The Five- 5 Horrible Imaginary Plays I Would Rather Watch Than Hear One More Word About This Godforsaken Election

Anthony R. Miller checks in with crappy imaginary options to crappy reality.

Hey you guys, I used to really get into elections. There was a time in my life where I almost double-majored in Political Science. But there are so many aspects of our current presidential election that have beaten the ability to care right out of me. So for those who share my sentiment and would rather be slapped in the face with a dead trout than hear one more thing about this dumpster fire of an election, here are some theatrical equivalents to trout-based assault. Remarkably, there are five.

White Hamilton

Also known as 1776. (I kid, I kid.) I swear to god, you could recast this show with Macklemore, Snow, Everlast, The Lordz of Brooklyn, Princess Superstar and Artie from Glee and I would rather see that than have one more conversation that invalidates my opinion because I am stupid, or being lied to, or haven’t read this article, or watched this video, or care about people in other countries. I would rather watch the walking corpse of Corey Montieth take over for Lin-Manuel Miranda than see one more article from a totally unaccredited source be shoved in my face and considered true because it validates your worst fears.

The More Similar Than Not Couple

Neil Simon’s comedy reimagined as a 90-minute play where two adults have a quiet respectful conversation. At the end they realize they agree on more than they disagree on. The both enjoy a sandwich and watch Daredevil on Netflix. This would be boring, and refreshing — refreshing in the saddest way possible.

The Last Five Years

No joke here, I just find this show painful to even be near. Yet I would prefer to hear “Yeah, I’m a douchebag, but I’m a douchebag because you didn’t love me enough” than one more conversation between a Bernie supporter digging their heels in the ground about not voting if he isn’t the nominee and a red-faced Hillary supporter screaming “SO YOU’D RATHER HAVE TRUMP?!?!”

Long Days Journey Into Night In Real Time

I would rather watch 15 hours straight of sad, broken people drinking and telling each other how they really feel and talking in insightful drunken monologues than hearing two drunk liberals argue that Bernie Sanders is in fact a unicorn that poops ice cream and Hillary Clinton is the Winter Solider.

Noises Off: Fury Road

Taking Michael Frayn’s backstage comedy and setting it in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world where water is the greatest currency of all sounds better than watching CNN and thinking “Oh crap, the apocalypse might actually happen.” I would rather see Lloyd make Poppy and Brooke his sister-wives than hear one more conversation about super delegates. I would rather imagine Poppy with a really sweet robotic arm, and a set that doesn’t just revolve in between acts, it REVOLVES FOR THE WHOLE SHOW. I would rather see Timothy Allgood play a guitar that shoots fire than spend one more moment watching friends shame each other for their political views. Freddy Fellows, wearing a crimson mask of his own nose blood while having the blood of virgins intravenously transferred in to his veins, is a more preferable image than the one I’ve been seeing for months. An image of people without empathy, loathing compromise, holding on to a “we’re right, you’re wrong, fuck you” attitude and just generally being crappy and condescending to each other. Cut it out, take a breath, please vote, and remember we all need to be friends after this election. Now if anyone needs me, I have a guitar that shoots fire to create.

Anthony R. Miller is a writer and producer and will vote for a Cat Dressed As A Shark Riding A Roomba before he votes for Donald Trump. Keep up with him at www.awesometheatre.org or on twitter at @armiller78.

The Five: Tony Award Snarkdown

Anthony R. Miller checks in (on a different day) with smart ass comments about this year’s Tony Award nominations.

Hey you guys, looks like I didn’t get nominated for a Tony again, although my long-term plan for a regional Tony is still rock solid. In case you didn’t hear (due to the lack of Wi-Fi in the cave you live in) the nominations for the Tony Awards came out on Tuesday. If you haven’t seen ‘em yet, go to www.tonyawards.com and get with it. It’s cool, I’ll wait…

All caught up? Great, now we can dive in to a few of my own observations. And wouldn’t you know it, there are five.

