Two Hundred Grand and Silliness

This week, I am lucking out on playwright news items. First, it was the Drama Book Shop, then Eve Ensler, then yesterday, a director friend sent me a link to a news item about David Henry Hwang winning a two hundred grand playwriting award. When are you gonna get yours? She asked in a half-joking/half-serious way which I translate as God I hate my day job.

I’m glad someone somewhere is giving playwrights a bucketful of cash. In fact, more people should give playwrights cash. Just give us money. We promise not to spend it on frivolous things like houses.

I just realized that the three news items I dealt with this week were about exhibitionism, rape, and money. How very American.

But enough of current events. I have a blogging plan, and I must follow it. I wanted to talk about a very serious topic, silliness.

Sometimes I’m writing along and singing my song, and I come up with an idea that is just plain silly. Decades of writing have taught me not to fear the silly. If an idea seems silly, I just go with it.

Over the years, I have encountered people who fear the silly. They don’t like silliness. It’s irrational. It’s too childish. Not serious. Everyone knows that theatre should be serious. Who would pay a hundred bucks to see something silly?

As playwrights, we like it when people think we’re smart. We like it when our writing shows off our intelligence and learning. However, we don’t have to be intelligent all the time. We’re not negotiating world peace or finding a cure for a disease. We’re writing plays. We can dive into the irrational.

As a theatre goer, I don’t always want to see logical plays with everything laid out smoothly. Let’s have some fun. Let’s get the folks to laugh so hard they spill red wine on their dry-cleaned shirts.

If you really want to have folks lose control, make them laugh. Pies in the face still work. Walking into walls is still hilarious. Stumbles, prat falls, or an odd farm animal.

The odder and sillier it gets, the more the audience will laugh for more.


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