Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Perfectly Blessed Storm

Four years ago today, I woke from by bed at a small inn and padded across the floor to push back the curtains.

My view was the harbor of Edgartown, and what I saw could only be described as The Perfect Storm. Winds whipped nastily and boats rocked and pulled at their moorings. The raindrops spattered against the panes of glass on the window with horizontal impact.

Ahhh. My Wedding Day.

Blissfully, the rain subsided as we all arrived at the Church, and then laid off as we exited after the service as well.

However, the wind kept up and resulted in perhaps our favorite wedding picture of all time: My wife and I are exiting the church as the bridesmaids and groomsmen are trying to wrestle with the soaring and billowing train of the wedding dress, which looks as if it is threatening to pull them off the ground.

For any couples worrying about the forecasts for the blessed day, please don't lose any sleep. The weather couldn't get any worse than that day, and we had a day I wouldn't change for the world.

Happy Anniversary, My Love.


Anonymous said...


a friend pointed me to some of your comments about my work on another blog--so glad you have such insight into my writing and the american theater in general. next time one of your own plays has a production you let me know because i'd love to see how it should be done...

if your dramatic writing is as moving and insightful as this nonsense about your wedding, i can't wait! "ahhh. my wedding day."

neil labute

YS said...

Thank You for stopping by anonymous.

Yes, I wrote a little post about my Anniversary. For my wife.

However, unlike Mr. Labute, in this post I was not trying to construct a play for which people would be forking over tons of money. Nor was I trying to construct a piece of art.

This post was sentimental, and therefore is handicapped in any type of attempt at artistic seriousness.

But if this post had been faux moralistic and artificially plotted, as are some of the works of Mr. Labute, it would have had no more of a leg up.

If this is really Mr. Labute, I can only agree that you have the most insight into your own writing.

As for American Theatre in general, I am still learning, and will be until the day I die.

But, I guess you already know all there is to know, and if that is the case, I can't possibly understand why you would need to read a blog that gets about 24 hits a day.

The next time one of my plays goes up, you can read about it here.

Anonymous said...


couldn't help but read the stuff when a friend passed it on to me--had to wade through the 'adjust the googles' and 'the ponderous success' bullshit; it's just so lame to read the blog of somebody who's jealous of another person's success when they could be spending time creating work of their own, if that's what they really want and aren't afraid of putting it out there for the public to see. don't mean to lump you into a group but i've seen this before--i'm the first to say that anywhere that you get in life is by luck & talent & connections & tenacity and all that shit...the thing i really try to shy away from is being negative about what other people are doing. who cares what you think? take chekov's advice to gorky a bit more seriously: "write, write, write! a failure will soon be forgotten but a success, however slight, may be of vast service to the theater." spend a little more time being positive and putting pen to paper on your own work and quit worrying about what other people are doing. do you feel better when you write
a good scene or when you're slamming some fellow writer's work; hope to god it's the former...

if it's the cost of a ticket that sticks in your throat post an address here and i'll send you the $50. bucks back if that'll shut you up. i don't make the ticket prices, i just write the plays.

the theater needs solidarity--not bullshit bitching on the internet. david rabe once said to me (about fellow playwrights), "we're all like buffalo, we need to stick together..." that's a lot better advice than the crap i read in blogs these days.

neil labute

YS said...

Well Mr. Labute,

I basically agree with 90% of what you say. In the next post I asked: "Should we be slamming each other, whether or not you are David Hare or some fellow blogger."

I am not as huge a success as you are, but I have some regional award nominations from the Independent Reviewers of New England, (I know you will probably snort at that, but I was nominated nonetheless.) I have some grant wins, and good audiences once and while.

I have not only put the sweat equity into writing, I have spent my own money, time, blood and tears into producing it, publicizing it and trying to drag people into the audience, as I know you have.

I have spent late nights with the word processor screen burning through my eyeballs while I tried to rewrite a scene during tech week.

I have made mistakes and been blasted by the critics. I have written "ponderous" plays for which my friends have only been able to say, "that was interesting."

But you believe playwrights should just write plays and not comment on the works of other writers or the american theatre in general. That is not an invalid point, and anybody who reads my blog knows that I constantly throw that question out, in fact, struggle with it.

If you read my blog and don't think that I am all for solidarity and coming together, then I guess I won't convince you of anything.

