Season Artist Profile: Christopher Liam Moore

CLM in Ghost Light

Christopher Liam Moore and Bill Geisslinger in GHOST LIGHT at Oregon Shakespeare Festival; photo by Jenny Graham.

In the months leading up to the start of our 2013 Main Stage season, I am once again profiling the creative minds behind our productions. The March installment of the Season Artist Profile features Christopher Liam Moore, a frequent guest artist at Oregon Shakespeare Festival who may be familiar to you as the actor who played Jon in Ghost Light at OSF in 2011 and Berkeley Rep in 2012. The noted director makes his Cal Shakes debut this summer when he helms Lady Windermere’s Fan by Oscar Wilde.

What follows is the full transcript of my email interview with Chris. To sign up for our email newsletter, click here.

Stefanie Kalem: What are you working on right now? What projects have you done most recently, or do you have coming up?

Christopher Liam Moore: I am directing two shows at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this season. I am currently in rehearsals for A Streetcar Named Desire, which opens on mid-April. I start rehearsals next week for A Midsummer Night’s Dream which opens in mid-June. This winter, I directed Red Herring by Michael Hollinger at Artists Repin Portland.

Red Herring at Artists Rep

The cast of Moore's 2013 production of RED HERRING at Artists Rep; photo by Owen Carey.

SK: Is this your first time directing Wilde?

CLM: This will be my first time directing Mr. Wilde. I am thrilled and terrified.

SK: What do you like about directing for an outdoor stage?

CLM: I love the scale of it. I love that the stars are the roof. I love the intimacy and claustrophobia of a Victorian drawing room juxtaposed against the expansiveness of the hills and trees.

SK: How do you think working on our stage will be different from working with the OSF one?

CLM: In the Elizabethan Theatre at OSF, there is a massive two-story Tudor facade that is the backdrop for every production. It is a decidedly strong visual presence which can be wonderful and also challenging. I am very much looking forward to having the hills of Orinda lend their magic to Mr. Wilde’s world. I am looking forward to learning the space acoustically as well.

SK: Can you share with us any additional early thoughts on this production of Lady Windermere?

CLM: We have a tremendous cast. I know we will dive deep and create an emotionally fearless production which honors Mr. Wilde’s wit and sharp insight. Our early design meetings have been exciting. There will be some unexpected choices.

SK: Was there a piece of theater you saw when you were younger that made you think, “I want to be a part of this”?

Original production of Streetcar

Elia Kazan's original Broadway production of A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, starring Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter, and Jessica Tandy.

CLM: Yes, I saw Midsummer at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts when I was in high school. I had never seen Shakespeare done with such wide-open imagination.

SK: What inspires you right now? Any particular theater artist, music, film, television, visual art, politics?

CLM: Two people: my husband, Bill Rauch, the artistic director at OSF, for always putting his heart into the work and inspiring me to do the same; and Jon Moscone, for being brave and daring me to be so, too

SK: And lastly, if you could have directed or acted in any production in history, what would it be?

CLM: Right now, I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during the rehearsal process for the original production of Streetcar.

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Belated Notes from the CANDIDA “Meet and Greet” Event

By Publications Manager Stefanie Kalem

Candida art

This has taken me a while to get around to writing, which is really too bad, as the first-rehearsal “Meet and Greet” event, on July 13, for George Bernard Shaw’s Candida was inspiring, enlightening, and just plain hilarious. Ain’t no production like a Jonathan Moscone production: Our fearless leader explained, cajoled, and delved his way deep into this romantic comedy within minutes.
Below are a few observations with which I walked away.

The Play: Moscone finds Candida more complex and dissonant than Mrs. Warren’s Profession in some ways, even though this is classified as one of Shaw’s “Pleasant Plays.” This play, said Moscone, “could be explosive if it was untied; it could be an opera. It should vibrate energy just under the surface of this content world.”

Julie Eccles

Actor Julie Eccles, who portrays Candida.

