Sunday, November 7, 2010

An Open Letter

Dear Diane Keaton,

You have a new movie coming out on Wednesday. Congratulations, and I hope it does well for you. The trailers make it look okay, if nothing worthy of your talents. And let's be honest--what movies you've made in the past 15 years have been worthy of your talents? I mean, you made Something's Gotta Give more fun than it deserved to be, but it was a pretty thin piece. And sure The First Wives Club was cute, but come on. You're Diane Keaton. You were Kay Adams. You were Sonja in Love and Death.  You were effing ANNIE HALL. You deserve WAY better than Because I Said So!

So I have a suggestion for you. Do a play. Historically, playwrights have had a much better idea of what to do with women over 40 than Hollywood executives. Find something juicy and classical to do, or better yet, a new play. I'm sure playwrights would be salivating over the chance to write something for you. And a number of actresses in later middle age have found success in theatre--Annette Bening does a show in LA every few years to great success, Susan Sarandon had a major success in Exit the King on Broadway a few years ago. Phylicia Rashad has turned herself into a major stage actress over the past decade. It's fun, it's probably a better part, and it's likely to be quite successful.

So please, Diane. Theatre audiences of the world await you with open arms. Come to the theatre, where we're fans of women over than 40 60. I mean, do you really want to do more movies like Smother?

Or if not, at least knock out Meryl Streep and play Violet in the film version of August: Osage County.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Remember Me?

So funny story. You know what's even harder than maintaining a blog while looking for work? Maintaining a blog while working. So the good news is that I have a job (temp for now, possibility of permanent in future, reasonably enjoyable work and quite pleasing pay), recently dramaturged a play I'm really proud of, and am acting in another play I'm really proud of. The bad news is that leaving the house every morning at 7:30 and not getting back until after 11 rather takes away the time and desire to write. (I had a few ideas that fell by the wayside--a post on the Jeffs, a piece on literary adaptations that I started and never finished. Ah well.) But I've returned to plug, and plug I shall. And hopefully then I will get back to the work of chronicling theatre in Chicago and beyond.

I was privileged to serve as the dramaturg for Kingsville, by Andrew Hinderaker, at Stage Left. It's a really stunning show. The plot imagines an America where, in the wake of a string of school shootings, children are allowed to carry guns into the classrooms. But the play's not really about gun policy--it's a more complex moral inquiry into what strength and masculinity really mean, and how to live in a dangerous world. But the structure and pace are that of a thriller, and it definitely succeeds--every time I've seen it or house managed, there have been gasps of shock from the audience. It's a show that gets people incredibly excited, and the production is really excellent--Vance Smith cast a really exceptional ensemble (and the two teens in this will be seen a lot in coming years, I promise you) and helped them to do excellent work, while creating a compelling production. It's also Stage Left's first show at Theatre Wit, and fits the space beautifully--the set is fantastic, the staging fits the larger stage beautifully, and the more comfortable seats and ample bathrooms make everyone happy. The responses from the audience have been hugely enthusiastic, and I hope you'll be able to see it between now and November 21st, when it closes. As and extra bonus, three of the upcoming performances will be part of our Symposium Series, featuring conversations with experts on elements of the play, including a professor whose work on masculinity influenced the show, a lawyer for the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that overturned Chicago's handgun ban, and a survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre who now is a gun control and campus safety advocate. The show runs Thursday-Saturday at 8 PM and Sunday at 3 PM through November 21st, at Theatre Wit, 1229 West Belmont. You can get tickets and more information here.

Meanwhile, on the acting front, tonight's the press opening for Halfshut, by Randall Colburn, at The Right Brain Project. I'm hugely excited about this. I've mentioned that I'm a fan of Randall's work a few times now, so you can imagine how thrilling it is to get the chance to act in one of his plays (one of his full-length plays, that is, though I did have the time of my life in Town Our at this year's DrekFest). What makes it particularly exciting is the process we've all been a part of: Randall took stories from the cast, the crew, and himself, and combined them with a fictional narrative thread to create a gorgeous play that blurs the lines between actor and character (and cast and audience) to exciting and moving effect. We're all playing characters based at least somewhat on ourselves, with relationships at least somewhat like our own. It's risky but incredibly exciting for me as an actor, and I think it makes for a show that's uncommonly involving and funny. I am incredibly proud of this play. We run Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 7 PM, tonight through November 4th at the Right Brain Project, 4001 N Ravenswood, Suite 405. That's just east of the Irving Park Brown Line stop or right off the 80 Irving Park bus. Our capacity is tiny (I think 28 if we squeeze), so I highly recommend that you make reservations soon by emailing or calling 773-750-2033.

Thanks for listening to my plugs, and I hope to see you at the shows soon. Soon, hopefully, it will be back to my regular blogging!