So Apparently Hamilton is Pretty Good

With a record 16 nominations, Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton might as well just sit onstage all night. I mean, that’s why we’re all watching right? It’s been about 20 years since a Broadway musical has been such a cultural phenomenon, which is depressing. But I guess we’ll take what we can get. Sure, it might not be fun to be one of the other nominated musicals who will probably not have as triumphant a night, but the fact that a whole crapload of people who would have never watched the Tony Awards are gonna watch is something to celebrate.

I Can’t Hear You

It’s hard for me to be witty when I’m genuinely mad about something. But the fact that there is no longer an award for Sound Design is total garbage. You would think they would bring it back this year just for the sake of giving Hamilton another award. Seriously though, sound designers are artists, and in many cases, friggin’ miracle workers. The art of sound design evolved beyond sound effects and intermission music a long time ago. Maybe I’m spoiled because the Bay Area boasts some brilliant sound designers. So hug a sound designer today, they make your show sound good.

Every Day I’m Shufflin’

Let’s give credit to Shuffle Along. In a Best New Musical category populated by musicals about historical events (Hamilton and Bright Star) and musicals based on movies (Waitress and School of Rock),  Shuffle Along is a musical based on a musical. So there’s that.

Good for You, Arthur Miller

The Best Revival of a Play I Had To Read In College Category features Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Noises Off, Blackbird, and two, count ’em, two Arthur Miller plays (The Crucible and A View from the Bridge). So keep your eye out for that up-and-comer Arthur Miller, he’s going places.

We Love It When Our Casual Acquaintances Become Successful

So if local hero Daveed Diggs wins for Best Performance By An Actor In A Featured Role In A Musical, I will boast not one, BUT TWO Tony award winners on my Facebook friends list. In 1998, I was an ASM for a production of Children of Eden at American Musical Theatre of San Jose. This particular production featured a young fella named James Monroe Inglehart, we became dear, dear friends, OK, not really. But a few years later I served him shitty Chinese food and he totally recognized me. Then he went on to be the Genie in the Broadway production of Aladdin and took home the Tony. Now we have an actor whom I saw once in a production of Six Degrees of Separation, everybody in the Bay Area has been in a play with, someone whom I exchanged 3-4 actual emails with a few years ago about producing a one-man show that never happened. Daveed Diggs is a swell dude (based on our in-depth email correspondence) and it’s always great to see local actors go on to success right after they leave the Bay Area. So here’s to hoping the list of successful people I kinda know just gets bigger. Unless of course they’re a goddamned sound designer.

Don’t forget to watch on June 12th!!!

Anthony R. Miller is Writer, Producer and Theatre Nerd, keep with him at www.awesometheatre.org and on twitter @armiller78

The Five-Singing Children, Ladies of Theatre, Hulk Hogan and More!

Anthony R. Miller Checks in with whatever’s on his mind.

Hey you guys, so once again, I completely fail to have one “Big Idea” to discuss, but luckily, I still have a few things to talk about, luckily, there are five.

Kids Rock

I was lucky enough to attend the opening of “School of Rock” at the Curran Theatre and I’m seriously still high on life. While the show is still on Broadway, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber has allowed amateur and school productions to be licensed now. OSA had the chance to present the very first school production in the country. The show is fantastic, and I could go on for hours about it. Webber is the undisputed king of the reprise, the music is clearly influenced by British Metal, Julian Fellows (Yes that Julian Fellows) took a great, but problematic movie script and gave it so much shape and rounded out the characters and relationships so well. But that’s not what’s important, what’s important is THESE KIDS. Just to be in the room and share this moment of unbridled joy for all the amazing kids in the cast. It warmed my bitter cynical heart and left me with a dumb grin on my face the whole time. It was like mainlining serotonin. I think the entire run is sold out, but if you can, sneak in, buy a scalped ticket, do whatever. It’s been a long time since I’ve loved a show so much. Thanks Kids.

