'Plaint of the Playwright

'Plaint of the Playwright

[ Sunday, May 04, 2003 ]

I found this on fellow Broom Streeter and Madison Theater Guy John Gustafson's weblog:

(John's full post is here, by the way.)

I will comment on Rob's play, though. He wrote another guns-n-violence play, which was enjoyably metatheatrical. He made use of the MC, who made an announcement that unfortunately, Rob had been unable to write a play this year after all--and instead had written an hour-long vitriolic poem. Then the poem was interrupted by a gun-wielding madwoman named Mendoza who held the MC and the audience hostage right before a SWAT team burst into the theater. Mendoza then announced that there was a bomb planted under a random audience member's seat--this of course, was Rob--and that it would kill everybody in a five seat radius if it went off. (Don't worry, the bomb was eventually disarmed, and we all survived.)

Which is all well and good, but then I get to...

One of the things Rob does as a playwright is have fun with the expectations that his audience has of him, often meeting and frustrating those expectations simultaneously, and this was very much in evidence on Friday. Unfortunately, one of the expectations of Rob is now that he hates Broom Street Theater and will trash it in public at every opportunity. And so he did, and got a couple of big laughs, but I gotta say it really came off more bitter than fun. I wish he didn't seem nearly so determined to burn that bridge...



I guess I'm a little taken aback that I'm percieved as "trashing Broom Street publicly." That threw me.

I mean, I have a big mouth about BST, sure. I don't like some of the shows that are put on there. And, yes, I find some of the politics and dynamics there less than equitable, and I think it is a lot different now than the way it was when I first started there.

That said.

Yes, I made a couple of jokes at Broom Street's expense...but within the same play, I also had a character accuse Mercury Players of having a "legacy of greed," and trashed a couple of the other theaters in town, too. Not to mention, I made all of these same jokes before--most obviously in Irish Lesbian Vampire 2--which was a Broom Street show!

I think what hurt John (and my friend Scott, a fellow Broom Street director) is that people really laughed at those jokes. Hard. That suprised me, I'll admit.

I can say, officially, that I didn't intend those jokes (which are really innocuous, looking at them here) as bitter. Now, how can I say that?

Because I also refered to my last show completely tanking in ticket sales--and that was a bitter joke. And it didn't get a laugh, I'll add.

Look, if I wanted to trash Broom Street, I could do it here, very easily. I really could. And I have many reasons.

But, typically, I try not to.

Not because I'm a nice guy. But because it'd make me look like a dick.


But I do criticize Broom Street in casual conversation, yes. And I do have a big mouth, yes.

I was told, recently, that word of my issues with recent shows at Broom Street has found its way to Joel Gersmann--including the fact that I didn't even bother to go and see one of the shows there. It's strange to me that people care about this sort of thing, but here I am, hearing it third-party.

And you add all of this up, and what do you get?

You get Rob Matsushita, spoiled little ingrate, hypocritically spitting on the people who gave him his break, and still wanting to hold on to his directorial slot when so many others--others who appreciate what Broom Street Theater is, and what it represents--would do just as good a job, if not better.

And, hey, maybe there's a bit of truth to that.


Look, I don't hate Broom Street.

If I hated Broom Street, I'd tell Joel to go fuck himself and I'd walk. I've threatened to do so before. Just ask anyone who knows me. (Look at this, I'm turning into Harlan Ellison, now.)

If I really wanted to burn that bridge, I'd tell some of the reasons why I almost quit Broom Street, or the stories of people who have been banned, or quit, or some of the decisions that were almost made by different productions--ones specifically designed to hurt people. I'd tell you about the petty rivalries, the infighting, the childishness. I'd tell you about the people who can't get into Broom Street, and why.

And let's face it--it's a theater company. All of those features come standard with this model.

What Broom Street is, and what it's done in the thirty-four years it's existed, is noteworthy. Okay, I'm understating it--it's heroic. We have no business still being around, and yet, here we stand. We should have folded. Years ago. And we haven't.

You have to love that.

But to say we're unassailable, that all of our shows are good or teach us something, that we couldn't do better work overall, or that people have stopped coming to Broom Street because they're intimidated by it's intelligence...

...I'm sorry, but that's just deluded.

And these are all things that have been said to me by various Broom Streeters.

You can always improve. You can always do better. So many small theater companies go under so quickly before they get a real chance to shine, that it's amazing to think that we sometimes don't realize how lucky we are to have a space to both rehearse and perform in. This is a privilege. Not a birthright.

I will keep directing for Broom Street for as long as they allow it. That's all you need to know.

posted by Rob on 6:20 PM | link



Post a Comment