Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mamet, Dammit

Playwright David Mamet is involved in a bit of a brouhaha.  His new deal for putting on one of his lays involves a heavy fine if there's any official "talk-back" within two hours of the performance.

Talk-backs are often quite popular discussions and analysis of the play just seen, led by someone who represent the theatre that put on the production, often someone with certain expertise.

I'm with Mamet.  He's been criticized as stifling free speech, but that's got nothing to do with it.  You could just as easily say a playwright stifles free speech during the two hours his play is performed.  Mamet simply wants the show he wrote to be the end of it, not part of a night where the second act is a discussion.  It's as if before he wrote "The End" he put in "The curtain falls and nothing else happens afterwards."

People are still free to talk about his play as much as they want, even immediately afterwards--but in bar, or restaurant, or a car, or on the street--just not part of the theatrical experience.  Even if many find these talk-back edifying, or a perk of play-going, it's Mamet's call if he has them or not.  And if he doesn't want them, then it's the theatres decision whether or not to put on his play.

I'm reminded, in a way, of a rerelease of the Richard Lester film A Hard Day's Night some years ago, starring, of course, The Beatles.  There was one song Lennon and McCartney wrote for the movie that didn't make it in--"I'll Cry Instead."

So the people who rereleased the film decided to make a video of the song, using photos from the film, and tack it on to the start in every theatre showing the film.  I have no doubt Richard Lester, if he heard of this, must have hated the idea.  The original film has a great beginning, an outburst of energy scored by the title tune.  Now, the audience would get a preview of another Beatles' song, with all sorts of shots they're about to see, weakening the effect of the opening, and perhaps the entire film.

If Lester had the legal power (which I assume he didn't), he would have put a stop to it.  Playwrights have a lot of power in the theatre.  They can demand none of their lines be changed, and have certain other specifications.  Mamet is just extending that a bit to make sure the play has the effect he hopes for.


Anonymous Lawrence King said...

But the key question is: What is Mamet's position regarding his actors lecturing the Vice President of the United States during curtain calls?

11:57 AM, July 25, 2017  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

"I'll Cry Instead" isn't on any of the Beatles CD releases, including Past Masters.

Why not?

And are there other Beatles songs (other than "Free as a Bird") that were omitted from these releases?

Trivia: King Crimson played "Free as a Bird" back in 1996. Very bizarre.

10:00 PM, July 25, 2017  
Blogger LAGuy said...

A bit off topic, but let me answer.

"I'll Cry Instead" is on the Hard Day's Night album--both the British version and the American. (The song was written for the movie but cut from it.) It's also on the American release Something New (which wasn't that new if you had the soundtrack).

The British version of A Hard Day's Night was released on CD.

There are a number of Beatles songs that were recorded--often just a demo, but sometimes well-produced--that were never released, for one reason or another.

Some of these songs were given to other artists, some were released later on the Anthology collection, some were put on Beatles' solo albums, and some are available on bootleg.

One of my favorite Beatles' songs they chose not to release is "That Means A Lot." Eventually they gave it to P.J. Proby, whose version is nowhere near as good.

11:45 PM, July 25, 2017  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lecturing the VP at least this one is totally worth it in any circumstance- I believe Mamet would waive his rights to allow it

8:01 AM, July 26, 2017  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point--it's worth lecturing Republicans because they might listen. There's no point ever in lecturing Democrats because they know the truth and are morally superior to you.

9:35 AM, July 26, 2017  

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