Archive for July, 2016

Happy 4th of July and Hamilton the musical

Cranky is very fortunate to have a well-heeled friend who takes her to places that a poor actress would never go: Turkey, a spa in Mexico and best of all, the Broadway play Hamilton.

The minute the curtain went up, I had this overwhelming feeling that this show is the essence of what it is to be American.

I never really thought much about feeling patriotic. It used to seem well, CORNY. And a territory for right-wing flag wavers. Until, however, I was once abroad, and a European made a derogatory remark about the United States and Cranky was LIVID. As soon as I was alone with my traveling partner, I went off, “How dare them! What did they ever do? We invented EVERYTHING! Electricity! Hello! The car! Hello! Airplanes! Hello! The telephone, the internet, the cotton gin! Oh, oh, and JAZZ and rock and roll. (Have you ever heard French or Italian attempts at rock – sad, sad). I might have been exaggerating a bit when I said EVERYTHING, but I was in the grip of a patriotic fervor. Which surprised me. “Wow, I thought, I love my country.”

Which is exactly the way I felt when I saw Hamilton. A multi-racial cast playing our Founding Fathers is emblematic if what this country is all about and what’s great about it. I felt so proud to be an American. A rapper with swagger cast as Jefferson was genius. The line in the show: “We’re immigrants we get things done,” elicited a cheer from the audience. It was a show of support for immigrants, and a screw you to New York City’s embarrassment of a native son, Donald Trump.

“Make America great again?” Dude, it is already great in so many ways.

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The Play Reading

Cranky just finished writing a play. I was invited to participate in a reading series and to have a new work read. Cranky didn’t have a new work, but said yes anyway and planned to just make one up.

A deadline is a great thing for a writer. Until, of course, the deadline comes. Cranky made up most of a play sitting on the couch in her living room. Went to places she had literally never gone before. Then it was four days until rehearsal and six days before the reading, and the ending just fell off a cliff. And let’s face it, you got no ending-you got no play. Or movie or TV show for that matter. I am still resentful that I lost so many hours of my life watching Lost. If it was all a dream go fuck yourself. So there I am. The ending hasn’t been cracked. I pace around, say a prayer and thank goodness get an idea. The next few hours I keep running to my computer to add things. I wake up the next morning and grab my computer and start typing before getting out of bed. The dog looks at me funny because Cranky has never done this before and dogs are all about routine.

The night before the rehearsal I send the completed script to the six actors. I am thrilled and love the play. The day of the rehearsal I wake up and I hate the play. I’m sure all the actors hate it too. Especially the one I am closest too, who asks me if I will have time to “talk about the play” after rehearsal. The phrase “talk about the play” will send any playwright into a paranoid tailspin. Especially Cranky. So I walk around all day in a panicked state. The thought crosses my mind that I hope there is an earthquake on Thursday so we won’t have to read the play. Or maybe I will have to perform an emergency C-Section on the play and completely rewrite it in one day. I’m sure that the fact that I wrote anything good in the past was a fluke. And that I will never write another play again. That I am not a writer at all. I’m like “Please, please where are the disasters when you need them? How about a little blackout on Thursday? That will do the trick.”

The actors arrive at rehearsal. They all look very happy to be there and enthusiastic. I am sure this is because they are good actors and they are just acting. Then we read through the play. It’s actually good. They are laughing. It’s the perfect combination of sad/funny funny/sad that I like. The rehearsal goes really really well. I’m still nervous about the “talk about the play” person. We go to a diner and she asks if she can change three words. Three words. And tells me it’s a great piece. The earthquake/blackout wish starts to fade.

But we’re talking about the wonderful world of theater were nothing is a sure thing. Ever. The night of the reading there is a full house in the event room of the restaurant hosting it. Before the performance I notice one of the actors downing glasses of Guinness. When he orders another I ask him if he can perform after drinking beer. “Oh sure,” he says.

Everybody is happy. The reading begins. The first scene comes off great. Then comes the second scene with Guinness guy. He is inaudible. I don’t mean a little bit. I mean you can’t hear him AT ALL. It looks like I stuck a mime in there with the speaking actors for experimental reasons. Cranky does not write experimental theater nor does she want to see it. I can’t explain the physical sensations of anxiety that are running through my body. I hired him because his girlfriend asked me if I had something for him. Cranky did it to be nice. And he was a child star on some television program and has been in a bunch of movies. All I can say is, “Dude, Hollywood is calling get the fuck off the stage.”

When it is over I apologize to everyone I know in the room. Some people liked it anyway. Most of them were sitting in the front row.

But alas, such is the way it goes sometimes in the world of a thespian. And when all is said and done, I have written a new play.


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