Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Festival...

This round of the shorts was an interesting one for me in a number of ways. Where as in the past the festival itself has been primarily a way to have fun hanging out with friends while doing something I love, this time around it became a strange and unintentional learning experience for me.

I'm re-reading my script as I write this and still find myself laughing at it on every page. Upon completing it and handing it off to my director, the very talented Chris Bell whose enthusiasm for the script mirrored my own, I went home eagerly anticipating seeing the story and characters come to life on stage that evening.

When it finally came time for "Mindy" to go up, second to last show of the night, the bar had already been raised so high by the preceding shows I couldn't help but become nervous (as I always do), fearing that somehow my own work wouldn't stand up to everyone else's and look amateurish in comparison. This is where things became interesting because, in short, it did. As it played out, jokes which I thought would work extremely well fell flat. Situations the characters found themselves in didn't carry with them the impact I originally envisioned, and lines which were written with good intent the night before came across as immature and vulgar.

The failure for that of course lies solely with myself and the writing. The comedy in the script, the style of humor and the subject matter, is such that if it's not delivered in the proper manner will fall apart and become detrimental for the show as a whole. The tone here becomes so important that if it's not presented exactly the way the writer (in this case myself) envisioned, it becomes blatantly offensive (this can be common in my writing, as anyone who has read my play "Adam of the Apes" will attest to. It's also easily apparent in an upcoming short I've written which is being produced this winter). This is a shortcoming and a failure of the script's and of myself as a writer, being unable to communicate the intent of the work properly and make the piece accessible not only to those viewing it, but also those interpreting it.

Now those who know me well know that I am not easily upset or offended by anything, especially my own writing, but watching my show that night there were lines and moments that even I found to be alarmingly crude. I am reminded of a recent quote by David Letterman regarding a joke he made which did not come across as intended:

“I told a bad joke. I told a joke that was beyond flawed, and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception... It doesn’t make any difference what my intent was, it’s the perception... and my intent is completely meaningless compared to the perception... It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood, it’s my fault that it was misunderstood.”

That to me seems to relate to my show quite succinctly and sums up my thoughts better than I would be able to express myself. I don't apologize for myself very often but it seems in this case to not do so would be a larger grievance than what I may have already caused, so I do need to at this time apologize to all those involved in the festival, and especially to my wonderful and talented director and actresses who threw themselves into the project with more determination and commitment than it perhaps deserved. The fact that they did so is a testament to their professionalism, ethic, character and talent.

The rest of the evening and the shows were a blast. There wasn't a single one that failed to keep me laughing throughout and it was a pleasure to see the wonderful work done by all the new writers, directors and actors on board this time around as well as the continued high level of quality I've come to expect from those I've worked with in the past. You all continually give me something to strive towards.

No comments:

Post a Comment