(in order of appearance)
The literary office of a regional theatre in New England
The PresentACT I
The next day, late afternoon
A week later
The day before opening
Later that night
The next morning
The following day
Approximately 2 hours
There will be one fifteen-minute intermission
From the Playwright
about the backstage antics of a theater usually take two forms. Either
they are centered on the actor, often in farcical depictions of a
disastrous performance, or they are centered on the author, who writhes
and twists with existential angst as his precious words are mangled by
the vain or misunderstood by the venal. Both of these forms assume
theater to be an inherent good. They are fun for anyone who has ever
tried to write or perform on their own, and they employ the same lack
of self-criticism as a shirtless, middle-aged man who gazes at himself
in a mirror.
But what about the other, less glamorous toilers in
the thespian vineyard? What about the dramaturg, who is forever
researching historical detritus, writing program notes and study
guides, developing scripts with resistant authors, and managing a never
abating pile of godawful submissions from every fool who ever put pen
to paper? Why has no attention been paid to such a man?
say that’s why I wrote Blame It On Beckett, but I’d be lying. The truth
is I was angry, after having spent three years developing a script with
a Tony Award-winning director, only to see him drop the project one
week before a backer’s audition. The project crashed and burned with
his departure. To purge my fury, I set out to write a vicious comedy
depicting the futility of theatrical endeavor, one that assumed theater
to be an inherent evil. No one would be spared, not even myself.
however, is a quick emotion, while the process of writing a play is
slow. A bitter laugh brings just as much joy as an innocent one. Enjoy
enough of them and anger dissipates. Over the course of a few months or
a year, the characters wrestled the wheel from my hands and drove the
action for themselves, eventually confronting me with Heidi’s
inevitable question in the second act: "Why bother?” Tina’s response
propelled me beyond the slings and arrows.
With the quantity of
film and television scripts being read and revised here every day,
Burbank is the perfect city for the west coast premiere of Blame It On
Beckett. But more than a glimpse behind the curtain, if you’re a
starry-eyed intern, eager to change the world; if you’re overwhelmed
and unappreciated in a dead-end job; if you pine for youth from the
jaded vantage point of success; or if your "best laid plans of mice and
men gang aft agley,” I wrote this play for you.
FROM THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
"Do you ever miss the old theatre?”
"Not for a minute.”
had this exchange many times, the questioner always a subscriber who
has been with us since the old days, before we came to Burbank.
in 1975 and for the next 25 years, our home was a 99-seat theatre near
Dodger Stadium. In our marketing materials we said we were in Silver
Lake (which was cool even then), but actually we were located in an
un-named, undistinguished part of LA we affectionately referred to as
The Land That Time Forgot.
Despite this unfortunate location, we
achieved a level of success that startles me even now. As people
discovered us and told their friends, our subscriber base grew. I was
always astonished to learn the distances some of our subscribers
traveled to attend our shows. They came from everywhere – not just from
our neighborhood and nearby communities, but from the West Side, Orange
County, Ventura County, and the east San Gabriel Valley. By the early
nineties, there were over 3,000 of them.
And that made it possible to fulfill the dream I had had since the day we started.
you ever wondered why there are so many 99-seat theatres in Los
Angeles? It’s because professional theatre actors are members of
Actors’ Equity Association, and are not permitted to work in theatre
without an Equity contract that establishes wages and benefits. Except
where the theatre seats fewer than 100 people, in which case Equity
waives the requirement for a contract. There is no pay for rehearsals,
a small stipend for performances, and no benefits. Producing theatre is
never easy, but those economics make it a lot less hard!
been a member of Actors’ Equity since 1967, and my Equity card is one
of my proudest possessions. (To me, it gives dignity to a noble
profession that has often had to fight for the smallest ounce of
respect.) And my dream for The Colony was to be in a theatre large
enough to pay its actors actual wages and meaningful benefits. The size
of our loyal audience, and the generosity of the City of Burbank in
providing us a 270-seat home, made it possible.
So, yes, in the
old days I rarely had a sleepless night worrying about our finances,
and I have a lot of those now. (The economic environment has hit us
hard.) But when I look at our stage and know that every actor up there
is working under an Equity contract, I am filled with pride.
And I don’t miss the old days at all.
Brad Brown Rosanne Choley Wadler Data Systems
Torf & House of Props