“Always With Me” Invited to Short Play Festival

I am thrilled to announce that my play “Always With Me” has been invited to the Player’s Theater Short Play Festival scheduled for dates to be announced in June 2017.  The theme of the festival is “Only In New York” and we will be producing the play ourselves.  More information as it becomes available!

Players Theater Short Play Festival NYC

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

A Doll’s House Part 2 – one part too many

I mentioned in my last post that I had two contentious reviews and this is part 2.  Lucas Hnath’s “A Doll’s House, Part 2” has opened to uniformly rapturous reviews.  I’m sorry to say, I am a lone disagreer.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the night in the theater.  Sam Gold has directed a smoothly moving production and shepherded great performances from Laurie Metcalf, Chris Cooper, Jane Houdyshell, and Condola Rashad.  The concept is intriguing and the debate lively – but three objections on the script:

  • The play uses modern vernacular with no attempt at placing the characters into their supposed actual time – 15 years after Nora storms out of her “doll house” to face the world, creating contemporary theater and the first feminist character.  The anachronistic costumes and settings clashed with the dialogue and debate.
  • Even with all the debate there seemed no urgent need to trod this ground.  Beside rehashing old arguments from the play and spinning them around again to the same result (spoiler alert, Nora slams the door behind her again at the end of the play) there seemed nothing new.
  • And having used the word debate three times already in my description, that is just my issue.  It seemed an academic presentation rather than a true character exploration.  Throughout I felt I was hearing the playwright’s voice (especially in the Emma section) and not the character’s voice.  It was a classroom lecture dressed up in 19th century clothing.

I know my take is far in the minority and I have questioned myself many times since I saw the show and then read the reviews.  But I cannot shake my feeling, even after looking over it closely.  Glad I saw it, but wish it had taken a different approach.  Lucky for the participants and the production, mine is a distinctly minority viewpoint.

BWAY A Doll's House Part 2

As usual you can find more on http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

The Little Foxes on Broadway

The next two Broadway reviews will be a little more contentious than usual.  I had the chance to see “The Little Foxes” as part of my subscription to Manhattan Theater Club.  This production is first rate with terrific direction and performances.

Laura Linney is one of my favorite stage actresses of all time.  She alternates roles with Cynthia Nixon and the night I saw it, my lovely Laura played Birdie, the smaller of the roles but I think more complex and impactful.  She was perfect as always.  She can do no wrong.  Cynthia Nixon was terrific as Regina.  The big surprise was Michael McKean who I have largely seen in light or comic roles.  In this production he was fabulously evil and calculating and complex.  A terrific portrayal.

The contentious part?  Pamela considers this a seminal important work in the American canon.  I consider it a well written Southern Gothic melodrama, so let’s just say we disagree on the merits of the script.  But we agree strongly on the strength of the production.

BWAY The Little Foxes

As always you can find more on http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

Six Degrees of Separation on Broadway

John Guare’s script for Six Degrees of Separation has always been on of my favorites.  I didn’t live in New York when it premiered in 1990 and so did not see the original production.  But I did buy a script and performed in a reading in Florida.  And, of course, it established a meme that thrives to this day, a bit of relevance few contemporary play scripts can claim.

This production is first class.  Allison Janney, John Benjamin Hickey and Corey Hawkins lead a talented ensemble that takes us on a fabulous ride.  Well, the script is the locomotive and once it starts rolling it never stops.  What a great production.  I knew I loved the script and this confirms why.  Under the expert direction of Trip Cullham this is certainly a top candidate for best revival as it is seamless and still compelling.

This is a must see limited run.  Don’t miss it.

BWAY Six Degrees of Separation

As always you can find more on http://www.walterthinnes.com or on Twitter @walterthinnes

The Price on Broadway

Had the chance last night to catch “The Price” by Arthur Miller in its most recent Broadway revival.  I’ve seen different versions of the play including the 2000 Broadway Revival.  Arthur Miller is one of my favorite playwrights and this is among his best scripts.

The cast includes Mark Ruffalo, Esther Franz, Tony Shalhoub and Danny DeVito in his Broadway debut.  Danny’s role is a natural scene stealer and he plays it for all its worth.  Every member of the cast is exceptional and this version is well worth seeing.

I’m trying to move to the next level of my own playwriting and have thus far existed in the natural realism that Miller resided in.  While that as gone out of style it still plays well.  Having seen John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation (another of my favorite scripts) recently as well as Paula Vogel’s Indecent (incredible) I need to figure out where I go next.  Stay tuned.  And see The Price before it departs in mid-May.

