Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Israel Horovitz on the Boston Theater Marathon

Israel Horovitz
For me, the Boston Theater Marathon has become a rite of Spring… trees and flowers blossom, I sneeze 24/7, and I write a 10-minute play for the Boston Theater Marathon.

One would think that a 10-minute play takes 20 minutes to write. In fact, a 10-minute play can take weeks to write. Consider the craftsmanship required to build a small (beautiful) picture-frame: 4 corners, 4 straightaways. Now, consider the craftsmanship required to build a large (beautiful) picture-frame: 4 corners, 4 straightaways. A 10-minute play still requires a story worth telling, character development, character delineation, idiosyncratic dialogue, rising and falling action, a strong clear dramatic event, and a devilishly well-observed lesson in life for its audience.

Kate Snodgrass tells me that I’ve had a play of mine performed in every Boston Theater Marathon since its inception. Is that possible? If anyone knows, Kate knows. From my days as artistic director of Gloucester Stage, I remember how difficult it was to produce 6-10 plays each year. Kate produces 50 plays each year. Okay, sure, they’re short plays … but each play has its own neurotic playwright, its own hungry actors and greedy director, and its own overly ambitious design-scheme (“But, Kate… All I’m asking for is Christmas lights and strolling violins! C’mon, Kate! BU is mega-rich! …”) Consider Kate’s mid-May inbox. If Kate Snodgrass isn’t on the Pope’s list for sainthood, a huge mistake is being made.

I love having my work performed at the Boston Theater Marathon. It brings me home. I learned to write plays while working in Boston theatres. My 1st play ever (“The Comeback”) was produced at Emerson’s College’s old tiny theatre in a Back Bay alleyway. I was House Manager at the Charles Playhouse and Stage Manager at the Bradford Roof Dinner Theater (where I got my Equity card playing Brassett in “Where’s Charley?”) The Boston Theater Marathon keeps me in touch with my Boston roots. I’ve always loved Boston’s size: with a theatre community small enough to get your arms around, and large enough to get its arms around each playwright, actor, director, designer.

In the simplest possible terms, the Boston Theater Marathon is an artistic home for all of us who refuse to pronounce R’s, properly. We can live happily without R's, but without artistic homes, we are truly homeless.