I dreamed that LA mounted a regional production of Hamilton, with easily available tickets at $5.00 each. Of course, I immediately dragged basically everyone I knew, including a group of visiting sf fans from other countries. Most of the people I brought (about 20 of them) were unfamiliar with the play, but I was certain that they would be instant converts.

When it began, I realized that the director had inexplicably decided to combine the play with Three Penny Opera, which he also didn't understand - for instance, "Pirate Jenny" was done as a strip-tease. Also, all the actors were white.

This went on for 15 minutes while I vainly attempted to communicate in whispers to my friends that this was not the play. "This is like going to see Hamlet and finding that they've actually produced Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead!" I whispered indignantly.

Then I was relieved that apparently they were actually going to do at least some Hamilton, as a black actor appeared and shouted "I'm Aaron Burr!"

Then the opening chords of "Alexander Hamilton" began.

I then found that the director had completely rewritten the lyrics to simplify them, and also to use an all-purpose, gender neutral pronoun of his own invention, "zoo."

All I remember was "Zoo are waiting around for zoo," when I woke up, greatly relieved that this travesty - and I don't mean Stoppard's-- does not actually exist.

Yet. (Thanks to Tool of Satan for the link.)
I have discovered possibly the funniest post since [personal profile] thefourthvine reviewed her local diner's magazines:

These catalogs and magazines are divided into general categories:

1. Gay: It's Not a Lifestyle, We Just Like Built, Pretty Men with Huge Cocks

2. Marijuana: It's Not Even a Drug, It's Totally a Lifestyle, and If You Happen to Be Using Any, We Are Sure It's for Entirely Legal Medicinal Purposes That We Can Definitely Provide You with a List of, in Case You Accidentally Forgot What Those Purposes Were

3. Whackmobile-o-rama: Now with a Free Ticket to Lemuria


[profile] bookelfe and two friends go to see the Broadway musical, Spiderman: TURN OFF THE DARK. If you haven't heard of this, it's directed by Julie Taymor (The Lion King) and is apparently stuck in previews eternally due to its inability to either do stunts without seriously injuring people or dropping large pieces of the scenery into the audience, or scale down the stunts to non-lethal levels.

This is the point at which Arachne descends from the astral plane and they have some midair sex.
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."
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."
The theatre department at my high school was entirely inhabited by a theatrical in-crowd, which largely overlapped with the generally popular kids. So I was never involved with it until its teacher retired and the entire theatre crowd quit en masse. Seeing an opportunity to do something where I wouldn't be a total misfit, I promptly signed up for theatre with the new teacher, a young guy who I will call Dan.

Dan, who had an entirely new group of students to work with, was sweet but perhaps not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He decided a very appropriate play for high schoolers would be "Snow White." Since the Disney version is copyright, these dwarves were named Wicky, Blicky, Flicky (etc) and Quee, the shortest of them all. I was Quee. Of course.

Snow White was a bit of a diva. She did not like the Prince, she did not like the dwarves, and she especially did not like me. She was supposed to be kind and loving to the dwarves-- the dwarves often commented on how very kind and loving she was-- but in all her interactions with us, her utter loathing was quite visible. And every time the Prince hugged her, she curled her lip and held herself away. (The Prince was a block of wood who could not pronounce "beloved" with three syllables. Unfortunately, he had a lot of lines addressing Snow White as "My be-loved.") The dwarves did not like me either. I think the only people who liked me in high school were the librarians, the chemistry teacher, the art teachers, and Dan.

Apart from the fact that the play was terrible and only the Wicked Queen could act, we also had some technical issues.

One was that Snow White was supposed to be carried in "in a coffin all made of the clearest crystal," as it was repeatedly described in dialogue. But Dan didn't know how to do this, so the coffin was all made of the opaquest plywood. But he refused to alter the text, claiming that no one would notice.

There was also quite a lot of scenery on wheels that took forever to maneuver, in long, long, long, interminable, noisy blackouts.

But the worst problem was the mirror. The mirror's dialogue was recorded. But due to some glitch, the words were completely incomprehensible, though you could hear the inflections quite clearly. It sounded exactly like the teacher in the Charlie Brown movies: "Wah wah wah wah wah? Wah! Wah WAH wah wah."