BWAY The Price 2017

As always you can find more on http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

Indecent on Broadway

Time to catch up on more show going observations as this Broadway season winds toward a close.

Paula Vogel is a fantastic playwright and her Broadway debut is long overdue.  Indecent tells the story of a play in the early 20th Century (God of Vengeance) that was innovative and original and thus branded sinful and indecent in America.  Of course.  While it, of course, tells the story of the people involved, from the playwright to a backer to the actors to an acolyte, it is something I could never have conceived of – truly a play about the play.

It is accomplished by one of my favorite tropes, “we are the players here to tell you a story,” which I fall for every time.  I associate it with the original Pippin which I fell for as I was becoming familiar with theater in the first place.

The players rise from the ashes, which we do not understand until later.  This play and this production is stunning and why we want to do theater at all.  I strongly recommend you catch this and believe it is easily the best new play in the season.  Welcome to Broadway, finally, Paula.

BWAY Indecent

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

“Your Turn to Watch Dad” is a Minnesota Shorts semi-finalist!

My short play “Your Turn to Watch Dad” has been selected as a semi-finalist in a playwriting competition in Mankato, Minnesota.  The competition is Minnesota Shorts: A Festival of Short Plays.  They will choose 7 plays from Minnesota writers and 7 from other writers.  There were 407 scripts submitted and 77 were selected for this phase.  Next they narrow that to 10 finalists and the 7 scripts they will perform on September 7th and 8th of this year.

Last year my short play “Freedom Training” was a finalist but did not make it to the stage.  I’m hopeful this will be the year!

Minnesota festival

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

Groundhog Day on Broadway

Groundhog Day was a earth shaking movie that turned an obscure weather predicting rodent into a cultural phenomenon.  This was largely due to director and script doctor Harold Ramis though Bill Murray often gets the credit.  My favorite scene:

Phil: What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?

Ralph: That about sums it up for me.

 

Which happily is one of the lines that gets referenced in the new Broadway Musical.  It is fast paced and fun to watch and quite slickly mounted.  But all through it I couldn’t help wondering, why?  Nothing they could put on that stage could supplant the joy of watching that movie.  They can hope to ride on the popular feeling and borrow some of the spirit, but again, why?  And with all the great new musicals on the boards this season, why?

The music is fine but not distinctive, the performances as original as they can be in the context and effect credits pretty darn good as well.  I had a good evening at the theater, but why?

BWAY Groundhog Day

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

Present Laughter

The reason to see “Present Laughter” at the St. James Theatre is to personally experience Kevin Kline’s mastery of physical comedy, wordplay comedy and facial expression comedy.  He is an amazing treasure and well worth the price of admission.  His supporting cast is deft and a suitable foil but make no mistake, this is Kevin’s play.

Of course, it is also Noel Coward’s play but I am sorry to say, it has not aged well (assuming that Noel himself is in the same condition, but I digress).  Written by Noel Coward for himself to star in, it works with a comic master such as Kevin Kline to give it breath, but the style is dated and would not do well as a new script today.  Our attention spans are shorter, our laugh per page expectations higher and our scandal experiences far stronger.

Essentially, see it with Kevin Kline but be skeptical of any future productions without an equivalent master to guide it.

BWAY Present Laughter

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

A Meeting Without End Moment

I’ve written a number of short plays and they sometimes seem to go in and out of vogue as they are chosen or rejected by various theaters around the country.  Recently I’ve had two pieces of good news about a ten-minute play “Meeting Without End.”  It sends up corporate speak and company meetings (I’ve had to endure too many of them).

Rover Dramawerks of Plano, Texas (between Dallas and Fort Worth) has chosen it to be included in their third annual 10-minute comedy play festival July 20-29.  The list of winners:

Crime Spree by Tom Deiker

Fighting Mr. Right by Barbara Lindsay

I Was Fine Until You Came Into the Room by Rich Orloff

Locker 142 by William Newkirk

Meeting Without End by Walter Thinnes

Romeo and Juliet: Epilogue by William Sikorski

Small Talk by David MacGregor

Therapy Dog by Scott Mullen

Welcome to Intercourse by Tracey Jane Smith

In addition my niece Juliana (Toni) Thinnes chose the play for her directing class project and it will be performed in May at Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, Virginia.  I am looking forward to attending the Saturday, May 13 performance at 7:30 and will participate in a talkback after the show.

rover-dramawerksmary-baldwin-2

As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes