Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Another thing

I found hilarious about John Lahr's review of Seminar was this little statement he makes with the utmost confidence:
Rebeck's clever commercial entertainment contains just enough truth about writing workshops to keep an audience of non-writers interested. Of course, no professor, no matter how vainglorious or vitriolic, would ever come to class as unprepared as Leonard: his judgments are based on a cursory reading of a few pages handed over to him on the day, which he proceeds to digest and to toss unceremoniously on the floor. This is the preposterous Broadway version of a writing class.
I don't know what kind of creative writing classes Lahr has been in, but I've been in writing workshops with writers of varying degrees of success, and it always seemed like the more impressive a writer's resume was, the less prepared he bothered to be, for whatever reason. Of course, the bulk of my experience is playwriting, which gets the easy rationalization that the text is better heard than read. Why should we bother reading outside of class? That was even asserted to me by my advisor when I was preparing to teach in grad school. He was looking out for me, as I was carrying a full course load and doing rewrites for a play about to go into rehearsals, but still.

I can't remember if that was before or after that time we had to call his home phone from class to remind him that he had to teach us that day.

Okay, that was an easy punchline. I'm being too hard on him. He was not the least prepared of my "mentors." Not by a long shot.

This one was likely the most. She read our stuff before meeting with us. I always appreciated that.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Adam has an interview with one of my favorites, Sherry Kramer. Here's a good excerpt:
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A: Well, I guess the time I was doing in high school doing Dramatic Interpretation is probably a slice of essential DNA about me as a writer and a person. I was on the debate team, and you went on buses to cities in your state and region to compete, it was sort of like Sex 101 for nerds, really, you stayed over night in hotels and learned all kinds of things. I was never a great debater because I tended to make my facts up and I’m not by nature a compelling liar, but you also could compete in Dramatic Interpretation, which was acting scenes and monologues.... [O]ne year I decided to do comedy instead of drama, and I picked the scene from Othello where he strangles Desdemona. When you do interp, you play however many parts there are in a scene, so that meant I had to strangle myself. I thought this was hilarious. I also knew I had to do it absolutely straight, or it wouldn’t be funny. So I did it. As seriously as I could. A little 7 minute scene, and at the end of it I strangled myself. Then I did Othello’s lines, did a little bow, looked up at my judges: three theatre teachers from tiny towns in rural Missouri. You know that moment in The Producers (the film) when they look at the audience’s faces after Springtime for Hitler? And their mouths are all open down to their knees, they’re so horrified? That’s the way those three judges looked.
Click here for the rest.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I'm loving the reviews

of Theresa Rebeck's new play, Seminar, which seem to be fawning and condescending at the same time. How the show pulls that off is beyond me, although with that cast I'd happily find out. Alan Rickman and Hamish Linklater go without saying, but Lily Rabe is one of my new favorites after being one of the best things about All Good Things, and I recently discovered that I can watch her on TV all the time now in American Horror Story, alongside Jessica Lange. A name that shall henceforth be printed in italics if I have anything to say about it. Imagine my glee; thank you Ryan Murphy!

Digression aside, my favorite review of Seminar is John Lahr's in The New Yorker. Here's the best passage:
[Alan Rickman's character] Leonard, or so he tells us, was at Yale with Robert Penn Warren: "He was ruthless and religious about sound. . . . If the sound wasn't there, there was no discussion." (As it happens, I was at Yale with Penn Warren, and this description of him is bushwa.) It says something about the robustness of Rebeck's characterization and her humor that she makes you want this claptrap to be true.
It's only online to subscribers, but here's a link to the abstract, etc.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I wandered over

to the MOCA Pacific Design Center for Hedi Slimane: California Song this afternoon. The photos are all gorgeous, but a highlight was the security guard explaining the unusual installation of the first floor to me. He approached me and asked, "have you figured out the puzzle yet?" When I said no, he helped me put the pieces together. Somebody should promote him to docent.

The other highlight was the second floor room. The guard told me I could take photos if I didn't use a flash, so I snapped a couple of the floor-to-ceiling projections upstairs. The picture doesn't do it justice, but here you go.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Interesting article about Other Desert Cities

in the LATimes yesterday. I'm mostly posting because of this passage--
Baitz doesn't encounter any such problem in "Cities," which leaves no psychological stone unturned in telling of a Waspish Palm Springs family during a Christmas homecoming. Transferred from Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theater and directed by Joe Mantello, Baitz's former life partner and his frequent theater collaborator, "Cities" offers a full-color portrait of guilt, blame and, occasionally, redemption.
--only because I'm amused by the phrase "former life partner."

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

There's all this

good theater in L.A. right now that I'm actually not in a position to call good because I haven't seen any of it yet but I want to see it because I think it's going to be good so--

Charles Ludlam's Artificial Jungle closes this weekend. I hope there are tickets left.

This House of Gold looks crazy.

Monkey Adored
should be interesting.

Seeing Next Fall tomorrow.

And let's not forget Bring it On!! I'm not kidding. I'm totally there next week.