Artistic Statement

Artistic Statement

“I have never understood people dividing things into dramas and comedies.” – Mike Nichols

I’ve been writing plays and screenplays for a couple of decades now, and the experience, piece to piece, is always different for me, but what I don’t know, and what I never know, is what the experience is like for a member of the audience. A friend of mine once came to a performance of my play “Carnegie Hill”, and she said that one of the final lines of the play made her actually gasp. Though this was gratifying for me to hear, it wasn’t something I could ever have anticipated while I was writing the thing,. When I write comedy, I don’t write jokes – in fact, I hate jokes. When I write something that’s meant to give someone pause, I try to avoid common tropes and sentimentality. Sometimes I succeed.

Since I’ve been around awhile, and since I’ve learned a lot of things from a lot of people, I thought I’d write a few of them down here for your consideration and let you know that, at least at this moment, I believe them myself wholeheartedly. I write them down in no particular order, nor do I remember necessarily who taught them to me, but I love them, and knowing that I love them will tell you some of what you might need to know about me in order to work with me sometime soon.

Don’t bore the audience. If they’re coughing and fidgeting and counting lights then you’ve done something wrong and you have to fix it.

Don’t be afraid to fail. As an improv performer, I made an idiot out of myself regularly. I have played a sheep. I have played young Eva Braun. I have played a five year old who played “She loves me, she loves me not” so long that she denuded an entire flowerbed. No one is such a genius that they don’t write garbage in order to find their way to the good stuff.

Taking a common trope and flipping it around is delicious.

All dramas are leavened with comedy, and all comedies are about something dramatic. “Blazing Saddles” says something about racism that’s relevant 40+ years later. And Chekov actually has some great laughs in it.

Take notes gracefully and professionally, but not necessarily prescriptively. I’ve gotten notes from three directors so far that have been dynamic, loving toward the work, and absolute genius. I’ve also been told by a broadway investor I will not name that I should make my lead character, a female, “A little spunkier. More likeable” and I nodded and smiled and forgot about it. And him. When I get a note, particularly if it’s the same note from more than one person, I have to address it, and I gladly do that because it will make the work better. But I have to address the issue in my own way, because it’s my work, and ultimately I’d rather fail with my own work than succeed masked by someone else’s.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading a little about me. Chances are if you’re reading this you’ve read far too many of these artistic statement thingey’s than you’d like to have read. I tried to make mine entertaining – which is what I try to do with my life in general. Peace to you. Dx.