Saturday Night Live is exactly one pasteurized-process joke, repeated past the point of Tedium, around the Cape of Repetitive Humor, and back into Tedium; MAD TV is neurotic, racist, soul-deadening white noise; The Daily Show is Harvard Lampoon ivory-tower liberalism by the numbers; and the only really funny show to appear on television in the past fifteen years is Wonder Showzen. It summons the ghosts of Ernie Kovacs, Monty Python, Jim Henson and Allen Funt to piss an absurd toxicomic brew that is vastly more potent than anything else on TV right now. Do not watch it, under any circumstances.
You and I live in a golden and fine and lucky age of new musical theater. In the past four years, there have been a pile of witty, hip new entries in the field: Avenue Q, Bat Boy, Urinetown, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Wicked, and most recently, The Drowsy Chaperone. My CD finally came in, and I’m in love — The Drowsy Chaperone does everything that Frank Loesser or Oscar Hammerstein or Richard Rogers ever did. It’s an exquisite bit of fluff that knows its sources better than the sources know themselves.
The current trend toward metatheatricality bodes well for The Death of Ayn Rand.
Date: Wednesday, From: Robert
I’m directing Hermit Bird at Virago Theatre Co‘s Reading series on Saturday July 8th. I’m looking at several Actors and will let you know when I have a firmer idea. I’m looking for a companion piece to fill out the evening and will update you when we’ve made a selection.
Date: Thursday, From: John Byrd
About how long ideally? Any particular casting requirements? I have a couple funny one-acts that may work as an opening…1
Date: Friday, From: Robert
Probably in the 60 minute range. Hermit looks like it will run about 20 and a nice evening is 90 minutes total. That gives audience some time after wards to discuss and socialize. Laura may have had to move pieces around to get a fit with schedules. I’m looking at Hermit Bird as an open and another piece as the second. I’ve been thinking comedy, but I’m open.
Date: Saturday, From: John Byrd
I do have exactly such a play2 ? I have an absurdist comedy called The Death of Ayn Rand which would work against Hermit Bird like lemon against chicken. The Death of Ayn Rand is still in the development stage3, and it could really use this type of staged read. May I send you the script for your review?
Date: Sunday, From: Robert
Let me know if you have something that will fit.
Date: Monday, From: John Byrd
Enclosed are pointers to my spanking new one-act play4, The Death of Ayn Rand. This play will go well as a second part to an evening of staged reading, against The Hermit Bird. The Death of Ayn Rand is an absurdist comedy.5 It details the final minutes of life of the objectivist philosopher who wrote Atlas Shrugged.6 It will provide actors the chance to stretch, be funny, and say something significant, all at the same time.7
Date: Tuesday, From: Robert
I read your script last night. It’s great, you have a wonderful use of language and I love how you play with the structure of the piece in such a creative way. So we would like to use “The Death of Ayn Rand” as the second piece of the evening on July 8th. Let me know your thoughts and I will let you know when we have a cast and can put together a schedule.
Date: Wednesday, From: John Byrd
Great! I look forward to working with you.8
1 I have some half-baked concepts that I haven’t actually committed to paper yet.
2 I do have exactly such an idea for a play.
3 All I need to do is write the fucking thing.
4 Enclosed are thirty-five pages of unproduceable stream-of-consciousness bat shit.
5 It makes no sense because I pulled an all-nighter to yank it out of my ass for you.
6 I couldn?t be bothered to do any research that didn?t come from Google, so most of my facts are probably wrong.
7 It will provide actors the chance to correct my numerous typographical errors.
8 Are you nuts?!