Mar 02 2012

Shakey’s Pizza and My Moment of Brecht

Published by at 4:18 am under Uncategorized

So this past Saturday, the good people of Uranium Madhouse threw a fundraiser, gathering supporters for a few, spirited rounds of Balderdash. The first thing to note is that I won. I say this not only to shamelessly boast but also to assure all the other dramaturgs out there that our position as one of the nerdiest groups in all the land is secure thanks to my ability to come up with plausible-sounding definitions of obscure words.

The fundraiser was to support Uranium Madhouse’s upcoming, planned production of Bertolt Brecht’s A Man’s A Man. Not only did the event raise needed funds for what I promise will be a memorable theatrical production, it also provided some insight into the play itself. Because let me tell you this: there is no place more Brechtian in all of Los Angeles than Shakey’s Pizza in Hollywood, the location of our Balderdash bonanza.

“Brechtian” is an adjective that gets thrown around rather cavalierly in theater circles. It’s sort of like the way people use the word, “ironic.” But for me, a play that’s Brechtian is one that actively seeks to separate the audience from the story told on stage. It’s that feeling of alienation that causes an audience member to really investigate the ideas that are being put forth. I think it’s safe to say I felt a little alienated at Shakey’s. I’m not sure if it was when I first entered and, like the gentleman that I am, held the door for a transvestite prostitute arguing with what I presume was her john. Or perhaps it was when Balderdash wrapped up and the PA system we were using was quickly taken over for Spanish language karaoke. There was something performative about it all; something bizarre and scary (the trannie) and alluring (the karaoke, which I definitely would have participated in if I wasn’t so damn white). It felt alien. It felt like a good Brecht play.

Anyway, we ate (really bad) pizza. We played video games (the version of “Deal or No Deal” is surprisingly addictive). I won 80 bucks. It was lots of fun. Most importantly, it set the stage for a great play to come.

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