Dan insisted that everyone would be able to understand it. The Wicked Queen, during the actual performance, simply repeated everything it said:

Wicked Queen: "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?"

Mirror: "Wah WAH wah wah wah wah wah wawww."

Wicked Queen: "Snow White's the fairest of them all? NOOOOO! Not Snow White!!!"

There was a scene in which I was supposed to get dunked in a water barrel. But since we only had one costume, they were supposed to pour a bucket of glitter over my head, not water.

Did I mention that no one liked me?

On the night of the performance, with evil glints in their eyes, the two dwarfs, whom I will call Jim and Sue, dumped a full bucket of water over my head.

It so happened that there was a scene change right after that. The lights went down. I leaped out of the barrel, grabbed Jim by the collar, slammed him up against a large piece of plywood hedge on wheels, and punched him in the face. (It's possible that there were reasons why no one liked me.)

"It wasn't my idea!" gasped Jim. "It was Sue! Stop hitting me!"

With a snarl, I flung Jim to the floor, and dashed off in pursuit of Sue-- now vanishing backstage. I caught her and punched her. She said, "It was just a joke. You can't HIT people over a JOKE."

"I AM hitting you over your stupid joke!" I yelled. But it occurred to me that she had a point.

I dashed to the costume shop, ripped off my soaking wet costume, flung on another and totally random costume, and bolted back around the pitch-black backstage area to get to my next scene on time... And tripped and fell headlong into the coffin made all of very hard and very sturdy wood. The edge of the coffin slammed right into my solar plexus and knocked the wind out of me. I lay sprawled in the coffin, unable to breathe, thinking incredulously that I could not possibly die from running backstage, right? Right? Then I regained the ability to breathe, and lay there gasping like a beached fish for a while. Then I remembered that I was undoubtedly late for my entrance.

I leaped up, hauled ass in a slightly more cautious manner, and skidded onstage. There, to my surprise, I found myself face to face with Snow White. I had missed my entire scene and interrupted the next one, which was her solo monologue. We stared at each other.

"What are you doing here?!" she shrieked. "You're ruining my scene! Go away!"

"Er," I said. "I beg your pardon. I had to... er... find new clothes... since mine were drenched... in a stream... that I fell into. Goodbye!"

I ran offstage. Only then did I remember something that the script had earlier made quite a point of: alone amongst the dwarves, Quee did not speak.

The next morning I learned that the lights had malfunctioned along with everything else, and instead of a real blackout, they had merely dimmed. The entire audience had seen me slam Jim into the scenery and clock him. I'm sure that was the highlight of the play as far as they were concerned. It certainly was for me.
The theatre department at my high school was entirely inhabited by a theatrical in-crowd, which largely overlapped with the generally popular kids. So I was never involved with it until its teacher retired and the entire theatre crowd quit en masse. Seeing an opportunity to do something where I wouldn't be a total misfit, I promptly signed up for theatre with the new teacher, a young guy who I will call Dan.

Dan, who had an entirely new group of students to work with, was sweet but perhaps not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He decided a very appropriate play for high schoolers would be "Snow White." Since the Disney version is copyright, these dwarves were named Wicky, Blicky, Flicky (etc) and Quee, the shortest of them all. I was Quee. Of course.

Snow White was a bit of a diva. She did not like the Prince, she did not like the dwarves, and she especially did not like me. She was supposed to be kind and loving to the dwarves-- the dwarves often commented on how very kind and loving she was-- but in all her interactions with us, her utter loathing was quite visible. And every time the Prince hugged her, she curled her lip and held herself away. (The Prince was a block of wood who could not pronounce "beloved" with three syllables. Unfortunately, he had a lot of lines addressing Snow White as "My be-loved.") The dwarves did not like me either. I think the only people who liked me in high school were the librarians, the chemistry teacher, the art teachers, and Dan.

Apart from the fact that the play was terrible and only the Wicked Queen could act, we also had some technical issues.

