Jim Fitzmorris

new orleans' theatrical pugilism

My Top 5 Most Moving SyFy Moments

January 20th, 2016

Science Fiction is designed for catharsis. If your combination of high stakes and great spectacle doesn’t produce fist pumps or wiped tears, then you have done something very wrong. Do it right, however, and you should create something that brings out the backyard make believe in kids of all ages.

Here are my top 5 emotionally moving moments from Science Fiction Movies. I have added the clip from each with a special extended one on the fourth.

  1. Tears in Rain: Roy Batty’s time to die in Blade Runner. It is the only actual burst of hope in what it is a brutally grim film. After a prolonged rooftop chase across director Ridley Scott’s smog drenched/rain soaked Los Angeles of 2019, Harrison Ford’s Gumshoe/Blade Runner Decker finds himself hanging from a skyscraper with his replicant nemesis Roy Batty watching his final moment dispassionately, until… as Decker falls, Batty’s love of life prevents him from allowing his pursuer’s death. Playing Batty, Rutger Hauer has never been better.
  2. Down Goes Biff: One punch changes everything in Back to the Future. With his very existence on the line, Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly can only sit helplessly by and watch his (possibly not) future father crumbling under the oppressive grip of bully and potential rapist Biff. But then George McFly (Crispin Glover) finds something deep inside him, drops his tormentor and sets off a series of events that will send Marty hurtling forward to a new destiny.
  3. When You Wish Upon A Star: Roy Neary begins a grand adventure at the conclusion of Close Encounters of The Third KindAfter spending an entire movie being told he is crazy, Richard Dreyfuss finds all redeemed with an invitation to go where no man has gone before. It doesn’t hurt the moment is underscored by John Williams. Speilberg’s film, which saved Columbia Studios, still hold up thematically and technically almost 40 years later.
  4. Diving Out of The Sun: The Millennium Falcon saves the day in Star WarsI was 9 years old, and I didn’t think Luke Skywalker and his outmanned, outgunned compadres had any chance against the monolithic empire and their Death Star. Everyone else was gone, R2 was a casualty, and Vader had just trained his sights, darkly intoning, “I have you now…” I don’t know if anyone else was cheering. I would not have been able to hear them over my own.
  5. Beginning A Bromance: Bruce Banner drives off with Tony Stark at the end of The Avengers. This is actually a guilty pleasure of mine. I am certain I can name a dozen better crafted moments, but I am just a sucker for people finding friendship in what has been a lonely life. Watching Banner climb into Stark’s car always lifts my spirits, because it suggest that Banner’s isolated existence of intellectual starvation and deprivation of human affection is finally coming to an end.

I could name a dozen honorable mentions (I think Star Trek deserves its own list), but I have a feeling some of those are some of yours.

Would love to hear them…

 

Questions For Bernie Sanders’ Supporters

January 16th, 2016

Let me begin by saying, I am supporting Hillary Clinton for President.

This is a not vote of calculation, a resignation for the “lesser of evils,” nor a desire to help “break a barrier.”

I believe the former New York Senator and Secretary of State to be the most knowledgeable on the issues, to have a stronger understanding of the levers of the office, and to possess the greater wisdom of the limits of the position’s power.

In short, she is more qualified for the job than the Honorable Senator from Vermont.

And he is honorable.

In fact, the best compliment I could give him in this: he is so honorable that were he from almost any other state he would be the most popular radical professor at that state’s flagship university. I think Bernie Sanders would never compromise a single value of his.

And should he ascend to the highest office in the land, that very quality would undo him.

But those two topics topics will be detailed in later entries. I have made my support of Secretary Clinton and my opposition to Senator Sanders known to avoid acting disingenuously as a sort of impartial voice for what I am attempting to do next.

I have a series of questions for Sanders’ supporters that apply to the practical workings of the presidency as an executive office. They are not “gotcha questions” nor do they require an arcane understanding of constitutional procedure.

I am moderating this thread, so any bullying, name-calling, or simply posting the links to the opinions of others will not be put into the feed (however, links backing up your own thoughts are fine.) That being said, strong passionate opinions contained in your answers is not only acceptable but also encouraged.

