Tuesday, April 18, 2006

reading *Voysey* and *Bach*

Bobo's been reading scripts ...

David Mamet's adaptation of Harley Granville-Barker's 1905 drama, *The Voysey Inheritance*: Great stuff. Amazing curtain lines in all four acts. Premise: For generations, the Voysey family has scooped funds out of clients' trust portfolios and used them to gamble on the stock market. Son discovers the father's chicanery, stands on principle, gets varied reactions from siblings. The blowhard military brother, the drunken artist in denial are two of the brothers, drawn too broadly. The sisters and mother aren't memorable, though perhaps more so in performance. Best female role: Edward the son's fiancee. What I really want to know is, what is the nature of Mamet's adaptation -- did he really condense it from four hours to two? Any speculation why the Victorian and Edwardian eras (The Winslow Boy, Boston Marriage) hold such interest for cigar-chomping, poker-playing Chicago boy Mamet?

Otamar Moses, *Bach in Leipzig*
Found this at Borders; embarrassed to admit I was ignorant of him and it; done a year ago at Seattle ACT, so of course all the Seattle critics got to blurb its Faber endpapers. An intellectual farce; a playful drama of ideas. Takes an actual historical incident as its premise, then goes off on it. In 1722, Bach and seven others had to audition for the post of of organist and kapellmeister at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. The ingenious thing is, much of the play is structured like a fugue: comic bits repeated and varied in much the way a theme is chopped up and reworked in Baroque music. So hilarious that I thought by the end that Moses had perhaps sacrificed ideas about creativity and ambition for the sake of some cheap gags. But it's still a delightful mix of ideas and silliness. Has a preface by Tom Stoppard that will make your jaw drop. Mine did — Moses was born the year I graduated from college, and here has written a play that I would chop off a pinkie to have written.

Bobo's also halfway through a farce scheduled for ARt at the end of next season: Ron Hutchinson's *Moonlight and Magnolias,* about the frantic rewriting of the *Gone With the Wind* script by David Selznick, Ben Hecht and Victor Fleming.
_Too_ farcical? And the playwright has dumped in every bit of trivia about the production of GWTW that you can find on IMDB. But I'm only midway.

SO ... with the the end of Reading Stage at Civic -- but with Ignite! and Lake City forging on (?) with readers' theater -- and with Interplayers perhaps to offer even more (?) Reading Stage events next season — what do y'all think? Has this area gotten saturated with staged readings? Any desire to pool efforts? Could this blog be a clearinghouse for which scripts people would most like to see produced in semi-staged fashion? Bobo out.


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