Monday, October 09, 2006

Shakespeare it ain't

I was reading Steve Schalchlin's blog over the weekend and he had a pointer to a YouTube piece featuring a real live native-born Jersey Boy, film director Kevin Smith. Kevin was waxing poetical about life in LaLaLand, scripts in turnaround, spiders in the third act and "taking" meetings with Hollyweird Uber-Producer (and former hairburner), Jon Peters.

Kevin had lots of great one-liners in there including my favorite, "people in Hollywood fail upwards." People on Wall Street do the same thing.

But my favorite part was when he mentioned that Peters insisted that he (Smith) include a "spider" in the third-act of a script that Kevin was going to write for a Superman sequel.

It wasn't the spider that caught my attention, it was the mention of a third act. It's weird, thinking of movies as having "acts." I grew up in the theater. I saw a lot of it and did a lot of it. Even when I did commercials (I was the so-called "talent"), I hated it because there was lots of "hurry up and wait" to shooting things on film. There was a lot of hurry up and wait to shooting stuff on video, too. I just didn't like "shooting." But I loved the theater.

But do movies have acts? They have beginnings, middles and ends. But acts? Nobody gets up and goes to the bathroom while the cast ducks out into the alley for a cigarette during a movie.

But I digress.


Like my life.

Act I of my life was written by somebody else, and starred my mother and grandmother. To say that it was written is probably overstating the case. It was more like a "group improv." In either case, I was merely a supporting player in that act. God, it was a shitty part. I couldn't wait until I starred in my own show.

Then, one day and without noticing it, Act I was over and it's stars were all dead. The problem was that it was 20 years into the second Act and I hadn't noticed that I was now the lead. I was still improvising as though the original stars were still around. I hadn't even taken the time to sit down and write a few lines of my own dialogue. I was still mouthing the same trite, childish lines I had made up years before and which had been so successful then. Now, they just sounded old and hackneyed. My performance faltered. It lacked inspiration. Even I didn't believe me anymore.

Then, one morning, I woke up in jail. And that was the end of Act II and the beginning of Act III.

So far there haven't been any spiders in my third act. But there has been an infusion of freshness in my performance due largely to having acquired a whole new, wonderful, staff of writers. My performance has gotten comically quirky. It's developed a slightly off-center humorous quality, with just a hint of pathos and a healthy dash of humanity. It's gained in breadth and depth. It's lost the brittle bleakness which it had acquired over the years. Despite it's new depth it's also seemed to have acquired a sense of lightness, which people really like.

Suddenly, I'm no longer Lady MacBeth, I'm more like Peg O'Myheart (apologies to Jerry Herman).

They say that in life there are no Second Acts.

I disagree. I think there are as many acts to your life as you can possibly squeeze in.

My life is hardly Shakespearean but I hope and pray to God that at least it's no longer boring. Cause it sure had gotten boring. Like an evening of German opera.

And I think being boring is the worst sin of all.

It's just a waste of talent.


SteveSchalchlin said...

Yes, it's true. Movies have three acts -- most of them, anyway. There's the set-up, the complications and then the resolution where it all threatens to fall apart, but comes together where everyone either dies or lives happily ever after.

Your description of your second act was chilling. Funny, but I never thought to look back to see where my life gets divided into acts. I must ponder this on my blog.

Bev Sykes said...

I'm very glad that I didn't go home after act 2 but stayed for act 3. It's the very best part. Hugs.

JoyZeeBoy said...

Thank you both.

If I've inspired you, Steve, then I've done some good. And I look forward to your self-review (which in 12-Step parlance is "inventory taking").

As for you, ma belle soeur, in a very meaningful way there wouldn't even be an Act III without your love and support during the darkest period of my life. I can never repay that except by living well today and sharing a little of what you gave me with others.