An Open Letter to the Lovely Folks Sitting Behind Me At Saturday’s Performance of A Streetcar Named Desire
Dear Lovely Folks Sitting Behind Me At Saturday’s Performance of A Streetcar Named Desire –
I want to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for making Saturday afternoon’s performance of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Broadhurst Theater such an exceptional experience. When I purchased the tickets for this new revival running on Broadway for a limited time, (previews began April 3rd), I distinctly remember thinking “if only I could ALSO purchase tickets to a streaming line of commentary from a bunch of moronic assholes, to run concurrently with the production.” Unfortunately, TDF was not offering this option as a ticket upgrade, so you can imagine my delight when the production began and you four began said streaming commentary.
I’ll admit, I was nervous you wouldn’t have the stamina to continue commenting for literally the entire production. I feared you might need a break, might want to watch the show yourself, or might (god forbid), consider that perhaps there were others in the audience who didn’t want to watch a show with your commentary. Thank god you were willing to engage with absolutely no one on the subject of absolutely everything for the absolute duration of the performance.
See, I like my theater to be as close to the “director’s commentary” version of a DVD as possible, in that I want to not really be able to hear or appreciate the film itself, and instead listen to someone else talking about it.
And I’ve always found myself wondering, when watching hours of director commentary of films on DVD, what it would be like if the commentator were not the director, or someone involved with the film in any capacity, but instead just a useless nobody with provincial, obvious, idiotic and offensive views about the film. I shall wonder no longer! Your provincial, obvious, idiotic and offensive views about A Streetcar Named Desire went above and beyond the call of duty in uselessness and offensiveness. And the way you delivered them – so smug, so self-satisfied, so loud! – really added that je ne sais quoi that I was looking for in my disruptive theater-going experience.
I know, I’ve often complained in the past about the “motherfucking Broadway audience“, but it’s experiences like this one that really make me change my tune. I can’t decide what my favorite moment of your commentary was – when you advised Stella not to “go down those stairs” (I can’t believe she didn’t listen to you!), when you repeatedly called Blanche “bipolar” (and I appreciated how much you repeated that one, see, I kept FORGETTING that you thought she was bipolar so hearing it an average of once every 2 minutes helped keep the opinion fresh in my mind). Was it when you announced that the show was boring and you preferred musicals, or when you announced that Blair Underwood, who played Stanley, was your boyfriend, and admonished Daphne Rubin-Vega, who played Stella, for kissing him. I mean – who could blame you! I was glad to hear, too, that Blair Underwood was no longer your boyfriend after you saw him being physically abusive towards Daphne Rubin-Vega and Nicole Ari Parker, who played Blanche. I hope he took the breakup well. You’ll have to let me know how everything works out with that.
If I absolutely had to pick a favorite pearl of wisdom, however, I might say the moment when you pronounced Blanche’s rape fair, because she “teased too much.” I wasn’t sure how I felt about rape, before that moment – I guess I was under the mistaken impression that it was, like, wrong, or something?!? – but you really put it into perspective when you made that statement. She really did tease too much, didn’t she! Thank you for sharing your obviously rich and layered world view with me. I know I didn’t ask for it, but you just knew. (Hey, kinda like Blanche when she gets raped, I guess! AMIRITE LADIES?!)
I also think the risk you took in contributing to the artistic vision of the show was fantastically bold and successful. They really didn’t have enough of a soundscape, did they?! Your addition of “Extended Noise That Sounded Like Several Large Bags of Popcorn Being Repeatedly Crinkled Inside A Larger Bag, Probably One Of Those Really Loud Plastic Bags They Give You At Bed Bath And Beyond” to nearly every scene added so much to my artistic appreciation of the show overall.
My only regret, I guess, is that you couldn’t somehow also contribute to my visual appreciation of the show. But, as you were sitting behind me, I guess that wasn’t possible – instead I had to contend with viewing the incredibly rich and lush set, lit with absolute perfection by Edward Pierce. It was stunning lights, harmonizing brilliantly with the set and costumes, and one of the few experiences unsoiled by your particular artistic vision. I can only imagine how you would have added to it, if you could. Ah well, I guess I shouldn’t get greedy – it’s just that your audio contribution was so stellar that I can’t help wanting more.*
I’ve been trying, repeatedly, to think of things to say about the production proper, beyond my quick shout out to the lights and set – but I’ll admit, my experience of A Streetcar Named Desire was so wholly taken up by your presence and contribution that I barely remember anything about the “actual show” (cue highly ironic air quotes and an expression of disdain). Psh. “Actual Show Schmactual Show, am I right?!” We both know that you guys were what we really paid money to hear. Sure, Blair Underwood did a pretty fabulous job as Stanley, and Nicole Ari Parker was very, very good as Blanche**, but who really cares?! You guys really understood what this show was about – disruptive ramblings from assholes! Isn’t that why we go to live theater in the first place?! Isn’t that what “respect” for theater is really all about?!
So thank you; it’s people like you who remind me, so completely, of everything I love about the New York Theater scene.
Go fuck yourselves,
*Okay, so FOR THE RECORD, that paragraph is confusing because my comments on the light and set design is meant entirely sincerely, whereas, if you haven’t figured it out, all that stuff about the commentators is complete bullshit. But dang were the lights (sincerely!) great in this production!
**Same here — sincere props to these actors! I only wish I could have appreciated your talents without disruption…