Re-Views, Theater Farts, Unsolicited Solicitations

Not So “Delicate Dis-Balance” of SirGay’s Salty Balls

Last weekend I had quite an event. My friends took me to see a show on Broadway. Oh my goodness, I thought, I am going to see a Broadway show. Like a good boy (in my case a man, I am not trying to kid anyone anymore) I put my fancy pants and went.

Damn it, I knew I needed to have a drink beforehand…

I sensed that there was something wrong with the show as soon as it started. After twenty minutes into the “action,” for some reason, I wanted to storm onto the stage and scream at everyone, like, and what is wrong with all of you people here? But then I realized, I was surrounded by rich white people and the exit was way too far.

Well, darlings, even though I had only thirty five cents in my pocket, I remembered that I am white too, so I blended in. My whiteness saved me from being looked at, like, and what the f*ck are you doing here watching white people talk on a couch for three hours and… oh my gog… they were drinking too.

As soon as I saw by whom I was surrounded, I put my tailbone on my seat, sat on it and patiently watched the whole damn show. I just kept thinking, my friends spent their two day’s paycheck just to have me with them, so I better behave or the next time… well there would be no next time for my tailbone on any Broadway theater’s cushioned seat if I don’t behave.

Being a true (emphasis on “true”) theater artist I kept thinking, is this what you need to put on stage if you want to be on Broadway? I thought that you need to sleep with somebody there to get a part, or… or, wait, is this what you do to get a part in Hollywood? I always mix these two. The feeling that grabbed me by my balls was not the most pleasant. (Disclaimer: SirGay’s more detailed descriptions of events involving his balls, Broadway theater seats and what not were edited out, we decided not to dilute real problems with such descriptions) I just kept thinking, what is it I am watching now? Watching a show that had a bunch of rich white people drinking around a couch and having all these drunk conversations about their, so called, “problems” was kinda… I don’t know… I just don’t know. I kept looking at the audience and the huge chandelier on the stage which probably cost more than five or six shows to mount Off-Broadway, an amount which could pay full salaries to everyone involved with these Off-Broadway shows and still have some leftovers for some Off-Off-Broadway performance to make. The chandelier mesmerized me and then something else happened… (The description about SirGay’s salty sweat dripping down his crotch was edited out. Yes, it involved his balls.)

There is a reason why I want to avoid naming actors involved in the production. Yep, like a real Broadway show there were big names attached to this show. Why have they agreed to be in this production? I don’t know. I didn’t have time to ask them that. I was too busy with my own important busyness of being appalled. I just kept thinking, would the show have the same amount of people sitting in the audience if the show would have been made with less known actors? I asked my friends, if they would see the same show if not for these stars? My friends almost in unison said, no. I knew it. It was another conspiracy against me and my art. (Where do I put my smiley face?)

What bothered me in this show was the absence of enlightenment and inspiration. Pff, no. What bothered me was that the show was built by the rich, for the rich, with the rich actors. And it was, of course, about rich people’s “problems,” like, why can’t I sleep in my room while there are at least fifteen other rooms available in the house? God damn it, I’d take any of them, as long as I don’t pay the rent. Absurd? Ummm… I don’t think they (meaning rich) thought it was absurd. You might say, maybe that was the point of the show, to show how absurd it is to be rich and not to be able to sleep in your room. Ummm… that can’t be true, but then you see the audience of predominantly white and no doubt rich and then you go, and who the f*ck if not white and rich can afford to buy tickets to Broadway shows today? Damn it. How the heck was I excluded from this VIP club? (I think I want to hug my pillow and cry myself to sleep now.)

When you see the audience of old white people in a Broadway theater, that nobody can afford to rent, with the stars, who have as much money as these people in the audience, talk and talk and talk about nothing, you might start thinking that you were abducted and were made to sit and listen how “bad” these rich people have. How absolutely terrifying it is not to know where the coffee beans are in the house, because you’ve never made a cup of coffee yourself before. I kept thinking, maybe at some point actors were going to go into a song or into something more absurd and the set would suddenly change into… well, more exciting than this piece of rich people’s house full of expensive chandeliers and furniture. I kept thinking and why the f*ck am I watching these white rich people drink expensive drinks in their expensive house when I, ze Plastikoff himself, cannot afford the cheapest Port anymore, why? And then it donned on me, I was there to see how Broadway really works. If you are not in the club of these one percent people who own everything, don’t even think to dream to have anything on Broadway. But if that is the supposed dream, I want to wake up. This terrified me more than the last year’s ass contest started by Kim Kay, yes, that’s how you supposed to say, Kim Kay.

