Friday, May 12, 2006

Happy Birthday, TG!

Today is dear Tommy G's birthday. I'm sure he loves that I'm proclaiming it blog style. I was going to honestly write about how we're into Day 3 of Desire Under the Elms and post this picture along with it, but looking at him in the picture reminded me that May 12th is his birthday. We shall be celebrating tonight after the show whether TG likes it or not.

So, yes, it's Friday of Desire's opening week. It's going really well. Last night we had a small but very appreciative audience. Two of the audience members had seen the show posted on and are big fans of O'Neill. You might recall the distinction I wrote about yesterday about there being two types of people in the world? Well, maybe it's true. We do shows for those people. People who are familiar with the text. Who are literary. Who appreciate amazing works of literature. I think GreyZelda is really falling into our own by the fact that the author comes first with us. When we adapt literature to the stage, we stay true to the author's vision and intent through the words. And we do the same with playwright's. Like we always say, "If the writing's good, acting's good, and staging's good, you should be able to perform a play anywhere." And I think we prove that again with Desire. The space might be a storefront, but I truly don't feel that that detracts from the power of the show. It makes it more powerful.

On the subject of "new versus old" . . . we had a conversation with this girl a couple of weeks ago about casting for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf". She had never seen the original movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, but felt qualified to say that she thinks Kathleen Turner and Bill Owens are probably better. She also was the type that thinks movie remakes of originals are ok. I disagree on all those fronts. I think that Taylor and Burton were cast perfectly and made Albee's script live like nobody's business. I agree that Turner and Owens are excellent actors, but better than the latter? Absolutely not. And movie remakes are for hacks.

But I am still chuckling about Tom's statement that Desire Under the Elms is one of O'Neill's little known works. Lord. I think Desire is in most college theatre textbooks and is often mentioned first when speaking of O'Neill. Funny, funny, funny to me.

I'll let you in on a secret. We don't like shows that are too frightfully modern and all the rage. For example, Sarah Kane. I appreciate certain elements but if a show opens with a guy cumming into a sock, honestly ... not interested. It's momentary. Flavor of the month stuff. Shock sock theatre. Give me the classics anytime. I want to see the show that withstands the test of time. We have living playwrights that are doing that: Kushner, Wallace, Churchill, etc. We even have groups here in Chicago creating original shows that could withstand 100 years. I think WNEP is a good example. I was extremely impressed with their Soiree Dada. They took an old element and brought it around once more to the masses. I think some loved it, some hated it. But, I love that they took the risk with something that others (Tom) would say should be shut back into the vaults. I think their new show would be great to see, but we're doing this one. We'll see if we can fit it in.

Anyway . . . have an excellent weekend. If you're looking for something to inspire you and make you feel smarter, please come see Desire Under the Elms. You can't go wrong with the classics.


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