy, having waded through four beers across the street just prior. I'd even bought a glass of wine from the poor old bartender in the Greenspun lobby. He thought I accidentally gave him a $5 tip, so apparently the regular attendees are either cheap SOBs, or alcohol lacks the ability to make them feel generous. Makes you worry.
I'd never heard of or seen Kris Saknussemm before, and I pictured a young blonde Scandinavian lad playing an oddly-tuned electric guitar while spouting off meta-fictional tales about inter-dimensional espionage. What arrived instead was a man that was significantly older than I expected, and yet a man whose ideas that night were more contemporary than Andrew Kiraly's hair. He was well-poised and well-spoken, obviously the kind of fringe writer that had long outgrown the awkward stage if he ever had to go through one.
Kris Saknussemm and his saxophonist Eric Wyatt reminded me of a little jazz joint in Boston called Wally's, which features live musicians 365 nights a year. It's known as a "training ground," where young musicians from the universities go to test their valor. I have never spent an unsatisfying night at Wally's and I have never heard a jazz musician there that didn't move me in some way. Kris Saknussemm made me feel homesick for that small, crowded, smoky jazz den.
Kris and I met after I contacted him about doing an online interview. We started an endless discussion that began with David Lynch, Throbbing Gristle, William Burroughs, Charles Manson and the Marquis de Sade, not to mention numerous unbelievable conspiracy theories and psychedelic reflections. Then he told me that he'd just published an original play. I asked to read it immediately, knowing somehow that I would like it. And I did like it. I liked it so much that I had to bring it to life.
I might never have done another theater production were it not for Kris Saknussemm and his play The Humble Assessment. Not since I convinced an artistically conservative local troupe to bring a Richard Foreman play to The Burning Man Festival have I felt so enthralled with unknown possibility and wounded by unseen limitations. One thing is certain: I'm proud to have been part of the small group that brought The Humble Assessment to Las Vegas, and even prouder to have been the one to bring these particular people together in this way.
Fortune favors the bold, and I was fortunate enough to be able to cast Mark Brunton in the lead role. I was frankly surprised when he was not only willing, but eager to take on this unusual play. But like me, I think Mark truly appreciates a challenge and the ability to test his mettle, like a young and hungry jazz musician at Wally's Cafe. Mark Brunton is a great pleasure to work with and I can't wait to help him further develop the wonderful character he's created.
This show involved a complicated process of converting video into a workable projected interface. Without the help of my wife Selina Davenport, I could never have done The Humble Assessment the way I truly envisioned it. As an artist in her own right, she enjoys meddling around in the physical environment where viewers interface directly with art, and her next video exhibition will arrive this November at Trifecta Gallery. Hopefully I can lend a hand and help her fully realize her own visions the way she helped me realize mine.
Erica Griffin, who played a pair of disembodied lips in The Humble Assessment, has been the Luxor light of the Las Vegas theater scene for almost a decade. She has a talent that can be spotted from far away. Not only that, but she's been a cheerleader for the Las Vegas arts community since she arrived. But unlike most of her contemporaries, she's matured and branched out over the years. It's almost a pity to watch her outgrow them all.
It was my extreme pleasure to meet and to work with Jim Earp, who played the chain-smoking sadist. Kris Saknussemm recommended him for the role, and there was never any doubt that Jim was absolutely perfect for it. His inflections and tones, after countless hours spent editing his image and voice, have become a language all their own inside my mind. It's also rumored that Jim is available for voice-over work, but he may be wary of makeup artists due to my "jack-of-all-trades" enthusiasm.
Lastly, I'd like to thank my young cousin Jesse Anderson for being our light board operator. It was his first experience in the theater and I think he walked away feeling like it was a fun and mostly positive environment. He's entered that ill-defined moment in life when he's supposed to start a "career path", and I'd like to thank everyone at the Fringe for helping him form the impression that community theater is a good "career choice". Poor kid; now he's completely doomed. Just kidding, Jesse.
see you in the future,