By Patrick Hurley
I set out to write a review of The Geffen Playhouse’s world premiere production of Our Very Own Carlin McCullough, written by Amanda Peet, who is probably known to most from her film and television work as an actress. I grappled with the same questions that accompany most of my theatre experiences in Los Angeles, the largest of these being why. I decided after dozens and dozens of reviews, and years of patronage in the theatre, to voice an honest response about my experience with this play. And that turned into a much bigger exploration. I don’t usually make personal statements when writing on this blog.
That changes today. As this may very well be my last review. Read more
By Patrick Hurley
In today’s fast paced theatrical world, where ninety-minute plays are all the rage, there is something immensely pleasurable in the investment of the three-and-a-half hour slow burn that is Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Eugene O’Neill’s loquacious masterpiece, playing now at the Geffen Playhouse. Read more
As an “Off The Clock” entertainment option, Uploaded by L.R. Gordon connects audiences to Rogue Machine’s edgy “not for primetime” new work. But, after a blazing start, this hit show has now moved into the “prime time” slot.
The writer is a fairly new voice on the LA playwriting scene, with past works that include Birds Do It, Sixty Minutes From LA, and I See (recently produced as a short film). However, if this production is any indication of the playwright’s staying power, there’s no doubt you’ll be seeing something new popping up again soon in LA.
Uploaded takes a tongue in cheek look at today’s late 20/30 something generation, who haven’t quite found their calling.
“In eighty, sometimes humorous, minutes three entitled millennials compare different faiths, assorted drugs and various avenues to making a quick buck. It’s a play that comments on just about every organized religion on the planet and yet it’s not about religion at all. It’s just all American greed, with some lust on the side, that’s driving this mischievous ride, says director Mark L. Taylor.
L.R. Gordon shares some thoughts about how this all came about.
Patrick: Are you being purposely stealthy by only using your initials, or may I call you by your first name?
L.R.: One of the best aspects of being a writer is getting to have a pen name. I know it’s contrarian in this age of social/media google-mania, but I like the idea of focusing on the writing itself. Do you think they call A.R. Gurney A. R.? I kinda like L.R.
Patrick: “Uploaded” is a fun and quirky play. Yet, it seems to have something important to say about fanaticism. Is that what you set out to write about?
L.R.: I wanted to write about guys in their early thirties in Los Angeles. The problem with season-less L.A. is that you don’t notice the years passing. Before you know it, your twenties are gone – endless summer – but you’re still getting older. I wanted to put this guy’s back to the wall and see what happened. In my twisted mind, as Daniel says, he goes “balls out.” He’s going to go from being nothing to king of the mountain in 24 hours. The crazy thing is that it works – using a super-sized ego, help from pharmaceuticals and an ability to spin gold out of total bullshit. If it’s about fanaticism at all, it’s the fanaticism of the American Dream which has morphed into “I can be anything I want to be, I just have to will it so.” Hyper-individualism is the religion of the day.
L.R.: I’m not sure why, but people keep asking me how long it took me to write this. I never know how to answer that. Basically I think about an idea for a long, long time when I’m not actually writing, when I’m hiking or whatever, and then I write it pretty fast. The most important thing that I do is give myself a deadline because I have no discipline. For “Uploaded,” I told myself it had to be finished by December 31st (last year) and it was. Basically, I use any excuse for not sitting down at the computer to write. Any stupid errand, chore, to avoid the blinking curser will do.
Patrick: How did you find a director for your project, or did he find you?
L.R.: Mark L. Taylor is a fantastic director. “Uploaded” was submitted to Rogue Machine and Jen Pollono, director of the Off-the-Clock series, organized a reading and they decided to do it. John Flynn (Artistic Director) called me and said they had a director for it, so I just lucked out. Mark and I work really well together. But truly, I think Mark works well with everyone. Besides being a great director, he’s a great human being whose favorite word is “collaboration.” And we all know that theater is a collaborative art. As he kept saying, “a good idea is a good idea, no matter where it comes from.”
Patrick: To what extent were you involved in the casting process, and do you think that the playwright should have veto power over that decision?
L.R.: I was there for the casting process and, yes, the writer should have veto power BUT, as every director knows, it’s the most critical moment in the production. Best to hash it out between the artistic director, the director and the writer, which is what we did. We absolutely hit the motherlode with our three actors, Jeff Lorch, Erik Odom and Suzanne Quast.
Patrick: How did you get involved with Rogue Machine?
L.R.: I was a member of the Writers Group at Pacific Resident Theatre for many years. Fortunately, the theater community is close. Anne Bronston, a member of Rogue, who had seen another play of mine, “Birds Do It,” was willing to read it and to pass it along.
Patrick: What are you working on next…and beyond?
L.R.: I have a screenplay version of “Uploaded” I’m working on, a web series I’m developing (who isn’t?) and another play. For some reason, the casts in my plays keep getting smaller. “Birds Do It” had eight and Uploaded” is a three-hander. The new play is a two-hander. We’ll see what I come up with while hiking up the Los Leones trail. — Thank you, Patrick!
Playwright: L.R. Gordon
Director: Mark L. Taylor
Producers: John Perrin Flynn, Jennifer Pollono
Associate Producer: Amanda Mauer
UPLOADED runs at 5:00PM on Dec 6, 8:00PM on Wed, Dec 10, 5:00PM on Dec 13, and 8:00PM on December 15th. Check website for extension schedule. Rogue Machine is located at 5041 Pico Blvd., LA, CA 90019. Tickets are $20. Reservations: 855-585-5185 or at www.roguemachinetheatre.com