Death of a Fictional Character

And now let’s talk about pro-wrestling. It’s been a rough year or so for Terry Bollea. You may better know him as Pro Wrestling God Hulk Hogan. The thing to know about old school wrestlers is they never dropped the act; they were their character all time. This was never so true than it was for Hogan. But now he’s in court suing over a sex tape with his friend’s wife, where he is, to say the least, very un-Hogan like. We are presented with the uncomfortable truth that my childhood hero is a human being, capable of doing and saying very unfortunate things. This brings me back to my never ending “Art vs. The Artist” discussion. Do I simply love the art created by the person or does the realities of who the artist is in real life taint that ability? It’s easy to say “Well, Hulk Hogan is ok, he’s a fictional character, but Terry Bollea is a dick.” But when the man spent most of his career convincing us those two people were one in the same, It’s not so easy.

ShortLived Baby!

PianoFight’s short play competition known as “Short Lived” has begun. Tons of writers and theatre folks are presenting shows in this content. Myself included. My Play, “We Were Walking Around Like We Owned The Place Before It Was Cool” will be featured in week 4, it’s about how Hipsters being mad about gentrification may be the most ironic thing of all. It’s pretty funny, has a great cast and is directed by my Director on Retainer, Colin Johnson, come see it and vote for us.

Happy International Women’s Day

For those that follow my article regularly (Hi Dad) you may recall fellow blogger Allison Page and I went on an excursion to see “Thunder From Down Under” the Australian Male Stripper Troupe. Beforehand, she and I were chatting and the conversation of “What Comics do you find funny?” Came up and perhaps I disappointed Allison with my response because the only ones I could think of at the time were men. Then two days later it occurred to me that IU had done a terrible disservice to a woman whom I find remarkably funny, if not one of the funniest people who ever lived. So for International Women’s day I would like to take a moment and honor Carol Burnett. She had sass, presence, wit and is still a remarkable performer. Check out old clips of the Carol Burnett Show of Youtube, you won’t be sorry. She is one of the greats. (Are we cool now Allison?)

Reunited and It Feels So Meh

And Finally, the great rite of passage for anyone in their late thiries is upon me, My 20 year High School reunion. (Yeah, I’m old) So while I’m sorta-kinda looking forward to seeing who is balder than me or who married someone with a ridiculous last name, I’m in fear of what people might say to me. In high school I was a weird theatre-kid and now, well, I’m a weird theatre-adult. I’m doing exactly what I said I would do. I’m not like famous or anything, so what do I say to a bunch of people who will be homeowners with steady jobs, spouses and 401K’s? “Yeah, I’m pretty broke all the time, but that’s pretty much the life I chose.” I made a big point to never be a person who misses all the cool things they did in High School . And it does make a nice bookend to my recent experience to “School of Rock”. Without theatre, I would have probably been a juvenile delinquent, and while I was by no means popular in High School, everyone knew who I was. It’s gonna be weird, because at some point people will tell me how they perceived me 20 years ago, and I’m not sure I want to know. I don’t spend much time looking back at those days; nor do I want to be a person who does. Not to mention its being held at a bar I used to run the San Jose Poetry Slam at, this place was My House. Some of the greatest Artistic achievements of my 20’s began at that bar, so it’s gonna be double nostalgic and double weird. Ugh, the past.

That’s all this week, see you soon nerds.

Anthony R. Miller is a writer and producer, go to http://www.awesometheatre.org or follow him on twitter @armiller78 to keep up with all his projects.

