Last night I didn’t come home wondering why I had ever agreed to direct a production of RICHARD III.
For most of my adult life I’ve been drawn to this play – first as an actor and later as a director. It’s far more fun playing a bad guy than a good one. There are an almost infinite number of ways to express satisfaction bordering on breathing heavy while following even the most simple of inclinations (like taking a sledge hammer to the screaming car radio next to you at the traffic light, or shoving a cell phone somewhere after listening to half of an inane conversation in the elevator.) In any case, when RICHARD says “Off with his head,” (and he says it often), there’s an empathy there. Admit it.
So I wanted to play RICHARD. I even had half a dozen or so words memorized. “Now is the winter of our discontent …” That was good, and made me sound so so cultured. And then there was “since I cannot prove a lover, I’m gonna be the best villain you ever saw in your life…” (or words to that effect.) Honesty here. I respected that.
But when the opportunity came along, I shied away from auditioning for the role. After all, this was Shakespeare. (See? Even his name pops up in italics.) I mean, this was like playing God, and only Morgan Freeman and George Burns played God, and look what happened to them!
Eventually I fell into directing and playwriting. (No fool here. As an actor I played a role. As I director/writer I played ALL the roles.) That’s what I told myself. The truth was, I was never comfortable memorizing lines at the best of times. And. getting older, I found I wasn’t healing as fast as when I was younger, and actors will gladly throw themselves in front of the Avenue C Bus if someone asks them to.)
So I directed stuff – lots and lots (and lots) of stuff. I was most successful in directing comedies and musicals, but I also directed dramas that were considered respectable. Please understand that none of this was ego driven as ego is normally regarded. I like dealing with concepts. When I see that an idea will work, that’s enough, I’m happy. Everything that follows is simply a necessary part of the job. (Frankly, even confiding my thoughts and motivations to you feels uncomfortably close to bragging.)
So I never directed a Shakespeare play – until some fool theatre asked me to. Actually the conversation was more along the lines of …
Me: Richard the Third? You’re doing Richard the Third?! I’ve always wanted to direct that play!
Theatre Rep: Okay.
That was it. See where blind rhetoric can lead? Let that be a lesson to you.
So here we were – first rehearsal, second, third … Actors approach reverently, eyes lowered (And when was the last time you saw THAT happen?) And I fake them around the stage, and I’m surrounded by living bobble heads thinking I actually have some kind of clue about what I’m doing. (Note to Malmesbury. You’re the only Brit I know. Do you understand this stuff? God, you really do come from a superior race.)
And then we came to last night. At some point the blah blah blah became passionate dialogue – surprised everyone, most of all me. People were caught in the moment of discovery. I could see the excitement. Where did it come from?
In Xanadu did Kubla Kahn a stately pleasure-dome decree: where Alph, the sacred river, ran through caverns measureless to man down to a sunless sea. So twice five miles of fertile ground with walls and towers were girdled round: And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills, where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; And here were forests ancient as the hills, enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
Jack Bunny is the alter ego of a playwright, theatrical director, and drama critic. If you are at a party and see a 150 pound rabbit at the punch bowl, it might be him!
(On the other hand, it might also mean that perhaps you should step away from the punch bowl for awhile.)
ANOTHER DUMB GHOST STORY (Full length)
THE REVENANT (Full length)
CORIE (Full length)
MORGAN (Full length)
VOLLEYS (Full length)
ELYCE TIMES ONE (Full length - written with J.E. Ocean)
THE DISENCHANTED FROG (Children's One-act)
THE ART OF BUILDING BRIDGES (One-act)
FROM MY VANTAGE POINT (One-act)
THE TRIAL (One-act)
WHAT'S NEW IN LATHERDUE? (Reader theatre One-act)
ROUGH DRAFT (One-act)
THE GRAND GILDER (One-act)
Old friend remembered
We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
George Bernard Shaw
I hate writing, I love having written.
If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.
It must be summer. I can smell California burning.
Starbucks is where certain relationships go to die.
I can only answer the question 'What am I to do?' if I can answer the prior question, 'Of what story do I find myself a part?'
Walmart always makes me cry ...
Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.
The Bible in the hand of one man is more dangerous than a whiskey bottle in the hand of another.
Can people stop dying please? Just for a little bit. maybe.
Mettle not in the affairs of Dragons, for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.
He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise in heart.
Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned/nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.
This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.
In my many years I have come to the conclusion that one useless person is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a Congress.
Wearing underwear is as formal as I get.
"Pay No Attention To That Man Behind The Curtain ..."
Our revels now are ended.
These, our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits, and are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision, the cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself, yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, and, like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind.
We are such stuff as dreams are made on; and our little life is rounded with a sleep.