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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Broadway's Bad Way

CAVEAT BLOGDOR: I am about to do something I abhor, namely, criticize something I haven't seen. Actually, fuck that-- I'm going to criticize LOTS of things I haven't seen. Because this is my blog, and, if I can't be a raging hypocrite here, I might as well just go pull down my pants, hate fuck a rusty tin can and call it day.

Know what I mean?


Many of you know that, from 1998-2002, I was a theatre major. It was an ill-fated decision, one that, through a circuitous series of less-than-serious circumstances landed me in a psychiatric hospital (with keys, thank you, ma'am) though not necessarily a decision that I regret. I mean, I may decide, one day, that I regret it, but that day hasn't arrived yet. Though maybe it did and I'm just too stubborn or stupid to recognize/acknowledge it.

Regardless, I was a theatre major, and, forever and all times, that is what I shall be known as in certain circles. Yesterday, one of my patients asked what my educational background was after what I thought was a pretty successful group I had just run.

"Psych, I'm assuming," the patient said with a smile.

"Actually, theatre-- with a Master of Education degree, too."

She looked at me in what I determined was a slightly uneasy silence, but the smile didn't totally disappear from her face, which I guess is good. Ever since I graduated from college, I've always felt like an idiot telling people that I was a theatre major. It sounded like something someone who is definitely... not.... me would have done for four years and I immediately felt guilty and ridiculous about having done it.

Four years of my life, and roughly $112,000 went to... that?

It's funny how our view of ourselves sometimes conflicts with reality. This said, again, by someone who has keys. But, really, it's true. I like to think of myself as so grounded, so practical, so discerning, so reality-based-- someone like that wouldn't be a theatre major, would they? Surely someone whose eyes scan the world for bullshit like a radar-detector pierces through traffic to find that errant speeder would have clearly detected the masturbatory nature and the ineffectual results of flitting time galloping amongst the redwoods as a theatre major.

But I didn't.

Ironically, the one thing I was afraid of about becoming a theatre major ended up not happening. See, I was one of those pillocks who was of the opinion that, if you studied something, if you took it apart, if you engaged in its analysis through educational avenues that the subject of your studies would lose its, well, its magic-- for lack of a more scholarly, erudite term.

Yeah. Turns out that doesn't happen. Like, if you study comedy, Sarah Silverman is still funny. And hot as corduroy-covered balls in August. Imagine that.

Studying theatre actually enhanced my appreciation of the art form, I'm happy (and still a little bit surprised, even today) to say. Maybe it's because, really, I didn't study it (or, frankly, anything) that hard in college. I cut so much Biology that, when I finally decided to return to class to take the final, there was an unfamiliar woman at the front of the class, handing out the exams.

"Who the hell is that?" I whispered to the person sitting in the seat next to me, whose name I didn't know, because I never went to the class.

"That's the professor," the brown-haired girl in the North Face fleece replied.

"What happened to the other one?" I asked. The girl looked at me like I was a pig's asshole.

"She's on maternity leave."


"She was pregnant?"

I went to my theatre classes far more often, but the scholarly articles were pretty deadly, from what I remember, and I didn't read most of them. I did what was routinely called "excellent" work in the acting, playwriting, and directing classes, because that's all I really gave a shit about. In college, I was routinely in more than one play at a time, writing, editing, publishing and promoting a book, appearing in a friend's film project, co-writing and appearing in a campus television show, and there was a time where I was churning out an original one-act play a week. Amazingly, I still found time to masturbate and say inappropriate things in the dining hall. AND I was always prepared for my acting, directing and playwriting classes.

These classes definitely deepened my appreciation of and respect for theatre. One of the highlights of our theatre education in college was an opportunity to travel to New York City to see Liev Schreiber and some other assholes in some Harold Pinter play. I was pretty juiced. It was awesome. I didn't give a shit about Liev Schreiber. I was excited to be riding shotgun in the Theatre Department Chair's Nissan Quest and to see a Harold Pinter play.

I've seen precious few shows in Broadway. The Harold Pinter play that I can't remember the title of... um... "Cabaret," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "A Little Night Music," and.... that's probably just about it. There's probably one or two more-- maybe. But, maybe not. After all, I've pretty much always been an hourly sumbitch, and Broadway's a little rich for my blood. Not only that, I know I can see fabulous theatre pretty much whenever I want in Philadelphia, and I don't have to sell blood and seed for three months to be able to afford it. Besides, isn't everything on Broadway now basically just a recreation of a movie or some shit?

"Spiderman"? Le Shudder.

"Mary (Fucking) Poppins." "Billy Elliot." "The Lion King." "The Addams Family." "Catch Me if You Can."

And now, oh sweet Jesus-- "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."


Now, as I intimated in the caveat of this blog, I have never seen the Broadway show "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." And I never saw the movie, either, although I heard that portions of it were filmed near my neighborhood. And I'm not necessarily bashing the movie, or the musical, or both. What I am bashing is the seemingly intractable notion that plays have to be something else before they become plays worthy enough for Broadway.

I realize that we're in a recession, and Broadway producers ("The Producers"???) won't vom up the big bucks for anything that they aren't 106% sure will be a June-is-bustin'-out-all-over hit, but, come on. Does nobody have an original idea for a goddamn show that's worth promoting and producing? It's... sad. Broadway: big, flashy, gaudy, awesomesauce Broadway is sad. It's almost as sad as... as.... a theatre major.

And that's sad.

1 comment:

  1. Legally Blonde, and Legally Blonde 2. Not only were those originally movies, they weren't even musicals!


    More shows that were movies first:
    Hairspray, The Wedding Singer, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Jekyll and Hyde, Big, Victor Victoria, Footloose, Sunset Boulevard, The Color Purple, Tarzan, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas

    Maybe they're good in their own right, but there must be no new ideas to be had, since they're recycling the old ones.


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