Q. So you're a news junkie?
KING: I got hooked by my wife. You'd be surprised, or
maybe you wouldn't be surprised, being that I'm around John Mellancamp a lot — he and I are doing this play. But it's the news 24-7. Always on.
Q.What's this play?
KING:It's called Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. It's a
Q.What's the plan with that?
KING: Hopefully we'll open out of town next year. Maybe in Atlanta, if they have any water left.
Q:When next year?
KING: My guess it probably like June or July. We're at the
point where we've got the director. The music's set. The book's set. We're fairly set. At least until audiences turn up. If they turn up their noses then things change. We're supposed to be, maybe in Atlanta, maybe in Boston, I've
heard talk about California. But we've got to open out of town and see if people like what we've got.
Q:What's the gist of the story?
KING: [Mellencamp] had bought a place in Indiana by a
lake, and he said that the person had told him the place was haunted. Well, you hear that — when you buy a place that's been around for a while in the woods, people are going to say it's haunted. [Apparently], there was some kind of tragedy that involved two brothers and a girl in the fifties — one of the brothers shot the other one apparently in some kind of a drunken game. Killed him. So the other brother and the girl jumped in the car to take the kid to the hospital, because they thought maybe they could save him. They ran into a tree and they were both killed. So apparently the ghosts haunted the place. So John asked me, "Do you think we could turn this into a play?"In a way, he came to me at the right time. He's been doing what he does for a long time, and I've been doing what I do for a long time. John has tried things, he's tried to keep the music fresh, he's continued to release new music, [to] try different things and different formats. And he wanted to graze, to try this idea of doing dramatic music. I've always been up for something that was a little different — just keep turning the earth over, so you don't dig yourself a rut and furnish it, you know what I mean? That's how we got together.
Q: So you expanded that little snippet of a story?
KING: Yeah. That's my job, to take something like that,
which is fairly generic, and make a story out of it that's unique. I [wrote a little and Mellencamp did some music] and then I went to him and said, "We've reached a decision point here. Neither of us knows s--- about theater. The only
thing I know is that, at this point, it either becomes like Andrew Lloyd Webber — and everybody sings everything — or it can be like My Fair Lady, where people actually talk in between the singing. They go blah blah blah and then [he sings] "I could have danced all night." And then they blah blah blah some more.
Q: Well, if it opens in New York, I'll check it out.
KING: It probably will. We're a bit radioactive, because
it has a subtext about homosexuality and it's set in the fifties so they bandy about a lot of pejorative words that were common coinage back then. But, Tennessee Williams got away with it.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The abominable Western twang which is her apology for the English language, has already been accepted with indulgence by the admiring and lachyrmose observers - including the weeping writer - of her acting.
The versimilitude in Miss Morris's acting is quite as noticeable as the intensity of power which lifts it so high above the level of talent. This acting has a haunting and ghastly sense of frank reality which - aside from its temporary effect or moral result - is in the deepest manner tragic. It is full of passion subtle force and pathos. It is almost an exact showing of the mournful wreck of a mind which is entirely ruled and blown by the tempest of emotion.
...I trailed about after Desdemona--picked up the fatal
handkerchief--spoke a line here and there as Shakespeare wills she should, and bided my time as all Emilias must. Now I had noticed that many Emilias when they gave the alarm--cried out their "Murder! Murder!" against all the noise of the tolling bells, and came back upon the stage spent, and without voice or breath to finish their big scene with, and people thought them weak in consequence. A
long hanging bar of steel is generally used for the alarm, and blows struck upon it send forth a vibrating clangor that completely fills a theatre. I made an agreement with the prompter that he was not to strike the bar until I held up my hand to him. Then he was to strike one blow each time I raised my hand, and when I threw up both hands he was to raise Cain, until I was on the stage again. So
with throat trained by much shouting, when in the last act I cried: "I care not for thy sword; I'll make thee known,/Though I lost twenty lives." I turned, and crying "Help! help, ho! help!" ran off shouting, "The Moor has killed my mistress!" then, taking breath, gave the long-sustained, ever-rising, blood-curdling cry: "Murder! Murder! Murder!" One hand up, and one long clanging peal of a bell. "Murder! Murder! Murder!" One hand up and bell. "Murder! Murder! Murder!" Both hands up, and pandemonium broken loose--and, oh, joy! the audience applauding furiously.
