Delicious Grapes

We had a really good crowd for Hail Satan tonight. By “tonight”, I mean, this afternoon, of course, since we have an incredibly difficult schedule within the festival. We have five shows, and four of them are before 5 or after 10, which doesn’t really feel like a vote of confidence from the folks who run the festival, but we’ve managed to actually sell pretty well so far.

Last I heard we had sold 8 tickets to the show at 3, and when I started the opening lines, I could tell we had about 50 people in the house, so that’s pretty exciting.

I’m posting under “delicious grapes” because I noticed on my friend Mac’s blog there was new comment on an ANCIENT post. I went back and read it, when we were not accepted by the Fringe several years ago.

I realized that we’ve come a long way. I still think that Lucretia Jones is the perfect show for the Fringe, it’s actually a much better idea than the last two shows that have been accepted. In a way, the Fringe Festival is the exact *wrong* place for us to put up Hail Satan. James Comtois points out in his blog that this incarnation pushes a little more for laughs and although it was more true for the show he saw than for the actual run, he’s not wrong at all. People come to the Fringe to see shows that have very broad humor or very avant garde seriousness, and the audience at that show treated us like a drunk night at UCB.

And that’s great, it really is… But we found ourselves holding for laughs, and we were unprepared for that. We’ve been creating a psychologically specific piece, and the comedy actually comes from the fact that we’re playing everything as honestly as possible. When a character says “My… My workday ends at five” and everyone laughs, it’s not because he just got kicked in the nuts, it’s because we’ve all been in a situation where we’ve done what we thought was expected of us and then learned that we weren’t doing enough.

On the flip side, we’re really not being precious with the material. We hope that people have fun when they see the play more than we hope people LEARN or anything. We’re not trying to stop the war, we’re not trying to live with hope… I mean, we’re saying something that we think is true, and it being true makes it funny and hopefully relevant, but there’s no sense that we’re reinventing the wheel.

Lucretia Jones is the perfect show for the Fringe, and maybe we’ll submit it some year. Air Guitar was a mess, an unfinished mess that we produced badly, which got no help from the people we turned to, and Hail Satan is a show for a more sober crowd than the Fringe, and I still don’t understand, after all this time, why Lucretia Jones wasn’t accepted. It would be perfect.

But all that being said… we had fifty people at 3 o’clock on a shitty Tuesday, where it’s pouring down rain. And there are a lot of people talking about the show, both on the internet and in person. Other theater pros are hanging around and emailing us later and stuff.

That’s a miracle, it really is. I remember thanking the crowd at The Gershwin Hotel for being part of our first sold-out weekend, and we had about 60 seats in a theater that is now the back room at a bar… and we gave everyone brownies for showing up. Mac wrote it and the three of us acted it. Reviews? HAHAHAHAHAAAA. We played six shows and poneyed up the PR and the rental space and everything. We weren’t gonna get REVIEWS….

But… I’ve been frustrated by the reviews we have gotten. I don’t mind if people have a problem with what we’re producing, and I usually agree with people if they don’t like a show we’ve done, but a bunch of our reviews have recounted plot points wrong. When someone thinks it would be scarier if Satan did not appear on stage, I get that critique, but since Satan DOESN’T appear on stage in our production, it makes that particular point useless. Someone didn’t understand why one of the characters suddenly joins the church… except that character doesn’t ever join the church. That kind of thing.

But we’re in the festival. Elena is lovely to us, knew me and Mac and Jordi on sight and played with Barno. Five years ago, I would have given my left nut to have Time Out New York review our play, even if it was an intern from the restaurant section. There is a mountain still in front of us, but it’s important to look back and realize that what still looks like a mountain is actually just the top half, and we’ve already climbed so far.

(Oh, and also, the play is by Mac Rogers, who’s been produced all over the city for the last eight years. Not “Marc Rogers” who is, according to what I can find, a wonderful Canadian accoustic bassist.)