Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Author! Author! Indeed!

I've written so much about Dramaworks in the past, one would think that's the only thing I do (although other topics in this blog reveal I do have another life).  But back again to Dramaworks, this time seeing one of their "Dramalogues" where they delve more deeply into an aspect of theatre.  Last night's program was Author, Author: Israel Horovitz.  If it was a lecture about his works, we would not have gone, but this was a live intimate interview with Horovitz himself, one of our most prolific playwrights, with 70 under his wing, very capably moderated by Sheryl Flatow

In the 1960s I occasionally went to Café La MaMa and there I might have seen the play that launched his career, Line, This had an off Broadway revival beginning in 1974 and still runs to this day, the longest running NYC play ever!

What struck us about the interview was how engaging and personable he was, not remote like the interview with Stephen Sondheim we attended a few years ago.  Perhaps Sondheim has some disdain for anyone less then genius level and outside the world of the creative arts (not that he isn't entitled to his perspective -- he is the greatest living Broadway legend and I will continue to worship at his feet!)

Horovitz is a remarkable man at the age of 75.  He looks and speaks like a man in his early 60's and has the demeanor, a bounce to his step, of a much younger man.  I'm sorry I left my camera at home and didn't think of taking a couple of shots with my iPhone, but photos of him are abundantly available on the web.  He has a great sense of humor as well, offering that he was born in 1939, "not a good year for Jews!"

He just seems like an average guy, although he was best friends with Samuel Beckett!  Born in Wakefield, Massachusetts, a town of just six Jewish families, he hardly thought of himself as a Jew.  He joked that the Jewish families there all sounded like Jack Kennedy.  However, his first trip to Germany made him more sensitive to his own heritage.

His father was a trucker who became a lawyer at age 50.  Some of the anger issues in his plays are derived from his father's frustrated and abusive behavior during his trucking years while the humor and tenderness come from his mother.  Today, Horovitz makes Gloucester, Massachusetts one of his homes where he founded The Gloucester Stage Company -- still going strong after 35 years.

Horovitz has also been active in the world of films, perhaps his best known being the somewhat autobiographical Author! Author! starring his old friend Al Pacino. That was until now -- as he's just returned from Paris where he wrote and directed My Old Lady based on his own play, not too coincidentally the second play of Dramaworks' next season. The film will be released sometime this fall.

The three main characters are none other than film icons, Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas.  Nothing needs to be said about Dame Smith especially given her recent notoriety in the continuing series, Downton Abbey (our favorite "TV show"). Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas have also been in scores of films but my favorite Kline movie is the idiosyncratic Dave, and I thought Thomas' role in Four Weddings and a Funeral memorable.  Can't wait to see the movie and can't wait to see the play next fall.

I started this entry noting that I have another life other than writing this blog.  Recently I've been trying my hand at some short stories (probably not to be published here), and maybe that's the most important take away I had from this extraordinary interview with Horovitz.  He emphasized that you need not write about the world, but, instead, write about the world you uniquely know.  If you do it right, the world will come to you.  Certain truths are universal.  Actually, he was given that advice by Thornton Wilder.  Ironically, Dramaworks' first play of next season is Wilder's Our Town, a play that we've seen in many venues, and one that we could watch again and again.   

Thank you Israel Horovitz, for your plays and for the very good advice that you passed along!
A beautiful sunset the night before