Sunday, February 22, 2015

More theatrical torments

My daughter and her girlfriend made it to the short play festival Saturday and were predictably appalled by the other three plays. They did praise my play, although I can't help but worry that it seems good only by comparison to the awfulness of the rest of the line-up.

Luckily we had the full compliment of actors for the night's performance. Nobody was arrested Saturday.

I did get to chat briefly with the director of the first piece, the one about the yard sale. He happened to be sitting on the bench outside the theater next to me. He looked pretty young.
   ME
So do you do a lot of directing? 
   HIM
No. 
   ME
(In my head: I'm not surprised!)
I overheard him talking to the playwright, who came all the way from Memphis, and he told her all the changes he made to the blocking for the evening's performance - yet again more changes! This time the lawn sculpture cat was on a block instead of directly on the ground. On the plus side, there was no longer any yard sale junk on the ground - it was all on the table.

I spoke to my therapist today about this play and she asked if the cat statue was supposed to have some kind of meaning, since the man keeps insisting he wants it. I hazarded a guess "it symbolizes he wants her pussy." I really can't think of any other possible interpretation.

This play is a perfect illustration of the problem of these voting festivals - the author is a teacher and a whole bunch of her former students came out to see her play, and presumably will all vote for it. I almost asked the playwright what her inspiration for writing this play was - it's hard to avoid assuming that it's supposed to be based on her, since she's also an English teacher from Memphis (I mistakenly thought originally that the play is set in New Orleans. Mostly because there's more talk about New Orleans than there is about Memphis.)

Just when I thought I've determined all the reasons why I hate these plays, I discover another. What really annoyed me this time around about the junk sale play is that the guy mentions his wife went to medical school... and even, I think that she's an intern. And that he is a bar tender. Now there's no reason to mention what the wife does, she's not even a character in the play, just The Wife, an obstacle preventing these two annoying people from immediately having sex on the junk sale table.

But why would an intern be married to a bar tender? I'm not saying it could never happen, but it's so unusual it warrants an explanation of some kind. Or, if you aren't going to offer an explanation then don't mention it at all in the first place!

Dear baby Jesus.

And I also heard the playwright tell the director that she was going to bolt as soon as her play was over. Which she promptly did. Hey bitch, I had to sit through your lousy play every single night, the least you could do is have the courtesy to sit through mine!

I asked my daughter and her girlfriend which of the evening's plays they hated the most and they couldn't decide between the first and second plays. I can't decide either. I always end up thinking the second one is worse, but that's possibly because I hate most whichever one of the two plays I've seen most recently.

The second play is more offensive though. Not only the idea that a gay man can just be talked into having sex with a woman he clearly doesn't find attractive at all, but the gay man is a creep who does an impression of a stroke victim and then a Chinese accent. And the director for this play has not bothered to do any reblocking at all. It's the same hideous busy mess every time.

Another really annoying thing about the second play is that there's a big deal made about the gay guy's phone being lost in the messy room. The phone is clearly on and charged because it rings at the top of the play and then half-way through, when it is finally found. The author of this play has apparently never heard of the online sites that will call your cell phone for you. Although the author of this play kind of has an excuse - I met her, and she's in her 70s at least.

The author of the last play has no such excuse - I googled her and it turns out she's a recent college graduate (!) The last play is also very bad, but I tend to let it go because the first two are so spectacularly awful. But I said to my daughter: "doesn't it strike you as weird that these are supposed to be a couple of college students and they've never seen porn?" And she said: "yes, this is one of those plays where if you think about it, it's really stupid."

In spite of the lengthy build-up to the boy and girl having sex at the end of the play, I don't actually believe they're going to have sex. Never has foreplay been so incredibly anti-sensual. The only reason they have sex is because they want to research it so they can write about it.

I mean, here's how bad it is - these people are supposed to be nerdy and literate. But there's a joke about the guy thinking that the word "fellatio" is a misspelling of the word "fallacious." If he's a literate nerd who hasn't had sex because he's simply never had the opportunity, well that wouldn't prevent him from knowing what the word fellatio means. If anything he'd spend more time looking up dirty words out of sexual frustration.

And then there's the fact that when the characters do see porn for the first time, they both seem grossed out by it.

The way the play is written, acted and directed, it appears that both characters are virgins not out of a lack of opportunity, but because neither has ever felt any actual physical desire to have sex.

So are they supposed to be asexuals? Such people exist, so it isn't impossible. But such people are pretty rare, so you would have thought the playwright would mention it if they were.

As my daughter said, it's stupid, if you actually think about it.

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