Thursday, September 10, 2009
Mistakes Were Made Red Orchid Theater Review and the Badwater Race
I saw an amazingly well written play last night that I loved because it is full of satire and is a play on plays and theater, Mistakes Were Made, that is basically a one man play starring Michael Shannon. with Mierka Girten as the voice behind the curtain and the counterpoint to Felix(Shannon). I love Red Orchid theater because of the space. I LOVE this space!!!!! It is such a huge luxury to watch such a high quality production in such an intimate space!!!!!!!!!! The play is all about a guy on a telephone for 90 minutes, sounds very boring, right?? Well, my attention was captivated the entire time. Michael Shannon just gives his all in the performance. He has harnessed a mixture of Estelle, Joey's agent in Seinfeld, every used car salesman you have ever met and every jeweler in the Diamond district in New York. Shannon and Craig Wright, the playwright, must have had fun creating this character based on some of their experiences with producers in Hollywood and the compromises they have seen made and deals made with the devil. Now, having been in sales for so many years, and having lived in New York, the dialogue made me laugh, it was corny and true at the same time!!! But his performance was like running a half marathon but instead of a race a month, he will be performing this 3-4 times a week...how he remembers all those lines, how he keeps a boundary between himself and the character while the play is running, all that is pretty mentally, spiritually and physically intense!!! But as his character makes mention of in the play, I think it is Michael Shannon's ode and gift to Red Orchid to bring attention and money to a very cool theater group that goes at the art in a very authentic and joyful way!!! But I think a playing a part like Felix Artifax takes a digging deep and persevering and focus the way an endurance race does. I will say the play touched on some themes that I have been exploring in the story I have been writing, The Jagged Edge, How people layer their personalities in life. And the ability of the observer to distinguish what is genuine sentiment and what is schlock. How people protect themselves with layers of different personas. You could take the character of Artifax and put him on a bond trading desk and it would be the same thing, to me that was what was funny about watching the play, I have seen the same things played out already. Shannon takes the character of Artifax, and moves from one layer to the next ultimately into the inner layers of Artifax's personality and what it is like when you go that deep which is why I think the role is a very intense, demanding one to play.
And I just came back from a great jog to Olive park and the thought occurred to me, only at Red Orchid and the intimacy of the set can a pet fish be a co-star of the play. The fish is both schlocky and effective. I think most people find pets are the ones we can be most honest to and speak from our innermost layer, pets represent unconditional love and we reciprocate to them. I think ideally we would like this to happen in human relationships but 99.99999% of the time it doesn't. So the fish and I am probably reading too many metaphors into it, but the fish rises to the surface of the aquarium and draws out the innermost Felix. I thought the fish was a very clever and entertaining role but as I said, only at Red Orchid, I just think it would not work on a bigger set.
Okay, the other thought I had, running, the sun and yoga always fills me with thoughts, what can I say, and a sunny day in Chicago can be such a rare thing it always make me happy! The other thought I had about MWM is that it had a few awkward silences. Now for me, not being educated or trained as an actor, and with all the underlying insecurity I have, my first thought was, "What cohonas this guy has" to hold a silence for so long on the stage when it is only you. I think many actors would start talking too soon to fill the silence. And there is a very fine line between not long enough and too long and I think as the play progresses they will fiddle with these. But the silences are the first indication that there is more too Felix than just a used car salesman, there are conversations going on in his head. This is another theme I have been playing around with in the Jagged Edge, the internal conversations we have with ourselves, so I think these silences are a tool to make us realize there IS MORE going on that just what we hear and see. It shows Felix's depth of character. The final touch I really liked was the set, I always love sets because good sets give hints of the characters and the narratives that are going to happen. It just takes paying attention to detail and the detail I liked in this set was the child's drawings because seeing the drawings and paying attention to the dialogue you realize Felix made mistakes that resulted in his child's death that he has still not quite forgiven himself for and that he is seeking forgiveness from his wife so that he can forgive himself.
So, my To DO today is mailing off the 25 pages of the Introduction and Chapter 1 of the Jagged Edge with an outline of the rest of the Chapters to an agent who had sent me a nice letter of rejection when I sent out the stories in my first idea, The Middle of the Stans.
Okay, here is CNN's footage of the Badwater race, I don't really have a very strong desire to do this particular race, I would rather focus, think of the Hardrock or the Trans Rockies, but the thing I love about the internet and web is that I can see people who are actually accomplishing these things and doing these things as compared to so many people I encounter in my day to day life in Chicago and at the store, who just don't have the spiritual connection to want to do these things and are just very sedentary, I just can't stand sedentary. I am so appreciated each and every day that I have the Lake out my front door and that I can run, even though my ankle and hamstring hurt at the moment, so many people I encounter on a day to day basis in Chicago think they are too old or it is their knees or their back or tis hurts or it is too dangerous to bike or this or that. I LOVE the web to show me people who say I CAN!!!!!!!!!! I agree with the Brazilian guy who is quoted in the film, for me so much of my love of trekking and remote places and the aspiration to finish the Hardrock race is the sense of a very deep spiritual connection to the earth.
On my run yesterday I decided, that rather than get depressed over how I have these aspirations but have not achieved them I should be happy that I have them.THere are so many people that don't know what to do with themselves and get bored over life and maybe I haven't run the Hardrock or published a book or written a play, half the battle is the will to want to!!!! I have to be happy that I have that will!!!!!!!!!!!!