A Different Kind of Boston Marathon
Hi all! So I think it's been three to maybe four years since I've attempted this project, but life and often other theater projects have prevented me from attending let alone reviewing the annual great event otherwise known as The Boston Theater Marathon. But I'm back baby! And I'm really excited to get back in the saddle!
For those of you who don't know, The Boston Theater Marathon is a yearly extravaganza organized by the Boston Playwright's Theater and held at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts. It's a fundraiser for the Theater Community Benevolent Fund that serves as a whirlwind showcase for both local playwrights and local theater companies. Theater companies from all over the Greater Boston Area each stage and produce a ten minute play written by one of the many tremendous playwrights working in the area. All in all, there are fifty plays, performed five in an hour each, from noon to ten.
If you don't feel like going whole hog, like yours truly, once you arrive for the festival, they'll give you a little pin (or sticker, I forger which) which enables you to come and go throughout the day as you like. You can come, watch an hour or two, take a break, eat some dinner, come back and watch some more. It's honestly hard to think of a better bang for your buck and I personally think it's the best money you can spend during the entire year. You can purchase tickets here.
So that begs the question... what exactly am I doing here?
The last time I did this exercise I got a bit of feedback from a variety of sources. Some people, particularly some playwrights and participants of the festival, really appreciated the feedback and looked forward to my reviews. On the other hand, I got some strong feedback from other quarters that this festival was primarily a celebration and a fundraiser. It wasn't fair to critique or evaluate these new pieces most of whom have not been workshopped and have only been rehearsed to the extent that they'll be performed once.
I think these are very fair concerns. As someone who finds the craft of playwrighting endlessly fascinating, I personally find it fascinating and even more educational to examine what doesn't work in the craft than what does, I also recognize that perhaps that's not the point of this festival. I also know that in the past, I've found it impossible to review every play because I can't stop myself from writing paragraph on paragraph on each ten minute piece, meaning that only the first few hours get touched which isn't very fair.
So I'm going to take a page from my "fellow" Boston Reviewers. While not true for all local critics, many (and I say this with love) seem to take the adage "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" to heart. So I'm going to do the same thing. While I will be watching and taking extensive notes on each and every play, I will only be writing about the plays that I found the most conversation starting, the most moving, the funniest, the weirdest, etc. Basically I'll only be talking about my favorites, and I don't believe I'll be going in any particular order. Theater is not nor should it be a competitive sport. I come not to bury The Boston Theater Marathon, but to praise it.
Two other related caveats. I am not an actual reviewer. In fact, I'm a pretty active participant (mostly as an actor, but sometimes director) in the Boston theater scene. I have worked with many different companies, and many different people. I'm probably going to see a lot of familiar faces both on stage and in the program. I will try to be as objective as I can and in general I'm mostly evaluating the plays themselves. I also bring aesthetic biases to the table. Despite my own proclivities as a writer for high concept material, I was struck last time I watched the full program that in general the pieces I enjoyed the most were small character studies. I am also highly prejudiced in favor of pieces that make me laugh.
But regardless of what happens, seriously this festival is one of my absolute favorite events of the year. It always astounds me how much variety and depth and heart and ingenuity these playwrights manage to pack into ten brief minutes. I can't wait to see what happens this year. If I were you, I'd buy me some tickets and come along for the ride!
P.S. - I will also be attending the full play readings the day before. On Saturday the 18th, there will be three full length play readings free and open to the public from 12:00 to 6:00. These are usually bookmarked by a reading of short one minute plays. Also a very good time. I will probably review these plays as well.
P.P.S - If you are a playwright who would particularly like my feedback and I wind up not reviewing your play, send me a message and I'll happily put your play in the queue.