Wednesday, September 07, 2005

'Bout Time

Damn, it’s been a while. Please forgive me.

The obvious reason for my absence in this space is because my thoughts have not been on theatre — or anything remotely related — for quite some time. Sure, the Nosedive group has been having meetings here and there discussing what we should do for the next few shows, but it hasn’t been until very, very recently that these discussions have led to anything substantial.

It’s finally been decided that Nosedive’s Bucket of Chum, our fundraiser show, will be at the Looking Glass Theatre on September 17, A Very Nosedive Christmas Carol is being re-helmed at the Kraine Theatre in December and my adaptation of Frank Norris’s novel, McTeague, will be presented sometime in the spring of 2006.

Which means The Adventures of Nervous Boy will be staged during the fall of 2006 (God willing).

* * *

Obviously, my thoughts of late have been centered on New Orleans. I’m now in a bit of a bind. On one hand, this blog-type space is not really the place to add to the cacophony brought upon by political pundits that are flooding the airwaves. Yes, I know, I do rarely write about theatre in this theatre blog, but still it strikes me as a bit weird and inappropriate to rant about Hurricane Katrina in Jamespeak after an absence of a couple months.

At the same time, to return and act like it didn’t happen is also a bit weird and inappropriate.

Still, though, I’m not going to spend too much time on it here. I will, however, point you to the direction of my friend Jay Casale’s blog, which sums up some excellent points.

Suffice it to say, it’s quite depressing, people should donate what they can to the Red Cross on the city’s behalf and FEMA’s ineptitude at bringing aide is outrageous.

And that’s all I’ll say on the subject here.

* * *

I also want to offer heaps of praise and congratulations to Mac Rogers, Sean and Jordana Williams for their show Fleet Week: The Musical, which turned out to be The Show of the Fringe this year. They ended up getting more than 1,000 people to see their musical, which was wonderful. Mac recently wrote, “I’ve got to enjoy this while it lasts, ‘cause I know as soon as I go back to writing twisted little Mac plays it's back to 50-seat theaters with 25 unsold seats. You gotta figure Sean and Jordy are like days or hours away from figuring out that they could write hit musicals all by themselves and don't need to put up with my gloomy ass anymore.”

I don’t think so, Mac.

This may be the start of bigger and better things for the trio (and yes, that includes you, Mac).

Considering that, in the world of self-produced Off-off-Broadway theatre, the criteria for success are murky at best (how do you measure success in a field where money is lost 99% of the time?), and they have presented something that can unequivocally be considered a success. Hell; a hit. But I think Mac, Sean and Jordana have shown the rest of us what is truly a “hit.”

In a short while, the three of them wrote a very commercially viable, crowd-friendly show. And it didn’t feel forced in any way. Many times, people do try to write a work solely for the goal of being a commercial success. It rarely works. It ends up being a lose-lose situation for everybody. The audience loses, because they’re seeing some clichéd and forced piece of crap that’s intentionally insulting their intelligence; the writer loses because he’s writing something he has no interest in writing about.

That’s not the feeling that I got when seeing Fleet Week.

It was damn fun and damn funny. And the musical tunes were cool, too (bear in mind you’re also reading a post from a guy who’s not wild about musicals).

At any rate, congratulations on a huge success, guys. It couldn’t have happened to more deserving people and to a more deserving show.

You’ve shown the rest of us how it’s done.

* * *

Of course, because I’m a small and petty person, I also can’t help but see how the success of my colleagues’ Fleet Week shows how low on the already low totem pole Nosedive Productions is.

As Pete said at our last production meeting to figure out just what the hell we’re going to do for the next year or so: “We’re not dead yet.” We agreed. Doggedly, but we agreed nonetheless.

Here’s the deal, folks.

We’re sick of producing, absolutely sick of it. No, we’re not sick of getting plays produced, but producing them ourselves (and primarily paying for them ourselves). It’s become about as much fun as waiting in line at the DMV.

Sure, it was kind of fun when we started, since we had no idea if we could do it, and it was great to see (and show people) that we could. Well…after nine original productions in five years (15 if you count the fundraiser shows), we’ve pretty much proven unequivocally that we can. And — as much as I hate to admit it — a recurring thought I’ve been having is: “So what?”

Playing to 50-seat theaters with 25 unsold seats may have a shelf life.

Hell, why do you think I’ve been so absent from this space for so long? Every time I sat down to start writing, I would realize I had precious little to say that couldn’t be said in two or three paragraphs at most. I’ve also been trying to avoid any sour grapes issues here. Who really wants to read about that?

And it’s not really sour grapes; I’m not lamenting that we’re not rich and/or famous or anything like that. I am, however, noticing that the workload is getting bigger while the payoff is getting smaller. Well, not getting smaller, but…it’s flat-lined. This also may have to do with my interests — and Pete’s — veering elsewhere (film, prose, robbing liquor stores). As mentioned above, my thoughts have not been even remotely theatre-related for some time.

Maybe it’s just a phase. We shall see.

But on the upside of things, we aren’t dead yet.

And we’ll be doing another fundraiser show Saturday, September 17.

* * *

Since Martin Denton from may be setting up links to his site to other theatre blogs such as this one, I should post a little more often than every two months. Again, we shall see.

Arguing with the bartender,

James “It’s Not Last Call!” Comtois

September 7, 2005


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