Jeremy's Ramblings, Babblings, and Other Pretentious Bullshit.
Monday, August 30, 2004
The opening weekend of the show went great. Audiences were small, but reactions were very good, and with more advertising, word-of-mouth and reviews, that should help things greatly.

Ever since doing this show, I've been re-examining a lot of theatre out there. During this time, a lot of theaters are announcing their upcoming seasons, and the director of "Gog/Magog" and I brought in seasons that represent opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to theatre that strives not to make a difference, but merely to either keep your brain occupied with lame humor for two hours, or make you feel that you've had a life-changing experience by unnecessarily shocking you. So, without further ado, compare and contrast. These are selected plays from the upcoming season of Santa Ana's Rude Guerrilla Theatre Company (I'm leaving out various productions like "Trainspotting" and "Boy Gets Girl", because these are proven well-written plays with actual non-exploitative messages). The descriptions of the plays are taken from the theatre's website:

* “Asian Acting: An Evening of One-Act Plays” by Aurelio Locsin. A wild assortment of World Premiere plays, dance pieces, videos and puppetry: A woman sits down for a last cup of tea before going to a Japanese internment camp; A porn star decides always being the “bottom” sucks; A man fights in court for the right to marry outside of his race; A timid woman decides to stand up to the bigots in her neighborhood…and in her family; China defuses the Cuban Missile Crisis; A serial killer and his victim have a little conversation before getting down to business; American Express visits the Thai sex industry; A Filipino fable comes magically to life. Directed by a variety of RGTC directors.

* “Collateral Damage” by Philip Osment. US Premiere! On the 10th anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing, comes this eye-opening and highly theatrical drama following Timothy McVeigh, his crime, the hundreds of people affected by it and Bud Welch, the man who lost his daughter and was moved to forgive her murderer. Directed by Dave Barton.

* “The Geometry of S&M Pornography” by Johnna Adams. World Premiere! A troubled young man with a stack of dirty magazines; a woman raised from the dead isn’t sure she likes her new “life”; a televangelist with a drinking problem; a disgruntled girl with a gun; an assassination plot; weird sex, a whole lotta money and a new religion. Directed by Dave Barton.

* “One Flea Spare” by Naomi Wallace. (Rights pending) While London is being ravished by the Plague, a young girl and a sailor sneak into the home of a rich elderly couple, trying to escape the disease. When the house ends up being quarantined and they are all locked inside, class and sexual inhibitions come crashing down as the prisoners wait for death to strike…or not. Directed by Scott Barber.

* “Some Voices” by Joe Penhall. (Rights pending) A young schizophrenic moves in with his older brother and falls in love with an abused woman. On top of the world, he decides to stop taking his medication and then things start to go horribly wrong. Directed by Steven Parker.

Now, granted, these plays could all be incredible pieces of work. I wouldn't know, I haven't read or seen any of them. However, in my experiences with Rude Guerrilla (which, to be fair, have been few and far between), they seem to overplay the shock value and underplay the emotional core of a piece (like Jeff Goode's "Poona the Fuckdog and Other Stories for Children", a play that should never have been written). But I do plan to audition for "Trainspotting" if they get the rights for it, so I'm not totally against them.

However, to present the exact polar opposite, here is - in its entirety - the upcoming season of Long Beach Playhouse's mainstage. This is perhaps the most safe, mainstream collection of plays that I have ever seen assembled into one year. Again, the descriptions are taken from the theatre's website, and are the stuff of great comedy:

* "The Solid Gold Cadillac" - Comedy by Howard Teichmann & George S. Kaufman. This endearing comedy revolves around a little old lady who is a minority stockholder in a giant corporation. At the annual stockholder’s meeting she asks embarrassing questions regarding the crooked practices of the conniving officers. In order to hush her up, they give her a phony job. Instead of complying with their wishes, she befriends the other stock holders and winds up in complete control of the corporation, proving to be more than a match for the wicked corporate cronies. One of the funniest and wittiest comedies about the foibles of American business. “Another big hit.” –N.Y. Mirror.

