Saturday, June 16, 2012

Two degrees of Venus & Mad Kane

I just read the New Yorker review of the off-Broadway version of VENUS IN FUR by Hilton Als and there's this weird coincidence:
Watching Arianda, one thinks of a number of legendary actresses, from Diana Sands as Doris the prostitute in Bill Manhoff’s 1964 play “The Owl and the Pussycat” to Jennifer Mudge as Lula, the brilliant hysteric, in the 2007 revival of Amiri Baraka’s “Dutchman.” Each threw herself into an emotionally sordid role in order to tell us something about our profound, collective self-interest, and about how the will to survive is essentially genderless, until society forces us to define ourselves by our sexuality.
It's a weird coincidence because as I was watching the play I thought that Arianda playing Vanda was reminiscent of Barbra Streisand playing Doris in the movie version of "The Owl and the Pussycat." I didn't see the original theatre version of course, that was back in 1964 (how the hell old is Hilton Als anyway?)

My play JULIA AND BUDDY, also a two-person, 90-minute play was originally inspired by THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT and back in October I was musing about other similarities between J&B and VENUS IN FUR.

I got into a discussion today with Madeleine Begun Kane on Facebook about VENUS - she saw it too, and was praising the show and I said that while I liked the performances too, I have some issues with the dramatic structure.

And eventually the discussion led to my Famous David Ives S&M Anecdote:
I asked Ives to sit in on a meeting of my group NYCPlaywrights back in 2007. I gave him a ride home after (with a bunch of actors in the back seat) and as we were driving (not far, he's on the UWS) I was telling him about how I accidentally bought too many bullwhips for my production of HUCK FINN (the bullwhip was for the slave trader) - I accidentally bough a dozen. I gave extras to the cast of HUCK FINN but I still have some leftover in the trunk of my Prius.

So as Ives is getting out of the car, I said "would you like one?"

Ives says: "no thanks, I already have one."

And we all had a good laugh at how witty and droll David Ives is.

And then a couple of years later I hear about VENUS IN FUR... hmm....
Then Madeleine wrote a limerick about it - in like ten minutes. Because she's a pro - she gave me permission to post it here:
There once was a playwright named Ives
Who wrote about S & M lives
In Venus and Fur.
So did real life spur
It? From facts fiction often derives.

How cool is that?

"Mad Kane" is an award-winning humorist - her winning column for the Robert Benchley award (yes that Benchley, from the New Yorker and the Algonquin Round Table) reminds me of Mark Twain - especially the crack about Wagner.

And who picked her column? Bob Newhart. Yes, that Bob Newhart.

We discussed playwriting too - I suspect that she could write some seriously good plays, at the very least in the tight 10-minute play format. Yes, I do like to try to recruit smart women into the playwriting field.