Only shooting stars break the mold

Dear Keith,

Read your script and all I can say is, wow! Wow! I say Wow repeatedly, in that thrilling low voice that I reserve for unusually exuberant situations!

I was so overcome with raw emotion that I could do only one thing, which is to read the script again. After careful consideration, then, I can surely say, without fear of contradiction: Wow!

I catch my breath, fan myself briefly with the printout to recover some equilibrium, and dedicate myself to a more academic analysis of your oeuvre.

Wow! Sorry, that just slipped out, there. I will refocus.

Now, regarding the elements of your script. It is well-typed, with very bold spacing choices. And your command of spelling is immaculate. I note with pleasure that you have elected to spell the word “bologna” with the requisite g. The secondary spelling, “baloney,” is frowned upon in modern literary circles.

Now, regarding your characters. Your protagonist is Bruce, a brilliant actor, misunderstood, underappreciated for the artistic genius that he is. Immediately the character leaps off the page to me. He talks exactly to my own personal situation in life. Here is an actor, struggling against the appalling difficulties of black-box theatre, ultimately to be truly admired and respected for the talent he is. A classic story!

However, one concern. Bruce, unfortunately enough, is a name that lesser writers have chosen as a cliche to represent homosexual characters. Do you think, perhaps, that people might mistakenly think that Bruce is homosexual due to his name? I wonder if the fact that he comes on stage wearing a dress and wig might wrongly suggest this idea? I see Bruce as a manly character, one generically dashing and charming after he effects his transformation. Perhaps we can provide him with a more masculine name, in order to avoid this line of analysis altogether. I leave the correct choice of name to you, the creator. Suggestions? I don’t know, perhaps Spike? Horatio? Doctor Z?

Here I must thank you for the extremely kind dedication that you wrote at the beginning of the play. I wonder, though. Do you think that the general audience will get the “Dedicated to the Great and Incomparable John Byrd” business at the beginning? If it’s not spoken in the actual play, how will the theatregoers understand and appreciate it? I can try to incorporate it into my interpretation of Bruce, but it would be challenging. Will it be printed in the program? Or perhaps there could be a small sign on an easel, to the right of the proscenium, with the inscription “Dedicated to the Great and Incomparable John Byrd.”

Now that I consider the matter, I think the small-sign idea might be most appropriate. A small sign does not take up valuable space in the program, where the other actors will surely want to list their biographies. We can post a small spotlight on the sign as well, so that it does not become a tripping hazard during blackouts and during intermision.

Now, the next character, Laura. I love the bit with the kiss between Laura and Bruce at the end. “You are so fucking beautiful” and a big smoocheroo. I am all about smoocheroos in the theater, especially when they involve me. But I think the moment would have to be authentic to play. Do you think we could get a blonde to play the part? I know a few blondes who currently refuse to have anything to do with me. With such a powerful role as Laura to offer, I could possibly get an exception from the court order and maybe make a phone call or two.

Actually a brunette would do as well, I suppose. The color of the hair, it’s one of those mutable actress qualities, one of those female properties that change with the latest fashions, with the checkout-stand magazine covers. We mustn’t put too much stock in it.

Perhaps a little experimentation with wigs and a number of actresses would be in order.

There are definitely a number of other parts in the play, which I can’t remember very clearly. It would be useful to have a list of characters at the beginning, so that I can keep them all straight. I am quite confident that we should be able to find other actors to play these parts. Most of them are quite easy, I think: no more than a few lines to memorize. There are plenty of actors in the greater Bay Area who excel at memorizing lines, and I think that many of them would appreciate the chance to play a part without the line-memorization burden of Hamlet or Macbeth.

Given a script of this caliber, I’m sure that we should have no problem finding a theater to produce it. We all know that TheatreWorks has a “new works” program intended to support the production of recent scripts, but we all also know that “new works” is basically a euphemism for “crap.” Might I convince you to tell a small white lie regarding the production of this script? Namely, that you wrote it about forty years ago? That way, it can’t be truly classified as a “new work” and thus it stands a better choice of production. The existence of an interesting backstory always assists in the production of a script. Perhaps I’m the first actor in forty years you’ve met who can manage the demands of the role?

There may be some confusion as to why you dedicated the script to John Byrd before he was born. We’ll deal with that as it comes.

Ah well. I suppose the Hillbarn will pick it up in any case.

A note regarding the costuming. I can supply the wig, beard and dress that my character requires. Perhaps I should bring my complete collection of women’s clothing to some rehearsal, so that we can determine the costume elements that best support the character.

Thanks so much for writing the script. It’s got potential. I can smell the potential. And I bet you can, too. We’re going places, you and me, kiddo. Just you wait.

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