Tuesday, May 26, 2015


An unmarked benefit, probably one of the few, of being older, is having been in the world when things did not seem so dire.  Among the Biggies, like war and pestilence and nobody really caring, all of which have been here as long as Man (and Woman, too, though she has only lately come to count, but still not enough) is the diminishment of the Creative Spirit and support of it, certainly in the U.S.A.  I know, sadly, how old I am, because my play, a not-bad-comedy cost a hundred and fifty thousand to bring to an opening on Broadway, but failed because it was badly cast, the director was fired, a terrible one replaced him, I had a crazy producer,  I was giving birth to my daughter at the time of its opening, Mel Brooks was a close friend but probably not close enough, so he and Annie Bancroft, his glorious wife, for whom I had actually written it, drove with me and Don back to the hospital opening night, but was doing another play instead, because "I've never played a hunchbacked nun before," she had said.
    A hundred and fifty-thousand dollars might now possibly buy you a good reading with an okay cast, seated on folding chairs in a room upstairs somewhere in the theatre district. It is all insane, overpriced, and, from the little I could stand (and did) seeing when I was in New York, not very good, with the exception of Chita Rivera who made one bend of leg that told you what musical theatre used to be about, and my hearing that the old Fosse Chicago was very much on its legs.  Nothing else on Broadway felt worth seeing, including the one play that was supposed to be powerful and meaningful that I stood through and was sorry,(Fun Home,) Skylight, overrated, with its leading man who flailed his way through almost all his speeches, The Curious Incident of the Dog, etc., that I left at intermission, crossing the famous Rue to see the musical that is, sadly, a compendium of many wonderful Gershwin songs, an American in Paris, that mostly brought to my mind how lucky I had been to be in that city when it was really alive with beginnings that were not  angry and destructive, but all about Creativity.  I saw some others I cannot even remember enough to be disappointed about, another unadvertised benefit of getting older.
      But I did come across something that should give anguish to and hopefully cause to bring to action everybody who cares in the least about theatre, good or bad, and that is the struggle now that is going on with the small theaters in California, 99 seats or less: the attempt to make them pay minimum to exist, which will result in their going out of what little business they have.  It is a vile move on the part of Actor's Equity, and I ask whoever reads this if anyone does, to pass it along to an angry or at-least-somewhat-involved Activist, to protest, and, hopefully, try to do something about.  Strange to have come across this on South Beverly Drive,  but then there was little about New York that felt like positive discovery, besides the Quaker Meeting House, with its rows of places to sit and believe in Something, quietly.