Friday, November 25, 2011

Keen Company blog

Carl Forsman, the artistic director of the Keen Company has a blog here. It's quite interesting especially for anybody involved in writing, producing etc. He puts it all out there. One of my favorite things he's written recently was a complaint about actors' audition material choices:
FIVE PEOPLE auditioned for my Tina Howe comedy with monologues from Neil LaBute plays – he is my least favorite writer and is basically the artistic opposite of Keen Company’s work.
I posted a comment requesting that he discuss this in greater detail.

I can't say I'm surprised he wrote that though. I became interested in his group when I read an article about the Keen Company in the NYTimes, and got to this part:
...Mr. Forsman even described his worldview as humanistic, saying he believes “compassion and generosity are a normal, natural part of existence.”

Mr. Forsman’s attitude is what makes Keen Company, the Off Broadway theater he founded in 2000, one of the most defiant troupes in the city. Though cynicism, dysfunction and sarcasm are often de rigueur in Manhattan culture, he aggressively promotes an alternative. “Keen Company produces sincere plays,” reads the theater’s Web site, keencompany.org. “We believe that theater is at its most powerful when texts and productions are generous in spirit and provoke identification.” The company, the site says, is “unafraid of emotional candor, vulnerability and optimism.”
Wow, that was music to my ears. I was right in the middle of my JANE EYRE production when I read this, and JANE is as sincere as it gets. And then I came to this part, which made me a true believer:
And for him beauty is more than just pleasantry. “I’ve thought for a while now that maybe true theatrical rebellion isn’t saying, ‘And then a guy raped a 4-year-old and shot his mom,’” he said. “That’s not radical anymore because we’re so desensitized. Now I think true rebellion is saying anything optimistic or positive about humanity. Hope is radical.”
And then the cherry on top:
He continued: “There’s no question that the cynical viewpoint is viewed as more sophisticated. There’s a real fear, especially among the intelligentsia, of generosity and compassion because they look like the acts of someone who’s na├»ve.”
That's it - he completely nailed it.

Keen Company doesn't seem to do world premieres so I don't hold out much hope of them doing JULIA & BUDDY - unless it does well for itself for a couple of years - but I think that play - and really most of my work - is very much in the Keen Company spirit.

I sure hope he takes up my suggestion and gets into the whole LaBute v. Keen issue in detail.