Jeremy's Ramblings, Babblings, and Other Pretentious Bullshit.
Monday, August 01, 2005
Last Saturday was "24 Hour Theater" at Hunger Artists, an exercise in theatrical spontaneity that is as immediate as scripted theater can get.
Late Friday night, five writers entered the theater, in their individuality looking like contestants on a reality show. We randomly drew five audience-submitted elements (the setting of Hogwarts, a copy of "The Recycler", the opening chords of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long", a character named Pastor Ed and the line "It's got to special"), and then set to work, staying up all night to write one-act plays that incorporated all of these elements.
In those four or five hours, tears were shed, cigarettes were smoked, Corona's were downed, and at the end of it all, we looked at our finished scripts. We had castrations, gay kissing, severed hands, gunshots, hemorrhoids, soap opera actresses, and at the center of it all, a monobrowed, sailor-mouthed invention named Helene (played in a star-making turn by Sammi Smith).
While not nearly on the level of Christopher Spencer (whose play, "Tampon", was the highlight), here is my piece "Weapons of Ass Destruction" (I had made a promise to a friend of mine that I would give my piece that name, whatever it was about). Enjoy! Or not. I won't be mad, I promise.:
WEAPONS OF ASS DESTRUCTION
(Lights up on a desk. PASTOR ED, a woman, sits behind the desk, writing something in a notebook. She glances up, notices the audience, pauses for only a second, then returns to writing the notebook)
PASTOR ED: Hi. I'm, uh...just a second.
(A few seconds of silence as she finishes what she's writing)
(She shuts the notebook)
So. As I was going to say, I'm Pastor Ed Menosky. I know. It's short for Vanessa. Don't ask how.
(She starts organizing things on the desk)
My father started calling me "Ed" in junior high, and the name somehow stuck. For some reason, people like giving girls guys names, like Jules and Sam. Like how inanimate objects get girls names, but animate and male.
In any case, welcome. This is the Heart Of Gold Women Artist Reform and Treatment Society.
(She holds up a sign that reads "H.O.G.W.A.R.T.S.")
Yes. I know. We sued. We lost.
In any case, this is where the magic happens, as they always say on that show. This is my office, my playpen, my space of stress and solace. I'd like to thank you all for coming. I'd like to say that we don't get any of your type around here, but unfortunately, we can't seem to get a break when it comes to you people.
(She picks up a piece of paper, reads it contents, considers what it says. As she reads:)
However, there is always hope. That's probably the only thing about our constantly churning society. The more problems arise in the world, the more solutions people like us are able to create.
(She decides the paper is secondary, puts it down and turns her attention back to the audience)
But of course, you're not here to be reformed. Of course not. You're here for a tour. Our lovely facility, which has not been open to the public since its inception over three years ago. When I took over as Head Pastor last April, we felt that we could really use an old heave ho in our public relations. Some C.P.R. to the P.R., if you will.
We've, of course, had a lot of...rumors, I guess you'd say. Unsubstantiated, completely unsubstantiated stories about our practices, our, well they called them "rituals", but that sounds very witch-y, doesn't it? Very sorority. It's funny how people see Point A and Point K, but since they can't see Points B through J, they make them up. It makes you realize just how necessary the numbers in a Connect-The-Dots picture is.
In any case, our Society's doctrine teaches us many valuable little tidbits, and one of these morsels is, and I quote, "She who says..."
(She pauses, thinks, picks up another piece of paper)
Yeah, okay, "She that does not admit any wrongdoings, she has done the most wrong." Admittance is the key step in reform. And so, to, I guess, dispel all of the slander that our Society has endured, we decided to put out advertisements...
(She holds up a copy of "The Recycler")
...and open our doors and let those with ill words experience the good work that my ladies are doing here.
I feel a little like Willy Wonka. Opening up the factory doors, letting all the naughty children see my wares.
In any case, here at...
(Emphasis on "warts")
She countersued. We settled.
Here at HogWARTS, we believe in the importance of the arts as a wonderful way of not only entertaining society, but keeping them informed on current events and issues. This cannot be emphasized enough. We heart art. Those who will tell you otherwise wag their tongues like a peeing puppy with its tail.
However, we also recognize the world of arts and entertainment as a balls-and-penis club, if you will. This is not me spouting feminist agenda, this is not me trying to play violins for the female gender. This is me stating simple, cold fact.