One was that Snow White was supposed to be carried in "in a coffin all made of the clearest crystal," as it was repeatedly described in dialogue. But Dan didn't know how to do this, so the coffin was all made of the opaquest plywood. But he refused to alter the text, claiming that no one would notice.

There was also quite a lot of scenery on wheels that took forever to maneuver, in long, long, long, interminable, noisy blackouts.

But the worst problem was the mirror. The mirror's dialogue was recorded. But due to some glitch, the words were completely incomprehensible, though you could hear the inflections quite clearly. It sounded exactly like the teacher in the Charlie Brown movies: "Wah wah wah wah wah? Wah! Wah WAH wah wah."

Dan insisted that everyone would be able to understand it. The Wicked Queen, during the actual performance, simply repeated everything it said:

Wicked Queen: "Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?"

Mirror: "Wah WAH wah wah wah wah wah wawww."

Wicked Queen: "Snow White's the fairest of them all? NOOOOO! Not Snow White!!!"

There was a scene in which I was supposed to get dunked in a water barrel. But since we only had one costume, they were supposed to pour a bucket of glitter over my head, not water.

Did I mention that no one liked me?

On the night of the performance, with evil glints in their eyes, the two dwarfs, whom I will call Jim and Sue, dumped a full bucket of water over my head.

It so happened that there was a scene change right after that. The lights went down. I leaped out of the barrel, grabbed Jim by the collar, slammed him up against a large piece of plywood hedge on wheels, and punched him in the face. (It's possible that there were reasons why no one liked me.)

"It wasn't my idea!" gasped Jim. "It was Sue! Stop hitting me!"

With a snarl, I flung Jim to the floor, and dashed off in pursuit of Sue-- now vanishing backstage. I caught her and punched her. She said, "It was just a joke. You can't HIT people over a JOKE."

"I AM hitting you over your stupid joke!" I yelled. But it occurred to me that she had a point.

I dashed to the costume shop, ripped off my soaking wet costume, flung on another and totally random costume, and bolted back around the pitch-black backstage area to get to my next scene on time... And tripped and fell headlong into the coffin made all of very hard and very sturdy wood. The edge of the coffin slammed right into my solar plexus and knocked the wind out of me. I lay sprawled in the coffin, unable to breathe, thinking incredulously that I could not possibly die from running backstage, right? Right? Then I regained the ability to breathe, and lay there gasping like a beached fish for a while. Then I remembered that I was undoubtedly late for my entrance.

I leaped up, hauled ass in a slightly more cautious manner, and skidded onstage. There, to my surprise, I found myself face to face with Snow White. I had missed my entire scene and interrupted the next one, which was her solo monologue. We stared at each other.

"What are you doing here?!" she shrieked. "You're ruining my scene! Go away!"

"Er," I said. "I beg your pardon. I had to... er... find new clothes... since mine were drenched... in a stream... that I fell into. Goodbye!"

I ran offstage. Only then did I remember something that the script had earlier made quite a point of: alone amongst the dwarves, Quee did not speak.

The next morning I learned that the lights had malfunctioned along with everything else, and instead of a real blackout, they had merely dimmed. The entire audience had seen me slam Jim into the scenery and clock him. I'm sure that was the highlight of the play as far as they were concerned. It certainly was for me.
If you all haven't been reading the comments to my entry on the worst and/or most embarassing plays I've ever seen, in which other people recount their experiences with same, you are missing the best part. "I still have no idea why the Duke in Measure for Measure was four vampires."

This tale, like the one about Delbert's masturbation monologue, concerns a play that was not incompetent, but rather embarassing, over-the-top, pretentious, and ostentatiously shocking. But this one requires background.

When I was getting my MFA in playwriting at UCLA, I and the other six students in my class took a seminar on playwriting from the legendary professor Leon Katz. (ETA: Added link to his website. Please do not e-mail him with a link to this post...) Leon was a majesterial gentleman with a deep voice and a white beard, rather like King Lear. He was brilliant and famous and avant-garde. One day in class he began telling us about the most profound theatrical experience he had ever had.

