These Streets: The OK Hotel

Alright, ladies and gents! It’s time to voyage into a late great location of ‘90s past. None other than the OK Hotel! The OK Hotel was originally a bar and music venue located under the viaduct in Pioneer square. The Hotel was originally built in 1917 to house workers in the downtown and waterfront areas. It closed down in 1971 and reopened as a cafe in 1990, just in time to host the likes of Nirvana, Maxi Badd, The Gits7 Year BitchKristen Barry, Bell and other touring acts from around the country.


Fun fact! Tia Matthews, one of the lovely godmothers of These Streets owned the club with her husband Steve Freeborn, who now owns Royal Room and Rendezvous. Sally Johnson of Faster Tiger,one of our oral history interviewees was a waitress there in early ’90′s. She later went on to book the club.

The OK Hotel, and several other historic buildings, was damaged by the Nisqually earthquake in 2001, causing the OK Hotel to close down after 15 years of service. The OK Hotel now serves as residential housing and artist lofts. It is open to the public every First Thursday for the Art Walk.

These Streets: Tess Lotta!

A shout out to Tess Lotta for an excellent addition to our oral history project! Tess Lotta and Gretta were in a band called Maxi Badd, which was later called Danger Gens. Several of their rocking songs will be featured in the upcoming production of “These Streets!”

And here is a song by the notorious “Danger Gens” themselves! Enjoy “Muscle” written by Tess Lotta (bass and vocals), Gretta Harley is on guitar (and backup vocals) and David Parnes on drums!

Muscle by Danger Gens


Image: Gretta Harley (left) and Tess Lotta at The Project Room on August 13, 2012

These Streets: Free Pussy Riot!

Today the three members of the band “Pussy Riot” faced their sentencing in Russia.

“A Moscow judge sentenced three members of the provocative punk band Pussy Riot to two years in prison each on hooliganism charges on Friday following a trial that has drawn international outrage as an emblem of Russia’s intolerance of dissent.”

Judge Marina Syrova convicted the women of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, saying they had “crudely undermined social order”.

This is a video of the sentencing from the BBC: BBC Sentencing Coverage

Here is a clip of the so called “offensive” performance that landed them two years in jail:

Pussy Riot’s Performance

and here are some pictures of the women on trial:


These Streets: Thanks Charles R. Cross

We want to send out a big thank you to our Godmutha Charles R. Cross for the support, for the paper, the books, the party, the continued recording of Seattle rock history. And you know, just general awesomeness. Enjoy this link to a great interview of Charles in honor of last weekend’s Rocket anniversary party at the Feedback Lounge.


These Streets: Squid Row


Photo courtesy Fred Roth

“Everything in this town used to be something else” -These Streets

Squid Row was a classic hangout for the underground youth of Seattle. Residing on the now demolished 500 block of Pine, it was a small and steady staple of the early grunge scene, it hosted several well known and not so well known bands. Like most great venues in Seattle, Squid Row has since become a condo. But, all the blurry memories after too many beers still remain.

 Tell us your favorite memory of Squid Row and for even more great stories about the 500 block of Pine check out this great article from The Stranger!

These Streets Oral History Project Gets Under Way

The oral history portion of These Streets has begun! To add their unique stories to the history of Seattle music, women from rock bands in the late ’80s/early ’90s are being interviewed on camera by TPR Founder Jess Van Nostrand. The interviews, filmed by Wes Hurley at TPR, feature musicians from bands such as Faster TigerCapping DayMaxi BaddMiracle Baby66 Saints, The Walkabouts and others. The interviews will be housed at the University of Washington Women Who Rock Digital Oral History Archive. And, starting this fall, the interviews will be released online on a weekly basis, leading up to the preview of These Streets at Seattle’s ACT.


