This week Will Leschber gets unlikely…
As you know dear audience, I’m always looking for the perfect intersection between theater and film, and often the most interesting answers come from unlikely pairings. I’m not talking about something that’s merely unexpected, like an unlikely animal friendships that melts your heart and all corners of the internet at the same time!
I’m talking about shows or projects that just don’t work in other mediums. Or shouldn’t work. My brain immediately goes to spectacle projects that appear made for the screen or the confines of a good book where budget and realities of physics or physical limitation shouldn’t wouldn’t work on stage. Blockbusters, Epics! Lord of the Rings, King Kong, Spider-Man, Lion King! These kinds of stories would never work on stage; they are too big, too grand, too large for live theater! …Oh wait, these all have successful, spectacle theatrical runs. Who knew it was possible?
On the flip side of that coin, the unlikely film success that forsake the inherent advantages of cinematic scope, can be equally riveting. I’m thinking of a film like 2010’s Buried which takes place entirely in a buried coffin as a man (Ryan Reynolds) attempts to escape from his impending seeming death sentence. A movie…set in a coffin…that’s it?! WHAT! It’s excellent.
Or small casts in limited spaces that seem made for the stage yet rivet on film. David Mamet’s 1992 film version of Glengarry Glen Ross. It’s just stellar. Or how about 1981’s My Dinner With Andre. It’s two guys sitting around a table having a conversation for 110 minutes. Sounds like a stage play not something I wanna go see on a huge CinemaScope screen! The film remains a primary example of how small scale when executed to perfection can work on any scale.
Recently, I was speaking to friend and local Bay Area actor, and all around awesome guy, Dan Kurtz about unlikely pairings in regards to his new play. Dan had this to say about his new show Eat the Runt at Altarena Playhouse.
I asked him about an ideal pairing of his show and a film offering, of course. Since there are no easy answers in this post, his response is properly multi-faceted. His response was longer than my normal offerings, and since it was so good, I had to include it all. Here’s what he had to say:
The most talked-about aspect of Eat The Runt is the bit where the audience casts the show at the start of each performance. That’s a device you won’t see in movies at all until technology gets really weird. Like maybe when I see the 12th Ghostbusters reboot in a theater, it’ll let me cast Gregory Hines, Madeline Kahn, Rowan Atkinson, and Will Leschber as the ‘Busters. Until then, the best analog is probably the Rocky Horror Picture Show — same movie, different casts. Some Rocky casts diverge wildly from the genders, races and body types of the movie actors, which gets them even closer to the Eat The Runt experience.
The script itself is about fluid identity, and the relationship between the stories we tell about ourselves and the other stories in our culture. It makes me think of Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation, which contains so much interplay between our reality, the movie’s reality, and the movie-within-the-movie that I’m still not sure I’ve got it all sorted out.
Finally, the action of the play takes place during a job interview at an art museum, and includes lots of jargon from the world of non-profits, grant writing and modern art. I’ve never seen a movie that captures that culture, actually. If the play took place in a giant corporation, Office Space would be the best way to get a feel for its inner workings, but non-profit life has a very different feel to it. I don’t actually know if there’s a movie that’s iconic for non-profits the same way that Office Space resonates with office drones, but I’d love to hear suggestions.”
I love great suggestions for unlikely pairings: food, animal friendship, theater or film or otherwise. Jam it together! Make it juxtapose! Idea smash! It’s more fun than a banana, peanut butter, jelly, mayonnaise sandwich. Try it! (idea smashing…not the mayo jelly…bleck)
If you are looking for an unlikely theater event check out Eat the Runt at Altarena Playhouse. It opens August 14th and runs until September 13th.