Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Night At The Theatre

Last night, Baroy and I attended a reading of one of his plays, done by a theater group in Los Angeles. It was the first time either of us has ever heard his work read by people we don't know, without any of our (well, his--I'm just the supportive wife) input.

For those of you who don't know much about theater, a play reading is literally that--people holding the script, on an empty stage, without props, reading the word. They've usually run through it a few times so that they are familiar with the story and the playwright's intentions, and can do at least a little bit of "acting." The purpose is several-fold. In this case, I think it was a chance for one of the theater's company members to try his hand at directing, and it was a chance for the theater's board of directors to consider the play for one of their upcoming seasons. Sometimes it's an opportunity to invite producers/money people to see if you can find someone who might be interested in getting the piece up on its feet. For Baroy, it served as a way for him to see how the play is sounding these days (he wrote it about five years ago), and what needs to be done to it before it might be ready for a 'real' production.

This particular reading was, well, uneven. In general, the actors weren't nearly well-enough prepared, stumbing over the lines much too often. Baroy writes fast-paced, smart dialogue, and they were mispronouncing words and flubbing key lines, so that places that should have gotten laughs didn't. On the other hand, one of the actors--who at first glance seemed so ill-suited for the role he was playing that Baroy groaned aloud when he appeared on stage--did the best reading of his particular character that either of us has seen to date. At one point, Baroy turned to me and said, "THAT is how that speech is supposed to sound. I'd wondered if it was the writing that it always fell a little flat, but no. It can be done right by the right actor."

I often forget, between times, how very talented my husband is. I get sucked into the mindset I rail against, thinking that talent equals success equals money. If he's not getting paid, he's not a success, not talented. But it's simply not true. He's really good at this: at characterization, at exploring relationships. His plays are funny and heartbreaking. They are very traditional--not experimental, not edgy. They speak to real people. After the reading last night, one of the company's members came up to Baroy and said, "You are a wonderful writer. You made me homesick for New York tonight."

When our friend G directs a reading of one of Baroy's plays, he gives what we call his "G speech."

"If this were a production of the play," he says, "there would be a living room set over here..." and he goes on to describe, in great detail, what the scenery would look like, how there would be characters entering and exiting the room, the music you would hear, the sound effects, the lights.

"You're not going to see any of that tonight," he then goes on to say, usually to a big laugh. (It's all in the delivery.) "Instead, tonight is about the words on the page. Tonight is a celebration of the word."

Last night was a celebration of Baroy's words, and he deserves to have them celebrated. They are remarkable words.

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