Tonight I went to see “Lady” by Craig Wright at the Rattlestick. I don’t want to be a spoiler, so I will only say – see it. I love Craig Wright’s work. He is the master of intense scenes – guns, dogs, fucking – seriously, he’s got it down.
Rattlestick is a great theater because they take risks on dark perverse plays — plays that are wild, weird, insane, overly sexual, too smart – or just plain too wacky for the more practical Off-Broadway theaters in NYC to produce. In short, they aren’t always commercial, and that’s great. NYC needs more theaters to push the envelope like this. Other Off-Broadway NYC theaters to be commended for their risky choices are: The Edge, New Georges, Second Stage, Wet and The Women’s Project. I’m sure there are others, but those are the theaters that I’ve gone to in recent years where I’ve seen some boundary-breaking work.
I had an extra ticket for the show tonight, so I went through my list of people who I usually go to shows with. My friend and fellow playwright Lisa was coming and I was thrilled. I decided that she would be my interview of the day. I was already imagining what I was going to say and planning my questions. See I shouldn’t get lazy.
At noon she called to tell me she couldn’t make it. Damn. So I called my other playwright-friend Aurin. He said something about a dance class. What? Who will I interview? Damn you people. Obviously I’m on a playwriting theme, so I want to interview a playwright.
I wasn’t feeling well today and wasn’t much in the mood for socializing (this blog takes work).
So I show up for the play and who is sitting in my same row? Score! It’s non-other than my friend and playwriting star — Liz Meriwether. Whew! I’m totally relieved. She will be my interview of the day. The last time I saw Liz was in March when I came to the reading of one of her plays at this same theater. In fact, I liked her play so much that I wrote about it on my blog – but it was way back when I was just beginning, so I wont show it to you.
I am a tough critic and I don’t love a lot of things, but I like Liz’s work. She cracks me up. I met Liz in 2004 when we were both in a playwriting class at New Dramatists with my friend Aurin Squire. I think they were both interns and I was crashing because the class was being taught by my friend Octavio Solis who was in town for a production of one of his plays in SPF. Octavio did some interesting work with us that day. We did an imagination exercise. We shut our eyes and for some reason we were all at a house and there was a field I think. The exercise didn’t do much for me (personally), but Liz, this little blond girl sitting across from me, described a dead person on a picnic table which was outside of the house, out in the field. What? She looked so harmless. Jeez.
Later that year I got to see what she does with a finished play when our one-acts went up back-to-back at the Vital Theatre. It was my play first (one that I’d rather forget actually) and then Liz’s “True Love Story of my Parents” and then Aurin’s “Defacing Michael Jackson” ( Liz and Aurin’s play went on to win Sam French that year). My short play “Never Never Land” held on for dear life compared to my friends’ great plays. My play was a sad story about my friend Pete who had died the year before. It was a play about remembering and going back, rewinding the tape on a lifetime of childhood memories. “True Love Story “(starring Natalia Payne) was totally inventive, fun, wild as was “Defacing Michael Jackson.”
It’s kind of odd, but the three of us went up back-to-back again in 2005 at the Sam French Festival. Another play of mine, a much better play, went up in between “True Love Story” and “Defacing.” Again? What are the chances?
On that particular night, my actors got in a fight and ruined the play. It was ruined I tell you. It was only the finals. Sniff. But spilt milk, milkshakes whatever….I suck at clichés.
That play “Below 14th” is being done again at The Looking Glass in December, I’m curious to see what they do with it.
In any event, three years later, Liz and Aurin are doing really well. I can’t even keep up with Liz, Aurin, or me for that matter. The good news is, we are all still writing and I’m guessing that we are getting better and better.
Oh so what did I ask Liz?
“What was your weirdest experience in NYC?”
She thought about it during the whole play I guess.
“Once I lost my wallet and my wallet and my credit cards were returned to me by a priest and a police man in the same day.”
That’s good, sure. But it doesn’t sound that weird.
I actually had something similar happen to me when I visited NYC in 1997. On my second day here, I lost my little purse with my credit cards, ID and cash. I was so freaked out by the whole experience. Then, two weeks later the whole purse was mailed to me in California with no return address.
The guy standing next to her said that he once got an apartment by overhearing some guys talking in a spa.
“I was being thrown out, it was amazing.”
Now we are talking!