Somewhere by the end of act two I started feeling nauseous. I could not take it anymore. The status quo of a poor artist “surviving” in the city was so obvious to me that I… wait, what did I do? Oh, I went to see act three. I understood that my nausea was also provoked by my (description about the state of sweaty balls was edited out).

Suddenly I saw Mr. Albee sitting on his couch and getting drunk to the point of oblivion and saying (maybe to himself), oh you want a play about rich people for rich people? Okay, I am going to give you that. Let me write something while I am still drunk. The play would make no sense to most of poor (who needs them on Broadway anyway?), but would absolutely tickle rich people’s egos. You see, they would say, there is a show on Broadway about us. See how important our problems are. These other (meaning poor) people will never understand what it means to be this filthy rich when you literally can start drinking whenever you like and just keep drinking, because there is nothing else more dramatic to do. And why don’t they (meaning poor) understand how hard our lives are? Thankfully we know how to squeeze fresh orange juice for an early morning drink. Screw you all, I am having a screwdriver now…

I am afraid my dear darlings that after this review I might be banned from all Broadway theaters, because how do I dare to say anything bad about rich people’s entertainment and even more, about white rich people’s entertainment, which only they are entitled to enjoy. You know what, my darlings, there is nothing for me to lose. I am going to sacrifice myself for the humanity. See how selfless and heroic Serge Plastikoff is? You haven’t heard from him for such a long time and now he is ready to put his well white being on the chopping block for you. You might want to ask me, what was happening with you our dearest SirGay? Why weren’t you sharing your wisdom with us for such a long time? Darlings, I was on a break, on a break from all these things that matter to you. I went to Broadway to find that it is so broad, this so called Broadway, that there is no place for anybody who is not rich there.

I feel like I need to put some lemon juice on my balls and spray it with pepper spray now. But talking about spraying my (edited)… so tha-dha for tonight. There is nothing else I want to tell you today.

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Theater Farts, Unsolicited Solicitations

My 3 Spent Kopeks or an Open Letter (sort of) to Play Writers

Okay, my Dear Darlings, I kept myself quiet for way too long, listening to your (something) whining about this and that. Today is the day for me to give you the 3 kopeks I still have about writing for theater.

You all seem so bitter and too serious about your craft, my Dear Writers. Have a drink or something and let’s discuss why your ego and lack of flexibility hurt us all.

I see that some of you might not really know how theater really works. You get all worked up about your genius ideas and ze words you write in your plays. There is a lot I want to say about all that ego business it seems you have when it comes to producing your play. The thing is, my Dear Darlings, nobody wants to work in theater with anybody who has a big ego, unless, of course, it’s Serge Plastikoff himself, then all is forgiven.

There are oh so many things that bother me about American theater, but I will keep that for another entry, when I am less drunk, besides America is not ze country I grew up in, so I need to show some class I might never have (smiley face).

The American theater is strangely stuck on this imaginary belief that what is written should always stay in the production. No, my Dear Darlings, a play or script is a blueprint for a production, simple as that. Why do so many directors return to Shakespeare, Molière, Chekhov or Ibsen? Because all these writers left their plays as blueprints with written ideas in it. The most successful play writers will be the ones who write their plays leaving space for interpretation.

When I take on a play to direct, first I look for how I could express what hurts me now and the society. I ask the question: “Is this play relevant today?” I read plays as drafts to express something other than what is written. It is sometimes very tedious work to do, but every director looks for that perfect blueprint to be able to build a house which is the play/performance/show.

Let me say it straight: if you don’t trust directors, actors, designers, composers and all the collaborative effort that goes into producing your play, then don’t ducking do it. Write a novel or a short story or something. Theater is collaboration; nobody wants to deal with your big ego. If you know how your play should be done, then do it yourself, by yourself and to yourself because you will never have a great production when collaboration is absent.

After reading a few thoughts you expressed, My Dear Writers, on one message board or another I got this strange feeling that you are missing something very important about theater arts. I will repeat: it sounds like some of you don’t even know how theater actually works. Have you made any effort to research and read about successful theater groups? Have you asked yourself why certain authors and their plays are being produced year after year after year? What makes a great play? Have you researched how Shakespeare, Molière, Chekhov, Ibsen wrote their works?