The title is ironic, Moscone opined, in that the character of Candida rarely gets to speak for herself. Yet both Candida and her husband, Rev. James Morell, are either loved or hated by everyone else in the play. No one is ambivalent about this seemingly perfect pair—everyone is fanatical over them, and all the characters maneuver around the two, positioning themselves to their best advantage. Appropriately, Moscone called the set “a very complex little chessboard.”

Sets: Moscone’s frequent co-conspirator, Annie Smart, has returned. She designed his productions of The Pastures of Heaven, Man and Superman, and An Ideal Husband (as well as the Berkeley Rep and Broadway productions of In the Next Room, or The Vibrator Play) so she knew of whence she spoke when she said that, though Candida is written as a classic Victorian drawing room play, a small handful of people on the Bruns stage can be hard to watch if they’re all staying in one place most of the time. So she and Moscone settle on a “room without walls” for this production, similar in theory to Smart’s 2009 Private Lives set. She opened it up, so the audience can see people coming and going.

Candida set

Set model and photo by Annie Smart.

A major source of inspiration for the Candida set is British interior designer William Morris, who was also an activist. His rooms and houses were what we call Mission or Arts & Crafts in the U.S.—very human, handmade, welcoming, which is parallel to Rev. Morell’s character, how his ideas for Christianity and mankind fit together in a utilitarian way. This room is a working room, too, so it will appear to be a very busy office that, at one point, was a parlor, but now is in service to a very busy, in-demand man.

With no walls to decorate, Moscone and Smart decided on a yellowed, parchment-paper backdrop behind a hand-stained, floral-pattered window, imbuing the whole set with the feel of a photo.

Proserpine Garnett

Miss Proserpine Garnett costume sketch by Anna Oliver. Click for more costume sketches!

Costumes: Costume designer Anna Oliver, who designed Nicholas Nickleby andRestoration Comedy for us, explained the creative team’s decision, early on in the planning process, to move the date of the action forward by a decade. The women’s silhouette in the mid-1890s was very aggressive, she said, with big sleeves, tiny waists, and severe hair. In looking for a softer, more sensual shape—in an effort to to “speak the character, not shout it out”—they landed in the early years of the 20th century.

The costumes of Proserpine Garnett (played by Alexandra Henrikson) are of particular interest, in that being a typist was one of the first non-domestic-service jobs widely held by women. Garnett wears slightly masculine dress, with a slightly silly hat to demonstrate that she’s got her own money to spend.

Candida begins previews Wednesday, August 10; opens Saturday, August 13; and closes Sunday, September 4. Get your tickets now!

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Main Stage 2008 polls-a-poppin’—what’s your favorite??

OK, so, don’t try to deny it: We’re halfway through November already. Some people have finished shopping for holiday gifts, while the rest of us are just starting to feel the guilt of not having started. (Or, if you’re like me, you’re thanking your lucky, lazy stars that you never got around to mailing those birthday presents to the east coast.)

Here at Cal Shakes, we’ve just finished general auditions for the 2009 season. Our esteemed graphic designer has already designed a number of attractive choices for Romeo & Juliet art, and will be working in earnest tomorrow on the show art for Private Lives. Our Spring Classes brochure will go to the printer in the next few weeks, and, perhaps most importantly, I think I saw the receptionist Administrative Project Manager preparing the bowl full of Secret Santa name choices yesterday.

But the 2008 season still looms large over all of this next-season preparation and year-end festivity: The Development department is preparing “Return on Investment” reports for all of our sponsors, filled with impressive numbers and beautiful pictures from the most reason Main Stage productions; and, in fact, this time of year we’re constantly reviewing the photos from all of our 2008 activities—Main Stage plays and Audience Enrichment events, Summer Theater Programs, adult classes, New Works/New Communities workshops, and more—for use in various brochures, web pages, and other marketing materials.