  1. If he wins the office, who would you like to see him appoint at State, Defense, and Treasury?

Those are the big three, and define the inner workings of the office

It’s safe to assume that if you are a Sanders’ supporter, you have a pretty strong idea of what his cabinet should look like. I realize few people in this country have an in depth knowledge of the great minds many presidents have access to, so I don’t need you to name actual candidates (although that would be great.) But looking back over the years of appointments, who are figures that most represent the values you would like to see in those three positions?

Be careful about naming Elizabeth Warren to anything. She is much stronger a champion for progressive values where she sits.

  1. What do believe his legislative strategy is for moving those appointments through a Senate that will either still be Republican or bitterly divided?

You might get help from Senators Graham and McCain who still believe elections have consequences and Presidents have a right to pick the people with whom they want to work. However, you will also have others like Rubio and Cruz who will be coming out of a defeat and positioning themselves for a return from the wilderness in 2020 by blocking almost any genuinely progressive or dovish figure.

In fact, with Cruz, it won’t matter whom Sanders’ picks. The Texas Senator will be merely trying to give Sanders an early shit sandwich to demonstrate the limits of his presidential power.

And he won’t be alone.

Here’s a bonus question: Sanders is told that he can have Stiglitz at Treasury, but that the votes won’t be there unless a party-neutral-Henry-Kissinger-type and a former conservative Democratic Senator (such as Sam Nunn) are given State and Defense respectively.

He takes the deal. Is he betraying his principles?

  1. As president, one of Obama’s greatest failures was his inability to be the head of his party, and governorships around the country are indicative of that failure. If Sanders is elected, what do you believe his strategy will be to rebuild the grassroots of the DNC apparatus particularly in The Deep South?

Nothing had a more damaging effect on both the midterm elections and the expansion of The ACA than the seizure of state governments by ALEC, The Kochs, The Club for Growth, Grover Norquist and their various proxy Tea Party organizations in the course of the last eight years. North Carolina and Wisconsin are particularly egregious examples.

Who do you think Sanders’ gal or guy should be at The DNC to begin the long struggle to take back the rights of not only labor but also a citizens’ ability to litigate against corporate interests?

Both have taken a terrible beating in this new millennium.

I look forward to your answers.

Loving The Alien

January 11th, 2016

He had you believing the strangest things.

If you didn’t fit in, he made you feel like you didn’t have to…

If you were bullied, he made you feel like there was another place or planet where you wouldn’t be…

If you found yourself attracted to people or things you were told not to mess with, he made you feel like you should…

If you saw a trend before anyone else did, he encouraged you to turn and embrace it…

Before people were cultivated to be themselves, he fell to earth and stood onstage proclaiming that possibility to adoring crowds.

Growing up as a secret subversive in the 70s and 80s, I found myself drawn to this Thin White Duke, this Ziggy Stardust, this Queer Theorist in action. I never had the courage to show my freak flag, but I also felt less ashamed, less self-conscious, of the “other” that existed inside of me because of the garb that he wore, the chances he took, and the songs that he sang.

He’s fine. It is the rest of us I am worried about.

The Long Good One-Act: Class

September 9th, 2015

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  • Class: The Long Good One-Act
  • Time: Mondays 7:30 to 8:30 pm (Oct. 5th-Dec. 7th)
  • Place: The Theatre at St. Claude (2240 St. Claude)
  • Instructor: Jim Fitzmorris (504.638.6326/jim.bhproductions@gmail.com)
  • Cost: 300.00 (150.00 for members of Critical Engagement)
  • Remaining spots: 9

Course Objectives

  1. To complete a series of exercises deliberately designed to allow you to complete the first draft of a full-length play.
  2. Through workshops and rewriting, you will successfully complete a second draft.
  3. Working with both the class and outside actors, you will begin the process of moving your play to the stage in The Spring of next year.

Course Goal

The three steps outlined above are all undertaken to successfully complete a full-length one-act play for production at The Theatre at St. Claude.

