Gotta Have a Gimmick, Part Two

by Kitty Felde

Just want to followup on a comment from playwright Mallery Avidon:

Welcome to LAFPI! It’s a wonderful group of women writers battling it out in Los Angeles to draw attention to the work and increase the number of produced plays by women writers.

I think I need to more fully explain my inclusion of your play in my description of what I call “gimmick” plays.

As I noted, I don’t use the term as a derogatory genre. Shakespeare himself used cross dressing lovers to great effect in “Twelfth Night.” It’s a trend I’ve noticed as a genre showing up on legitimate stages all over the country. They can add an element of fun and excitement to a play. It’s what Hollywood might call a “hook” – something that will turn a curious audience member into one who will buy a ticket.

And as playwrights, it’s something we should take a look at as another reason a theatre might want to produce our plays.

Here, let me express my own personal opinion, not that of LAFPI:

I am not a fan of “Clybourne Park” for reasons other than the writing. I think Norris got it wrong. I grew up in Compton, lived through the white flight and thereafter. I just think his history is wrong in Act One. (I’m not the only one: Kwame Kwei-Armah, artistic director at Centerstage – like me – wrote a play IN RESPONSE to “Clybourne Park.”)

“Oh Guru Guru Guru, or why I don’t want to go to yoga class with you” has a terrific first act – funny, heartfelt, a story that felt specific and real. The fact that the writer used the “gimmick” of a lecture was icing on the cake. In my own opinion, the use of several other gimmicks in the next two acts – demonstrating the life in an ashram, audience participation, the surprise of “it’s only a movie!”, the conversation with Julia Roberts – detracted from the strong beginning. And from the play, which tackles a unique experience: growing up in an ashram and how that affects a person’s life.

Would I buy a ticket to a gimmick play? Of course! Would I write one? You bet.

1 Comment

  • By jenniewebb, August 20, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

    I’m game for any gimmick you come up with, Kitty.

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