As a result, I find myself in my usual state of mind for this year—much like that phenomenon wherein you can’t discern which childhood memories are legitimately yours, or which have been created by looking at photo albums and home movies, I’m currently so overwhelmed and impressed by the visuals generated by Kevin Berne and Jay Yamada this season that I can’t recall which 2008 Cal Shakes productions and individual performances were my favorites.

Can you? I’m curious as to what Main Stage stuff that folks who read this blog liked best in 2008—not just overall productions but also individual performances, costumes, set and lighting design, even specific moments from Pericles, An Ideal Husband, Uncle Vanya, and Twelfth Night. If you’ve got opinions, please express them in the comments section!

Pictured, from top to bottom: Delia MacDougall and Sarah Nealis in Pericles, as photographed by Kevin Berne; Michael Butler in An Ideal Husband, as photographed by Kevin Berne; Barbara Oliver and Annie Purcell in Uncle Vanya, as photographed by Jay Yamada; Andy Murray and Dan Hiuatt in Twelfth Night, as photographed by Jay Yamada.

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How Ideal was it?

Our recent production of Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, directed by Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone, proved to be the biggest grossing box office in our 35-year history, breaking the previous record held by Moscone’s production of Shaw’s Man and Superman last season. Wilde’s play broke previous revenue records held for gross sales, single tickets, and group sales, and performed to an average 93% capacity during its 24 performance run (July 2-27) at the Bruns Memorial Amphitheater in Orinda.

Directed by Artistic Director Jonathan Moscone, An Ideal Husband was widely hailed by the critics as an “ideal” production. Pat Craig in the Contra Costa Times wrote, “Moscone, who continues to prove himself one of the finest comedy directors going, has polished this jewel of a political and romantic comedy to a high gloss.” Charles Brousse in the Marin Independent Journal commented that, “the production reinforces a growing realization that, in a few short years, this East Bay company has become one of the most exciting, talented and entertaining groups around.” Robert Hurwitt in the San Francisco Chronicle described the production as “crisp, handsome and very funny.” And Chad Jones wrote on sfexaminer.com, “The combination of Wilde and director Jonathan Moscone … is a potent one, and the marriage makes for an ideal Husband.”

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“Everyone’s a Critic,”by Laura Hope

 

Everyone’s a critic:
Wilde, Chekhov and their detractors, otherwise known as “mildew.”

Ah, my dear, gentle reader! I must say, I have been trying to balance a relationship with two very  demanding men this summer, and I am exhausted: Oscar Wilde and Anton Chekhov.

How can they be so demanding when they are both dead? It doesn’t matter, gentle reader, men are men. Dead, alive, or somewhere in between, they are time consuming. Men in the theater are even worse. I dramaturged Oscar’s An Ideal Husband, and now I am dramturging Anton’s Uncle Vanya. Let me assure you, gentle reader, these men were–and are–a handful. They have relentlessly kept me up for many a sleepless night this summer. My grandmother Leadlay (God rest her) used to always say, “Just remember, dear, men get older, but they never grow up. Never.” She usually whispered this to me while my grandfather was in the process of doing something extremely silly, or, more usually, something to attract attention to himself. My grandfather was a natural born actor and the world was his stage. He never met a stranger, and was always “acting out” in ways that won him many fans, and completely wore out my grandmother, who often found his antics a little embarrassing.

Grandma’s wisdom is doubly true of men in the theatrical profession: Many never grow up. Both Oscar and Anton were quite a handful in their day, and working on their plays still keeps you on your toes. I mean, really, just try to imagine the lives of Constance Wilde (Oscar’s wife) or Olga Knipper (Anton’s). Oscar led a double life that eventually ruined not just his own, but also Constance’s. On the other hand, poor, handsome Anton, ever the somewhat emotionally unavailable, constant bachelor, played the field for years leaving many a broken heart. When he finally settled down (predictably with a younger woman), he promptly died four years later from TB after a long, sad goodbye.

