Archive for July, 2012

From the Editor’s Perch…

July 28, 2012

We’ve Had Our Suspicions

Criminals as Spiritual Savants?

A country song called the Pittsburgh Stealers is a “cheatin’ song” about a steel mill worker who works the day shift; who’s carrying on with a “southern girl” whose husband works the night shift.  And they’re “stealin’ luuve, every chance” they git.  Sung by a father/daughter team called the Kendalls, it has always been a favorite of mine, if for nothing other than the opening line:  “I found myself in Pittsburgh, working in a steel mill.” 

I loved this idea of life as awakening to find yourself in some situation with an amnesiac’s idea of how this came to be…  finding yourself as this fine melody (with a whining pedal steel) in Pittsburgh having an illicit affair… sneaking around, meeting again and again on back streets.    The sentence, “I found myself in Pittsburgh, working in a steel mill.” for all its commonality seemed filled with awe. It seemed to heap awe on top of the prosaic, the quotidian, the dull, daily, repetitive, common grind of very common people like a dollop of ice cream making an ala mode out of what otherwise was a pretty common slice of life.  And then, serving it up for the higher menu price.

Anyway, while singing along with this song on my way to work – putting a dollop of something better on top of my own very common day –  the uncomfortable thought struck me that I had heard sociopaths on tv and read about sociopaths in prison cells describing their criminal experiences in much the same way… as if the crimes they committed were somehow fate  …as if some other agency were responsible for their life and actions, and they had just watched, as if from a dream. 

Long ago while enrolled in medical school and learning how to interview a patient, I remember the attending saying,  “Listen to the patient.  They are telling you what is wrong.”  And it has struck me throughout life how often people are telling me just that.  So perhaps criminals are not lying to excuse their guilt; perhaps their lives really are aw(e)ful affairs; and we have the criminal as a spiritual savant. 


And it came to me how evil – and seductive – this sense of awe can be; this sense of connection to something much larger and all-knowing and powerful than ourselves.  Can proper religious experience and spirituality be so easily hijacked?  It’s something we search for in the Arts; and yet which is most often found when we pry the top off our Ids, which is, as Webster’s describes it, “the undifferentiated source of the organism’s energy…”,  and let all Hell loose.  – Carl Nelson

Photo of the actress Ruth Tru by Carl Nelson


Seattle Celebrity News!

July 27, 2012

Editor’s Note:  Here’s the latest backstage conversation in the ongoing business of running/saving small theater.  This one continues the saga of Rik Deskin and the Odd Duck.

Save the Duck From the Soup!

“Well, since you won’t be around Ellen, I’ll fill you in a little on my idea. I thought we might have a sort of mini-fundraiser WARP night where we could do rehearsed staged-readings of plays and sketches involving ducks. I thought we might charge each participant (i.e. writer or actor five bucks and any interested audience non-participants eight bucks and pass along all the cash to Rik. we could possibly even have Rik introduce it. I thought that we could do Donna’s “Devil Ducks” sketch, my little play “Quack You!” end with your song about ducks that you had Natalya and Mari do there silly dance to a few shows ago. This isn’t enough for a whole show yet, so we’d need more material.

The way I have it envisioned, is not as a full production, but similar to a bumper contest. We could even make a party out of it. The idea is to BOTH stimulate interest in WARP and give a little help to the Odd Duck.


I kind of like my suggestion for a title:


“Save the Duck From the Soup!”


These are just my thoughts, subject to revision by group-think, of course.” – group e mail from Scot Bastian

Here’s What YOU Do!

Just a little shout-out to old WARPers to show up at the WARP workshop, which meets nearly every week, but attendance has been a little thin this summer–probably because the very nice weather (many are out of town for vacation.)  This Tuesday is particularly important because we want to discuss a yet-to-be-scheduled fund raiser for the Odd Duck Theater.  Come on out, bring your plays and your acting talent.  For more info about the group, check our website at

 Location: Odd Duck Theater, 1214 10th Avenue, Seattle WA 98122

 Time:  7PM Tuesdays–particularly this Tuesday July 31st.

Photo by Carl Nelson



From the Editor’s Perch

July 21, 2012

How Much Justice Can You Afford?

