This one's short but sweet.

I was stage managing an evening of short plays by the playwright I hate more than any other, John Patrick Shanley. How do I hate him? Let me count the ways:

1. Except for portions of Moonstruck and the one brilliant line in Joe vs. the Volcano, "The lights! They're sucking out my eyeballs!" his writing sucks. It is cheap, pat, phony, overly slick and mannered, and twee.

2. His plays exemplify the "Nice Guy" phenomenon, in which a certain type of man always complains that women reject him because he's a nice guy and they want abusive assholes, when the real reason they reject him is because he's whiny, passive-aggressive, smug, self-righteous, and sexist. Similarly, many of his plays give lip service to feminism while portraying women as brainless bimbos who secretly long to be dominated.

The worst example of this was in some play of his in which a woman shows up with a black eye, and tells her female friends that she and her husband got in a huge fight, she deliberately pissed on the bed, and he punched her. But that cleared the air, and now they love each other more than ever! The friends are horrified and say that she should leave him. She retorts that if feminism is really about letting women make their own choices, then it shouldn't deny her true and meaningful experience. BAAARRRRRRFFFF.

3. In college, some of my friends and I got tickets to see his four-person play, Four Dogs and A Bone. Every minute was torture. A few days later, we were at a restaurant when we overheard a man at another table saying, "The actors were good, but the script was so bad, it was like watching four guys trying to lift a Mack truck."

I said, "Excuse me, but are you talking about Four Dogs and a Bone?"

He was.

Anyway, there I was, stage managing his abominable play. The lighting designer had over-designed given the electrical capacity of the theatre, so I constantly had to unplug and re-plug plugs at the patch bay to get it to work. The patch bay was under the lighting board in a very small space, so if I managed to not stick my finger in the socket, I'd bang my head instead. It was torture.

The only bright spot was the hot light board op with whom I shared the very small booth. He was a tall skinny black guy with a shaved head and the sort of banked intensity which romance novels often describe as "smoldering." We didn't have much time to talk, as we both came to the production late, but we worked well together and our brief conversations had been quite congenial. I decided to cunningly sound him out to see if he had a girlfriend (or boyfriend.)

"Soooo," I said one night, "You ever go get a drink after a show?"

"I don't drink," he said.

"Ah," I replied. "Hmm." I was about to suggest a snack instead, but he was already on a roll:

"I don't drink," he repeated. "I don't go to bars. I don't go to clubs. I don't dance. I don't take caffeine. I don't smoke. I don't do drugs. I don't eat meat. I don't have casual sex. I don't get piercings. I don't party. And I don't do small talk."

"Really, no small talk..." I mused. "How does that work when you go on dates?"

Even before he spoke, I knew what his reply would be: "I don't date."
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