July 21, 2004

Act XVII, Scene XXIX, Line 47

7/21/04

There's something about my personality I'm not very proud of, and though I've battled it for years, I have to admit that I dread going to the theater. If you've read my brother's blog lately, or Mac Rogers' various treaties on the subject or especially this article that raised a lot of hell in certain email lists I'm on - it'd be on your mind too. Frankly, I'm worried that live theater in New York will soon be going the way of the nickelodeon (the device, not the network) and I will have myself partially to blame.

My problems with live theater are thus:
a) the seats hurt my fucking back. During "The Rose Tattoo" in Boston, I was actually going into spasm.
b) I fear commitment. I have never walked out of a movie in my life, probably because I always knew I had the option.
c) Most plays I see are boring.

Now, I am a self-confessed fancy-pants Artiste who purports to string words together for a living. I live 20 minutes by train to both Broadway and the West Village, where I can see every play mankind has developed. I have moaned vociferously about the state of art in this city. I should be the PERFECT theatergoer, and yet, it always feels like a trip to the dentist.

This is not to say that each play is LIKE a trip to the dentist. There are huge exceptions to my theaterphobia, such as anything Lindsay does ("Trust"), the various Gideon productions ("Lucretia Jones"), the 1992 musical "The Secret Garden," Simon McBurney's unspeakably beautiful "Mnemonic" and of course, the eternal mark of quality, Mrs. Laurie Williams Gilmore (who made her Broadway debut LAST NIGHT! WHOOO-HOOO!).

And yes, there are other exceptions, so don't write to me all pissed off and be like "you said you dug my show."

Broadway45th(bl).jpg
Broadway and 45th Street

However... the fact remains that I am preternaturally disinclined towards the theater, and I'm coming to grips with it. I think I could take the back spasms if Theater promised to be more interesting (which would also get rid of my commitment issues), but I think I'm largely a creation of my generation, a group of people that have been unwittingly trained since 1981 to reject entertainment that thrives on long bouts of dialogue and few scene changes.

And yet, as my generation (and younger) start to write plays that cater to this attention span and the demand for spectacle, you run into the Fringe Festival, excellently eviscerated by Sean last week.

So I'd like to make a list to playwrights and people programming the upcoming seasons. Reject it if you wish, but I promise I'm not being snarky. I have but a few demands:

1) If your play is a comedy, make it actually funny.
2) If your play is a drama, make the plot interesting.
3) If your play is experimental, PROMISE me it won't be boring. PROMISE!
4) Keep doing your Christmas show, I realize it makes all the money.
5) Please work on the ending. I know you already did, but do it again.
6) Do not have God as one of the characters.
7) Don't get naked, as I will forget about the play and only look at nipples.
8) Please make your characters behave consistently, even the ones that have an arc.
9) Don't have a character become addicted to something; that shit bores me to tears.
10) YOU try sitting in your chairs for 2+ hours, and if you don't need Advil, ON WITH THE SHOW!

Posted by irw at July 21, 2004 10:24 PM
Comments
Posted by: Alan at July 22, 2004 3:42 AM

I worked as a playhouse usher for years and would add only one more - if someone is to be shot, make sure the bullets actually get into the gun first.

Posted by: Piglet at July 22, 2004 6:52 AM

If you're like me--and it's scary how much you are--you grew up in the silver age of Broadway, and maybe saw the original Annie, the original Ain't Misbehavin', the original Sweeney Todd, and a whole lot of others the likes of which they don't make any more. We're spoiled for the modern theater for life, and the irritainment that passes for it will never be satisfying again.

Do you remember when the Tony Awards were suspenseful because there was more than one show in each category that was actually worth seeing?

Posted by: jordana at July 22, 2004 10:01 AM

big ups to lori!

Posted by: jordi at July 22, 2004 10:02 AM

oops. LAURIE! no change to the big ups.

Posted by: Laurie Williams Gilmore at July 22, 2004 11:06 AM

Laurie Williams Gilmore here. Coming to you from Broadway. You have tickets to my show for Saturday night. So, I'll prepare you. They spent a sick amount of multi millions "renovating" the gorgeous old histoic landmark Bilmore Theatre so that the inside looks, no longer historical and landmarkish, but rather like the inside of a hospital...but your ass won't hurt in our seats!!! It's not a comedy, but I think I'm funny. The scene changes will, indeed, put you to sleep and the music cues...well...humm to yourself. No one is addicted to anyting except self satisfaction. There is no God. (Perhaps that's the problem)We behave consitently. I think we're interesting. And, for the first time in a while, I don't get naked so put your nipple fears to bed. See you back stage.

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