"It was in the sixties, of course," he said. He went on to describe what struck me as a pretentious, touchy-feely, anti-war, hippie play. It sounded awful. But Leon was obviously deeply moved by the memory, and the class was very small-- ten or twelve of us sitting around a table-- so we all sat in respectful silence. "And at the end, the actors all stripped naked. And, in a gesture of solidarity, so did the audience. And then we all left the theatre together, and marched out into the New York streets, stark naked."

"HAW-HAW-HAW!" The laugh exploded out of me like a small bomb, entirely without my consent.

Leon turned on me. Leaning across the table, he hissed, "You post-Reaganite philistine, you make me sick!"

I forget what happened then, but I think I may have had to leave the room to recover, as I am prone to hysterical laughter. I do remember that I was utterly unable to make any response to Leon other than gulp snarf!

This incident became legendary in the theatre department. Years later people were still saying to me, "Oh, so you're the post-Reaganite philistine."

Anyway, toward the end of the seminar, Leon invited us all to a staged reading of a play he had written. It was called Swellfoot's Tears, and it was a re-telling of Oedipus Rex set in a concentration camp. Because otherwise it would be too cheerful, I guess.

We all showed up at the now-defunct bookshop Midnight Special for the reading, which was held in a back room with no door. That is, it was totally open to the rest of the bookshop, and any browsers in the back could see and hear the entire play.

Leon was reading the stage directions. In his grand voice and with great relish, he declaimed, "Center stage is a ten-foot pillar of shit that drips blood."

I realized then that this was going to be another exercise in stifling the hysterical cackles that longed to emerge.

Leon continued, "Enter Big Pink Cunt."

For a moment I thought that was a prop, but when the actress began to speak, I realized that it was her name. The characters all had names like that, resulting in lines like, "Hey Big Pink Cunt, bring me Jack Off In My Ass!"

Then followed two hours of abuse, degradation, violence, misery, and shit that dripped blood. The audience squirmed. The actors, however, appeared to be having a great time. I don't think I've ever heard actors project so well. Innocent bookstore patrons kept drifting toward the back, whereupon they would either flee instantly in horror, or else hang about for five minutes in incredulity, then get bored and drift away.

I have always wondered if that play ever got a professional production. If so, I bet the stage manager just hated having to deal with the shit that dripped blood.
If you all haven't been reading the comments to my entry on the worst and/or most embarassing plays I've ever seen, in which other people recount their experiences with same, you are missing the best part. "I still have no idea why the Duke in Measure for Measure was four vampires."

This tale, like the one about Delbert's masturbation monologue, concerns a play that was not incompetent, but rather embarassing, over-the-top, pretentious, and ostentatiously shocking. But this one requires background.

When I was getting my MFA in playwriting at UCLA, I and the other six students in my class took a seminar on playwriting from the legendary professor Leon Katz. (ETA: Added link to his website. Please do not e-mail him with a link to this post...) Leon was a majesterial gentleman with a deep voice and a white beard, rather like King Lear. He was brilliant and famous and avant-garde. One day in class he began telling us about the most profound theatrical experience he had ever had.

"It was in the sixties, of course," he said. He went on to describe what struck me as a pretentious, touchy-feely, anti-war, hippie play. It sounded awful. But Leon was obviously deeply moved by the memory, and the class was very small-- ten or twelve of us sitting around a table-- so we all sat in respectful silence. "And at the end, the actors all stripped naked. And, in a gesture of solidarity, so did the audience. And then we all left the theatre together, and marched out into the New York streets, stark naked."

"HAW-HAW-HAW!" The laugh exploded out of me like a small bomb, entirely without my consent.

Leon turned on me. Leaning across the table, he hissed, "You post-Reaganite philistine, you make me sick!"

I forget what happened then, but I think I may have had to leave the room to recover, as I am prone to hysterical laughter. I do remember that I was utterly unable to make any response to Leon other than gulp snarf!

This incident became legendary in the theatre department. Years later people were still saying to me, "Oh, so you're the post-Reaganite philistine."

Anyway, toward the end of the seminar, Leon invited us all to a staged reading of a play he had written. It was called Swellfoot's Tears, and it was a re-telling of Oedipus Rex set in a concentration camp. Because otherwise it would be too cheerful, I guess.