Oscar and Anton were contemporaries. Oscar was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1854. Anton was born in Taganrog, Russia in 1860. Oscar died penniless from cerebral meningitis in 1900, in exile in France, living under the name Sebastian Melmoth. Anton died in 1904 in his wife’s arms after downing a glass of champagne and announcing in German to his wife (of German descent) and his doctor (also German), “Ich sterbe” (I am dying). He was at a spa in Badenweiler, Germany at the time, trying to recover from the tuberculosis that killed him. Both men, so close in age, and such colossal geniuses, were like meteors: They flamed brightly and far too briefly across our horizon, but oh, how they shined!

Oscar and Anton never met, which is just as well. I have the sneaking suspicion Chekhov would not have liked Wilde. Chekhov believed in gentlemanly manners and did not approve of acting out in public, and Wilde was always and forever acting out. Wilde was the kind of guy you could party with till the wee hours of the morning, and have a great time. The next day, however, you might be a bit mortified with yourself, and vow not return anymore of his calls–or call him–ever again. He was like the Pied Piper of bad behavior in that way, I think. Chekhov, on the other hand, was the kind of guy you’d fall hopelessly in love with and quietly pine over for years. You’d never dare tell him because even if you did, you’d get no discernible or satisfactory reaction from him. He’d cough (you know, because of the TB), smile sadly, and apologize for your misplaced affection without actually naming what he was apologizing for. Anton could have been a character in Jane Austen’s Persuasion–there’s a lot of pining in that novel. Better still, he could have been one of the tall, handsome, unknowable bachelors in a Gothic novel by a Brontë sister. More than one lady worked herself into an unrequited love melancholia over the tall, beautiful, distant Chekhov. (Personally, I think pining is underrated in our instant-gratification-based society. I like to pine. Anticipation is so much better than reality, anyway. Pining is possibility. Reality is disappointing.)

Sooo, Oscar and Anton were very different men. Yet working on plays by these two all in the same summer has raised some interesting parallels in my mind: about the difficult life of a writer, about the nature of fame and genius, about humor (as both were known for their humorous tales), about dying young, and about the relationship between the artist and the critics.

Unfortunately, not everyone valued Wilde and Chekhov as playwrights in their lifetimes, although we speak of them today in reverent tones. There were no such phrases like “Chekhovian” or “Wildean” in the critical pantheon of pat comparisons with which to skewer younger, less established writers. At the time, they were the less established writers, and they were the ones receiving the skewering. Chekhov would probably be astonished at how he is revered today. He was a humble man, and always the first to point out what he perceived as the failings of his own work. Oscar would not be surprised at his current status at all. Oscar would wonder what the hell took us all so long to recognize his genius.

It is a wonder either man continued writing plays at all when one considers the public beating they took in the press. Let us, gentle reader, peruse a few examples. I will give the names of the odious critics, when available, as they deserve to be derided, albeit posthumously. They should not have been so rude to my Oscar and my Anton. Dramaturgs love their writers, quite passionately. We’ll go to the mat for them. Dramaturgs do not like their writers to take a beating. We take it personally. We hold grudges. We use our pens to get even. Put on your flak jacket, gentle reader, it’s about to get ugly!

When An Ideal Husband opened in 1895, certain English critics lined up to say mean things about Oscar the Irishman and his play. H.G. Wells (yes, the guy who wrote The Time Machine) wrote a review for the Pall Mall Gazette in which he opined,

So much for the play. It is not excellent, indeed, after Lady Windermere’s Fan and The Woman of No Importance, it is decidedly disappointing. But worse have succeeded, and it was at least excellently received. It may be this melodramatic touch, this attempt at commonplace emotions and the falling off in epigram, may be merely a cynical or satirical concession to the public taste…But taking it seriously…the play is unquestionably very poor.

 

Notice that not only does Wells slam the play, he slams the audience for liking it. Interestingly, he did not sign his review. It was published anonymously, which shows he didn’t have the “oysters” to own his opinions. Too bad his time machine wasn’t real; he needed to be beamed away.