Look at a list of those who have won Pulitzers, Academy Awards, Tonys (I'm talking writing, directing, technical prizes here). Look at the current season on Broadway, or the movies playing in your thin-walled cineplexes. It's a world of washboard abs, bare calves, tragic beauties, Sylvia's and Heather's with just enough conflict and quirk to need to be molded by charismatic, just-this-side-of-attractive men. Entertainment has never been so disappointing, not even in the days when priests charged people to look at stained glass projections on walls.
Even in Christianity, the ultimate in fictional entertainment (and this coming from the pastor), we have the father, son and holy ghost. Eve hurting Adam. Delilah hurting Samson. And the two most significant figures in the New Testament are a virgin and a whore. The only restraint on the part of the writer was not making them goddamn lesbians!
By the way, off the record, I do not like being called a Pastor. This isn't a religion, this isn't a cult, and Pastor's very religion-y and cult-esque. Our first Head Pastor, Pastor Natalia Schmidt, decided it was a denomination that was would show authority without allowing tyranny. Regardless, I don't break tradition.
So for the first time since the beginnings of language, the world of art is now less advanced the politics or business. Name me a woman playwright that is not a writer of plays for women. Name me a Grammy award-winning songstress with pore-clogged skin, crossed eyes or childhood scars. Name me a female novelist whose covers aren't splashed with martini glasses, Prada shoes and Eiffel Towers.
Female artists are just that. Female Artists. They write for women about women. There is no advancement, no progress, no step forward. Five years ago, our former Head Pastor, Pastor Natalia Schmidt, stepping out of a rather disappointing art gallery showing (she used to say, "Give me one good reason why a vagina on canvas means more than one in real life."), stepping out of that, she heard a popular song playing, muffled through the closed windows and screaming vocals, but still audible.
(She pulls out a CD player, and presses "Play". The opening chords of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" plays. She shuts it off after the first five seconds or so)
Snippets of lyrics popped out at her. "She was a fast machine." "Those American thighs." "She told me to come but I was already there." "The walls were shaking, the earth was quaking."
It was in the one instant, the simultaneous jab of what the image of the female truly meant to both genders, the her twinkle of an idea eventually coagulated into the Heart Of Gold Women Artist Reform and Treatment Society.
Those women who have been scorned by art, the not-pretty actresses, the poets who let their self-importance propel them to give their shows the most ludicrous of names like "Womyn With A Y" or "Weapons of Ass Destruction", the writers who - despite their late night skepticism and arguments with themselves - can't seem to keep their stories out of the European borders, they are all welcomed here.
By convincing them that what they are doing is like a bacteria infesting another equal bacteria - by telling them that to have your art accepted in a world of cigars and beards, it can't just be good, it's got to be special - we are helping out both the women (who by this time in their lives are in a matter of mental and economic crisis) and the world of art itself.
Now, make sure to pay attention because this is where attention must be paid. We do not...DO NOT...oppress what they have to say. At all. We never said they could not act, write, draw, sing, slam. We simply told them that no one would listen. Unless! Yes, there's an unless, no one on the outside likes to talk about the unless. Unless they gave the world a reason to listen. A reach-out-and-swing-you-by-the-balls reason.
After all, what good is an idea, a word, any sort of utterance, if the purpose it serves is so narrow in its scope and exectuion that it easily slips not only through the keyholes of America but the ear lobes of our youth? Do you think that a couple of failed romances, a bad childhood memory and a dozen encounters with creepy strangers are really going to give you a voice that anyone can care about?
Then again, a process filled with such classic hits like seclusion, deprecation, starvation and good old-fashioned abuse is often the jump start to a new career.
Ah, now is when the crowd starts squirming. There's a word you people use for this. Unethical. That's the only adjective you can conjure up, isn't it? What about helpful? What about profitable? That's what we hear. And after all, we listen because no one else does.
Which brings you to why you're here. You answered the ad. You took this here tour. And you were guaranteed, at the end of said tour, a spot in the first of what will undoubtedly be many wonderful, informative television commercials. And so you shall.
It's understandable, your desire to be on television. Every little girl dreams of being a famous actress. At least the ones who play by the rules of stereotyping.
So what brought your dream to such a dire situation that you're taking paying tours just to get in a commercial?
Problems with agents? Auditions? Never felt you were pretty, talented, easy enough?
What if I were to tell you that our former Head Pastor, Pastor Natalia Schmidt, is now acting in a popular soap opera that many of you have probably seen? You see, she's not only the Head Pastor, she's also a member.
I think you'll find that you have more in common with us than you may have thought.
(She holds up a thrice-folded piece of paper)
Would you like to see a brochure?
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