Here’s some good news: Finally finished work on round #1 of THE SEAGULL (ON 16th STREET) last night. I knew it was time to draw this first fully worked through draft to a close when I had Masha warbling “Blue Moon” at the very end after Dr. Dorn announces that Konstanin Gavrilovich has just… Well, why give away the evening for the two people who don’t know this most-frequently of produced plays? The “Blue Moon” coda felt incredibly right and seemed to tie up all the anachronistic songs from the 50s, 60s, and 70s that get hummed at discreet intervals through the play. There’s Neil Sadaka’s “Breaking Up is Hard To Do,” Joni Mitchell’s “I Was a Free Man in Paris,” and The Marcells’ “Blue Moon.” And that, believe me, has almost nothing to do with the overall approach to this “Jewish Seagull,” but maybe that’s why I love it the most and find it, well, just the right kind of touch. In the original SEAGULL, Chekhov calls for several of the characters to hum some throw-away popular songs of the time.
For example in Act I: SORIN: I’ll do it, that’s all. Right away. (Goes off singing.) “In France, two grenadiers!…” (Looks around.) ”
Or later in the act, DORN: (Singing.) “Don’t say that our youth has been wasted…” and DORN: (Sings.) “Again, before you, I stand…”
What to do with all this warbling?
Well, taking our cue from the guiding principle of this adaptation–that we bring ourselves and our world into the realm of Chekhov’s Russia–we bring not only our modern Jewish cultural dialectic into Turn of the Century Rissa, but also the romantic pop music ditties that feel so resonant. So I chose a few goodies. And last night’s late night whimsy: Close the show with it… And so I did! And so it might really work too. At least the way Masha chooses to deliver it. And then suspend it.
So we’ll see when we read it with the cast. But for now, I’m very happy. And very pyched to be finally done with this round of writing. And onto the next big assignments!
Also want to mention three other good piece of news (you know what? There’s more than three!)
Taught a great first class for my U of Michigan / U of California at Berkeley class on political theater and adaptation. 25 students–enthusiastic–they kinda dug what I was serving. I’ll share the lesson with you shortly. It was fun, inspiring. And the quotes on Adaptation from Jason Grote and Charles Mee, in particular, enormously helpful. Look for some cross-over there, between what we’re posting here on Adaptation, and what we wind up doing there. Good synergy.
Also to note in today’s New York Times, a nice piece by David Mamet on the upcoming fall production of SPEED-THE-PLOWm back on Broadway, a year after our production. Mamet writes a small, swaggering gem (click here), and it makes us think of our wonderful run of the show ten months ago, with my great buddies, Peter Birkenhead and Danton Stone, and featuring the coming out party of our own junior Madonna, Meghan Grady, in a production directed by the wonderful Jerry Whiddon (who, of course, will be our Trigorin in THE SEAGULL at the end of the season).
Oh, and there’s this great piece of news too: We have yet ANOTHER great new addition to our staff! A new Development Associate, Melissa-Leigh Douglass, who comes to us after successful development tenures at Olney Theatre Center, Roundhouse Theatre, and strong administrative experiences both at Studio and Theatre Alliance. A trained dancer from early on and a working choreographer (and occasional actress) in the city, Melissa is intelligent, charismatic, poised and fascinating. She brings maturity to the position and wonderful communication skills. Thrilled to have her!
And finally this: We broke $70K in advance single ticket sales for Sandra Bernhard this weekend. And we haven’t even started yet. These are record-breaking numbers. Thrilled-thrilled-thrilled. The most over-used word in DC Show Biz, but who cares? We mean it!
Sandra tix broke huge bench-mark record