who dat? contest.
(yo stee. i know
first correct answer:
While the show isn't going to open until December, last night they held a staged reading of the plays. Mostly for the company members to hear them and just for the hell of it. I arrived a bit early and walked in. In the lobby, one of the "casts" was reading one of the plays - rehearsing. Then on stage, another one. And in a back office, the third. I just started laughing. It was so strange hearing three different groups reading my words aloud at the same time. I was too tripped out so I went outside and had a smoke.
I've had about five plays produced, had a couple short films made of my stuff, and have held a few readings of my screenplays, but it never fails to be a very, well, emotional experience hearing your words come out of someone else's mouth. It's heady and scary and sometimes embarrassing, but never boring. Anyway, I'm sort of used to it, but I found myself being a bit nervous; I knew the two worked, but I really had no idea about the third.
Well, long story short: A lot of people showed up. They served beer and wine and the theatre filled up. I sat in back and took notes as people sort of snuck looks at me every once in a while during the reading. The first show was great. The actors were almost uniformly very good. The leads of one of my favorite indie movies from a couple years ago was reading, which was kinda cool. That first one is very literary and strange and absurd (and not easy for actors to get right away). But watching, I was struck by something - that I don't think I'm smart enough anymore to write the play I wrote three years ago. But I'm glad I once was.
The second one was not quite as satisfactory. A few of the actors were wrong and didn't quite get the general conceit (the whole thing is a parody of a famous playwright, and they didn't seem to know the guy's style at all). Anyway, that show was the best received by the papers when it was first done, so I'm hoping it holds up. It also skewers my least favorite cults, which I can't wait to do again.
The third was the new one. It's pretty talky-talky and appears even more so in a plain staged reading. But... and I'm not quite sure how much to trust this, I was really pleased. Really. The cast was particularly strong, so that helped, but I never cringed at my words as I have before. I have no idea how it came across to anyone else, but I consider myself to be a pretty harsh self-critic, and I was genuinely happy.
So what does this mean? I don't know. I could see the progression of my writing, chronologically, through the three shows. That's good, I think. I'm going to have very little to do with the production. I'm going to sit in on casting and talk to the directors, but beyond that, I won't have much to do with it. I'm in love with two of the directors. I'm a little unsure about the third. I have to talk to the producer about him. She expressed misgivings to me as well, so maybe something needs to be done before we get much further. I've been involved in enough shows in my life to have learned one thing: if you have misgivings about someone, be it an actor, director, lighting designer, and you don't do anything about it, you are almost invariably kicking yourself for not following your instincts soon enough.
Low rent theatre in L.A. is not going to make or break someone's career. (Well, "career.") There are other cool things going on that "mean" more business-wise for me, but I am the theatre's bitch, and will always love it more than anything else. I secretly suspect that as a writer, and maybe as an actor as well, theatre is where I should ultimately be. But you can't get paid in the theatre. So that's why you make money and then come back to it.
Now all I have to do is to first 1) leave the theatre and then 2) make some money.
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