Sunday, December 05, 2010

J&B proceeds

I went to an MITF seminar about producing for that festival. JULIA & BUDDY was performed as a one-act at the MITF last summer and is now a full-length play and I plan to do a production this summer at MITF.

It's about 98% done but I keep tweaking it, sharpening things - the f-word is now much more significant in the play than just the fact that Buddy doesn't like to hear the word. Now it is the symbol for "The Will" itself. Which is actually perfectly valid in Schopenhauerian philosophy - which is a big part of the play, but I only quote ole Arthur very sparingly. Schopenhauer basically does say in his work that people find sex to be naughty because it leads to procreation, which leads to existence, which leads to pain. I have to find that quote.

Julia says it this way:
JULIA

It’s the Will at work –We are slaves to the Will.

BUDDY

You make The Will sound like some evil cosmic overlord.

JULIA

Yes, it is exactly like that. That’s the way Schopenhauer describes it – it’s very metaphysical.

BUDDY

And we are controlled literally by some evil cosmic overlord?

JULIA

Not literally a guy who is an overlord… but it might as well be. Without sentient beings there would be no pain. So the Will makes us want sex so that we will procreate, so that the pain can continue. That’s why talking about sex is so dirty – because deep down, on an unconscious level, people understand the dirty secret - sex causes existence, existence causes pain. That’s why the worst possible word you can say is “fuck."
The rest of that conversation here

I've always been fascinated by the fact that some words are taboo and it's a huge deal to utter them aloud. "Fuck" has become slightly less naughty during my lifetime, but only slightly. I remember when I used to do clinic defense and the anti-abortion protesters would be there screaming and praying, and if you got into a conversation with them, and you said "fuck" the entire conversation would come grinding to a halt because they were so freaked out by hearing it. They were like the Knights Who Say "Ni" except of course substituting the word "fuck" for "it."

My daughter gave me a book called "The F Word" one year for Christmas. It's pretty interesting. Although I notice the word "fucktard" is not in this 1995 edition I have. I wonder if they've added it to the second edition.

After the seminar I popped by the Dramatists Bookshop to finally read RED LIGHT WINTER a play by Adam Rapp that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. I wrote about the critical response to the play here.

The plot of this play is so typical of the naughty-man genre (yes, I just coined that term) that is so beloved of critics and practiced most prominently by David Mamet, Neil LaBute and Adam Rapp. One unifying feature of naughty-man plays is misogyny. But nobody ever went broke due to misogyny, especially in the theatre. The women in these plays are either hapless victims - and often prostitutes too - or evil schemers. Mamet is especially big on the evil schemers, especially in OLEANNA and RACE.

The prostitute in RED LIGHT WINTER has a heart of gold (argh!) and becomes involved with a psychopath who doesn't return her feelings. Really there should be a moratorium on straight men writing plays featuring prostitutes because they are always bizarro-world fantasy prostitutes and not real people who have sex for money. I've heard plenty of plays with prostitutes at NYCPlaywrights and the prostitutes almost always have a heart of gold.

One of the most annoying ones was about an elderly woman who buys her husband a prostitute for his birthday. It was called HAPPY BIRTHDAY ASSHOLE except "Asshole" was actually some guy's name but I forgot the name. I could look it up in the NYCPlaywrights archives, but fuck it. In this play (mercifully only a ten-minute play) the prostitute has a heart of gold for the wife - we don't see the husband.

The real problem with the play was that there was no drama to it at all. It was a straight-up business transaction - the wife hires the prostitute for her husband. They chat a little about the wife's life. I don't think the wife has any sex drive if I recall correctly. Then the prostitute has admiration for the wife, for no apparent reason other than because she is hiring a prostitute for her husband. I guess the playwright thought that since the business transaction was about sex that was all the drama needed.

So if I really wanted JULIA AND BUDDY to be a success I should make Buddy a cold-hearted asshole and it turns out that Julia isn't really a philosophy professor but a prostitute with a heart of gold who is abused by Buddy. It would probably help if I also used a male pen name. I've been toying with a few, so far the front-runner is Richard Wood Johnson.

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