A.B. Walkey also had nasty things to say in Speaker: “Mr. Wilde’s play will not help the drama forward a single inch, nor–though that is a comparatively unimportant matter–will it, in the long run, add to Mr. Wilde’s reputation…the fact remains that Mr. Wilde’s work is not only poor and sterile, but essentially vulgar.” Walkey also didn’t use his full name, publishing as A.B.W. I think we can all get a giggle now over Walkey’s entirely anal, uptight prognostications. Nowadays, we all know the name Oscar Wilde, but who gives a cat poo about A.B. Walkey? “Who,” you ask? Exactly, gentle reader. “Who” indeed!

Even William Archer, one of the premier English critics of the day, was a real jerk about Oscar and An Ideal Husband. He wrote that the play, “…does not positively lack good things, but simply suffers from a disproportionate profusion of inferior chatter.” He may have been the premier critic of his day, but only theater historians remember the name William Archer, and we don’t remember it without ambivalence. As a critic, Archer did not positively lack good insights, but his work suffered from a disproportionate profusion of inferior blah-blah-blah. (Yes, I did wear an evil grin as I wrote that last sentence.)

Chekhov also took a beating when he first introduced his plays to the stage. Tales of the disaster that was the opening night of The Seagull in St. Petersburg are the stuff of theatrical legend. Unfortunately, they are true. Audiences and critics alike lined up to hate the play and heap abuse on the author. Chekhov ran home in the middle of opening night. A friend later found him curled in a fetal position in bed where he cried out, “I implore you, no lights! I don’t want to see anybody. I only want to tell you this: let them call me a——– if I ever write for the theater again.” Thankfully, he did.

Poor Chekhov even had to endure negative criticism from his good friend and idol, Tolstoy (yes, the author of War and Peace). Tolstoy read The Seagull and wrote to Chekhov, “It is absolutely worthless: It is written like Ibsen’s drama…You know that I don’t like Shakespeare, but your drama, dear Anton Pavlovich, is even worse than his.” Tolstoy may have been a great novelist, but he was a nut job. Keep in mind that this is the man who also thought that the only way to improve the human soul was to give up carnal desire and quit having sex. He wins a Darwin award for that one. (And he didn’t like Shakespeare? See what I mean? Total wingnut!)

The point is, gentle reader, Oscar and Anton succeeded despite the drama critics. I wonder how many other Chekhovs or Wildes we have lost, who never wrote again due to the snarky opinions of some small-minded cretin with a poison pen and a printing press? As a dramaturg, I’ve seen first-hand the crater left in the soul of more than one extremely talented, emerging playwright after they were napalmed in the press by a critic who thinks every new play should be judged against the masterpieces of a golden oldie like Wilde or Chekhov. They don’t seem to realize that a writer is not born to this stature: One becomes a Wilde or a Chekhov, usually after one is dead, and in spite of what the papers wrote of your plays when they first premiered. Thank heaven Oscar and Anton had enough inner fortitude to keep at it. Imagine all we would have lost if they had taken the criticisms to heart and quit writing. I think I’ll give my beloved Anton the last word here. He once wrote of the critics who initially ranted and raged against The Seagull, “They are not men, but a kind of mildew.”

Till later, gentle reader,

I am ever your,

Dr. Laura, Resident Dramaturg and Shoe Aficionado

P.S. I bought 2 new pairs of shoes at the Macy’s 4th of July sale. They are fabulous.

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Elijah Alexander Spills All About Brangelina, Jon Moscone, and the Tawdry World of Working Actors!!

Gotcha. The first preview for An Ideal Husband is tonight, and opening weekend is just a few lovely stumbling steps away.

So our own Lord Goring, Elijah Alexander, sat down for a great interview with Chad Jones. Read the article on Chad’s Theater Dogs blog (where, yes, there is a bit of chatter about Angelina Jolie) and get a bit more quotage for your cyber buck in his SF Examiner piece.