"One--two--three--four," I counted with closed lips, then with a
fresh breath I burst upon the stage, followed by armed men, and with one last long full-throated cry of "Murder! the Moor has killed my mistress!" stood waiting for the applause to let me go on. A trick? yes, a small trick--a mere pretence to more breath than I really had, but it aroused the audience, it touched their imagination. They saw the horror-stricken woman racing through the night--waking the empty streets to life by that ever-thrilling cry of "Murder!"
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Doubt, a more recent play, names itself after the theme of the play. While at some point in time this might have been frowned upon (should Shakespeare have called Hamlet "Indecision?"), these days, high school English teachers are overmatched by the reductive power of text messaging and YouTube. As a playwright that is alive, you are well-served to consider the theme of your play as its title. It will only help underpaid teachers explain what the hell is going on.
The Odd Couple is such a good title they turned it into a TV show. Write that down.
Monday, November 26, 2007
He compares the yawning void of our criticism to the recent publication of Michael Billington's State of the Nation. (Number 970 on Amazon in the UK.)
Forgive me if I indulge in a bit of woozy nostalgia, but it's hard to
resist. With the publication in England this month of Michael Billington's State of the Nation, his history of straight drama in the postwar UK, I have to confess a little cross-Atlantic envy. (And I just checked this morning on its sales rank at Amazon.co.uk - number 970! Not bad for a book on drama and theatre in the electronic-media-soaked television age.) Meanwhile, in Australia, critic
Hilary Glow has just published a book about that country's recent drama (and "the public agenda," as the subtitle of the book has it), Power Plays.
We could use a book like Billington's about postwar American drama; a lot has happened here since 1945 too. But who would write it? Billington is the chief theatre critic for the daily print Guardian; if you're waiting for a similar volume from one of the current New York Times critics for theatre, for example, you may have a long wait.
Who would write that volume here in the U.S?
I have a perfect candidate. Arthur Holmberg taught a fascinating class I took at Harvard Extension called, appropriately, American Drama Since 1945.
Mr. Holmberg, aside from being a nice fellow, and one one of the best lecturers I have ever had, is author of several volumes, including The Theatre of Robert Wilson. (Which I believe he was writing when I took the course.)
Don't know where he is currently, but I believe he still works with the American Repertory Theatre and teaches as Brandeis.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The Indian tells of how he took the rubble to moonlit forest and laid the pieces out. As he tells this he pulls pieces from the dirt and begins to lay them out, adjusting them. "A straight piece here. A straight piece there, until... An indian woman appears, holding a basket. He is delighted.
The Old Man rememembers a monastery he built on hillside, and the grass beneath it.
Geoff Edgers' reporting on the City Hall fights with Mayor Menino is here.
Monday, November 19, 2007
After all, of all the things I am thankful for in this era of torture,
terror and trauma, the enduring weird brilliance of this Men Without Hats video is up there. Not to speak of Pat Benatar shaking her stuff. Or Aha's pre-CGI genius. Or the Sledgehammer classic. Or Lionel Ritchie at his very very worst. Or Don Johnson's lime-green guitar.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
A must read.
Here is just a taste of his Rules for the Writing of Plays
5. Choose whether or not you will write a Drama or a Comedy before you decide if anyone in the play has cancer.
6. That joke you heard over coffee that seemed so darn great when your friend explained it in detail, his eyebrows going up and down while he did all the funny voices? Do not use that joke. It is not as good as you think.
There's more. Enjoy
Friday, November 16, 2007
Louise Kennedy is completely underwhelmed, as is Jenna Scherer in the Herald. While, Thomas Garvey calls it the Best Show of the Year.
Jenna Scherer in the Herald wins the I don't think this is exactly what you meant award:
But “Streamers” is not about war. It’s about untested young men thrown together in tight quarters and faced with an overwhelming possibility.
Nah, doesn't sound like war at all.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
She has a very interesting line of thought in the essay. When she first saw success on the stages of New York she kept being labelled as a "feminist playwright." She thought this was strange because she never considered her plays overtly feminist. (I agree there.) In fact, because one play, Spike Heels, incorporated an incident of sexual harassment it strengthened this view of her. However, as Rebeck points out, the play was not about sexual harassment.
