'Plaint of the Playwright

'Plaint of the Playwright

[ Friday, February 20, 2004 ]

Well, I'm back.

And I know I'm back in Madison because I just read the most pretentious play review ever by critic and me-hater Veronica Rueckert. Yeah, I read Roger Ebert, too, Ronny.

Look at this, I'm not back a week and I'm already complaining. And after such a great trip.

That's right, last week I went to see "Lil Pervs," a night of short plays, some of which have been written by yours truly. (Running until Feb. 22nd, so for Christ's sake, get a move-on if you're going.)

I was pretty excited--I've seen work of mine performed before, and even by people unconnected to me, but...

Well, it's New York, what can I say?

Before the show started, I was stopped by Ezekiel Kendrick, sound design for the show, and Shoko Kambara, scenic designer (I think--I'm pretty sure she said she designed the set--if I'm wrong, I apologize...I was a little awe-struck I was back in NYC), who both said, "Hey, love your work." That felt good.

The two highlights of the evening are "Eye Level," by Laura Axelrod, and "The Fateful Day Of The Rabbi," by Anne De Mare. Both piece were performed by Carolyn Corbett who--and this is the most delicate way I can put this--FUCKING ROCKED. Corbett was actually my mom's favorite actress, too. "Once she started, you just can't your eyes off her!"

After seeing her in "Eye Level," I crossed my fingers and muttered, oh please oh please oh please let her be in one of MY pieces...

Which she was--my short play, "Sappy Love," which I wrote to cheer up a friend whose girlfriend broke up with him. In the play, much is made of what could possibly be the main ingredient of the chili both characters are eating. I won't give it away, but all night when people said hi to me, they added, "oh, you're the creepy chili guy!"

I talked to Dan Trujillo, the producer and playwright of one of the pieces, who told me that when they read everything initially, they knew they'd have to cut something--and that it was almost unanimously decided that whatever happened, they had to keep "Sappy Love" in the show. That's pretty frickin' cool.

Lydia Radzuil, the director (as well as writer of two poems performed in the show), went in the direction of making the two characters as nerdy as humanly possible. This was different than I'd imagined it, and I couldn't be happier. It's a short piece, and should be played for maximum comic impact. And I'd walk a mile for the distant, haunted way that Corbett croaks out "WHY...?"

Also in "Sappy Love" was Paul "Klem" Klementowicz, who reminded quite a few of my friends of Stephen Root. I have to rent "13 Conversations About One Thing," now, just because the program mentions that he's in it. He was funny, too, and he also performed one of my monologues, "Duane," about a desperate man apologizing to his girlfriend, Jody-Jo. (Which is a name that guarantees at least a smile from an audience.)

The first was Radziul's poem, "bomb blast," which was rapped by Brian Nemiroff (who has the kind of face where you swear you've seen him before) and human beatboxed by Craig Waletzko, who was another standout. The two attack it with such fun, that it's a good, energetic way to start the evening.

"Roller Coaster," by Kayla Solomon, was the serious piece of the show. It's one of those kind of short works that you do kind of need to let settle a little but in your head, after. I liked it, but I understood when the audience sort of reluctantly clapped after it. It's a lot to take in, just when it seemed like things were getting purely comical.

I understand why they selected it (you can't NOT select something that powerful), but it did present them with a conundrum of where in the show you put it. Intelligently, they put it between two funny pieces. Nemiroff was in this one, as was Beth Collins, as his sister. The acting was pretty solid, and I was actually glad to see a serious piece just because it gave you some idea of range. Collins also plays a teenager in one of my monologues ("Faye",) and if you just saw that one, you might think that was all she can do. She speaks in a lower register for "Roller Coaster," (which is probably her normal speaking voice), holds herself totally differently, and it's a different person.

As I watched the show, I realized I had no memory of which monologues had been picked. (I submitted ten, and they used three.) All night, I kept belatedly realizing that I was hearing my own words performed. Craig Waletzko, who read my monologue "Paul," about a man talking to his date's eight year old daughter (who apparently does a rather unflattering impression of her mother), was one of my cousin Takeo's favorites. (I think it should go without saying, from this point on, that I loved ALL the cast members.)

Waletzko, who has an open, friendly face and, like all professional actors, projects in such a way that is loud without sounding like shouting, was damn funny, but also fascinating to watch in Trujillo's piece, the longest one of the night (quiet, you), "Nothing To Do Without You," about two people bound together by...well, I wouldn't so much say love. Or hate. Perhaps genuine acceptance of each one's annoyance of the other.

This one has a bit of nasty violence in it, and I had to tell friends of mine afterwards that, "no, oddly, I did not write the violent one."

Also in "Nothing To Do," is Alisha McKinney, who seems to have the most innocent face because of her teacup-sized eyes, and the most devious face when she narrows them. She's really funny as a character who is the hero or the villain, depending on your point of view (it's that kind of play). My mom read in the program that she was on "As The World Turns," and spent the rest of the play trying to remember if she'd seen her. "You gotta ask her what she did," she told me, "It's gonna drive me nuts!"

Sadly, my mom is now nuts because I didn't get a chance to ask. Oh, well.

Beth Collins then flat-out nailed my monologue, "Faye," sounding almost exactly like I'd imagined it. "Faye" is a quick short about an overly excited teenage girl leaving a message on her friend's machine.

Alisha McKinney then performed another of Radziul's poems--although the first night it seemed over just as it started. The second night I saw it (and maybe this is my imagination) she slowed it down a bit, and it worked.

After the show, I was stopped by Kayla Soloman, and we both congratulated each other on our scripts.

I stuck around the second night for some picture-taking (Dan wanted to get a shot of the actors and the playwrights), and I walked behind Brian Nemiroff and stood next to Paul Klementowicz. Nemiroff turned around and at first looked at me like you'd look at an audience member who just walked into the cast photo, then asked, "oh, are you one of the writers?"

Yeah, I said, I'm the crazy chili guy.

The actors around me all reacted to this, and Klementowicz turns to me, and says, "Oh, you're the guy!"

Yup!

"Well, I apologize for butchering your words," he said, then added, "but I do not apologize for butchering Connie!" (A character in the script)

I laughed and gave him thumbs up.

After the photo, Craig Waletzko walked up to me and shook my hand, and we talked a little bit before the rest of the pictures had to be taken. There wasn't a lot of time to chat (I missed out on really getting to meet the cast) because there was another show going up in an hour, so I just stuck around to watch Dan take publicity photos from "Sappy Love," just to see Klementowicz and Corbett do it again.

After, I joined my friends at a local bar, bitched about not being able to smoke in the bar, determined that "Pour Some Sugar On Me" is essentially the same song as "Hang Tough," and basked in the warm glow of my New York City debut.




posted by Rob on 2:14 PM | link

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