The Five: Falling Short

Anthony R. Miller checks in with…some stuff…I guess

Hey you guys, for whatever reason, I’ve been struggling to come up with any epic 5-part articles about anything important, or anything. I’m very good at talking myself out such things. Every now and then it’ll occur to me to make some grand statement about the state of theatre or what we can do in the Bay, but then this voice in my head injects. It always says the same thing, “Who the fuck are you?” Sure, I could write some kind of manifesto and use this blog as a soapbox for bomb-throwy articles, but like who am I? I’m just some dude who puts on shows, I’ve never really considered myself an authority on anything. Most days I lack the hubris to criticize anyone with the gumption to produce theatre in this town, If you’re doin’ the damn thing, I support you. So here’s the truth, I got nothin this week, I mean, I have things but not five things. It’s like two things, but they’re quality things. So, yeah, I apologize, I’ve let you all down. I will make a concerted effort these next two weeks to have an opinion on something that I can express without sounding a like a dickhead. Or at least I’ll think of five interesting things to say.

Go See “Over The Rainbow”

Last night I caught the newest Theatrepub show, “Over The Rainbow”, a bizarre sort-of tribute to Lisa Frank. It closes tonight, and you should really see it. Tonya Narvaez has outdone herself as the writer and director of this crazy-ass drug addled fairy tale. Not to mention Andrew Chung’s greatest performance to date as a beleaguered frog king who drips with genuine pathos. (I marvel at how legit that last statement sounds, considering I am talking about a grown man portraying a stuffed frog come to life.) So do yourself a favor, go to Pianofight tonight, order a few beers (it helps) and a basket of fries, kick back and go on a magic carpet ride of weird, it’s an hour well spent.

SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION
In the last two weeks a whole crapload of information for TERROR-RAMA ii: PROM NIGHT has come out. It’s all on the website and you should check it out immediately. There’s the hilarious video “Stoned Horror”, our completely rad poster and AUDITION SIGN UPS!!! Yes, yes, yes, you can audition to be part of the fun and join our cast of creeps and weirdos. Auditions are March 20 and 21 at Pianofight, so go to www.awesometheatre.org RIGHT NOW and pick an audition time. Or tell someone about it, spread the word.

Anthony R. Miller is a Writer and Producer who usually has more to say, follow him on twitter, @armiller78.

The Five: Spring Can’t Come Fast Enough

Anthony R. Miller checks in after coming out of his winter doldrums.

Hey you guys, so despite the United States Senate not being able to agree that Scientific Reports of Global Warming actually have merit, everyone seems to be fine with a giant rodent popping out of the ground and telling us when spring is coming. Thankfully , the magic groundhog has determined Springtime is on its way. That’s fabulous news, because this rain was killing me. Not to mention there have been some big events lately and some cool stuff to look forward to. Put it all together and there’s a lot discuss, but today let’s just do five.

Wintertime Really is Friggin Depressing.

BAH GAWD, the sun is shining again! Look, I know we need the rain, and were still in a drought, but I need a break here. Like a lot of you I’m sure, the wintertime can really bum me out. This year winter has been pretty wintery for a change, lots of rain and cold and 5pm sunsets, I can’t handle it anymore. This weekend was honest to god 70 degrees and I nearly pranced around my backyard naked in glee. Between the weather, late thirties ennui and an endless parade of celebrity deaths, I’m ready for some friggin sunshine, the literal and metaphorical kind.

My Bloody Valentine

This Valentine’s Day is going to be a busy day, not because I have a hot date or I have flowers to buy, but because TERROR-RAMA is rolling out a metric butt-ton of information. We’ll be announcing auditions, releasing our poster and other promo materials, and a very special video. So keep an eye on the Awesome Theatre Facebook page and our website at www.awesometheatre.org. It’s gonna be a fun day.

Go See Shotz!

Have you been to Shotz at Pianofight yet? Well it’s time to do something about it. Shotz is a monthly one night only short play festival featuring all sorts of great local writers, actors and directors. This month’s theme is “Some Like it Shotz” and all the plays have some kind of gender-bending theme. Wouldn’t you know it I have a play in this month’s installment. So c’mon out and see my new short play “Countess Walter” the story of a man who believes he’s the Dowenger Countess from Downton Abbey. It’s directed by Colin Johnson (who also wrote a play in the show.) and stars Aeron Macintyre. These are two of my favorite people in the world to work with, and it’s a pretty swell play. So COME TO SHOTZ TOMORROW NIGHT ( February 10) at 7:30 PM at Pianofight!