Stay tuned for more pictures from last night’s dress rehearsal, like the one at right, by Jay Yamada.

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Jonathan Moscone on cows

Courtesy of Jay Yamada, our man on the Ideal Husband tech weekend scene:

Jonathan Moscone on the cows on the hill beyond the stage mooing:“It’s so not An Ideal Husband. It will work with Uncle Vanya. It would work with Pericles. But not with this play.”

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The Stop Motion of Francois Boucher

Below is a 27-second film prepared by myself (Stefanie Kalem) and Cal Shakes’ ever-resourceful designer/webmaster Ilsa Brink using photos taken over the course of last week, while our talented (and also ever-resourceful) scenic charge artists cereated a massive reproduction of a Francois Boucher painting for the set of An Ideal Husband. Below the film are two photos by Jay Yamada, taken of the set in action during the first evening of tech, i.e., last night.

http://www.youtube.com/get_player


And here it is at the beautiful Bruns Amphitheater, helping (to paraphrase Jon Moscone) create four interiors in an outdoor theater.

A similar shot, this time with more of our lovely late-June sky.

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Will Dramaturg for Shoes….

Aside

(This week marks the blog return of both our favorite Intern, Derek Smith–now a full-fledged Cal Shakes employee–and our resident dramaturg Dr. Laura Hope. Derek’s blog will come tomorrow. But for now, it pleases me to no end to welcome back Dr. Laura, blogger extraordinaire. –Stefanie)

I’m back. Yippeee!

Yes, I have returned, gentle reader. Although I have been languishing in a Louisiana swamp for the last ten months, I have returned home to Cal Shakes for some dramaturgical high jinks. After all, nobody wants to stay in New Orleans during the summer anyway: too hot. And who in their right mind wouldn’t want to miss the first two and half months of hurricane season? So, coming to Berkeley/Orinda to dramaturg An Ideal Husband, Uncle Vanya, give Grove Talks, and write the dramaturgy pages in the programs for the season provided the promise of a very lovely escape. It’s good to be home.

It took me four days to drive from New Orleans to Berkeley. I drove through it all: thunder, lightening, pouring rain, hail, three tornado warnings, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and one small-town, Louisiana sheriff with a Napoleon complex and a sneaky-a** speed trap. I hate him. I mean I really, really hate him. A pox upon him, gentle reader.

My car was entirely loaded down with all the necessary items for a summer of dramaturgy fun for Cal Shakes. The inventory goes like this:

Shakespeare’s Collected Works
Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare
Marjorie Garber’s Shakespeare After All
110 other books for research and writing purposes
2 computers
1 printer
2 boxes of paper
10 research notebooks
2 file boxes
4 research journals
3 suitcases of clothes for that unpredictable NorCal weather
4 coats of assorted thickness and length for unpredictable tech week weather at the Bruns
4 scarves
2 pairs of gloves
5 hats
1 hip scarf, veil, and zills (don’t ask)
1 yoga mat
2 sets of sheets
2 sets of towels
2 blankets
5 pillows (I can’t sleep unless my bed looks like a Turkish bordello)
2 boxes of kitchen stuff
1 bag of cleaning supplies (cleanliness truly is next to Godliness)
1 cat (my trusty Tallulah) in her kitty carrier
1 bottle of kitty Valium for the road trip. (Technically, she takes the pills, but let’s face it, they’re really for me.)
3 Cal Shakes nametags
21 shades of lipstick
32 pairs of shoes

That’s right, I said it: 32 pairs of shoes for a 12-week stay in California. And let me tell you, it took forever to narrow it down to 32. I debated. I agonized. I packed and repacked. I couldn’t bring all the shoes, but how to choose the small fraction that would travel with me to dramaturg at Cal Shakes? It was awful. And I may say, since I have been here now for 2 weeks, I dearly miss some of those shoe-friends I left behind in New Orleans. My feet weep for them. How could I have left my pointy-toed, vibrant green, straw-and-faux-gator high heels in New Orleans? Why did I leave behind my strappy, red, patent leather Isaac Mizrahi 4-inch pumps? I REALLY wanted them yesterday, and they weren’t there. What if they are blown away by a storm and I never see them again? How will I go on? It’s too awful to contemplate. I miss them more than the last three men I dated–I don’t miss those guys at all. Pining for my missing shoes for 12 weeks, however, may just kill me.

