Wednesday, March 9, 2011


So, for those of you who don’t know,

{And that’s assuming anyone’s out there reading these. Taptaptap –heeeeh-looooo, anybody on the other side of this screen? Other than you, Ted.}

Unky Sean is an adjudicator for this upcoming Kaleidoscope. And the rules of adjudicating are constrictive, folks. I can’t talk about any of the plays at the festival, for one. No, not even that one. Not a jot or a tittle. I said NO, so kwit askin’! And all forms of theatre are legitimate. Seriously, it’s a rule, I have to swear that I respect all theatrical genres as legitimate expressions deserving their moment on stage.

. . .

Fortunately, I do believe that. Not that everything’s automatically a good example of said theatrical expression, but that at heart, there’s nothing wrong with a pirate story. Or restoration comedy. Or children’s musicals based on gothic literature. Or neo-futuristic political sketch comedy. Or even Christmas plays, despite what you may have read in this blog before, assuming you exist.

So I’m not going to come outta the adjudicator’s gate fish-slapping some hard-working theatrons for heartfelt sincerity. That’s not why I’m there. I’m there to reflect and advise. No fish-slapping required for that, right?

Cue the violins.

Usually I’m at these conventions to talk about plays and theater. I’m a big ol’ script geek, and I’m so busy reading & seeing 120 scripts a year, I barely get a chance to talk plays with like minded folk. So here I come to the big city of Spokane, not for the St. Paddy’s parade (although I’m half-Irish), but for rubbing shoulders with y’all like-minded script geeks, only you’re all warned not to talk about plays and theater with me. (Yeah, it’s a rule.) It’s like a very cruel version of Keep-A-Way where no amount of Free Brunch will ameliorate the pain.

OK, stop the violins, they’re bugging me.

So I know you exist, and also so I don’t feel like John Travolta in a plastic bubble, come up and ask me for a guide to quality playscripts. I will then hand you a single sheet of helpful playscript resources. That will not violate any rules and we don’t talk about the plays we’re watching.
And enjoy this recap of the good plays I’ve read or seen during the first two months of this year. I read and saw more than these, but I’m just talking about the good ones, just for practice.

Six Degrees of Seperation (John Guare). Dramatists Play Service. Always surprised how much I enjoy this work (arguably Guare’s most accessible) and this time struck by how well this would play in a community theatre. Big multi-generational cast, each character distinct, simple and theatrical set demands, fast-moving.

Love Letters (A.R. Gurney). A life-long relationship in letter form. Gurney’s continuing explorations of fading WASP culture sometimes get too Manhattan-centric for me, but the two voices here are dynamic and well-pitched and their journey plays like a rediscovered story shared with friends.

Further Than The Furthest Thing (Zinnie Harris). Dramatists. Loosely based on the evacuation of the entire population of the isolated island Tristan de Cuhna to Southhampton, England, we watch a small family struggle with issues of assimilation and self-definition. Are we defined by our acts, our passions, our successes, our tragedies, or where we’re from? Beautiful language, heart-breaking drama.

The Zoo Story (Edward Albee). Dramatists. Yeah, I’ve read it before. In fact, last year when I read Albee’s At Home at the Zoo, which combined Homelife (about what Peter was doing before Zoo Story) with TZS. Yeah, while it birthed a million bench plays afterward (and there’s nothing wrong with a bench play), it still lands its punches squarely. Jerry’s not going to be comfortable in this world and Peter’s steadfast complacency places him on the wrong bench at the wrong time. Hard to believe, over fifty years later, this was viewed as absurdist, when it sounds like everything now.

7 (x1) Samurai. iDiOM Theatre. David Gaines performs in this one-man retelling of Akira Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai. I saw it twice. An award-winning solo performance tour-de-force in clowning and physical performance, if you find him (check his website) performing near you, go see him. Understanding Japanese film theory or reading subtitles not required.
I always thought if I was gonna blog, this was what I’d blog about – plays out there, old and new. Anything to recommend? Just to prove you exist?

See you in Spokane, or we will talk about you behind your back. No rule against that.

1 comment:

Floyd said...

Looking forward to the drama AND the drama...have you noticed the logo for this year's Kaleidoscope festival is people pointing guns, I mean, you don't have to hold a gun to my head to get to attend, but evidently it helps.