Images (top to bottom): These Streets creators Gretta Harley (left) and Sarah Rudinoff; Carla Torgerson of The Walkabouts; Bonnie Hammond (left) and Laura Vanderpool of Capping Day



More about These Streets:


These Streets is an original work of theatre inspired by women rock musicians in Seattle during the infamous “grunge” years. The story centers on five musicians who share a house from 1989-1994 in the Greenlake neighborhood as was inspired by over 25 interviews conducted with the women musicians who were an integral part of the Seattle music scene and whose stories and songs have been overshadowed by the familiar bands and retrospectives. We meet these characters when they are young. We hear their music and witness the challenges they face as their tight-knit community unexpectedly explodes and their city becomes an international rock Mecca. We also meet the characters in the present, their stories evolving just as much as the city around them. These Streets will include music from that era as well as new songs, all played and sung by the characters and a live band. These Streets will have its premiere at ACT Theatre in Feb/March, 2013.

These Streets is a theatrical show about Seattle women rockers who blazed a trail during the early 90’s and who are now older and finding ways to stay vital, making music and art in a city that has changed as much as they have.

Above stills by Wes Hurley

Magda G: Halfway to a Solution

In my last blog entry I wrote about the challenges of producing live performance.  How could I bring my pieces to life in a way that I felt was sustainable?

A solution: the medium of film

Over the past few years I’ve been on a slow but steady march toward film, which I felt could:

  • push me artistically in new ways
  • be seen by a wider audience
  • last longer than a weekend

I wanted to develop a genre in which music (which usually arrives last in the filmmaking process) served as the backbone for a strong, but subtle visual narrative.  In 2010, I created Sebastian, a web operaa competition in which filmmakers created short internet films (two minutes or less) set to any part of the soundtrack. 39 films were entered from Albania, Brazil, Canada, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, US and the UK. A jury made up of a filmmaker, art critic and museum director selected the winner and runners-up.  Here’s the winning video:

This offered me a chance to see how different directors would create films set to my music.  I was blown away by the number of striking and creative submissions, and I’m glad that I wasn’t on the jury.

My next web undertaking was Psyche, the web opera in 2011. Based on the soundtrack of my piece Psyche, the web opera consisted of 16 short internet films set to the music. I worked with four different filmmakers who, in turn, worked with one another to create filmic visions that were both unique, yet complimentary.  The only rule was that they couldn’t change the music. These were released episodically over several weeks and received 18,000 hits from viewers around the world.


With Magda, I wanted to go one step further: a feature film.

I found the recent feature-length dance film PINAabsolutely mesmerizing and inspirational, especially in 3D; yet I wanted to create a film that wasn’t a documentary of live performance, and I definitely wanted to stray from the live simulcasts offered by the Met (although it’s fun to watch sweaty, nervous singers up close). I wanted to find a way to create a story that was built on Magda‘s musical foundation, AND that could be told through characters and plot.  I wanted it to be something that I’d go see in a movie theater.

My initial impulse was to embed the opera within the film, to create a play-within-a-play.  This would allow the music to remain as a unit, while letting film’s plot focus on the actors/singers who perform in the opera. I created a cast of characters that (loosely) paralleled the characters in the opera. This would then mirror the opera’s own structure, which referenced the story of Medea.

By setting up the plot this way, and at the advice of dramaturg Ken Cerniglia, I adopted the strategy of verisimilitude in creating the world of characters. This would give the audience something to hold onto, and thus let them enjoy the abstract and dreamy world of the music and opera. However, a new problem presented itself: Magda Goebbels and her Nazi compadres are not a likable bunch, and if the actors who play them are created as parallels, what are the stakes? With the daily help and ruthless pens of Ken, director Ryan K Adams and co-writer/poet Amy Schrader, I’ve been fleshing out the screenplay, hopefully in time for our Sunday reading.

Hope you can make it to our event on Sunday, June 3 @ 2 pm!

How to Solve a Problem like Magda Goebbels

“Recognize the problem, and you are halfway on the road to its, uh, its solution.”  -Harold and Maude

Problem 1: the topic

When I tell people that I’m working on a film about Magda Goebbels, who was considered the “First Lady of Nazi Germany” and who killed her six children in the bunkers at the close of WWII, I’ve gotten several visceral responses:

  • -some give stern warnings not to cast Magda in a positive light
  • -others ask “who?” and then, “how come I’ve never heard of her?”
  • -comparisons are made to Medea, the Ancient Greek protagonist who kills her children
  • -”are you joking? She had six children all starting with the letter ‘H’?”

