This week Will Leschber talks to Colin Johnson about creating art that is about creating art.
I don’t know about you, but I love movies about movies. And theater about theater. Maybe it’s because all us creative types are a bit self involved. We like seeing things we can relate to. Who doesn’t?! More so whenever we are privy to a story “from the inside” of something, I normally extend an extra credit of believability to the project. I think, yeah, they lived that, so they must know what they are talking about. Social workers writing about at-risk kids, teachers writing a coming of age story, screenwriters writing about the trials of adaptation. Once you get past the navel gazing, the number one thing they tell you is: write what you know.
This week I ask, writer/director Colin Johnson about his work with ShotzSF! highlights a streamlined creative process as it beckons six groups to each write, rehearse and stage a new short play every month. That’s a feat! It’s easy to mingle the end product with the process when a creative gauntlet is thrown. Both are to be marveled at (when all comes out well). Challenge accepted.
Is this fresh-off-the-page-play going to be any good?! Is this enough time to mount a good show? Will this all come together? Therein lies the draw. Which would make sense why Colin Johnson links his play in this week’s “ShotzSF!: The Chekhov Variations” to other film chronicling creative endeavors.
He had this to say, “In Shotz this month, I’m playing with the idea that Chekhov wrote his plays to be comedies only to see them turned into tragedies. The struggles of the playwright are ripe filmic fodder.” Johnson mentioned, and I agree, the perfect filmic pairing for this idea would be The Coen Brothers ’91 treasure Barton Fink where John Turturo’s playwright moves from a successful theater run in New York to slave away over a film script in Hollywood as he descends into the hellish depths of the Hotel Earl, a stand-in for creative devilry.
OR David Mamet’s 2000 effort, State and Main, where a Hollywood film crew invades a small Vermont town. A high praise cast and Hollywood Hijinks ensue. Both State and Main & Barton Fink navigate the serio-comic aspects of balancing personal ideals and creative pursuits.
Johnson went on to say, “Also movies that deal with the toil of producing a show only to fall victim to disaster around every corner make for a ready comparison to this Wednesday night’s Chekhov Variations.” He made mention that Noises Off (the 1992 film or any production at a summer stock near you!) or the absurdly sublime, Steve Coogan vehicle, Hamlet 2, would make for particular good viewing in this vein as well.
ShotzSF! is here and gone Wednesday night only (5/13) at Piano Fight. So bulk up on your meta narrative act of creation films and then go witness a jolt of compressed creation.