Given the World as it Is.

Okay.  So I’m nearing retirement age and still just figuring out how things work.  One of the things I’m not going to like about dying is not knowing how the story ends… and then not stopping off for coffee afterwards, with a smart and insightful companion, to sort out how it all fit together.  But enough of that.

I was in a bar years ago talking with a new acquaintance – who was a bit of a hothead.  A fellow next to him interrupted us, hoping, I suppose, to be included in the conversation.  My acquaintance told him to butt out.  The fellow, being I suppose a little miffed and a little drunk, made a retort.  My acquaintance took him by both shoulders and tossed him off his stool where he lit on the floor and went sliding.  The bartender jumped the counter in a blink and hussled the guy out the front door before anyone had a chance to say much of anything… except for the guy who was shouting his indignation the whole way. 

I was puzzled at the time, because it seemed that my acquaintance was the person who did the violence and so I had expected him to be the one tossed out of the bar.  The moral I drew at the time was that it is easier to toss out the loser than the winner, of a fight.  But as time has passed I’ve considered that there was probably more at play: the bartender had probably been hoping to remove this bothersome patron from his bar, and my acquaintance’s behavior gave this bartender his opportunity.

This principle shows itself in the workplace.  Someone does something to you that is absolutely wrong.  No question.  But before you create a stink, and rally the others to the justice of your crusade, you’d best ask yourself… who does the boss like better?  Or rather, who fits in around here better?  You may be an exemplary employee, but if you’re the Odd Duck – usually it’s best to keep your mouth shut, retain your low profile, and proceed to plan B. 

This is probably the thinking of a lot of illegal immigrants…  and Poets, too – if you could knock a practical thought into their heads.  – The Editor

Photo by Carl Nelson

Seattle Celebrity News!

July 19, 2012


“Guys and Gals,

Eclectic Theater Company and Odd Duck Studio are not closing down because of a 3-day pay or vacate notice. We’ve made a payment and are making another payment today and have communicated with the property management, letting them know that we intend to be caught up by the end of the month.

This is not a hopeless situation. It’s an opportunity to get back on track. With fiscal sponsorship from the Shunpike, our IndieGoGo Campaign, Box Office from future shows and anticipated production rental revenue, we will get caught up and stabilized.

So do not hesitate to make a monetary donation of any amount you can muster either through our Click and Pledge button on our website at or via a contribution to our IndieGoGo Campaign here:”  – Rik Deskin

Photos by Carl Nelson

Seattle Celebrity News!

July 16, 2012

Editor’s note:  Rik Deskin gives us good insight as to just how the numbers pencil out when running an under 99 seat black box theater… and the travails from running any live theater venue.

Rik tries to manage a plethora of theater and live comedy and keep it all in the black.

A Note About Fiscal Responsibility

By Rik Deskin

Earlier today, I got word from my monthly renter of one of the three studios that make up the Odd Duck Studio that we had received a 3 day pay or vacate notice from the property management. The amount due now is $5050.69.

This is not a surprise as we have been two-three months behind in the rent for several months now. A very large rental and a few smaller rentals canceled their shows at the last minute in May and June. An actual worse repeat of what occurred last summer due to the size of one of the rentals being a 3 month-long booking.

I of course had no other recourse but to solicit other companies/groups looking for space. No one was looking that late in the year. So I put together a summer series of comedy shows to help fill the weeks partially. None of them has sold more than half capacity (yet as we have one more tomorrow night) and three did not even make the rent for the evening. And one had a performer oblivious to the policy I had put into place that rent must be paid before performers in a box office split, demanding reimbursement of their expenses or face small claims court, putting us behind by an additional $85. Because being the nice, easy-going person that I am, I wrote them that check even though we could not afford to. That was the last vestige of fiscal irresponsibility that I will allow.

In May we instituted the policy of shows that are co-productions, resulting in a box office split, the first $125 that comes through the door per night, always goes to the rental of the theater. The next $125 goes to the performers/co-producer. After that, it’s a 50/50 split. This reduces Eclectic Theater Company’s risk, still makes performance space accessible to groups that cannot afford a rental, and puts the onus on the co-producer to sell tickets. This has been an occasional problem in the past because some co-producers failed to make much effort in promoting their shows, resulting in reduced attendance.