In other words, I found I had a huge problem on my hands, and one that I couldn’t let go of.  Magda is at once an infamous Nazi villain, an obscure historical footnote, Medea, an over-the-top drama queen, and an Ayn Rand lookalike.  I felt something needed to be done.

Magda wasn’t born an anti-Semite: her first love was a prominent Zionist; her stepfather was Jewish.  How did she end up as the First Lady of Nazi Germany, and one who knew about the camps?  Why would she kill her children when they could have escaped and made a new life elsewhere?  How could I tell this story fully and honestly?  Magda seemed more problematic than a Shakespearean play.

She wanted to make her mark. She wanted a better life.
She loved him. Would do anything for him.
She weighed the options. Made compromises.

(from Magda G; words by Amy Schrader)

Problem 2: the Money

Last fall Beth Morrison Projects produced my piece Kocho at the Galapagos Art Space in New York.  The space offered amazing acoustics, a theatrical sensibility, and a venue that welcomed a piece such as mine.  My pieces – which mix music, theater, movement, and visuals – are not a lot of things.  They aren’t traditional opera, they aren’t musicals, they aren’t dance, they aren’t theater.  They aren’t performance art.  They need beautiful acoustics and also an advanced lighting plot.  They don’t set out to “alienate” audiences a-la-Brecht, but instead immerse the audience with a sense of ritual.

It takes a lot of money to pull off such a show and in a way that meets the needs of the piece.  And because live production is so ephemeral, I began to wonder if there was a more cost-effective way to present my pieces, one that did them justice but at the same time reached out to a greater audience.

This problem began to grow exponentially as I wrote music for Magda, which included five lead characters, 6 chorus, an instrumental ensemble of 6, dancers, the Klavihorn, as well as a documentary about Magda Goebbels.

 Magda (sung): δύστανος ἐγὼ μελέα τε πόνων,
ἰώ μοί μοι, πω ς ἂν ὀλοίμαν

I can’t stand this pain, this misery-
What do I do? I wish I could die!

(Libretto is partially excerpted from Euripides’ Medea)

Next up:  A Solution to Magda with New Problems: a Feature Film

And join us for a reading of the film script set to music on June 3!

Northwest Passing: The Performance

In March 2012, The Project Room presented a two-night performance in which actors improvised “tours” of artwork by famous Northwest artists. Each actor was given ten minutes to do or say whatever they wanted regarding the artwork on display, and the audience was encouraged to ask questions and make observations of their own. The program was created by video artists Kevin & Jennifer McCoy as part of the Beginnings series that looked at new ideas, personal beginnings, and Northwest history. Read more about Northwest Passing here.

Curious about what the artwork actually was?

(Top to bottom): Baboon #1, c. 1937 by Morris Graves (1910-2001); charcoal and tempera on craft paper. Courtesy of Perkins Coie, LLP

Rusting Time Band, 1970 by Guy Anderson (1906–1998); oil and metal assemblage. Courtesy of Woodside/Braseth Gallery

Winter Dance Time, 1946
 by Helmi Juvonen (1903 – 1985)
; lithograph. Courtesy of the King County Public Art Collection & 4Culture

Woods Cat, date unknown by Kenneth Callahan (1905-1986); ink on paper. Courtesy of Perkins Coie, LLP

Untitled, 1961 by Mark Tobey (1890 – 1976); lithograph. Courtesy of Mary-K McCoy

Smelt, date unknown by George Tsutakawa (1910-1997); sumi ink on paper. Courtesy of Perkins Coie, LLP


These Streets: Auction Update

Hey you Golden lovers. We decided to cancel our June 1st fundraising show at ACT because we are using this time to cast, write and create this rock music/play,These Streets. We will be shifting our fundraising efforts to an on- line auction and an upcoming Kickstarter campaign. Stay tuned for amazing items to be auctioned off for the benefit of These Streets and more insider info about the show.