This problem of being identified as a feminist or woman playwright soon went away, but only because it was replaced with a new identity that she has yet to shake until this day. She wryly explains, "I became known as the Playwright Who Writes for Television." This label was affixed after she wrote an essay about her decision to write for NYPD Blue. That essay made its way into the pages of American Theatre and, well, all hell broke loose.
She writes about how very few reviewers can write a review of her work without somehow mentioning this fact.
While that is the overall structure of her introduction, the piece does contains several contradictions and unsupported toss offs that make it appear incredibly defensive. She keeps saying it is no big deal for her to decide to write for television to point where, (I am sorry to any of her fans and to Ms. Rebeck herself,) it really starts to sound as if she is trying to convince herself that it is OK.
For the record, I could really give a crap less if a playwright also writes for television. One blogger put it so succintly, (I can't remember which one):
If Diana Son or Theresa Rebeck were having to take a job in a
bank or as a waitress to support their playwriting we wouldn't be having these discussions.
And I'll go even further: there is some damn good television being written out there.
In The Huffington Post, playwright Jon Robin Baitz pens more or less an open letter to Charles Isherwood, the Critic for the New York Times, in response to Isherwood's article (that was half-facetious by Isherwood's own admission) about how playwrights who are currently writing for television should use the strike to maybe write a few plays.
Baitz criticizes the critics at the Times, as we all do. His main thesis is that the power of Times's critics, and their hostility playwrights doesn't help the situation. But then, surprisingly, Baitz gives a slap in the mouth to an up and coming playwright, and Pulitzer Prize finalist Will Eno.
As a critic, Isherwood is not without value, though many people are still scratching their heads over his almost Olympian celebration of an inscrutable monologue a few years ago at a Union Square theater.
That "monologue" would be Will Eno's Thom Pain which had more bravery in its concept than Baitz's last three plays combined. (Baitz had to back off and publish a P.S. apologizing for taking a swipe at another playwright, probably because he got a lot flack. But he still doesn't name the playwright in his apology.)
At least Rebeck has no problem actually naming those she is outright envious of as far as reviews go. In the aforementioned introduction to her anthology she calls Mamet a misogynist, and admits she was angry at Frank Rich for expressing relief, upon the opening of Mamet's Oleanna, that somebody had finally written a play about sexual harassment. After all, Rebeck says, she had written a play about sexual harassment.
But wait a minute, a few paragraphs before wasn't Ms. Rebeck insisting that her play wasn't about sexual harassment?
After reading these apologies by two leading dramatists I start to feel a little embarassed for them. It seems pettiness and jealousy tend to get the better of them over a real discussion of the issues.
It is depressing on another front as well. It seems that two dramatists who are incredibly successful, (Rebeck has a play on Broadway and Baitz just had one there a little bit ago,) let the critics get to them.
I will admit, I have no idea of the pressures of being a playwright that collects commissions from around the country and is able to get a reading of their latest plays at any number of regional or New York-based theatres. I am sure it must be hell. However, I do empathize with the pain of a bad review, but please.
I can never tell what Baitz and Rebeck are really complaining about here. Reviews are really in the eye of the beholder sometimes. Baitz and Rebeck rarely receive horrible reviews from the Times. From what I have read over the years, the reviews range from mixed to very positive.
Here is Ben Brantley on Rebeck's Omnium Gatherum: (Review titled "A Feisty Feast of Wicked Wit.")
But for a work that might at first be taken as an exceedingly talky allegory, ''Omnium Gatherum'' sustains a fluid, frantic sense of paradox that feels remarkably close to everyday life in the wake of 9/11. Its characters are irresistibly given to breaking off from discussion of cosmic truths to devote equal passion to the taste of well-cooked salmon or Lydia's riveting confessions about her love life.
Ms. Rebeck and Ms. Gersten-Vassilaros savor these moments of pleasure, refusing to discount them as merely frivolous. The most refreshing surprise of ''Omnium Gatherum'' is that it doesn't merely reiterate Sartre's dictum that hell is other people. It hints that heaven, however fleetingly it is felt, is other people, too.
Not a mention of her television writing in the whole review.
Here is a sample of Charles Isherwood's positive review of Rebeck's The Scene:
Ms. Rebeck’s dialogue bristles with biting observations about the obsessions of aspiring New Yorkers who continually rub up against more successful versions of themselves. ...
But “The Scene” certainly makes up in forceful comedy what it may now lack in psychological nuance, and Ms. Rebeck’s dark-hued morality tale contains enough fresh insights into the cultural landscape to freshen what is essentially a classic boy-meets-bad-girl story.
