Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Cult of Personality

I'm so grateful to Alex Borinsky for introducing me to Hennessy Youngman and his series, Art Thoughtz. This installment is about Personal Mythology.

What do we think about the artist as a celebrity? Is the Andy Warhol cult-of-personality phenomena applicable to playwrights? Are there any contemporary playwrights that are just as famous for their personalities as for their work? It's certainly existed in other eras: Oscar Wilde, Moliere, etc. You could probably make a case for Sam Shepard. Do these playwrights exist now? (Neil Labute, maybe?) If they do, is it a good thing? If not, should they? Is it easier to find success of you have a big or outlandish persona? WHO SHOULD WE BE?

I have some ideas....

Patrick Link should become an alcoholic womanizer, but a lovable one. Like Arthur. But Dudley Moore as Arthur. Not Russell Brand. Has anybody else noticed that Russell Brand looks weird lately?

I'd love to see Angela Hanks cut her hair short like Angela Davis and become a militant feminist. She could wear jumpsuits and berets and talk about the revolution like Patty Hearst in her whole Symbionese Army phase. Because revolutions are glamorous. So are jumpsuits.

Meghan Deans as this millennium's Dorothy Parker, lounging about in expensive hotels smoking cigarettes and saying hilarious, vicious things? Meghan already says vicious and hilarious things, so all she has to do is bob her hair and start smoking.

I'm onto something. If you want a personality, just ask. Let's do this, people!


plink said...

I could only ever be an emerging alcoholic womanizer.

Meghan Drrns said...

And with that, PLink secures his spot at my Algonquin Round Table (which is probably at a noodle shop?). Josh, I'd like you there, too. You could maybe be Tallulah Bankhead?

I feel like playwrights generally don't get as famous for their personalities as they do for their work, and as such, people attempt to sub their work for their personalities -- LaBute was my first thought, too, but all I have to go on there are my feelings about his plays. I don't think I've ever read an interview with him or anything. But if your work has a strong point of view and a clear voice, it's easy (and often incorrect) to make the leap that there isn't much of a line between the writer and the written.

Meghan Drrns said...

Also the lack of contemporary big personality playwrights might also have to do with theater's local nature (no national platform means no popular dissemination of the quirks that can easily be viewed as an outsize personality). But that's probably a longer thesis.

Christopher Sullivan said...

i thought i was the lovable alcoholic womanizer. :(

joshcon80 said...

Chris, you're kind of a hybrid. You're the class clown, but you're also the hot rock n' roll boy. ENJOY IT.