Oh, I know I will be attacked as another one who doesn’t respect the sacredness of writers and their works. Darlings, I don’t care, there are plenty of works that just wait for my drunken mind to get mixed in. You should look forward to seeing productions that make your work exciting, because they open something you hadn’t thought while writing it. All those different interpretations and the decisions others make while working with your play should be your priority, not the offensive mess you see when a director decides to remove one or another scene or word.

How many times were the works of Shakespeare, Molière, Ibsen, Chekhov cut, rearranged, or rewritten? All that business only made their plays more interesting and exciting even in some high school productions. There were/are so many interpretations of “Hamlet” alone that a play writer who wrote a play like this could live for hundreds of years on stage. Oh, that’s right, Shakespeare did it and he is somehow still relevant. Point blank, if you want to be as good as Shakespeare, be prepared to see your favorite scenes, words and what not cut from your play, because somebody saw something else in your work.

A play is incomplete without a live performance. Without that live breath it is nothing. It should inspire directors, actors, designers, musicians and other writers to come back to it time and time again, unless you want to be a legend in your own living room (thank you, Madame Lennox).

Directors are not your enemies. They are messengers who decipher your message and deliver it to the audiences, through the actors and production.

Actors are not invaders of your plays. They are the ones who give your words life. You should cherish and trust them. They take your characters on themselves and live the life you wrote for them on the stage.

Designers and musicians dress and move your written words with their imagination.

In short, you all should strive to have as many different approaches to your work as possible and let go of your ego. The tree which is the most flexible survives the many storms ahead.

Do you need more convincing? Okay, let’s see how Shakespeare became who she/he/they became.

You see, to this day it is unclear if it was one writer who wrote all these plays. What we know is that somebody recorded the text. Shakespeare’s success is in a collaborative process that was developed on the stage. The texts allow us to re-imagine who one or another character was. Romeo and Juliet have been a boy and a girl, a boy and a boy, a girl and a girl, or a giraffe and an elephant in many productions since the actual work was written. Still, “Romeo and Juliet” is and will always be “Romeo and Juliet.” Shakespeare could care less if his/her/their text is re-arranged and re-imagined by generations and generations to come. It is still an ageless story, a blueprint many directors will return to for many years.

Let’s look at Molière now. He wrote his plays while performing and directing them himself. He “borrowed” from Commedia dell’Arte, Marlowe and what and who not. He made those plays his own, because he was not afraid to let his ego go when there were audiences involved. What he cared about was the performance.

Chekhov had Stanislavski himself to direct his plays. I don’t need to tell you what it meant to him when Nemirovich-Danchenko, after “The Seagull” (my favorite play by Chekhov, by the way) flopped, told Stanislavski that he should direct the play. The production directed by Stanislavski returned Chekhov to fame in theater. Do you think it is an accident? Oh Darlings, you haven’t experienced theater the way it is with all its magic and…

And here comes Ibsen, the one that has been produced as often as Shakespeare. While employed at Det Norske Theater in Bergen, Ibsen was involved in many plays as writer, director, and producer, and even though he didn’t become a successful playwright at that time, all this collaborative experience helped in his writings later on. When actors speak the words I wrote, I feel where I made mistakes and I let them correct me with their inner voices.

Sometimes, when I am tremendously bored with directing I become an actor… or is it the other way around, I don’t remember now. I show my doubts while working on one or another character in a play. One day I decided to write my own play and, on top of it, I decided to direct that play too. I had one of my bastard actors question the words I had written the same way I was questioning somebody else’s work when I was acting. I let him change my words the way he felt it fit his character, just later for him to realize that what I wrote was correct and he wanted to return to that original text. I took it, of course, as a huge compliment, but still let him know that I was “open” for his interpretation, because he was “feeling” my words on the stage. I know I know I am so giving and forgiving. You can put your flower into my limo. Thank you!

So, My Dear Darlings, if you get offended by somebody interpreting your written words on the stage you should probably choose another way of expressing yourself, because theater is fluid, theater is flexible and most importantly, theater is collaborative. Boom! The news splash for you? I hope not!

You want to be another Ibsen, Chekhov, Molière or Shakespeare? Meet the live theater and people who are eager to change your written words. Believe me, you will gain a lot from it and who knows, collaborations might make you another great playwright. Break a leg and keep it broken in appreciation that somebody is inspired by your writings. Plastikoff’s out. No, I mean I am out of Port. Tah-da!

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