We all showed up at the now-defunct bookshop Midnight Special for the reading, which was held in a back room with no door. That is, it was totally open to the rest of the bookshop, and any browsers in the back could see and hear the entire play.

Leon was reading the stage directions. In his grand voice and with great relish, he declaimed, "Center stage is a ten-foot pillar of shit that drips blood."

I realized then that this was going to be another exercise in stifling the hysterical cackles that longed to emerge.

Leon continued, "Enter Big Pink Cunt."

For a moment I thought that was a prop, but when the actress began to speak, I realized that it was her name. The characters all had names like that, resulting in lines like, "Hey Big Pink Cunt, bring me Jack Off In My Ass!"

Then followed two hours of abuse, degradation, violence, misery, and shit that dripped blood. The audience squirmed. The actors, however, appeared to be having a great time. I don't think I've ever heard actors project so well. Innocent bookstore patrons kept drifting toward the back, whereupon they would either flee instantly in horror, or else hang about for five minutes in incredulity, then get bored and drift away.

I have always wondered if that play ever got a professional production. If so, I bet the stage manager just hated having to deal with the shit that dripped blood.
I was going to do a post on "the five worst plays I've ever seen," but then I realized that some of the most entertainingly bizarre live theatrical events I've witnessed from the audience (as opposed to having been involved in the production) were not bad, exactly, or not entirely so, but more misconceived, over-ambitious, better suited for a different audience than the one that was actually present, or just plain strange.

If you enjoy this post, I would be thrilled if, in your own journals or in the comments here, posted on your own five most peculiar theatrical experiences when you were in the audience.

5. Delbert's one-man show. I don't remember what the name of this was, but when I was in grad school for playwriting, the seven playwrights in my class attended the thesis production of the grad acting class, in which fifteen or twenty of them performed ten-minute one-person shows that they'd written themselves. After ten or so well-acted, competently-written performances on the theme of "My childhood sucked, but I forgive you, mommy/daddy," we had been lulled into a sense of security. And then came Delbert.

He was a scrawny platinum blonde who looked like a British punk rocker, who proceeded to give a performance of burning intensity on the theme of his complex and tormented relationship with masturbation. He delivered his lines in a deliberately stilted manner, with emphasis in unusual places, and he had a sound system set up so that sometimes a recording of his voice would echo his last few words.

Delbert: Sometimes I go to a porno shop to buy my porno mags. Sometimes I take my porno mags home. But sometimes I just can't wait. Then I sneak behind the shop, into an alley, and then I rip off the covers and masturbate. (Pause.) I wonder why I do that.

Delbert on tape: Do that, do that, why I do that.

Delbert: Sometimes I stick my finger up my ass when I masturbate. (Pause.) I wonder why I do that.

Delbert on tape: Do that, do that, finger up my ass, ass, ass.

I should mention at this point that I and the other six playwriting students were sitting in the front row of a very small black box theatre, approximately two feet from Delbert and his finger. I was sitting next to Lori, an extremly sweet evangelical Christian who did not, as she put it, "cuss." When the lights went to black, without consulting or even looking at each other, all seven of us, like a single organism, leaped up and fled the theatre.

4. The tongue play. This was also during grad school, and was a play written by a playwriting grad student who was not in my class. It was about a man who had no tongue.

It was deliberately unclear whether he had lost his tongue to tongue cancer or whether his daughter had bitten it off when he stuck it down her throat. It was also unclear whether he had actually molested her, or whether he was insane, or where the play was taking place, or whether Tongue Man was imagining the whole thing and did, in fact, have a tongue. Yeah, it was pretentious, but on a line-by-line basis, it was actually pretty well-written. The reason it goes on this list is that it was practically a one-man show, and it was performed in entirety as if the actor had no tongue.

Imagine two hours of "I' I 'o-eh-eh ou, I ah o 'ah-ee." You could mostly figure out that he was saying something like, "If I molested you, I am so sorry," but... Two hours. Of no tongue.

In what will become a recurring theme in these stories, the grad playwrights fled the scene without congratulating the playwright, and then convened in the women's bathroom to speak without tongues and laugh maniacally.

