Tony winner Zoe Caldwell performs new play in a house for 30 people a night

Aaron Gell, The New York Observer, 11/28/11

If you're a visitor to New York, here's a little trick to play on your hotel concierge: Slip him or her a nice tip, say $100, and let it be known that you'd be so eternally grateful for a pair of tickets to Elective Affinities, the new one-woman show starring Zoe Caldwell. It's not going to happen. You'll have no better luck if you're a New Yorker, but the experience will be less fun, because the abject failure will be yours alone.  Elective Affinities, you see, is a very tough ticket, probably the toughest in town. Following a few preview nights, it opens December 2 and will run a mere 12 performances, with an audience of just 30 individuals for each show. The venue is a gracefully appointed Fifth Avenue town house on the Upper East Side. Its precise location is being kept secret, revealed only to the lucky holders of those magic little tickets by email, approximately 48 hours before curtain. The reason for this bit of subterfuge has nothing to do with art. That would be precious, you see, and Ms. Caldwell, who is 78 and has been a professional actress since the age of 9, detests such pretensions. The reason is practical. Should the address be widely disseminated, a desperate mob might descend on the place, and things could become unpleasant. Human unpleasantness-the cruelties we inflict on one another, in the name of protecting those we love, or defending our way of life, or simply because we can-is the subject of David Adjmi's play, an extended monologue in which Alice Hauptmann, a very rich, very civilized old lady, treats a few visitors to tea, lady fingers, and some very uncivilized political views on human rights, genocide and the torture of prisoners.


Playwright's Last Play, performed in his home, shut down by his landlord

Jennifer Schuessler, The New York Times ArtsBeat blog, 10/7/11

The shelves were definitely empty on Monday night when Ed Schmidt wrapped up the final performance of "My Last Play," his one-man show about acknowledging a lifetime of failure in the theater by giving away his collection of 2,000 theater books. The play charmed audiences who came 12 at a time to see the show in Mr. Schmidt's living room in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, starting last fall, each walking away with an inscribed book. But his landlord's lawyers were less charmed, and after a summerlong hiatus the final five performances were held at a bookstore, the powerHouse Arena in Dumbo. In the end, Mr. Schmidt staged more than 90 performances and cultivated a word-of-mouth success that eliminated all the middlemen. He may have also suggested a new economics of selling used books. With some 1,300 tickets sold at $25 each, Mr. Schmidt undoubtedly got more for his collection than a dealer would have offered. A documentary about "My Last Play" is in the works, and Mr. Schmidt also hopes to self-publish a book documenting the production, along with his previous home-based one-man show, "The Last Supper."  "It would be a funny irony," he said. "The play was about giving away all my books, and then at the end I create an actual physical book."


How the DIY living room concert circuit works

Dan Solomon, MTV Hive blog, 4/25/11

When Sharon Van Etten decided that she wanted to be a full-time touring musician in 2006, she didn't wait around for someone to show up with a band and a bus and a booking agent. The first time I saw her play, she was in the living room at a venue in Austin, Texas called Jesse's Bed & Breakfast, which was really just my friend Michael's house. Van Etten says: "Everyone was so hospitable - just people sitting on the living room floor and watching. It was the first sense of community I felt in a really long time, across the country. It was so awesome - just people who wanted to have shows and go to shows." Today, of course, you'd better have a pretty big living room if you want Van Etten to be able to play it. But Van Etten isn't the only performer to come out of this circuit of living room shows in recent years to end up on iPods nationwide; Early Deer Tick shows at Michael's house were legendary, for example. But how does this even happen? To book a tour of living rooms, community spaces, backyards, DIY art galleries and basements, a musician starts by compiling names. Websites like (Book Your Own Fucking Life), which link independent musicians and independent venues, are a good jumping off point. Finding a house in a town that will book musicians (keep an eye out for homemade fliers), and then asking the touring acts for tips on where to play in other cities - that helps, too. So does reaching out to artists, or the makeshift venues listed on their tour dates, via social networking sites like Facebook. It's a decentralized process, to say the least. But with enough motivation, it works. 


In Kansas town, local bands perform in local homes  Maura Wery, Kansas State Collegian newspaper, 3/18/11

From the outside, The Ghost Parlor might appear as a place that hosts bands every month, but it is not a bar or club, but a house where music lovers come to listen to different bands each week. On March 15, five bands played at The Ghost Parlor. Tom Owens, vocalist for Distraction, a band from Chicago, is traveling to the South by Southwest show in Austin, Texas, which begs the question of how he and his band ended up in Manhattan [Kansas]. "(It is) a central location between Chicago and Austin," he said. "Plus, our guitarist used to live here ages ago. We know a few of the bands that used to live here and we had sort of a foot in." There are not any stages for bands to play on within The Ghost Parlor. Most of the bands play in two different areas: the basement or the living room. The Ghost Parlor exemplifies what local music is about: people who live within the community promoting the music within and around it. With its unique story of musicians who have lived within it and the bands that have played inside it, The Ghost Parlor may become the place of legends for anyone who knows about it. Grassroots music is huge in Manhattan, but one just has to take a bit of time to figure out where it all is. The Ghost Parlor is one of many self-named houses that let local bands perform for a chance to expose their music.


New social network connects musicians & fans for intimate, in-home concerts, 11/24/11 is "a global musical social network, slowly built with passion by music lovers for music lovers," in the company's own words. Slowbizz aims to bring together music fans willing to host small musical events in their homes with talented artists willing to perform in such settings. Both artists and hosts must apply for membership on the site, but acceptance is not guaranteed, and Slowbizz says it takes its time deciding. Once accepted, however, both hosts and artists can join the network for free and begin making small concerts possible. Hosts pay 150 Euros to put on a concert, recoupable in the form of admission fees for attendees; they also provide accommodation and a meal for the artist, as well as transportation to the artist's next local gig. Artists, in turn, receive that 150 Euro fee as a guaranteed payment, in addition to any donations or purchases patrons may make at the event. Slowbizz, meanwhile, in exchange for facilitating and promoting a run of gigs, collects a fee of 100 Euro per tour (which must consist of 20 dates as minimum), as well as 30 Euros per date played. This is deducted from the artist's [fee]. This video explains Slowbizz in more detail. As the music industry struggles to reinvent itself in this era of streaming and instant music downloads, a return to small, intimate concerts may well come as a fresh, compelling alternative.

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