• Tuesday, January 29, 2013
  • Rag and Bone

    Play readings are so hard to do well, but I attended a delightful one tonight. Rag and Bone by Noah Haidle was read by a very awesome cast from the Echo Theatre Company, directed by one of my favorite people, Chris Fields. It was very funny, and so very fast and light and charming. And yet by the end I wanted more from it. The characters started as broad archetypes- some without real names, only referred to as ‘The Hooker’, ‘The Poet’ and ‘The Millionaire’- but they never quite progressed beyond those archetypes, never quite became real human beings I believed in. And so my heart didn’t break for them at the end, as it should have.

    The opening scene of the play – something about the conversation between the two brothers-  inspired a breakthrough for one of my own stories. A solution that I would have never thought of otherwise. Love when that happens. 🙂 Sometimes I get my best writing done when I watch other plays.

  • Monday, January 28, 2013
  • Vishwaroopam

    A few thoughts on Vishwaroopam… Spoilers below.

    Viswaroopam Latest Posters Gallery (1)

    1. It’s such a bad movie. I’ve had a couple of days to think about it, and yep. It’s such a bad movie. Of course it’s my own personal subjective opinion, blah blah blah, but I wouldn’t recommend it to any of my friends.

    2. I was naturally curious to see if there was anything ‘objectionable’ about it because of all the drama surrounding it. And at the end of the movie- I counted one “good Muslim” character on-screen- and that was Kamal Hassan’s character Wiz/Vishwanath/Wisam.

    3. And see that’s the problem- Kamal’s character is schizophrenically portrayed, and wasn’t in any way recognizable to us as a devout Muslim. We’re introduced to him as a TamBrahm Kathak teacher (which is a whole level of nonsensical storytelling on its own), and then as a spy infiltrating an Al Qaeda operation, and then as an anti-terrorist agent of the Indian government saving New York City We are told he’s a devout Muslim (we see him praying by himself maybe once) but we are not given a single moment of introspection for his character- about what led him to be a spy, what it’s like for him to be surrounded by terrorists who profess to believe in the same God as he does, about why in the everlasting world he chose to have an arranged marriage to a TamBrahm Hindu girl as part of his weird incognito life on the run! And at the end of the movie, he’s still married to that Hindu girl. This character is not recognizable to us as a devout Muslim.

    4. Every single shot of Muslims in this movie is sinister. Every time we hear that vaguely Middle Eastern music, some bad shit is about to go down. We see Muslims of different races and colors bent on the destruction of innocent civilians. And this is only because we don’t see any non-terrorist Muslims, not one, other than Kamal. In fact there’s a particularly unnecessary moment where Kamal meets another spy in Afghanistan- and that spy makes it a point of saying that he’s not really a Muslim.

    The less said about the *actual* flaws of the movie, the better. The less said about the *actual* flaws of the movie, the better.

    Of course none of this justifies the movie being banned. None of these points are inherently artistic flaws. I would much rather it get released and fail on its own merits (it’s a bad movie, have I mentioned?). It is ridiculous to insist that Kamal somehow portray a ‘balanced’ picture of Muslims- but it’s not unreasonable to expect it. Artists have the right to create any piece of art that they feel compelled to make, but I hope that we’d then be able to hold them accountable for the messages that their stories communicate.

    If these protests hadn’t happened, if the movie hadn’t been banned, I would not have even noticed what I did notice about the portrayal of Muslims in this movie. And obviously, Kamal, being who he is, probably would never have expected this reaction or this backlash. And that reflects how we see the world- but that is not how everyone does. And when we’re dealing with a group of people who are already treated like second-class citizens in their own country, it’s worth a little extra consideration.

    That being said, I wish the TN government would grow a pair and release the movie already.

  • Monday, January 28, 2013
  • Persuasion

    Megan, Zury and I have a blog! I blogged on Friday about how excited I am about Zury’s thesis play. This is going to be fun.

    This is the semester of artistic statements- I have three due to write, just this week alone. And the phrase “political through the personal” keeps running through my head. I want to talk about it with my undergrad students this semester. How do you read a play, and understand the politics of the play through the personal interactions and qualities of the characters? How do you stay true to the holistic individuality of the character while understanding what the play is saying (if that’s the right word) on a macro level?

    Theatre is activism, Playwrights are activists. I love this post.

    And of course, these thoughts are compounded by the fact that I just finished Persuasion today, and it kind of blew my mind, page after page. This is the first Jane Austen novel I’ve read cover to cover without having seen the movie/BBC television series first. And how amazing. How did a woman like this live and breathe among us? Political through the personal.

    Persuasion

    Yes, the romantic ending made me cry. But this was the section that made me gasp out loud, and put my book down for a minute to process what I’d just read. When Captain Harville and Anne are in the midst of their discussion of whether men feel heartbreak more acutely than women, or whether women remember their lost loves long after men forget. Anne, of course, asks Harville not to dismiss the depth of women’s feelings.

    [Captain Harville]- “Well, Miss Elliot… As I was saying, we shall never agree, I suppose, upon this point. No man and woman, would, probably. But let me observe that all histories are against you–all stories, prose and verse. If I had such a memory as Benwick, I could bring you fifty quotations in a moment on my side the argument, and I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.”

    [Anne]- “Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”

    Required reading.

  • Wednesday, January 16, 2013
  • Holy shit, 2013 is off to a good start.

    Jet-lagged and awake at 4am in Los Angeles, but for once in my life it is the feeling of ridiculously, incredibly, unbelievably good news that is keeping me from falling back to sleep.

    I awoke from a similar jet-lagged coma yesterday afternoon to find my phone ringing with an unknown number from Atlanta. “Atlanta,” I thought jokingly to myself. “Maybe it’s the Alliance Theatre telling me I’ve won the Kendeda and they want to produce my play.”

    …WELL.

    I WON THE KENDEDA, AND THEY’RE GOING TO PRODUCE MY PLAY.

    I’m going to be in Atlanta January and February 2014, for the production of ‘IN LOVE AND WARCRAFT’. I’m going to have readings at the Kennedy Center in DC and at the Lark Play Development Center in NYC.

    Holy… shit.

    It really, really hasn’t sunk in yet. I can’t believe it. This is…

    Okay. Yeah. More later when I’ve processed this.