Archive for January 22nd, 2009

The Princess and The Pea(Nut)

The last play I wrote that was produced in New York City was in a festival in Midtown. The festival people were great and the festival was run really well. My play was a short play, so I was paired up with another writer to make a complete program.
The other writer didn’t appear to know what she was doing, but she was determined to be the boss and run the show.
Getting the Equity paperwork out of her was nearly impossible, and we almost missed the deadline. It squeaked in, by me hand delivering it, smiling, begging, and paying a rush fee.

I put the program together and emailed her a copy. She never looked at the email, and found a typo in one of her cast’s names the day before opening AFTER it had been printed. Love that.

I let her chose which play would go first. She wanted first, natch. We teched separately. I attended her tech run through to see what we would be dealing with for a set change.

Her set had a rope tied to the sprinkler system on the 18-foot ceiling. A big heavy rope. They had to bring out a huge ladder and take it down between the plays. Not a swift transition. If she had chosen to go second it wouldn’t be a problem, but the princess had to go first. So I let it go, and figure we’ll deal. You don’t was a cumbersome drawn out set change between plays for the sake of the audience. For my play, we were using a few black cubes to keep it simple.
We find out the day before opening night ,that we need someone to help with the box office. When I ask her, before I finish my sentence she says, “OH I DON’T KNOW ANYBODY.” At least make believe you are trying to think of someone before speaking. It’s my fault. My OCD is showing and she can tell I’m gonna take care of it. You have to look like you don’t really care to get her to do anything. I didn’t do that.

On opening night when she is setting up for her play, a giant bag of Styrofoam peanuts appears. “What the fuck?” I think. The next second they are dumped on the stage. To signify an ice flow on a river. A MILLION FUCKING STYROFOAM PEANUTS! As they say in Brooklyn, “You gotta be shitting me.”

I went to tech. I saw the tech. THERE WAS NOT A PEANUT IN SIGHT. There was not a peanut even mentioned. This is why you have tech, so you can strike and set up EXACTLY the way you will be doing it for performance.

I say nothing to her. There is no point now. The peanuts are out of the bag.

Everything on the stage for her play is labeled with signs. The rope has a sign that says ROPE. A box has a sign that says DOCK. A play by a retard for retards. I can’t figure out what it is about. Someone eats and apple and commits suicide. Really heavy dude.

After her play is performed, her actors walk off stage and don’t do dick. My actors are stuck with the fucking peanuts. The director and I jump onstage and start sweeping, while her stage manager is doing a high wire act with the rope.
It was all so unnecessary. If this play had a fucking real snow machine from Hunter Mountain, it wouldn’t have helped. And why not use a white sheet instead of a five-foot bag of Styrofoam peanuts? Why not? Because the mind who dreamed up this fachada play would never think of anything logical/simple like that.

We have a reception after the plays. Guess who sets up for the party? Guess who takes care of the comps for both casts? Guess who looks like she is losing her mind?

She arrived for opening night carrying a bag of things for the party. Princess dumps it at my feet and says,” Would you bring this upstairs for me?” I said NO. Aren’t you proud of me? When the party was over, she asked me if I would bring her stuff home and then bring it back the next day so she won’t have to carry it. No again sister. She gets the “WHAT WERE THEY THINKING” award.

We get fined for the rope tied to the sprinkler. A safety violation. The director of the festival attended the play and charged out of the theater totally beet red faced with fury.

We got reviewed. The reviewer mentioned the ungainly set change. The reviewer also detested her play. THE REVIEWER LOVED MY PLAY. It was Karmic justice, don’tcha think? The title of the pairing was “Two With Troubles” the reviewer added: “Only one actually.” Her play was described as: “ A meager meal that was perplexing and difficult to follow. We don’t even get a try at the meaning of life.”

My play was described as: “A nice encapsulated character study between the two different worlds…clear and illuminating.. Succeeding as satisfying theater…”

Thank you. The suffering was worth it. Good blurbs from a review are everything to a writer.

Since then, I’ve only had plays I write produced out of town by other people. Ohio, Kentucky. All I have to do is put them in an envelope and lick the stamps. No princesses, no peanuts.


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January 2009

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