After reading the latest writings from Mr. Baitz and from Ms. Rebeck, I am only left to conclude that they simply want the reviews Mr. Mamet occasionally gets or that Will Eno received for Thom Pain.
So do I, but it is not that simple. At all.
In other words, Baitz and Rebeck don't really have a problem with Times reviews, they just have a problem with who is getting good ones. After all, how can they not get raves when they are being produced all over the country and on Broadway?
Oh, it must be because they write for television!
After today, having no health insurance in Massachusetts is NOT an option.
November 15th is the deadline to avoid a $200.00 penalty on your state income tax.
If your yearly income is $31,000.00 or under you can qualify for a subsidized plan.
Up until even this week it is amazing how many freelance artists I meet who are completely unaware of the mandate. So this is just a friendly bulletin.
Of course, the $200.00 penalty pales in comparison to the cost of some of the plan options if you make over the $31,000.00. For instance, if my employer decided to drop health insurance as a benefit right now, my expenses would go up about 3-4K a year. (My employer covers a portion.)
For those in Stagesource, you may want to look at their health plans which, at last look, seem as reasonable as those in the MA Connector.
At any rate, get familiar with the MA Commonwealth Connector website. Or call them.
Any David Hare type playwrights in Massachusetts? Start sharpening your pencils and you could come up with a play with about this experiment in Health Care.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
“The people who complained were concerned about the very narrow focus on Santa Claus,” French said yesterday. “The ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ is not in any way, shape or form tied to our curriculum. That was brought to my attention by parents.”
“It’s a wonderful story about a miracle on 34th Street, and it’s all about Santa Claus,” French said. “It doesn’t really tie into the McCall Middle School curriculum.”
“It is something we teach in the sixth-grade curriculum. They read an abridged version of the Dickens classic,” French said. “None of that is true for ‘Miracle on 34th Street.’ ”
Don't be afraid to attempt the great themes: death, war, sexuality,
identity, fate, God, Existence, politics, love.
To which I'll add Christmas.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
A middle school in Winchester is cancelling a planned trip to a controversial show at Stoneham Theatre. The show has "objectionable" content.
Read the e-mail from the principal of the school here.
Oh, by the way, the show is Miracle on 34th Street.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Comp, John Shea's Somerville-based play that explores the bonds between working class brothers continues at the Boston Playwrights Theatre.
The Lyric's production of Dying City, continues through this weekend.
Sheila Callaghan's Dead City, of which I have heard good things, goes into its second weekend at Apollinaire Theatre Company (Formerly Theaterzone) in Chelsea.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
It is mostly Associated Press content, but Jenna Scherer is regularly covering theatre of all sizes there, while also still filing her reviews at the Weekly Dig.
Interesting enough, the Herald allows comments on articles and reviews. Will the Globe be far behind?
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
As we first reported a month ago, Oddfellows Hall—the Capitol Hill home to the Velocity dance studio, Century ballroom, and a number of other arts organizations—has been sold, and there's been much anxious murmuring since about what the plans might be. Well, the buyer, Ted Schroth of GTS Development (which also did Trace Lofts), tells me he plans to send out a press release on Monday outlining his plans.
Some insight can already be gleaned from the permit status report
for the project on the Seattle DPD Web site. As our Sandi Kurtz observes, it proproses changes to the 1st and 4th floors of the four-story building.
Specifically, the developers (via their architects) are proposing to change the usage of some spaces from "assembly" (theater, meeting space, etc.) to B (business use, usually offices).
Says Sandi: "The changes that are germane to the arts use of the
building are the ones on the 4th floor, where Velocity operates the old Seattle Mime Theater space, now called the Chamber Theater. [It's where Ghost Light is putting on Rosencrantz right now.] It's been a relatively popular space for artists who self-produce — it was fairly inexpensive, both as a theater and as a rehearsal space, it came with a lighting set-up in place, it's in a well-know building.It looks from the job description that the new owners would be closing that space if they follow through with their proposed remodel."
Also, more at The Stranger.
Bernice is hard-assed, foul-mouthed, brow-beating and...a nun!
When a timid, art school drop-out, Charlotte shows up looking for a job, it seems like Bernice has a new victim to terrorize. But Charlotte may have just the thing that the good Sister needs...
The perfect mural!