We also now have a new invoicing software so that we can efficiently manage rental productions and are enforcing the 25% deposit and no cancellations less than 30 days before, otherwise if you cancel in less than 30, you are responsible for still paying the rental. We refuse to be put in this economic situation again so will be stringent on this policy.

Eclectic Theater Company, out of a desire to give back to the theatre artists, used to give space credit as a form of compensation. That is no longer economically viable. We will always strive to give a stipend based on box office after rental costs are met. That is all we can do for now.

The fiscal reality is that we have monthly rent, electricity and insurance to pay. That does not go away.

Because we are being as fiscally responsible as we can be with less revenue than we actually need to run the place, we’ve fallen behind again.

Live Comedy: Tossing wadded balls of money at them, or anything valuable, is generally appreciated

Add to that a lapse in Eclectic Theater Company’s ability to fundraise through a revocation of our non-profit status right before we were about to receive a gift of $5000 in May, we were injured by not being able to accept that gift a few months ago.

Because we’re trying to be fiscally responsible with no paid staff and only a few volunteers, we applied to the Shunpike’s Associate Artist Program. They excel in fiscal responsibility and the business of art. And they are now Eclectic Theater Company’s fiscal sponsor and will be doing the back office work that being a volunteer, I never had the time to focus on because as an unemployed actor, my first priority is seeking employment.

We’ve also taken on a partner, in House of Cards Theatre Company, who are paying $200 a month in order to regularly produce three shows throughout the year and help to upgrade and beautify the interior and exterior of Odd Duck Studio.
This weekend members from House of Cards Theatre Company, The Schoolyard, and The Confrontational Theater Project are teaming up to replace the theater seating with newer seating.

The ecology at Odd Duck Studio is and has always been very fragile. Our monthly rent is $1500. We have Alleged Tattoo that leases a space monthly from us paying a third of the rent ($500). We have WARP which nearly always rents Tuesday night from us which is another $108-$135 a month. The rest has to be made up via box office revenue or additional rentals. Most months there are an abundance of performances that help us make ends meet. I like to stack the deck and hope that some shows sell even when some don’t. And hope that concessions sales contribute.
Today after posting the initial announcement of being sponsored by Shunpike and my renewed plea to donors, I received a reply asking why we need to raise money for rent again when we just did that last year, raising $2075. This person questioned our fiscal responsibility.

This is what I need and ask from the community:

1. If you have booked a rental, please pay your 25% deposits now. If you can pay the full rental booked, even better. Current tally of invoiced rental revenue that is outstanding is $9978.50. 25% of that is $2494.62. That deposit amount alone gets us nearly half way to being caught up.

2. If you have rented space and have not paid yet, please do so now.

3. If you are a producer and have a show you want to rent space for, we will bump Eclectic Theater Company’s shows in favor of the rental revenue. As long as we are not already in production.

4. If you are a producer that can’t afford to rent but have a show or shows that you know you can sell tickets for, we’ll consider continuing the co-production box office split scenario based on the policies noted above in paragraph four. The key to this being successful is that you must market and promote your show. Be responsible.

5. If you can buy tickets to shows, that’s always good.

6. If you have loaned us money in the past that we have been unable to pay back, please consider letting that be a donation for which we will request a retroactive donation receipt from Shunpike (if that is even possible). Or continue to be lenient with us paying you back. We will eventually.

7. Donate to our cause. We are an important facilitator and incubator in Seattle for Theatre, Improv, Stand-Up and Sketch Comedy, Screenplays, Independent Films and have a great history and legacy of moving theatre and film artists forward in their professional careers.

8. If you cannot give financial gifts, consider volunteering in some capacity. We want to build the company into a stable organization that can actually pay artists and staff. We can only do that with people engaged in helping to set Eclectic Theater Company up for success.

Thank you for your belief, faith and support in the work that we do at Odd Duck Studio.

“And while I’m at it, how about a Celebrity Drink?”

Photos by Carl Nelson

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