Thoughtful and candid discussion and commentary on the performing arts by "those who do." This is a forum meant to reflect what's currently on the minds of working actors, directors, designers, producers and writers.
Extra Criticum was born on May 24th, 2008 and on June 2nd of that year my first post appeared, a review of the film Reprise. Before I wrote that post I was shy, withdrawn, and weighed 498 lbs. Since then I lost 350 lbs and gained the confidence I was lacking. Now I’m famous, rich, beautiful, and get so much action I’m giving some of it away to the action-less.
Today I wrote what may be the three most satisfying words a dramatist writes: END OF PLAY. They went on the bottom of page 103 in Scene 12 of a new full-length comedy. (One only hopes there will eventually be audiences and if they appear, that they will laugh.) This play’s working title is Callgirl, which I’m not satisfied with and will exchange for something better as soon as I come up with that something better.
I am grateful for being able to post on Extra Criticum and am sorry I haven't in a long while. I could use the excuse that I now do a weekly internet radio show, work a day job and play poker on the weekends so who the hell has time for a single thing more but that would not be coming from a very grateful place now would it?
So here I am posting, partly in response to Roland's last post and partly because I have been discussing and debating the topic of what artistic success is on my show, The Unknown Zone Talk Show, fairly regularly.
For at least two years before the birth of Extra Criticum, it seems that my old pal Robert Sullivan had been prodding me to start blogging. “You need a blog. Every writer should have a blog. Have you thought about starting a blog yet? I really think you ought to consider it.” I don’t know why I resisted. Well, actually, I do. I resisted the idea of starting my own blog because it struck me then as somewhat narcissistic. A journal of my thoughts, feelings and opinions—not to mention mundane actions—posted online for all the world to see? Why bother? What a bore!
So I told Robert the only way I would consider blogging was if it was a group undertaking. I didn’t want to create a space where all the musings of one Roland Tec would be posted ad nauseum. I’d feel a lot more comfortable if I could do so in the company of good friends and colleagues.
If we can agree that most playwrights are mediocre, I sort
of feel like they fall into two giant pools at opposite ends of a continuum. At
one end there are those with great ears for the music of dialogue, for how we
sound when we speak but without much of any depth fueling their desire to write.
At the other end of the spectrum are the theme builders who load their plays with
big issues but maybe lack some of the finesse in terms of crafting dialogue.
And then in the middle, between these two extremes are the really great
playwrights, the ones who have a subtle ear for dialogue but also have
something devastating to say about the human condition
Two such writers have plays up in 99-seat houses right now.
And I was lucky enough to enjoy them both virtually back to back.
There are people in this business (You know who you are) who love nothing more than to infantilize the artists they deal with. Sometimes these people are lawyers. Sometimes they're agents or producers or executives. Sometimes they're even D-girls, if you can imagine.
And there are artists who slip into the role of helpless child with such ease and frequency that slowly over time, imperceptibly at first, they get sort of glued in stuck into the costume. And they end up prisoners of a sort... ambling through life like helpless innocents looking for guidance to all the adults in the room. I don't have a lot to say about this syndrome, save this:
1991, I showed up at a realtor’s office in Brooklyn. The borough was to be my
home for the next 18 years, but it was virgin ground to me then. I had
graduated from college in June. After a summer at home and a trip to Europe
with my girlfriend, I had come to start my new life, my New York City life. Some
friends had found an apartment in the cute-sounding neighborhood of “Park
Slope”. I was the first to arrive.
A week later I started a job as a paralegal at Wilkie Farr
& Gallagher. The office was on the 51st floor of the Citicorp
Building. Why the powers-that-be there decided to give me a job like that is a mystery on the level of
Stonehenge, and they would quickly come to regret it. After six miserable weeks,
What to say about my new friend, Dandy Darkly? It might be easier to let others... for example, Woman About Town Magazine called him "A Gothic, gay monologist" while the Triskelion Arts
Center called him "The Dr. Seuss of Perversion!"
The Villager Newspaper said that he's "An utterly unique and potentially fatal cocktail of mince
and menace that's not to be believed... even once he's been seen!" and recently, Time Out picked his last show as "One of Five Things To Do". He's
Dandy Darkly is a master storyteller who mixes the erotic .. and the macabre.. and this Saturday night March 30th at Dixon Place, he'll present a Dandy
Darkly’s Easter Blister Variety Event with an all star lineup of storytelling and burlesque style acts!
As a storyteller I pay a lot of attention to types of narrative – the various ways stories can be told.
Narrative is perhaps the fundamental way our species organizes experience. Event “A” causes event “B” which causes event “C” etc. etc. That’s what narrative is – a causal relationship between events. You can think of it as a series of dominoes falling. Even when in real life events occur in proximity but independently, our strong impulse is to invent a causal connection anyway, because that’s just how we’re wired to see the world. We like order; cause and effect. To our genetically endowed brains, chaos and nonsense are not our friends.
Girls is the antithesis of the modern sitcom, most notably in the way it depicts sex as awkward and only intermittently satisfying — as opposed to the happy, off-screen "banging" that's talked about on shows like How I Met Your Mother and is only occasionally disrupted by cute-as-a-puppy instances of impotence. This week's second-season finale closes with a skewed take on a romantic comedy cliché, as Adam responds to a phone call of distress from Hannah by dashing out of his apartment at night without a shirt on, taking the subway to her place, breaking down her front door, and lifting her out of bed in his arms.
An article I wrote for Filmmaker Magazine, Five Different Roads to a Web Series, is now online and ready for your eyeballs. I interviewed five filmmakers who turned their films (and a TV pilot) into web series. One of those filmmakers is Jacob Hensberry, whose Kickstarter campaign for his film, Planet X, was covered here and here.
Impoverishment is the default condition of most theatre artists, including playwrights, composers and lyricists. Very few make a living from their art and many struggle to make ends meet and lack health insurance. This sad state of affairs was well aired in 2010 by the book Outrageous Fortune which documented how the economics of theatre disadvantage writers.