Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Am Going To Make Fun Of You.

So, um... The Sluts of Sutton Drive opens tomorrow.

There was a moment in our tech rehearsal yesterday when I turned Graeme Gillis, Youngblood’s Co-Artistic Director (and actor in my play), and said, “Wow. I think this show might just come together after all.”

He agreed. “Yeah, I think people are mostly going to have a great time. Except for a couple of people who will really, really hate it.”

I laughed it off until later when I thought to myself, “Wait. Why would anybody hate The Sluts of Sutton Drive?” I mean, I could understand if somebody thought it was just plain stupid or poorly written or whatever, but the insinuation was that the play would offend somebody.

There was a reading of the play in Park Slope a few months ago and the email that went out had a warning on it. “Not for the faint of heart,” or something like that. I’ve heard actors in various readings and in this production too call it a “dangerous” play. My agent says most theaters won’t have the balls to produce it. Here’s the thing though… it’s just a comedy.

That’s all.

It’s never my intention to offend people. I love my audience. I want them to have a unique and thrilling experience. I may try to shock them a little, but it’s only to shock them into laughter. I write about things that hurt me or anger me- in this case it’s the subjugation of women, rigid gender roles, conformity, rape, income disparity, addiction- and then I make fun of them. For me, it’s a way to talk about them and take their power away. What can I say? I like cheekiness and I have a gallows humor as a result of my effed up background. Further, as a poor person without full civil rights, one of the only things I have at my disposal is my ability to make fun of shit. What... can't take a joke?

I could go a step further and spell out how offensive or shocking humor is an important part of a larger queer dialogue and an integral part of our community’s make-up, but that’s totes pretentious and not really necessary. True, but not necessary.

It’s especially annoying to me when other liberals get offended by plays. It’s always the same kind of liberal- a privileged, armchair, politically inactive one who complains about my dog and pony show without actually being offended by the things I’m satirizing. Liberals can be so annoying!

The Sluts of Sutton Drive isn’t a dangerous play. It isn’t a challenging play. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be. What’s really dangerous is a whole art form’s insistence that plays be this particular thing or that particular thing. (This and that = white, male, straight, wealthy etc.) What makes people think they're exempt from being offended anyway? Frankly, it’s dangerous that there aren’t a shit ton of plays that poke fun of things mainstream theater audiences hold dear- because, frankly, almost all of us deserve to be made fun of.

The Sluts of Sutton Drive opens tomorrow. I hope you don't hate it.


MisterMichaelLew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MisterMichaelLew said...

You know it's true - it's so weird and unexpected because I LOVE your play but upon further consideration, yes, it just might offend people. For my part, I thought making fun of bankers in "microcrisis" would be like shooting fish in a barrel to my liberal audience. I never dreamed it would be offensive to basically say "some bankers are greedy." That is until the Times guy compared it watching financial torture porn.

But then again maybe it's a generational/perception thing. Because there's definitely been times where I've seen productions that offend me for their narrow scope... their middle-brow, vanilla, preach-to-the-choir, don't-rock-the-boat-too-hard politics... And I'm sure those people must be totally bewildered there's anything offensive in that.

joshcon80 said...

"Middle-brow, vanilla, preach-to-the-choir, don't-rock-the-boat-too-hard politics..." This is more offensive than anything.

Bankers deserve to be openly mocked.

People have been offended by MilkMilkLemonade before, but guess what? Not a single gay man has ever been offended by it to my knowledge. It's like, instead of being offended by my play, why don't you take offense at anti-gay bullying instead?

With this play I'm more nervous, because I've essentially written an anti family play by accident. Who DOES that? Who is against the family unit? Me, apparently.