By the way, the amount of the ticket price doesn't really stick in my throat. Believe me, I understand that you don't set the ticket price.

What I don't understand is why you want to "shut me up." I read your plays, I have attended them, I assign certain scenes of yours in acting class.

Even on the original comments, which seem to have got you so incensed, I concede that you write dialogue and beats very well. You write scenes actors love to play. That is an incredible talent and you do it better than almost anybody working today.

If I don't really like how the sum of the parts add up, is that not my place to say it? If I disagree with critical assessments, is that not my place to say it? You have already given your answer.

So, while I probably will never be able to name drop in an anecdote like you can, ("David Rabe once said to ME,") I am a writer, theatre producer, and member of the theatre community.

I guess the most maddening part of this discussion. (I am laughing right now,) is that I have no idea if this is really Neil Labute or not. The joke could be on me.

I guess I have to assume it is.

But, answer me this question, I really want to know: Do you believe somebody who is a playwright or a theatre artist, should or should not engage in public criticism, good or bad, regarding anybody else's work or the American Theatre in general? (By that, I mean as newspaper critics or bloggers or even as posters on internet message boards.)

My e-mail address is: mirroruptonature @

How about this, rather than send me my money back, send me a ticket to your next play, and I'll send you a ticket to mine? (I am writing one now, for production next year.)

And please don't worry, when the phone doesn't ring, I'll know it's you.

Anonymous said...


it's a tricky thing, this 'commenting' on other people's work as a critic while doing the very same work as a writer. i'm aware of many people who have done it very successfully, both in the theater and as prose writers, but i'm not at all certain that this means it should be done.

obviously, anybody can say whatever they want about any damn thing they want--the internet has now sealed the deal on that--but should they just because they have the platform? well, that's the question, isn't it? all i know is i'd rather leave the negative shit & the criticism to those who don't have the talent and/or guts to do the thing--it's the old joke of 'those who can, do; those who can't, teach; and those who can't teach, teach gym.' that sort of thing. it's not completely true but it's funny and i think something inside me believes it...

listen, do what you want--i've got better things to do, but if you are a playwright then i wish you well and a dose of personal success, whatever that may be; the blogs and shit feel more like old ladies gossiping and it makes me a little sick, that's all...
enough said.

you're on for the tickets--i'm doing a play with mcc in the spring at the lucile lortel. you leave me a full name here and there will be two tickets waiting for you at the opening night. best i can do.

good luck with the show you're writing.

neil labute

YS said...

You're on.

And thanks for the response.

My name Art Hennessey. My blog is semi anonymous. I talk about my work and my theatre company.

I don't hide my identity, but I also don't broadcast it.

As far as gossiping, I really try to put some substance into what I write,

although I will often point to the latest interesting article, or something that is being talked about a lot in the Mainstream Press or the Blogosphere.

One last thing, because I really do believe you don't have the time.

As far as the comparison between writing a blog post or writing a scene. You are right, the scene wins hands down as far as fulfillment.

But I see blogging, aside from a way to express and examine things, as a way to keep momentum going. I went through a dry spell for a few months back last year and hit some writers block.

I remember reading the uber-prolific David Mamet's advice: "Just write! If you can't write a play, then write a screenplay. If you can't write a screenplay, write a novel. If you can't write a novel, write a short story. If you can't write a story, write an article. If you can't write an article, write an essay. If you can't write an essay, write a poem. If you can't write a poem, write a grocery list."

I paraphrase, but you get the idea. For me, getting up and writing a post every morning, (even if it was to point somebody to an article about the Delsarte method being the rage in Borneo,) at least kept me writing. Sometimes they are good, sometimes they are bad.

I am fine now, but I still like writing about theatre. So I will keep doing it.

Best of luck again.

Anonymous said...

that's all good as far as i'm concerned--mamet's giving out the same advice that chekhov was a hundred years before; the only way to write is to write. no way around it...

as far as you (or anybody) writing about the state of things in theater, particularly movements, your own work, etc., i'm all good with that--it's the backstabbing 'he or she's not all that great' shit that really gets me. at least wait until you get into a room with the person and let them defend their work. the rest just seems petty and mean and small.

get out there and write, art, you'll be glad you did and so will i. promise.

two tickets for "art hennessey" will be waiting at will call on opening night of my show at mcc in late may/early june. you can count on it.

neil labute