I am getting old so I still go to the theater from time to time. What do I find when I get there, in the audience? Season ticket holders way older than I am, a sea of gray hair and no hair.
It’s too bad the kids don’t go. Some think this can be rectified via more current topics. I dunno, gay themes are nothing if not current but if the kids are anything like me they probably find theater’s interminable coming out party to be wearing kind of thin. Nah, it’s all about attention span.
So why not twitterize the theater? We all know Twitter has radically transformed 21st century communications by proving that content does not have to be sacrificed when brevity is enforced. Indeed, we are living in a veritable renaissance age, courtesy of Twitter’s 140 character limit. Or so some say.
Anyway, I figured to do my bit to bring kids back to the theater by condensing Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory’s two person film, My Dinner with Andre, into a tweetstorm version for the stage. The film version is way too wordy. This version has the benefit of brevity–the entire play takes a matter of minutes. And it is economical, too. It can be done multiple times in a night. And though it could be staged in different ways, the preferred approach is to just use one actor, the Shawn character, since in this version he finds himself alone at Cafe des Artistes, and tweets Andre to find sup.
Of course, it could be staged with two, or even three characters (a silent waiter wouldn’t hurt). Or it could be done with no characters. But since Wallace Shawn himself volunteered to play the part he made famous in the film, the first staged version, set to open next week, will be a one man show. The part of Andre will be played by text messages flashing across a large, simulated iPhone to one side of the stage.
My Twitter with Andre will open at the Oily Muscle Theater on Broome Street next Tuesday, August 13. It will be a limited engagement, running for 20 performances and closing the next night, August 14.
And now . . . . (pause) . . .
Without further ado . . . . (pause, and short pause, too–we don’t have time for fucking Pinter) . . . .
My Twitter with Andre
W (to all followers): Writer’s life hard. Raised rich now poor chasing gigs. Money, money, money.
W: Deb not at home poor me caged into din with crazy Andre Gregory. Heading into C d Artistes.
W: Not looking forward. Used to be close but he lost it somewhere. Not sure if I can do this here goes.
W: Sitting at bar. A not here yet.
W: Still not here–sitting here almost an hour. Maybe just sneak out?
W: Hell, I’ll DM the guy.
(now in direct message mode).
W: u there?
W: Where u?
A: Following u! fun read.
W: r u coming?
A: stuck at book signing. out of limelight at moment but must return.
W: well r u coming A?
A: prob not. sorry.
A: but don’t let that stop you. caille aux raisins xcellent at cda.
W: don’t like sitting by myself.
A: i will chat this way. kk?
W: why not. deb not home don’t want to cook. caille aux raisins?
W: OK, just ordered. What’s new?
A: everything. I am depleted in a way, used up
W: how so
A: i have had many many wild experiences. so much so may have actually lost mind
A: by that you maybe mean you know that. i know people have been talking and they should. i mean things have just been wild.
A: and by that you mean tell me more, right, like a kind of twitter shrink? ok i will.
A: first growtowski. you know him? off to polish forest w jerzy along with a troupe of nubiles. ran around, danced, trances, etc. wild. beehives and teddy bears–really.
A: put one hand in candle flame no burn, the other burn. why? wild.
A: birds flying out of mouth. not really. well maybe really, in car mirror anyway. who knows?
A: improvisation on a character but what if you are the character!? ha ha improv on own life! rich!
A: but when all is performance no one bothers to observe any more. world collapsing as a result.
A: guy named kozan and i out in desert. Thought it was about little prince staging but not sure that’s why there. wandered, ate sand. Why? Very close to the edge by now. Bleak.
A: scary connected to all since then also connected to death. right?
A: and findhorn. mystic destination far north. how do they keep that roof on in all that wind? a total mystery.
A: heading toward a new dark age, right around corner. but i think we will stagger thru somehow. meanwhile me spent, spent spent.
W: are u interested in my actual response?
A: of course
W: just trying to get by, me. pay the bills, track errands in my notebook
W: read some plays, write some plays, finish heston’s autobiography
W: love that cold coffee on counter in a.m.
W: don’t need more than this.
W: besides which you can’t believe just anything. some things just true. that roof held down by scientific laws.
W: the past is the past and it cannot give clues about the future, which hasn’t happened.
W: and why do you want to strip life of purpose, anyway?
A: staying busy is a way to avoid, no?
W: well maybe sometimes yes. true i do fear the silence.
W: like i can do things but am uncomfortable just to be.
A: face to face. hard.
W: yes. why?
A: alone means must confront death.
A: people hold on to images to avoid death. a father, a mother, a husband, a wife. seem to provide ground. but don’t.
A: no wife there. baby holds your hands then huge man lifts you off ground, then he’s gone. where’s that son? you know?
A: gotta go back to signing. cul.
(drops DM mode)
W: I rode home through the city streets. There wasn’t a street–there wasn’t a building–that wasn’t connected to some memory in my mind. There, I was buying a suit with my f
Your post reminds me of this NYT piece that imagines JAWS for the CGI-blockbuster era: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/04/magazine/stop-blaming-jaws.html
This is the brilliant piece of work. Twitter is the perfect medium for the ideas expressed in the My Dinner with Andre.
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