Sister Snell by Mark Troy (Directed by me and Starring Ebony A. Mills, Leeta White, and Kara Dunne,) is just one of the short plays on the bill at the SLAMBoston this coming Tuesday, November 13th at the Boston Center for the Arts.
The evening's offerings includes a play by Writing Life x3 blogger and playwright Patrick Gabridge.
The Slam is a co-production of Another Country and Company One.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Well, for one thing (and stop me if you've heard this one before),
movies are different from plays. This movie, in particular, derives most of its appeal from exactly those qualities that are impossible to translate to the stage: the way it looks, the way it sounds, and its deft marriage of cinematography and soundtrack to create a polished, subtly off-kilter, and utterly idiosyncratic representation of 1980s suburbia. And its weaknesses, unfortunately, land precisely in those areas most likely to be highlighted by adapting it for live performance: the lapses into pretension and incoherence of
Thus many lines, lines that sound vaguely cool or Meaningful when
heard in passing as we're immersed in the gleaming surfaces of Kelly's cinematically surreal world, thud with painful portentousness when they're uttered by a person standing right in front of us onstage.
But in attempting to evoke the look of a quick cut or a two-shot, Stern sometimes ignores the imperatives of theatrical space: We're asked, impossibly, to focus on both outer edges of the stage at once, or we're reduced to watching Donnie and his girlfriend (the suitably brooding Dan McCabe and coltish Flora Diaz) stand dead center, with nothing visually going on in the vast spaces around them, as if we could crop out the background as effortlessly as a camera does. We can't, and imaginative theater doesn't ask us to.
I have an idea of what she is talking about, but it is difficult from the the description to completely agree. I haven't seen the production of Donnie Darko, but I have seen hundreds of theatrical productions stage moments in the ways she is mentioning.
For instance, having two people with nothing visual going on in the vast space around them can be used as a powerfull suggestion of overwhelming circumstances or a feeling of being small in the scale of the universe.
Anybody out there seen the show yet, and comment on what the review is mentioning.
***As a side note, film critic Jim Emerson, I believe hits the nail on the head with his analysis of why the film Donnie Darko is so lasting, in a cult sort of way. Here he talks about Frank, the gigantic Rabbit that haunts Donnie throughout the film:
There are other bunnies and stuffed animals (and Smurfs and cartoon rabbits from "Watership Down" in the deleted scenes and "Director's Cut") throughout the movie. But the big one is, of course, Frank. Donnie knows his sister isn't just sleeping with her cuddly stuffed bunny anymore -- she's sleeping with a full-sized and (relatively) hairy man. That Frank has the body of a stuffed animal and the head of a vicious metallic animal seems to be an indication of Donnie's mixed-up feelings toward him (fear, arousal, rage, respect, envy), as the male who's bedding his sister.
Frank is a manifestation of that ambivalent aspect of Donnie's own erupting id, his stifled/frustrated hormonal urges, his feelings of being trapped in his own body and his own brain between childhood and the full-blown sexuality he so desires but knows he can't act on (with Elizabeth, anyway). How appropriate that he's attending Middlesex High School; when it comes to sex, he's stuck in the middle.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Serious artists are inevitably aware of kitsch: they fear it, are
constantly on guard against it, and if they flirt with kitsch it is with a sense of risk, knowing that all artistic effort is wasted should you ever cross the line. No artist better illustrates this than Mahler. Time and again in his great symphonies he finds himself tempted: he himself admitted it, though in other words, to Freud. The mass-produced nostalgia of the Hapsburg empire is waiting at the door of consciousness and could burst in at any time. Waiting, too, is that winsome, folk-inspired evocation of adolescent love, with its horn chords and lingering upbeats, its lilting rhythm and familiar tonal phrases. Listen to the slow movement of the Sixth Symphony, and you will sense it hovering out of earshot, held back by phrases just that bit more angular than the cliché requires, by Wagnerized harmonies, and by an instrumentation that lets in a breeze of saving irony. In the adagietto of the Fifth Symphony, by contrast,
kitsch is triumphant. The result is film music par excellence—and used as such by Visconti, in his kitsched-up version of Mann's Death in Venice.