3. The head play. This was some very famous classic German play, and I cannot for the life of me recall which one. (ETA: Frank Wedekind's Spring Awakening.) A bunch of us, this time undergrads, drove out to see a mutual buddy star in this extremely long production as an emo young man who spends the whole play moping and contemplating suicide. I realize that this could also describe Hamlet, but at least Hamlet has sword fights.

For two hours and forty-five minutes, it was merely long and dull. Then the hero meets a ghost, a buddy of his who had blown off his head. The way this was portrayed was that the chest and shoulders were built up in a frame over his actual neck and head, and he carried his head under his arm. However, his voice clearly emanated from the middle of his chest.

This struck us all as hilarious, but since there were eleven of us in an auditorium that seated 300, and we all knew the star, we stifled our laughter until the ghost tossed the hero his head, exactly as if he was doing a basketball lay-up. Then the floodgates burst. We all burst into hysterical laughter, and continued laughing like hyenas for fifteen minutes, until the end of the play. Every time we started getting it under control, the ghost would speak from his chest, and we'd go off again. Once again, the moment the play was over, we eschewed our planned congratulations and instead fled in shame.

2. Lord of the Rings. Yes. The entire thing. In two hours, I believe, though my impression at the time was "six or more."

This was a strange vanity production put on at a local theatre by a friend of my parents, which was why we went to see it. We were under the impression, as well, that the woman who adapted (undoubtedly without permission), directed, composed music for, and played Galadriel, was doing it with and for children.

However, when the play began, it turned out that although indeed, all the actors but her were kids, it was actually a paen to the wonderfulness that was the actress/Galadriel. No doubt my memory is distorted, and the shapelessness of the production didn't help, but I recall it as two hours of mobs of children scampering about the stage, singing the praises of Galadriel while she blessed them in a lordly manner.

We fled without visiting her backstage as we had planned. My Dad remarked, as we hastened to our car, "I wonder what the parents of those kids thought when they found out that their little darlings spent two months learning hymns of praise to Julie."

1. The Goddess is Awake. Never ever go to a play that the same person wrote, directed, starred in, and composed the music for, is all I can say. Especially if he's named Elon Skyhawk.

Elon had proposed this to the Theatre Department, and as senior student I had been on the board that rejected it. When, undaunted, he produced it independently, the entire board showed up to see it.

We sat in an open-air auditorium. Suddenly a man in a gorilla suit appeared. He slowly walked through the audience to the stage, periodically roaring and checking his wrist watch. The he left. Elon Skyhawk emerged. His play, which bore a curious resemblance to LOTR, was entirely composed on Elon majestically declaiming environmentalist rhetoric while scantily clad undergrad girls worshipped at his feet. For two hours. In the end, the gorilla, who apparently represented capitalism and consumerism, reappeared. Elon banished him, and the scantily clad undergrads sang a hymn of praise.

It was a tough call for first place between this and number four, but I give it Elon for, in addition to all his other sins, temporarily making me want to cut down forests just to spite him.

Dishonorable mention to the play about a husband and wife doing role-playing, for featuring the immortal and oft-quoted line, "Put on the dog mask, you BITCH!"
I was going to do a post on "the five worst plays I've ever seen," but then I realized that some of the most entertainingly bizarre live theatrical events I've witnessed from the audience (as opposed to having been involved in the production) were not bad, exactly, or not entirely so, but more misconceived, over-ambitious, better suited for a different audience than the one that was actually present, or just plain strange.

If you enjoy this post, I would be thrilled if, in your own journals or in the comments here, posted on your own five most peculiar theatrical experiences when you were in the audience.

5. Delbert's one-man show. I don't remember what the name of this was, but when I was in grad school for playwriting, the seven playwrights in my class attended the thesis production of the grad acting class, in which fifteen or twenty of them performed ten-minute one-person shows that they'd written themselves. After ten or so well-acted, competently-written performances on the theme of "My childhood sucked, but I forgive you, mommy/daddy," we had been lulled into a sense of security. And then came Delbert.