The rest of the astonishingly huge laundry list aside, why, you may ask, do I need 32 pairs of shoes to dramaturg at Cal Shakes? I maintain that it is entirely necessary.

There are those shockingly ill-informed individuals who say it is an illness–an addiction, if you must put a label on it. If so, I have no intention of getting well. I am the Imelda Marcos of Dramaturgy.

Jon Moscone actually used my shoe obsession as an example in Ideal Husband rehearsals this week. He was explaining to Sarah Nealis how it was possible for her character (Mabel Chiltern) to be in a serious conversation with her handsome boyfriend (Lord Goring, played by Elijah Alexander) and suddenly be completely distracted from him by a diamond brooch on the floor behind a divan. Jon told her, “It’s like our own Laura Hope. She’s one of the most serious people I know. But if she’s talking to you and sees a pair of shoes she likes, forget it. It’s over. She’ll forget all about you and the conversation because it’s all about the shoes. She immediately loses IQ points and it’s instantaneous dumb blonde. So, these things do happen.”

What could I say? I cannot object when it’s true. Jon knows me too well. And he’s not the only one. I looked over, and my dear friend L. Peter Callender was silently laughing so hard into his script that he had tears in his eyes. Elijah was giving me that smirk of his–he just doesn’t get it. Poor man, I pity him. But Peter gets it. He knows about the shoe thing. He’s wise enough never to question me about it, and he doesn’t judge. He also knows it took two hours to unload my car when I got here, probably due to the shoes. Like a good friend should, he accepts my shoes and me just as we are. What are friends for?

Anyway, the example worked. Sarah completely understood the point Jon was making, and the scene is really great. I wonder how many pairs of shoes she has? I mean, she really seemed to understand …

You know who else would understand? Oscar Wilde. He probably wouldn’t want any dramaturg working on one of his plays that needed less than 32 pairs of shoes to get the job done. Oscar was into Aestheticism. He believed in fashion decadence. After all, Aubrey Beardsley was his illustrator. How much more stylish can you get? Oscar was a dandy. He believed that beauty was entirely necessary and as a result, life should imitate art, not the other way around. He loved fashion, and the more outrageous it was, the better. If you read Richard Ellmann’s biography of Oscar Wilde, you will understand what I mean. You don’t even have to read the whole book (though you should, gentle reader), just look at the pictures. Those photos provide a veritable fashion spread of Oscar in all his glory. There he is in all his fashion-fabulousness: in short velvet pants and patent-leather ballet slippers, in a fur coat, in a white linen suit and panama hat worthy of Tennessee Williams’ “Big Daddy,” or in a silk smoking jacket reclining on a divan covered in Persian rugs and bear skins, in a tuxedo, in a Dracula-esque cape, a natty pin-stripe suit and bowler hat, and finally, in drag as Salomé (for his play by the same name), bowing in front of the severed head of John the Baptist while wearing dangly earrings and a long, flowing wig. Oh Oscar, how I love you! Would that we had lived during the same time period. He would have loved my beautiful straw and faux croc, vibrant green, pointy-toed pumps I so foolishly left back in New Orleans. He would not have let me leave the house without them. We would have been soul mates, Oscar and I. We both like pretty men and pretty shoes. We could have gone shoe shopping together! Viva Oscar!

And another thing, Oscar would totally have understood my motto: Will Dramaturg for Shoes.

Till later, gentle reader,
I am ever your,
Dr. Laura, Resident Dramaturg and Shoe Aficionado

 

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