Thursday, November 30, 2006

Shameless and Committed

Jaya called me today to say tell me that a review of UGLY BABY was in this week's TIME OUT CHICAGO. From doing two different weekend runs of this play before this official opening, I knew three things:

1) Critics wouldn't get it.

2) Theatre people, for the most part, would try so hard to dissect it that they would forget to ENJOY it.

3) Civilians (a.k.a. Those Who Are Neither Critics Nor Theatre People... a.k.a. Real People... a.k.a. The Ones Who Actually PURCHASE TICKETS And Therefore The Only Ones Who Really Matter) would love it, laugh the loudest with it, tell all their friends about it and come back again and again.

Working backwards...

Proof I Was Right About #3 - Cynthia's sister and her sister's friend came to see UGLY BABY last Friday night and loved it so much that they came back the VERY NEXT NIGHT. This happened again and again in our previous short weekend runs. People who never go to the theatre (pronounced "thee-uh-TUH" - - very Bette Davis) love the show so much that they bring back their friends to see it.

Its just like that commercial: "And she told two friends, and she told two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on..." The viral marketing of hair care products from the 80's works as a perfect model for promoting late night Chicago comedy.

Shampoo / Theatre
Tomato / ToMAHto

Proof I Was Right About #2 - Well, this one I may be wrong about because all of my theatre friends who have seen the show have loved Philip's play, the cast, the direction and my performance. But I will leave this one as a tie, because actors (and I am DEFINITELY including myself in this description) never cease to live up to the old joke:

Q: How many actors does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: One to actually climb the ladder and DO IT! Ninety-nine to watch him and say, "I coulda done THAT!"

Proof I Was Right About #1 - The TIME OUT CHICAGO reviewer, Kay Daly, talks about stereotypes leading to the "thinnest kind of farce" and questions "what is being attacked" and in doing so, she plays directly into Philip's hands. Philip is truly the most intelligent man I have ever met and his writing has a complexity that is grounded in his own uniquely goofy humor, so that while you laugh at his broad strokes of comedy, you are shocked and stunned at the joke you are currently laughing at.

I have a string of great lines in a monologue near the end of the first act that ends with a word that sends Michael Richards-esque chills through the audience. Philip is writing above and beyond the I.Q. level of nearly every critic in this or any other town. And like all critics, one day they will look back on this play and praise him for being "ahead of his time." When they say that, I hope he tells them to fuck off.

People always tell me that I can't listen to a critic when they praise my work and then disagree with that same critic when they dislike my work, and my response is always, "Yes, I can!"

Its easy. When they like me or when they like what I like, then they are "right." And when they don't like me or when they don't like what I like or when the like what I don't like, then they are "wrong." See? Its simple.

I say that because while I disagree COMPLETELY with Kay Daly's thoughts about the play, I agree WHOLE-HEARTEDLY with her intelligent and wise comment when she writes...

"A standout is Stephen Rader, whose shtick alternating as the Jewish and Italian mommas at the BEDFELLAS wedding is shameless and committed."

Alanda emailed me to congratulate me on the review and I replied saying "'Shameless and committed.' That's me." I was belittling myself as I always do. She replied with a simple sentence. "That IS you," and I immediately understood the meaning of those two words.

Alanda helped me see that Shameless means "Full of Pride in Myself, My Work and the Work of Everyone Around Me" and Committed means "Fiercely Passionate About My Art, My Friends and My Beliefs."

"Shameless and committed." I relish the compliment.

P.S. When I got home, I opened up my hardcopy of TIME OUT CHICAGO and flipped through the Gay and Lesbian section on my way to the review. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I gasped when I found this picture of me in the upper righthand corner.

The caption reads: LADYKILLER Stephen Rader makes womanhood look frightening in UGLY BABY.

Open Note to the Caption Writer at TIME OUT CHICAGO regarding my "frightening" look:
A) My character is drunk.
B) I'm wearing no base, no blush, no eye makeup and only a simple lipstick.
C) Lick me where I can't reach!

1 comment:

Michael said...

You ARE shameless and committable...sorry, committed.