January 10, 2007

"The Santaland Diaries, Tuesdays With Morrie, and anything with the word 'magnolias'..."

= plays not to produce if you're hoping to entice theater critic Terry Teachout to review your regional theater production in The Wall Street Journal.

Basically, if you can demonstrate your seriousness, he's willing to travel and show you some respect. Lots more advice at the link, including:
I ... have a select list of older plays about which I'd like to write that haven’t been revived in New York lately (or ever). If you’re doing The Beauty Part, The Cocktail Party, The Entertainer, Hotel Paradiso, Man and Superman, Rhinoceros, Six Characters in Search of an Author, The Skin of Our Teeth, The Visit, What the Butler Saw, or anything by Jean Anouilh, Noël Coward, Terence Rattigan, or August Wilson, drop me a line.
I hope his invitation will encourage regional theaters to stand up to the pressure to pander.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I never saw them on a stage, but Rattigan's work is swell. The Winslow Boy is the finest encapsulation of Edwardian England I can think of. David Mamet's version of it should have won something or other. It's one of the most compelling pieces of talking cinema I ever saw.

I can picture the cast of Rattigan's play made into a movie: Separate Tables. Rita Hayworth, Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Burt Lancaster.

I'd go drinking with Rita Hayworth, Deborah Kerr, David Niven, and Burt Lancaster. I wouldn't pick up the check, though.

Rattigan is like Wodehouse was --an abandoned mine worth exploring. Maybe just interesting cobwebby spelunking; or you might find fresh gold in there, too.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I've seen this before: Waiting for Guffman

vbspurs said...

It's one of the most compelling pieces of talking cinema I ever saw.

Wow, really, Sippi?

I thought it was one of the most pretentious, mush-mouthed, indulgent attempts at adaptation I've seen Mamet make (and I've seen a few).

Note to directors: Don't make your SOs your muse.

Especially if they can't act.

(That goes treble for brothers-in-law)

Cheers,
Victoria

Pogo said...

Ruth Anne has it solid.
Regional theaters need to make money to stay open, and anything obscure has the kiss of death.

Lanesboro, a tiny town in SE MN has, for reasons that escape me, a wonderful little theater company. They do things that Teachout likes. Pretty good atendance, too. But bring out A Christmas Carol, and the seats are packed.

That's just the way it is.

MadisonMan said...

(Suggestion: if you’re not reading my Wall Street Journal drama column, you probably ought to be).

Because, you know, he is making a difference!

I'll unroll my eyes now.

Anonymous said...

No, Victoria, I'm serious, I really liked it.

The subject material is very fine. And Mamet knows how to write dialog. It's his only skill really. Your appraisal of the gulf between the talent, and the cultivation of it, between the British and Americans in the film is fair. Didn't bother me, though.

American actors aren't trained really, they just figure it out as they go along, being a big deal the whole time.

At least it's not like Keanu Reaves doing Shakespeare or something.

Al Maviva said...

Sippi, I really liked the Winslow Boy as well. A lot of colleagues of mine - attorneys - were big fans, as it draws a really harsh comparison between justice and the law, and questions the interplay of honor and self-interest.

As for Mamet, I still preferred the Glengarry Glen Ross, but the Winslow Boy was pretty good. "That coffee's for closers." Cruel.

vbspurs said...

No, Victoria, I'm serious, I really liked it.

Wait, Sippican, I also "liked" it. I own the DVD, after all.

I just didn't think it was compelling, as you put it.

The subject material is very fine. And Mamet knows how to write dialog. It's his only skill really. Your appraisal of the gulf between the talent, and the cultivation of it, between the British and Americans in the film is fair. Didn't bother me, though.

Right, I thought Gemma Jones had her best performance, from an actress mired in the Bridget Jones brand of film.

However, I thought Nigel Hawthorne for once failed me, since I am a HUGE fan.

His performance was wooden, and the phrases stuck on his mouth in an uncharasteristic way -- though portraying a late Edwardian pater familias is no easy thing.

"Oh come come, now, Grace"

Wince...

American actors aren't trained really, they just figure it out as they go along, being a big deal the whole time.

Well, Mamet's wife (I forget her name) was trained at RADA, Sippican.

So was her brother, who played her real-life bro in the film.

You'll notice that HE had the better of the two "English" accents, despite being a worse actor than his sister.

At least it's not like Keanu Reaves doing Shakespeare or something.

Funny you should say that, since my first introduction to Keanu Reeves was his little bit role in "Dangerous Liaisons" with Close/Malkovitch.

He didn't totally suck.

Cheers,
Victoria