Thursday, May 30, 2013


I know I'm being totally saccharine but I was terribly sad when I watched the final episode of the TV series, SMASH.  Of course, the two-year run was full of ridiculous, unlikely things about play production...not the part about the director sleeping with his leading ladies, though.  But there was something else there that really touched me.

Despite the drama of backstabbing, envy and hard edged economic realities any production faces, (can we actually get more financial support for theatre from the Mob?) especially when it hopes to go to Broadway, SMASH was also able to embody the sparks of creativity that make a play, the team work it takes to realize a dream and the relentless hard work theatre demands.  It's especially heart rending when you understand that for each play that does 'make it,' (even if you define making it as only getting a critical review published in the paper. And I remember when plays were reviewed on the TV news!) there are hundreds more that may make it to one production only and thousands more which never make it that far.

It's especially difficult when you see that theatres are facing such economic challenges they often fall back on familiar writers, familiar plays to try and ensure they have full houses.  I was a stage manager in New York City's Off and Off Off Broadway for a decade so know how companies make those ends meet.  I once worked a show in the West Village where I called the light cues, sewed the costumes, found all the props and took phone reservations for a sum not even high enough to call a salary! I was like a theatrical Swiss Army knife. But the passion for the play and for each other brought us all back every day and night.  Live theatre is like nothing else in the arts.

I'm also feeling nostalgic about SMASH, I guess, because I've been sending out the script to "Waiting for Giovanni" in hopes of finding a new venue and it feels suddenly like a futile exercise.  Too many playwrights, too few slots!  I also used to read scripts for the Public Theatre in NYC and really really do know how many playwrights there are!  And combine that with the fact that I'm NOT in NYC which makes playwrights practically invisible, I wonder less and less why playwrights have a reputation for being drinkers--numbing the pain of invisibility!

The experience of working on the production of  W4G at New Conservatory Theatre Center was such an amazing example of team work overcoming economic and other obstacles I have to keep carrying the experience with me as I crank out the inquiry letters, synopses and scripts to anonymous literary departments at theatres across the country.  The memory of that team..actors, crew, staff...makes me keep going because they thought the play was worth it so I have to too. 

SMASH did a wonderful rendition of the Carrie Underwood song, 'Crazy Dreams,' that I loved. The words help as much as the picture of my W4G cast: 

'Hello you long shots/You dark horse runners/Hairbrush singers, dashboard drummers/Hello you wild magnolias/Just waiting to bloom.../...even crazy dreams come true...


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