Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shards II

I heard a news report today that production of the Fox Network's 24 has come to a halt because star Keifer Sutherland was injured on the set.

Shut down???

Would Jack Bauer SHUT DOWN CTU?

I don't think so.

24 will not abandon any episodes planned, they tell us, but...boy, you like to think the guy playing Jack Bauer wouldn't be responsible for something like this.


I'm probably shooting myself in the foot by saying this but...those of you left out there who still go to live theatre, would you do me a favor? Would you participate in a standing ovation ONLY if you felt the production you just saw was...and I hate to use this word, but I'm going to use it here...AWESOME? Standing ovations should be reserved for only the most astonishing performances in theatre. That's why God invented standing ovations. When I go to the theatre now, I think perhaps 60 per cent of the time the audience is standing applauding at the end of the show. This percentage is far too high. I'm thinking...what? One percent? Two, maybe, it should be? I mean, you're standing up, telling the cast that they blew your mind! Mind blowing is something that happens very, very rarely. Or, at least, it should happen very, very rarely. Otherwise, there'd be way too many people walking around with blown minds. I mean, if standing ovations have become de rigueur; if we stand for even the most ordinary of performances, then how can we tell an actor, or actors, that we have been genuinely moved beyond comprehension? Standing? Big deal! Happens all the time. What do you have to do? Stand up on your seat? A Seat Standing Ovation? And if that becomes de rigueur, what next? Taking off your clothes? A Stripping Ovation? I know. I have too much time on my hands. But I'd like, somehow, for standing ovations to go back to meaning something in the theatre.


I had a play of mine rejected by a local theatre today. No big deal. The Artistic Director explained that the play, THE PORCH, does not feature the kind of writing he likes to bring to his theatre. I understand. Artistic Directors have their tastes and they have the right to accept or reject any script that comes over their desks. The play has done well elsewhere and will do well again in other theatres. But it's a constant battle--finding artistic directors and literary managers who embrace...what can I call it?...the traditional form of theatre comedy that I write. I admit it. I learned what I know about writing from Ring Lardner, Neil Simon, Mel Brooks and Woody Allen. These gentlemen, for the most part, wrote and write comedies. They also wrote and write plays and movies about real people who happen to say funny things. Real people who deal with real situations that sometimes make the comedy hard to take. Real people dealing with...life. This is a hard sell these days, because when artistic directors and literary managers read my stuff, they see the jokes, and they don't often embrace the possibility that the characters are real. They think that, because the characters say funny things, they can't have authentic emotion and manage the challenge of living. It's the Curse of Sitcom. There have been so many bad sitcoms on television over the years, that when a theatre script shows up on an artistic director's desk, and it has that "sitcom" feel, it is, more often than not, doomed. It's a very distinct style, it's my style, and, as I say, it's a very tough sell.

I've reached the point where I know that if I can get my stuff to the audience, I'll be fine. I know them. And I have complete confidence that when a play of mine begins, they are going to know my characters. They're going to laugh a lot; and they are gonna get whacked with a hard life situation that they will understand, relate to, and embrace.

But getting there is a journey. Bless the artistic directors who embrace the style. They are few and far between.

1 comment:

  1. Jack, I was just saying to someone the other day that people get standing ovations for walking down the aisle at the grocery store these days. It sucks. You don't know where you stand (har har) at the end of a run because people jump to their feet, almost as if to say "YAY! That's it! It's over! Now I can go back to watching my DVR!!!" Grr. Argh.