* "Arsenic & Old Lace" - Comedy by Joseph Kesselring. This tried and true family comedy is the story of two charming and innocentelderly ladies who populate their cellar with the remains of socially and religiously “acceptable” elderly male roomers, the antics of a dear brother who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and the amazing activities of an older, more sinister brother. This classic Victorian comedy with its legendary glasses of elderberry wine, has been delighting audiences since its debut in 1941!

* "Play It Again Sam" - Comedy by Woody Allen. Our homely hero has this thing about Humphrey Bogart and his way with women, so much so that he conjures up Bogey who comes to his rescue with a bevy of beauties. Our hero is so gauche that he always stumbles abysmally on romance’s rocky road even with Bogey’s coaching. How he eventually fares makes for a delicious romp. “...audaciously brilliant...a great sense of character.” –N.Y. Times.

* "The Mousetrap" - Thriller by Agatha Christie. A group of strangers are stranded in a boarding house during a snowstorm, one of whom is a murderer. Is it a newly married couple, a spinster with a curious background, an architect who seems better equipped to be a chef, a retired Army major, a strange little man who claims his car has overturned in a drift, or a jurist who makes life miserable for everyone? We challenge you to figure it out! Another superb intrigue from the foremost mystery writer of her time.

* "Don’t Dress for Dinner" - Farce by Marc Camoletti, adapted by Robin Hawdon. A smash hit in Paris, London and the U.S., this breathtaking farce hurtles along at the speed of light. Within seconds we are drawn into a delicious web of marital treachery that accelerates as Bernard’s plans to entertain his chic, Parisian mistress. He packs his wife off to her mother, arranges for a cordon bleu cook to furnish gourmet delights and has invited his best friend over as a suitable alibi. It’s foolproof-what could possibly go wrong...? Everything!!!

* "The Tender Trap" - Comedy by Max Shulman and Robert Paul Smith. Charlie Reader, has an elegant apartment, a good job, and millions of girls—all eager to bring him food, tidy up his apartment and fall in with his every wish. Charlie juggles his girls till one frantic evening he finds himself engaged to two young ladies, and one amusing scene after another results until he finally manages to get rid of the wrong young lady and marry the right one. “Extremely funny...” –NY World Telegram & Sun.

* "The Odd Couple" - Comedy by Neil Simon. It’s time to see Simon’s most famous comedy (or see it again...it’s such a treat). Two divorced men, one a neatnik and the other a slob, try bunking together with tempestuous results. The New York Daily News stated “...fresh, richly hilarious, remarkably original, wildly irresistibly and continuously funny.”

* "The Amorous Ambassador" - Farce by Michael Parker. Spend an outrageous weekend at the English home of an American ambassador sweet-talking his wife, chasing his sexy neighbor and having his head turned by his daughter’s boyfriend, who is disguised wearing a dress. Throw in a clumsy secretary, a gung-ho military man and a butler to end all butlers and you are guaranteed an evening of madcap merriment from start to finish!

Neil Simon? Agatha Christie? "Arsenic and Old Lace"? All they'd need is "Our Town", "Blithe Spirit" and "Bye Bye Birdie" and then they can cover all of the bases. I'm unapologetic to them because I was in a production of theirs ("Ernest in Love", a musical adaptation of "The Importance of Being Earnest". Yes, really), and they have this attitude of class and sophistication that's quite surprising for a community theatre (but when a young Robert Mitchum and DeForest Kelley were in your productions, I guess you have a right to be...oh, wait, actually no, you still don't).

It makes me appreciate work at theatres like Hunger Artists, StagesTheatre, Insurgo and Vanguard, Orange County theatres that are able to balance entertainment and enlightenment. They give us interesting productions that make good use of local talent. So hats off.

Hey Sweety. Hope ya had a good weekend. Don't worry about not e-mailin me back.. take ur time, I know you're busy! I'm really glad I finally got to meet you too! Maybe I'll come by and see the show again... =) You're amazing! ~Sammy
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