Course description

The title says it all. We are throwing you in the deep end. By the end of this ten week process, you will have completed a 20 to 30-page one-act.

This class will begin with a writing exercise designed to help you craft a destination for your play. You will contrive an ending for your drama before writing anything else. While not a fixed point, this ending will serve as a guide for your writing and, hopefully, remove some of the anxiety that lies in the question, with apologies to George Jetson, “how do I get off this crazy thing?!”

From there, you will outline a series of beats, shifts in the dramatic action, that help you arrive upon or alter your contrived ending. We hope these two exercises make it clear that plotting is a crucial part of the design of this class. Not all plays need be subservient to plot, but all plays must have a plot, or they are something other than a play.

Having crafted an ending and an outline, you will return to your ending and make the necessary changes so that your outline and ending seem to have a forward moving logic.

From there, the real writing will begin. Dialogue and stage directions will shape character and those characters will in turn effect the destination of your originally contrived ending. Do not panic; it is part of the design. There is nothing wrong with a contrived play: all plays are contrivances. However, there is something wrong with a forced play. The initial exercises were meant to jumpstart your writing not lock you into a particular form. At its most basic form, the structure of your work in class should look like this…

  1. Contrived Ending
  2. Outline of Play
  3. First Draft
  4. Reading of First Draft
  5. Rewrites
  6. Final Draft

Of course, I have expectations of you. Having shown you our hand by removing the mystery from our methodology, we have a request: make a leap of faith in both your classmates and me. Be open to all critiques and ideas that are offered. I recommend listening intently and writing down the opinions of the table. It is helpful if you only speak by way of asking questions of clarification rather than defending your work.

On the other end of the equation, as constructive critics of the work, you must always begin by asking the question of yourself, “what was this play trying to accomplish?” rather than “helping” another author write the play you had in mind.

Needless to say, since we only meet a few times and by appointment, attendance is an imperative.

How will this class work? After the initial exercises, we will figure out deadlines for your play and schedule appointments. Assess yourself honestly before agreeing to a date as the size of this class leaves little room for maneuver. Make sure you copy enough texts for me and your classmates and that the format is impeccable.

When you are on the critiquing end, honor your fellow student by reading their work as the assignment for that day. Be prepared to talk. Silence is disheartening in a writing seminar… unless it is the silence of awe.

Critical Engagement: Class

June 8th, 2015

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  • Class: Critical Engagement
  • Time: Mondays 6 to 7 pm (July 13th-September 14th)
  • Place: The Theatre at St. Claude (2240 St. Claude)
  • Instructor: Jim Fitzmorris (jim.bhproductions@gmail.com)
  • Cost: 150.00 (free for members of Visceral Punch)

I will be teaching a class entitled Critical Engagement beginning July 13th and lasting until September 14th. Every Monday for ten weeks, I will direct a conversation concerning ways of thinking, discussing and writing about performance.

And it will involve shows that we see around town. I hope you can see where this might be fun…

The class has three objectives.

  1. Create a common vocabulary
  2. Engage that vocabulary into critical thought
  3. Move from lecture into discussion

Let’s break that down shall we?

First, Critical Engagement seeks to create a common vocabulary among peers allowing them to discuss theatrical texts and performance in a way that moves past cliche. In other words, I seek to remove the words suck and awesome from your vocabulary when speaking of performance.

Second, I want to foster a room of people writing both in journals and more formal fashions about the work they see around town. This written work will become part of the discussion, and that discussion is my final objective.

As the class moves towards completion, it is my hope that lectures give way to discussion, and those discussions effectively engage with the students’ use of the vocabulary and their writings about the work they have seen.

Goal: Create theatrical thinkers capable of understanding and articulating why they do or do not enjoy the work they see.

Bringing me to the goal: a common vocabulary shared among thinkers and writers of performance should create an exchange of ideas holding the theatrical community accountable for its work when it is not up to par and effectively celebrating it when that work is successful.

Jim Fitzmorris

new orleans' theatrical pugilism