Yesterday I patroned Target Margin’s ‘The Really Big Once,’ which concerns Tennesee Williams and Elia Kazan’s collaboration on his play The Camino Real, which was a critical flop. Tennessee was an extremely successful playwright at that point (gah, no pressure or anything) and wrote this slightly crazy play that no one really understood. We did it at UNC and I recall watching it being like the best and worst dream I’ve ever had.
Target Margin’s exploration of Tenn ( I will call him ‘Tenn, we are friends!) and Elia’s work on the play really hit home for me. Like: Tenn weeping after the reviews come out. Tenn defending his work and his vision even when no one really got it (this was inspiring). Elia admits directing the work as a naturalistic play, which he knew was a mistake. Towards the end, one of the actors supposes: perhaps if this production had been more successful, the American theater audience would have been ever so slightly changed? More receptive to theatrical / dream like works? And to make it All about Me (what sort of writer would I be, if I did not do this?) It made me think: my first plays were extremely weird / theatrical (people in cages, nailed to crosses, imaginary friends, ghosts impromptu dance numbers.) I miss this. Plays should be plays. I’ve sort of gradually come away from this…..I think partially because I started to think more about character as opposed to images. This is good. But also: I think that subconsciously, part of me has wanted to write things that are more digestable. Could be more commerically successful? No, Bekah! NO! The production was a much-needed reminder that you cannot write for success. You cannot write a hit. Hits are total anomalies. You must stay true to what the voices are telling you. Or voice? Or your gut.
I completely forgot where I was going with this, but there it is.