Can we escape from kitsch? In real life, it surrounds us on every side. Pop music, cartoons, Christmas cards—these are familiar enough. But the escape routes are also kitsched. Those who flee from the consumer society into the sanctuary of New Age religion, say, find that the walls are decorated with the familiar sticky clichés and that the background music comes from Ketelbey via Vangelis and Ravi Shankar. The art museums are overflowing with abstract kitsch,
and the concert halls have been colonized by a tonal minimalism that suffers from the same disease. Nor is the world of politics immune.
Art resists the disease; if it ceases to resist, it is no longer art.
The writers, composers, and painters whom we admire are those who portray the uncorrupted soul, who show us how we might feel sincerely, even in an age when fake emotion is the currency of daily life. The task of criticism is surely to guide us to these artists and to teach us to measure our lives by their standard. It should dwell on the art of the past, which offers such moving instances of humanity in its exalted and self-redemptive state. And it should select from our contemporaries poets like Rosanna Warren and Geoffrey Hill, composers like Arvo Pärt, and novelists like Ian McEwan: not that they are without faults, but they have retained the ability to distinguish the true from the false emotion and so offer comfort to the contrite heart.
If we don't believe Cyrano or any man could have had a nose that size, Rostand's climax is risible, too. If we argue with regard to Long Day's Journey that all of those conversations, all of those confessions, all of those concerns, all of those discoveries, all of those speculations and emotional disfigurements, all of those cataclysms and superlative arias could not possibly have occurred within the space of a single day, O'Neill's best play (some say) is fruitless to fathom.
And this is the challenge critics face: What is the tripwire for dramatic plausibility? I'd argue that Adam may have one tripwire and I another -- vive le difference, as they say. To demean A Bronx Tale because it may indulge in literary or dramatic liberties with a set of known facts for for the purposes of storytelling, however, has to be viewed as a little bit hypocritical; O'Neill did rather the same thing.
Vive le difference is right!
Indeed, I am grateful for this observation of Leonard's because it helps explain to me his very positive review of Theresa Rebek's Mauritius. (Much as Leonard wrote his post to explain a disagreement in a review of one of his colleagues.) Unfortunately, when I saw the production of the play here in Boston my suspension of disbelief only hung on by a thread after the first scene or two, and then it snapped soon after. However, for others the suspension obviously held steady enough for them to enjoy the play and many of the themes and elements Mr. Jacobs points to in his review. For me, untethered from plausability, all of those themes seemed like, well... just that, themes - abstract concepts disconnected from each other, the world outside the theater and my life up to this point.
One of my favorite Movie Answer Man columns on Roger Ebert's Site was the following exchange about the Michael Bay Movie Transformers:
Question from Reader: A unique thing happened while I was watching "Transformers." I was not drawn out of the reality of the scenes by the digital effects. Certainly there were digital effects present, but Michael Bay handled them with a different mindset than most contemporary action directors. My biggest issue with computerized F/X is that it breaks the magic of movies by isolating the action from the drama. By staying close on his digital subjects, slowing down and limiting their movements, and maintaining human perspective within the shots, he was able to produce some amazing effects. Vincent Santino, Burbank, Calif.
Roger Ebert. I confess that when a Chevy Camaro turned
into a towering robot, I was drawn out of the reality.
(Emphasis is from the original quote.)
I know the waterboard personally and intimately. Our staff was required to undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no exception.
I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of
hundreds of people. It has been reported that both the Army and Navy SERE school's interrogation manuals were used to form the interrogation techniques employed by the Army and the CIA for its terror suspects. What is less frequently reported is that our training was designed to show how an evil totalitarian enemy would use torture at the slightest whim.
Having been subjected to this technique, I can say: It is risky but
not entirely dangerous when applied in training for a very short period. However, when performed on an unsuspecting prisoner, waterboarding is a torture technique - without a doubt. There is no way to sugarcoat it.
In the media, waterboarding is called "simulated drowning,"
but that's a misnomer. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim IS drowning.
I have had the experience of being in a simulated POW experience a couple of times. As Military Intelligence linguist we did this annually as a joint training exercise combined with the Military Police and Military Intelligence Interrogators.
While never submitted to anything like what goes on at SERES, I have been shoved, hogtied, left in the sun with no water, been forced to kneel on gravel for hours, and much more.
I have written a play about these experiences, but it isn't finished yet. I started it before 9/11, and now, with the torture debate so critical and present, it seems very topical, but it needs some changes. Though I did have, at its core, an idea of examining what confinement and information and intelligence gathering mean to us as a society.