He was a scrawny platinum blonde who looked like a British punk rocker, who proceeded to give a performance of burning intensity on the theme of his complex and tormented relationship with masturbation. He delivered his lines in a deliberately stilted manner, with emphasis in unusual places, and he had a sound system set up so that sometimes a recording of his voice would echo his last few words.

Delbert: Sometimes I go to a porno shop to buy my porno mags. Sometimes I take my porno mags home. But sometimes I just can't wait. Then I sneak behind the shop, into an alley, and then I rip off the covers and masturbate. (Pause.) I wonder why I do that.

Delbert on tape: Do that, do that, why I do that.

Delbert: Sometimes I stick my finger up my ass when I masturbate. (Pause.) I wonder why I do that.

Delbert on tape: Do that, do that, finger up my ass, ass, ass.

I should mention at this point that I and the other six playwriting students were sitting in the front row of a very small black box theatre, approximately two feet from Delbert and his finger. I was sitting next to Lori, an extremly sweet evangelical Christian who did not, as she put it, "cuss." When the lights went to black, without consulting or even looking at each other, all seven of us, like a single organism, leaped up and fled the theatre.

4. The tongue play. This was also during grad school, and was a play written by a playwriting grad student who was not in my class. It was about a man who had no tongue.

It was deliberately unclear whether he had lost his tongue to tongue cancer or whether his daughter had bitten it off when he stuck it down her throat. It was also unclear whether he had actually molested her, or whether he was insane, or where the play was taking place, or whether Tongue Man was imagining the whole thing and did, in fact, have a tongue. Yeah, it was pretentious, but on a line-by-line basis, it was actually pretty well-written. The reason it goes on this list is that it was practically a one-man show, and it was performed in entirety as if the actor had no tongue.

Imagine two hours of "I' I 'o-eh-eh ou, I ah o 'ah-ee." You could mostly figure out that he was saying something like, "If I molested you, I am so sorry," but... Two hours. Of no tongue.

In what will become a recurring theme in these stories, the grad playwrights fled the scene without congratulating the playwright, and then convened in the women's bathroom to speak without tongues and laugh maniacally.

3. The head play. This was some very famous classic German play, and I cannot for the life of me recall which one. (ETA: Frank Wedekind's Spring Awakening.) A bunch of us, this time undergrads, drove out to see a mutual buddy star in this extremely long production as an emo young man who spends the whole play moping and contemplating suicide. I realize that this could also describe Hamlet, but at least Hamlet has sword fights.

For two hours and forty-five minutes, it was merely long and dull. Then the hero meets a ghost, a buddy of his who had blown off his head. The way this was portrayed was that the chest and shoulders were built up in a frame over his actual neck and head, and he carried his head under his arm. However, his voice clearly emanated from the middle of his chest.

This struck us all as hilarious, but since there were eleven of us in an auditorium that seated 300, and we all knew the star, we stifled our laughter until the ghost tossed the hero his head, exactly as if he was doing a basketball lay-up. Then the floodgates burst. We all burst into hysterical laughter, and continued laughing like hyenas for fifteen minutes, until the end of the play. Every time we started getting it under control, the ghost would speak from his chest, and we'd go off again. Once again, the moment the play was over, we eschewed our planned congratulations and instead fled in shame.

2. Lord of the Rings. Yes. The entire thing. In two hours, I believe, though my impression at the time was "six or more."

This was a strange vanity production put on at a local theatre by a friend of my parents, which was why we went to see it. We were under the impression, as well, that the woman who adapted (undoubtedly without permission), directed, composed music for, and played Galadriel, was doing it with and for children.

However, when the play began, it turned out that although indeed, all the actors but her were kids, it was actually a paen to the wonderfulness that was the actress/Galadriel. No doubt my memory is distorted, and the shapelessness of the production didn't help, but I recall it as two hours of mobs of children scampering about the stage, singing the praises of Galadriel while she blessed them in a lordly manner.

We fled without visiting her backstage as we had planned. My Dad remarked, as we hastened to our car, "I wonder what the parents of those kids thought when they found out that their little darlings spent two months learning hymns of praise to Julie."

