Thursday, March 11, 2004

Time for a Rennaisance!!!

This is embarrising. The fact that a playwright and theatre company in Chicago have chosen to mount the first specific theatrical treatment (Ronan Noone's Lepers of Baile Baiste examined the scandal in Ireland,) of a massive scandal that happened right in our backyard disappoints me. And I am not making an illogical exception for myself.

My Brethren, let's get on the ball and start churning. At a playwright's talk back after Our Lady of 121st Street the other night, many people in the audience, and the moderator were begging the talented Stephen Adly Giurgis to come here to premiere his next play. There was even talk from him about writing a play involving the talented Vincent Siders whose amazing portrayal of Rooftop blew the roof off the theatre and then brought it down. It is hard for local playwrights, struggling to have their voice heard, and to keep perfecting theircraft to see such New York Worship. Mr. Guirgis is undoubtedly talented, and has extreme gifts, but I could not help but feel that a little New York gilding was going on. Our Lady is far from a flawless work, (which Mr. Giurgis I am happy to say agrees.)

Now, we have Sin, A Cardinal Deposed, opening in Chicago at a mid-sized theatre company. It is basically the text of the deposition of Cardinal Law during the Church Abuse Scandal. At the end of the New York Times article a woman who has flown in from Boston to Chicago to see the play states, "she would work to bring it to a theater in Boston." Now we can look forward to a talk back session with the "playwright," from California and we will all sit and lament how wouldn't it be great to be him or to be in the Chicago Theatre Scene or for them to come here.

So here we have The New York Times covering a hot new production in Chicago about something that has happened in our backyard! Maybe you don't feel jealous, envious, or have your self esteem hurt, but I do. In fact, I am so incensed that I am talking about it publicly. Please don't misunderstand me, I am not saying that we aren't writing or trying to write, or trying to create theatre. And I am not saying that capitalizing on a "hot social controversy" neccessarily creates the best art at the time. Masterpieces are usually borne out of at least a little reflection, but the fact is that a vibrant theatre scene needs to keep up with the fast age as well. I know we have great playwrights in this town. But until we in the theatre community start really believing that, it won't be true.

Think of all the rich material we have here;

Charles Stuart
Whitey Bulger raping girls in the back room of a bar in Southie
The Big Dig
The Swedish Nanny (Never solved.)
The first Female Governor pregnant and giving birth during her term.
The Movie Industry being financially pinched by the Unions.
The Airport where most of the hijackers flew out of.
The Shootings in broad daylight in Roxbury and Dorchester.
The Harvard/Fair Wage controversy.
The Deaths in the Fenway area after the sport riots
The Current Gay Marriage Debate!!!
The Vagina Monologues being done at at Ameherst High School
The Wealthy Society people who run the MFA
The art theft from the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum
Two Catholic Schools having a rumble after a hockey game and one of them gets stabbed.
The Hockey Dad Killing
The Turnpike Controversy

But first let me go back to something here. People are, "flying to Chicago to see this show." This show has a built in audience that want to see this dramatized they want to experience the catharsis that theatre will bring to them.

My response is for us to do whatever is possible. Let's start producing theatre, on a shoestring, in odd places. Garages, apartments, basements. Don't charge admission. Just invite a few people to see what you are doing. Use what you can. Let's get creative! Get serious with actors, get to know the best talent. If vincent Siders doesn't have at least three playwrights writing a role for him right now, shame on us. Get inspired by them. Write things they would die to play. Workshop with a goal to performance. Be simple. Be complicated. Treat yourself as an artist, not as "somebody trying to make it."

For the next year let's be the most prolific city for theatre creation in the country. Not all of it is going to be good? Well, news flash, not all of it is good now! Not just the most prolific writing, but the most prolific creating!

Crash the gate. Do something edgy and then take a scene from it and perform it on the the sidewalk in front of the Colonial as everybody is going in to see The Graduate! And then hand out fliers! Does that sound desperate? Well guess what! We are desperate. SpeakEasy Theatre Company, in any other town, would have their own theatre! As would Sugan! What about Theatre Offensive?

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