#Dorkswholikefootball

So last Sunday was the Superbowl, and it was a crappy game, but that never stops my annual Superbowl Party from being a fun time. It’s true that “Superbowl City” in downtown SF was a big pain in the ass and really just highlighted the liberal divide in SF. Because in SF there are Liberal Liberals and Capitalist Liberals, while both sides are generally progressive thinkers socially, one side has no issue whatsoever with making money. So people who don’t like the Superbowl probably felt more imposed upon than usual. But despite that, I had a party anyway, because Superbowl parties are one of my favorite things ever. Now here’s the thing. When a lot of you think of Superbowl parties, you think of a room full of loud bros drinking Budwieser and high fiving. But my crowd is a little different, it for nerdy artist types who despite probably being beat up by a football player in their youth, still really like Football. So instead of high fiving, there was live tweeting. The only moment of hushed silence was when the new Captain America Civil War trailer came on. Which bred a 30 minute discussion on how to properly use Spiderman. The smart ass comments flowed like craft beer and this year I actually remember what happened after the game. My point is this, if there is one thing that drives me artistically it is a kind of “Artistic Populism”, the idea that anyone can create, enjoy and appreciate Art because it is a subjective term. So I try to make theatre not only for people who see theatre, but theatre for people who regularly would not see theatre or thing they would enjoy such a thing. Thus, I try to throw a Superbowl party for people who regularly wouldn’t go to one or think they have a good time. I mean, who doesn’t like Snack food and Beyonce?

Thank You Daniel Bryan

Last night one of my favorite Professional Wrestlers/ Performers retired due to concussions. It caps off an amazing career that changed the industry. Daniel Bryan is not your prototypical champion. He is 5’8, 190 pounds and has a big beard. But the crowd loved him. His fans changed how professional wrestling is booked (Written) because instead of accepting what was given to them, they DICTATED what the product should be; they dictated who they wanted to be their champ and would accept nothing else. It was a great example of the “meta” era that Pro-Wrestling is having. Where we all know that it’s a pre-determined, scripted TV show, but that’s part of the fun. This was the story of an unlikely underdog who rose to prominence because the fans demanded it, because we saw ourselves in him. On and off camera he was the nicest guy ever, he grows his own food, shops locally, and is generally a big hippie. He was easily one of the most exciting, captivating, and talented performers pro-wrestling has ever seen. The storyline he was involved with stood out because it was so easy to become emotionally invested, no one had to tell you to like him, you just did. Seeing 70,000 people all do his signature “Yes” chant is still one of my favorite things ever, to see such a well done, emotionally effective story told so perfectly is lightning in a bottle you just don’t see. Concussions are no joke, and the more we learn, the more we realize just how serious the long term damage can be. So he’s doing the right thing, but I will miss him. There hasn’t been a performer like him before or after and there probably never will be again.

Anthony R. Miller is writer and producer who clearly watches too much tv. Keepo up with everything he does to www.awesometheatre.org

The Five: Cult Movie Musicals To Start Your Year

Anthony R. Miller checks in with five Movie Musicals you should drop everything to watch.

Hey you guys, Happy New Year. Like many of you, I had a little extra free time at the end of December and instead of y’know, writing or being a productive member of society, I watched a bunch of movies. And like any good theatre nerd, I watched a bunch of movie musicals, but my tastes are a little, ahem, different. So in order to turn all the time wasting into “research” I’ve compiled a list of weird-ass, off the beaten path movie musicals you need to watch right now to get your 2016 started proper.

Stage Fright (2014)
This Canadian gem features ridiculous songs, bloody death scenes, skewers theatre-kid tropes and stars MeatLoaf. A prestigious theatre camp produces a much maligned musical with a dark past, singing and killing ensues.

Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter (2001)
Another Canadian treasure is this mega low budget, musical kung-fu movie that tells the story of Jesus Christ coming back (with some sweet piercings) to save a bunch of good hearted lesbians from a pack of vampires. What the film lacks in production quality, it makes up for with sheer “Hey guys let’s make a ridiculous movie together” joy.

The Phantom of the Paradise (1974)
This Phantom of the Opera meets Faust tale is really one of the great cult musicals. With Music by and starring Paul Williams as Swan the evil record producer, a deep voiced Jessica Harper, and bizarre Brian DePalma weirdness. It’s easy to just call this a “Bad Movie”, but it’s more, it’s much more. It’s quotable, packed with strange musical numbers and drugged out 70’s goodness.

Shock Treatment (1981)
The not quite sequel to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Brad and Janet star in a proto-reality show to save their marriage. This film aspires to be art, and was truly ahead of its time in its criticism of reality television. In many ways it’s a better musical than RHS, it’s more ambitious, subversive, and Richard O’ Brien’s score is legitimately great.

Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008)
L.A. is one of my favorite theatre scenes in the world, I’ll never understand it. This film was directed by Darren Lynn Bousman of Saw 2-27 fame and boasts a ridiculous cast of all-stars. Set in the future where body parts can be repossessed, and everyone is addicted to a pain killer that is extracted from dead bodies, this goth-industrial horror musical is one of my favorite things in the world. Starring Anthony Stewart Head, Bill Mosely, Orge Nivek (of Skinny Puppy), Paris Hilton and Sarah Friggin Brightman, the film tells a classic story of a love triangle, betrayal, hidden secrets, and a powerful and corrupt family. It also features a lot of dead bodies, a musical score you’d be more likely to hear at Deathguild than in a theater, and Paris Hilton’s face falls off, which is like the most symbolic thing ever.

Happy viewing!

Anthony R. Miller is a writer, producer and generally weird guy, keep up with him at http://www.awesometheatre.org and see his short play “WE hate is when our friends become successful” as part of Theatre Pub’s “The Morrissey Plays”.

The Five: At the Intersection of Art and Politics

Anthony R. Miller checks in to see if he can just turn off his brain and like the dang show.

Hey you guys, so we all know SF is a liberal place, we just had an election where the Democratic mayor did not have a conservative opponent, just more liberal ones. We have naked parades and theatre companies whose ideals and personal politics play a big role in programming. Now, I consider myself a pretty progressive fella, but still a beneficiary of white male privilege. And lately there were some moment where I found myself almost in conflict with my personal politics and my ability to just enjoy the show I was watching. Naturally, I have some thoughts on it, and wouldn’t you know it, there are five.

Dare to Be Traditional

Last Friday, I attended the opening night for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. It was the inaugural production of SF’s newest company, Bay Area Musicals. Without doing anything resembling a review, what really stuck with me was how daring it all felt. I don’t mean it was daring because it applied some greater concept and turned the show on its head to make a stunning new interpretation, I mean the exact opposite. Here we are in SF, a city at war with itself and the looming shadow of large tech companies and corporate culture, and they put on a show about a guy who basically schemes his way to the top and relies on the privilege granted by the corporate patriarchy to get away with all of it. Let’s get something straight, I’m a fan of the show. It’s funny, the music is great, and it’s entertaining and nothing but. But man, is it dated. The female lead aspires to marry up, the boss is cheating on his wife and it’s basically fine, everybody hits on their secretary, and in the end when our hero is seemingly doomed, he simply relies on the notion of “Hey, c’mon, we’re all bros here.” So to put this show on in SF in 2015 felt daring. Because while the play is a fun satire of corporate culture in the early ’60s, it’s a fairly forgiving one. So in light of that, you would think in SF the play would be given some kind of political facelift, some kind of new angle that shows us why the play is still relevant. Nope, they just did the show exactly how it’s always been done; it was big, fun and unapologetic. It had a punk-rock-like defiance. In the cradle of liberalism and progressive politics and artists who strive to make theatre that has its own identity and relevance, they said “fuck it.” Here I was watching a traditional musical comedy performed as it was traditionally intended and apologized for none of it, and that felt non-traditional. To not re-invent the show, felt inventive. Now to be fair, BAM’s season also includes Hair and La Cage Aux Folles which are liberal as fuck, so it all balances out. Where the culture of SF did really sink in, was the exciting diversity of the casting, actors of all sizes and color were used in a show that traditionally would have white people with perfect bodies. Oh, and I really enjoyed it.

