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Monday, 10.11.04: Being critical

"Just because you are passionate and ambitious doesn't mean you won't be a failure."

I wrote that in July when I was watching mockumentaries and productions like "American Movie." Yesterday we went to a Festival of One Acts to see three of the 7 one-act plays written and produced by local talent. It was an enjoyable way to spend an hour on a Sunday afternoon. But my reaction is mixed.

We watch so many extravagantly produced movies by the best actors and movie-makers around, so sometimes it's refreshing to see imperfect productions by emerging or small-time talent.

The critical part of me leaps to judgment. The first play was written in rhyming couplets and acted by a chubby young woman wearing a shorty robe nearly up to her crotch. How could she? The second play had an interesting twisted "pay-off" but it didn't match the "set-up." The third was back to rhyming couplets -- who would write a play to sound like Dr. Seuss? Oh, maybe they started out writing Dr. Seuss for adults and decided to dramatize it on stage. It's so easy to be a critic.

Some people are cynics, some are coaches. Here were people putting themselves out there, taking a risk with mean-spirited critics, exposing their fat thighs and their meager voices to take a chance at acting. And the writers -- they finished their scripts, damn it, and gave them to the world.

My problem is that I'm suspicious of pleasure. My questions are relentless: will these people be successful, will anyone ever pay them for their work, will they become professionals? It's not like I haven't done things for pure pleasure, but there is always a part of me that asks, so what is going to be the result of this? Everything must have a purpose, maybe only to serve as an entry in this journal.

I'm not a relaxed person.  



American Movie Documentary based in Milwaukee (1999). Produced by Chris Smith and Sarah Price. They follow around would-be filmmaker Mark Borchardt -- pushing thirty without much going for him except his passion for making slasher movies and his longing for the American Dream. He kinda knows what he's doing technically but is pretty much a pothead and drinker from a working class family. Still, he persists.


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