The Playgoer: Bullshit PR of the Day

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Bullshit PR of the Day

Jeff Daniels is a fine actor. And he has walked the walk in theatre, founding and running his own Purple Rose company in Chelsea, MI, keeping the old Circle Rep. dream alive he started with Lanford Wilson et al back in the 70s. He also written plays for Purple Rose, including the 1996 Apartment 3A, now getting a NY premiere, off-off B'way. The play is described to the press as a "romantic comedy" and "ghost story." Sounds fine, but does it really need this reach for significance from the playwright:

"Given all the recent public debate about the importance of religion in our lives," Mr. Daniels said, "I think the play probably has more relevance now than it did when we premiered it."
Please, Jeff. I doubt the Bush theocrats make your apparent Blithe Spirit remake any more "relevant." I'll wait for someone to really write a play about that.

I feel sorry for those writers who feel pressured to inflate and distort classifications of their own work in order just to make it more marketable to the press. (Notice the NYT takes the bait, sure enough.) And maybe it's the press's fault. What's wrong with just a good romantic comedy?....The worst was back in Fall '01 to see how quickly playwrights, directors, and their press agents so glibly exploited 9/11 to sell their already-in-progress projects about relationship breakups and the like as "about loss--and you know, in a time like this...."

So much for a cheery start to the New Year!


Anonymous said...

Yes, this is a loathsome trend. But can you give examples of playwrights who dressed up their pre 9/11 plays with post 9/11 "relevance"? I can't think of a single one. If this was as much of a trend as you imply, I think you should back your assertion up with some evidence.

Playgoer said...

What, document my sources? I thought this was a blog!...But just to be a good citizen, I did a quick Nexus search of "theatre" and "loss" in articles for the months following 9/11 and came up with this. (Yes, it's from an actor, not a playwright, but my point was not to single out playwrights.)

From NYT "On Stage & Off" Column, 10/12/01:

Kevin Bacon Alone

Kevin Bacon knows Off Broadway. A Philadelphia native who came to New York when he was 17, Mr. Bacon made his name there, turning in memorable performances in a string of Off Broadway plays, including "Album" (1980) and "Poor Little Lambs" (1982). He graduated to Broadway in 1983 with Sean Penn in "Slab Boys." Then he became a movie star.

Now Mr. Bacon, who proved his stage chops so long ago, is coming back to Broadway in a new way: alone.

Beginning in January Mr. Bacon will star in "An Almost Holy Picture," a one-man drama by Heather McDonald, about a lapsed minister whose 9-year-old daughter is suffering from a mysterious disease. Opening night at the American Airlines Theater is Feb. 7.

Mr. Bacon, 43, husband to Kyra Sedgwick, and father of two, said that while he'd been wanting to do the play for a while, the recent terrorist attacks had put him in the frame of mind to take on the part, which will require him to hold the stage for two hours.

"I was raised with little or no religion," he said. "I practice no religion. I'm the last person you'd expect to be affected about a play about God. But to parents, to anyone who has experienced any kind of loss or deep tragedy recently, this speaks to you. And after the attacks happened, all of the sudden I said to myself, That's all of us in this town."