Art vs. the Artist

This one is a cheat, but go with me. I’ve been a longtime fan of the band Eagles of Death Metal, the band that was playing in Paris the night of the horrific attacks. With all the newfound attention on them, a dirty little secret (unless you’re an obsessed fan like me who reads everything about them) is that the lead singer is super conservative, like Trump-supporting. Here’s the problem, the band kicks ass, they’re fun, riffy, boogie-down rock and roll. There is no agenda in the music, just a rockin’ beat. So I ask myself, “Can I still like this band when the lead singer holds views I find abhorrent?” It is the notion of choosing the Art over the Artist, does the artist need to be a good person who is in compliance with my politics to create art I can enjoy? If the art has nothing to do with the artist’s political views, am I still allowed to like it? Does the artist need to comply with my personal politics in order for me to like their art?

Giving Tuesday

Ok, this one is a non-sequitur, but hey it’s for a good cause. Apparently we have a name for the 5 days after Thanksgiving, so after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, today is Giving Tuesday. Today we can put aside our frothy-mouthed consumerism and give our money to some great causes, and Bay Area Theatre has lots of them. Here’s a few suggestions, SF Sketch Troupe Killing My Lobster, who had an amazing 2015 and are doing some great educational partnerships. SF’s Ray of Light Theatre has begun its Illumination Campaign (speaking of musicals in SF) and the Diablo Regional Art Association, who are giving free theatre tickets to kids. Custom Made Theatre Company, who just moved to a much larger space, is recovering from a robbery, and is one of the Bay Area’s fastest growing companies, is also doing a drive, and will be launching a New Works Development program next year, amongst other exciting changes.

Feeling Bad for Laughing

I’ve been lucky enough to attend several productions that are part of the Curran: Under Construction series at the under-renovation Curran Theatre. It’s pretty awesome; the shows are performed with the audience onstage to create exciting, intimate and interesting new shows. I recently saw Steve Cuiffo is Lenny Bruce, a one-man note-for-note reenactment of the work of Lenny Bruce. And while the guy was incredible and I laughed a great deal, there were uncomfortable moments. There is a whole bit laden with racial epithets, a bit that uses lots of colorful language for homosexuals, and while Bruce’s work was daring, controversial and a brilliant examination of what we find offensive and why, I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable at times. And I’m not here to say whether or not it’s OK to reenact this material, personally I enjoyed it for what it was, but MAN I couldn’t help but think that Lenny Bruce would be savaged for his work these days.

The Whyness of it All

A big question we like to ask ourselves in seeing theatre is “Why this show?” Why does it exist? Why is it being performed? Why am I watching it? When I think about all these things, I wonder about the conflict of theatre that exists just to entertain and theatre that is trying to say something. Is one more valid than the other? Is being entertaining enough? I would say yes, escapism is just as important as work that is critical of the world around us. Is it OK to like work that hasn’t kept up with our own progressive attitudes? Am I a bad liberal for appreciating Lenny Bruce or philandering bosses or music written by people I probably would dislike in person? Is it OK to not worry sometimes and just enjoy myself? That’s a lot of questions, and I don’t really have the answers, but if there is one thing that makes me think these plays are still important is that even though I enjoyed myself, I’m also asking myself all these questions. Which may be exactly why they’re important.

Anthony R. Miller is a writer and producer, and enjoys laughing as much as he enjoys thinking. Keep up with him at www.awesometheatre.org