Saturday, July 14, 2012

creepy old man plays

I thought I could escape creepy old man plays when I stopped running NYCPlaywrights as an organization open to anybody. I ran it for years and the percentage of the membership that was old retired men kept creeping up, until eventually about 40% of the playwright membership was men over 60. Which meant that we were inundated with creepy old man plays.

Creepy old man plays have regressive attitudes about the world, because most people's understanding of the way things work, especially the social hierarchy, tends to stop evolving when they get into middle age - especially if they were at the top of the social hierarchy as these (inevitably straight and white) men were.

Which means that in creepy old man plays it's a huge problem that there are now sexual harassment laws in the workplace. According to creepy old man plays, the office environment was just swell for everybody, until these horrible feminists came in and ruined it for everybody.

Also they like to write plays in which young women are very much attracted to old men - not for their money, of course, but just for the splendiferousness of being an old man. I'll never forget one play, where the 60-something man (the hero of the play of course) was interested in a 20-something woman, and his uptight buddies were telling him to go retire to Florida with "a 50-year-old widow." Because in the minds of creepy old men, a man dating a woman only ten years younger than himself is a huge disappointment. And also note that a 50-year-old widow is seen as somebody who is willing to join a retired man in his retirement. As if she doesn't have her own job and her own 401K to think about.

Jesus I hate creepy old men.

They were a huge reason for why I changed things for NYCPlaywrights. And now that I'm running the NYCPlaywrights Play of the Week it's happening again. I stupidly suggested on the POTW call for scripts that the plays submitted don't necessarily have to be polished work but could be works-in-progress. Which means I have to wade through piles of absolute shit. And most of it from men, because men have a much higher opinion of themselves and their work than women do, and so they have no shame in sending off any crappy first draft they've just written.

Although women write bad plays too - but they're just less confident in their first drafts than men are.

But also, the idea that most people will learn from readings of their plays, I discovered long ago, is a joke. For most people the first draft IS the play, and they are not interested in critiques in order to help improve the work - they want you to tell them how great it is.

I only need to find four plays of the usual 50+ submissions for the Play of the Week that I can live with. And I can do it. The plays that are selected are rarely exactly good, but they at least don't make me want to puke.

But reading a pile of shitty plays month after month to get to those four non-pukey plays is starting to destroy my soul and I will have to stop. The Play of the Month project is enough to deal with. And one of the advantages of the Play of the MONTH is that there is usually a theme required of the submissions ("the supernatural", "civil rights" etc.) which makes it difficult, although not, alas, impossible for creepy old men to get in their usual favorite issues in.