Also, we will be holding call backs this for some of the roles for the reading workshops in July. A big thank you to everyone that auditioned. Your hard work is completely appreciated and we wish everyone at the callbacks the best of luck. Can’t wait to hear these wonderful actors make our words come to life. It’s sure to be a crazy ride and it’s great to have so many awesome people on board!

These Street: Writing in Downtown Seattle Condo!

This view is pretty unchanged, if you take away the Macy's sign. It still says, "The Bon Marche" on the side of the building.


We are having a writing retreat this weekend in downtown Seattle for “These Streets”.  Thank you swanky friend who lent us her place to write for the weekend.

We have our lap tops and Zorro the dog with us and it is an amazing sunny day in Seattle.  Happy to be writing about this city while we look at the skyline.

We are very excited about how the project is shaping up and looking forward  to the next set of workshops!


We will try to think of other rock symbols before we wear out the devil horns… but they do bring a certain nostalgia.


Origins: Print No 4

In approaching “beginnings” and the origin of ones ideas/thoughts– a current theme within The Project Room– I’ve decided to have the 4th print in this series derive from material generated by others (anyone except yours truly)…

And with that, I invite you to throw yourself into the melting pot with your thoughts & feelings. Over the next few weeks, I will be collecting drawings, writings, and what not in a ‘melting pot’ at The Project Room (or simply submit a comment below from afar). Crayons, pens, pencils, and materials will be provide for you to articulate… and what exactly? For the sake of a seed, I have chosen a simple theme to build from…


I challenge everyone to take a moment to reflect upon common and frequent destinations in one's life. It can be a physical place, a common thought or feeling, a repetitive dream, a book you continue to revisit, an activity or simple habit/ritual. There are many ideas that pop to my mind- but alas, I must build from yours…

I plan to take all of the material together, and somehow piece them together into a single print. How this becomes a reality?? I’m not so sure yet … But this Saturday, I will kick this project off in The Project Room from 1-4pm, set up and ready to go. Come by and throw something in the pot! (if you can’t make it Saturday, the pot will be there for another 2 weeks…

Print No. II: Disjointed…

Visit Charles in TPR on Saturdays from 1-4pm as he demonstrates his process and takes your suggestions! Watch Charles at work and contribute ideas as he continues the series. Refer to the calendar for specific dates.


“Disjointed…” is the second of 12 prints in this series. I came upon this image after hours of writing and sketching different ideas and thoughts revolving around The Project Room’s basic question- why do we do the things we do (make things). This print represents a place I often find myself in when contemplating the origin of work and motivations. It’s not a subject I like to dwell on, as it opens an endless stream of thoughts that often paralyze my work  and progress.

After hours of attempting clarity and writing on this open-ended subject, I grabbed a blank slate and thought through a simple sketch. The image of a person pulled from multiple angles in an unnatural and unrealized form, surrounded by square plains broken apart not matching up. In other words: Often how I feel when venturing out into something new.

It’s always much easier to look back on my work and discover more about it then. The quote that rings to mind was from a print teacher I had in school who said, “It’s important to use archival paper, because we do not know what we are doing while we are doing it, and only upon reflection can we gain a greater light”… or something to that extent. But it is a belief I hold very strong and have outlined my process around: create and ask questions later.

When looking over this piece with Jess V, she pointed out how it looked like someone trapped inside the walls/maze from my previous print. I enjoy that- not something that had crossed my mind at all. The print proves a feeling of trapped unknowing vastness, stuck inside our own limited and limitless selves.

I also see a common theme of my current work in this print: the chaotic & fast-paced environment of the modern age, bombarded with a stream of images, triggers, & entertainment from many different angles, with phones/computers fragmenting our brains- this figure resembles this. Determining all the small factoids which amount to a creation, alas, is a difficult (and unachievable) task. I think I’ll keep shooting first & asking question later.