1. The Goddess is Awake. Never ever go to a play that the same person wrote, directed, starred in, and composed the music for, is all I can say. Especially if he's named Elon Skyhawk.

Elon had proposed this to the Theatre Department, and as senior student I had been on the board that rejected it. When, undaunted, he produced it independently, the entire board showed up to see it.

We sat in an open-air auditorium. Suddenly a man in a gorilla suit appeared. He slowly walked through the audience to the stage, periodically roaring and checking his wrist watch. The he left. Elon Skyhawk emerged. His play, which bore a curious resemblance to LOTR, was entirely composed on Elon majestically declaiming environmentalist rhetoric while scantily clad undergrad girls worshipped at his feet. For two hours. In the end, the gorilla, who apparently represented capitalism and consumerism, reappeared. Elon banished him, and the scantily clad undergrads sang a hymn of praise.

It was a tough call for first place between this and number four, but I give it Elon for, in addition to all his other sins, temporarily making me want to cut down forests just to spite him.

Dishonorable mention to the play about a husband and wife doing role-playing, for featuring the immortal and oft-quoted line, "Put on the dog mask, you BITCH!"
rachelmanija: (Ed among the ignorant)
( May. 26th, 2005 04:30 pm)
I posted this on someone else's LJ, but it was in response to a locked post, so I'm re-posting it here:

Once upon a time in Santa Cruz, which for those of you not from California is a college town filled with granola hippie artsy types, a group of hipper-than-thou theatre students decided to put on a performance piece that would really freak out the squares and prove how cool they were. The piece was called "The Mud People." They would strip naked, cover themselves in mud, and crawl from one end of the campus to the other, fetching up in the middle of the theatre department.

On the Day of the Mud People, the Mud People arrived bright-eyed, bushy-- um... perhaps I shouldn't go there... and early. They stripped naked in the woods (for UC Santa Cruz is built in and around a forest), covered themselves in mud, and began to crawl. They crawled and crawled, over gravel and brambles and other uncomfortable things, but soon became puzzled by the lack of mundanes to freak. Where was everybody? But the Mud People, of course, were too cool to use a pay phone (and had no change, anyway, for they had no pockets) so they just kept crawling. Hours later, they arrived at their destination, baffled and annoyed that they had met absolutely no one but an unflappable senior or two and a number of unimpressed squirrels.

The theatre department too was utterly empty. Thoroughly disappointed, the Mud People showered, dressed, and went home. It was not until the next day that they discovered what had happened. Being too cool to check the calendar or discuss their plans with others less cool than them, they had been unaware that the day they'd chosen for their grand event had been an administrative holiday.
rachelmanija: (Ed among the ignorant)
( May. 26th, 2005 04:30 pm)
I posted this on someone else's LJ, but it was in response to a locked post, so I'm re-posting it here:

Once upon a time in Santa Cruz, which for those of you not from California is a college town filled with granola hippie artsy types, a group of hipper-than-thou theatre students decided to put on a performance piece that would really freak out the squares and prove how cool they were. The piece was called "The Mud People." They would strip naked, cover themselves in mud, and crawl from one end of the campus to the other, fetching up in the middle of the theatre department.

On the Day of the Mud People, the Mud People arrived bright-eyed, bushy-- um... perhaps I shouldn't go there... and early. They stripped naked in the woods (for UC Santa Cruz is built in and around a forest), covered themselves in mud, and began to crawl. They crawled and crawled, over gravel and brambles and other uncomfortable things, but soon became puzzled by the lack of mundanes to freak. Where was everybody? But the Mud People, of course, were too cool to use a pay phone (and had no change, anyway, for they had no pockets) so they just kept crawling. Hours later, they arrived at their destination, baffled and annoyed that they had met absolutely no one but an unflappable senior or two and a number of unimpressed squirrels.

The theatre department too was utterly empty. Thoroughly disappointed, the Mud People showered, dressed, and went home. It was not until the next day that they discovered what had happened. Being too cool to check the calendar or discuss their plans with others less cool than them, they had been unaware that the day they'd chosen for their grand event had been an administrative holiday.
.

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