Oct 24, 2004

Long Memories

“The Greeks and Shakespeare never wrote an original play,” proclaims Charles L. Mee Jr. in a provocative piece in today’s Sunday Times. His PERFECT WEDDING opens the new Kirk Douglas Theatre (a.k.a. the Spartacus Theatre) on Nov. 7. He’s now among the most-produced playwrights in the country, including here in L.A., where his BERLIN CIRCLE opened the Evidence Room’s Downtown space 1999, whose BIG LOVE was a hit at Pacific Resident Theatre, and whose WINTERTIME (oops--see note below) was a much-underrated recent delight at the Boston Court. Mee goes into some detail in explaining what might be called a post-structuralist (or is simply structuralist?) theory of creativity: “The culture writes us first, and then we write our stories… Whether we mean to, the work we do is both received and created, both an adaptation and an original at the same time. We re-make things as we go.” He talks about a phenomenon we’ve all felt, in this information-saturated time: how in political arguments with friends he realizes he and they are often simply spouting and recycling things they’ve read, heard on TV, etc. That’s OK, Mee says, and maybe it’s why his plays also resonate with audiences: With their mix of (in Mee’s list) “songs and dances, pieces of found text, overheard conversations, classical plays, dances from Bollywood, opinions that come straight off a television talk show, stuff from the Internet. My plays feel like my life — a life lived inside my head and in the world at the same time.”

Also in the today’s Times are a pair of letters taking issue with Mary McNamara’s recent profile of Peter Schneider, the former Disney studio chief and theatrical impresario who directed GRAND HOTEL at the Colony. One, by former Colony publicist Bob Canning, justifiably slams Schneider’s former colleague Tom Schumacher for dissing the 276-seat Colony as an “equity-waiver theatre.” (I found Schumacher’s implied comparison of doing L.A. theatre to a “Waiting for Guffman thing” even more offensive.) The other recalls that while at Disney, Schneider once similarly dismissed L.A. theatre as, according to letter writer Will Campbell, “little more than a theatrical wasteland.”

And people say no one in this town remembers anything older than last week’s box-office figures.

UPDATE: Apparently my own memory is pretty short. As Ravi's comment points out, it was SUMMERTIME, not WINTERTIME, that ran at the Boston Court earlier this year. I've left the error intact in the spirit of full disclosure. And why am I not surprised that Ravi was the first to comment here?


Ravi Narasimhan said...

D3AR 51R,

"and whose WINTERTIME was a much-underrated recent delight at the Boston Court."

Maybe that's because they did SUMMERTIME...

/insert Mee rant here

Ravi Narasimhan said...

"And why am I not surprised that Ravi was the first to comment here? "

'cause I'm sending information about your new blog to a few other interested peuple and was collecting relevant links. :-)

--- R