Friday, September 01, 2006

Four Corners No More?

Eric Bogosian, Massachusetts native, is revising the script of his 1994 play subUrbia for a new production at Second Stage this fall. His wife, Jo Bonney, who is also his collaborator and director, is helping in the revisions, including changing the play's setting slightly.

This is encouraging and disappointing all at the same time. Encouraging because so often in these times plays don't don't get worked on beyond their initial productions. Revisions are not made and a play simply goes to second and third productions and then to print with all of the flaws that were sometimes universally pointed out in its first presentation. Happily, it appears that Bogosian and Bonney are enthusiastically reworking the material.

It is disappointing because I always kind of liked the fact that the play was so linked to Woburn, MA, which is where Bogosian grew up. Not that the play didn't transcend to probably every other suburban community in the country, including mine which one town over from Woburn. In fact, I still drive by the 7-11 at Four Corners in Woburn often, and I used to pass it daily on my commute.

When I first heard of Bogosian's Suburbia, while stationed at Camp Hovey in Korea in 1994, I had a very nostalgic and rather innocent reaction to reading in the New York Times of a new play at Lincoln Center . To my delight it turned out that the script was about a bunch of kids hanging out by the 7-11 in Woburn! In 1994, being stationed in Korea really did feel like being on the other side of the world, which is very different from recentley being able to e-mail, in real time, with an army buddy who was stationed in Iraq.

The movie version relocated the setting to Texas, and, according to the New York Times, for this current revival:

"Ms. Bonney has contributed a subtle shift with the set, no longer a rundown 7-Eleven but 'one of those pristine, aluminum-gridded stores we see driving through New Jersey or Massachusetts,' she said. The bleak, dead-end mind-set of much of the teenage generation, she said, remains what it was in the 90’s — or the 70’s, when Mr. Bogosian hung at the Woburn strip mall that inspired the play — but the 'cookie-cutter' quality of the surroundings is more threatening and depressing."

I know Woburn is not central to understanding of the play and I am not sure if Woburn ever was mentioned in the text, except in Bogosian's touching introduction. But that 7-11 was always a catalyst for a certain visceral connection.

The article also mentions the internet as making the youth of the play even more angst ridden because it opens their world even larger. Maybe a change of backdrop to something less specific is more appropriate: We are everywhere and we are nowhere.

So, disaffected youth of my generation, raise a slurpee for the passing of a common ground!

These feelings are not artistic or aesthetic, just my mere personal opinion.

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