Artist to Artist

Yo Philly, No More Safe Bullshit

Never Gonna Be a Barrymore Judge, Chris Munden, John Rosenberg

I was blown away the first time I saw a play by John Rosenberg. He writes plays as if he is a human and his characters are human, and if you’ve seen a lot of new plays or TV or movies, you know why that’s special. I write about theater and meet a lot of theater folk, but despite—or perhaps because of—this I haven’t become friends with many. But John became one of my closest friends and remains so despite moving back to California. We chat on google chat quite a bit, and our conversation often turns to theater. We have strong opinions about this. These are some excerpts from our chats.

– Christopher Munden, curator

Excerpted from gchat conversations between Christopher Munden and John Rosenberg:

Christopher Munden
I just read a play you’d like
John M. Rosenberg
who wrote it?
Christopher Munden
Jean Genet
John M. Rosenberg
who’s that?
Christopher Munden
google and then thank me
John M. Rosenberg
Thank you
this guy seems fantastic
I miss you, my friend
Christopher Munden
I miss you too mang
John M. Rosenberg
how was [REDACTED]’s show
Christopher Munden
It was good.
he’s improved it since the last iteration and there was a good crowd.
John M. Rosenberg
where is improvement?
Christopher Munden
pacing, pauses, visually.
how are things with you? Yael? etc?
John M. Rosenberg
things are good. Yael is doing good.
closed play last weekend, started new one.
what is new with you?
Christopher Munden
I’m moving to Kensington.
John M. Rosenberg
Hoooooooray!

***

Christopher Munden
I saw [REDACTED] and hated it and it’s getting all these good reviews and it hurts my soul and I feel like I need to say something
John M. Rosenberg
i think if it hurts your soul, write an op ed
Christopher Munden
Yeah?
i don’t know what that would do
but i thought about doing it after it closes
i mean, why else have Phindie really?
but it feels like it’d be pissing in the wind
John M. Rosenberg
what did [REDACTED] think of the show?
Christopher Munden
he hasn’t sent review yet
John M. Rosenberg
i mean, sure you can say it is pissing in the wind
but if you say it sucks and everyone is dickriding it then fuck it
have fun and say how you feel
you are never going to be a barrymore judge, take pride in it
this company is just safe bullshit masquerading as cutting edge
if that is independent theater in philly then heeeeeehaw this place can french kiss my dog pussy
Christopher Munden
i’m maybe more upset with the reviewers
do they really think the things they wrote?
it is like they didn’t see the same play
i think a lot of it is just not wanting to call a shit a shit
John M. Rosenberg
why shit on a company run by philly barrymore winners?
they are taking chances producing new work!
Christopher Munden
i am not as down on the company as you, but they deserve to be held to a standard
John M. Rosenberg
this new show got all these reviews
that should tell you something
Christopher Munden
what should it tell me?
John M. Rosenberg
that there is money behind it and people are gonna go to bat for them
Christopher Munden
i go to bat for them
but to me, supporting an artist includes telling them that their shit stinks
i want them to succeed
but by that i don’t mean sell tickets and get good reviews
John M. Rosenberg
yes
yes
yes
it isn’t the work, chris
it is the breeding ground to get bigger shit that isnt real shit
it is well thought out marketable stuff
hollow assed shit
Christopher Munden
[REDACTED] will tear apart a kids play about rainbows if it deserves it, why wouldn’t she criticize this one?
John M. Rosenberg
i have no idea
Christopher Munden
Josh would totally do all that marketing shit and more though, right?
if he thought it would work he would. But he’d do it so he could put up whatever the fuck he wanted.
And it wouldn’t just be workshopped theater 101 garbage.
John M. Rosenberg
the funny thing about joshua mcilvain is he wants to get the pew money and get produced by the theater companies
but he isn’t a hack
Christopher Munden
Josh could write better plays than that while changing diapers.
John M. Rosenberg
and i dont know if josh will ever be invited to center city to do his stuff
but i love he is just banging out his own shit
so i love talking about this because shit will continue to succeed
Christopher Munden
i hope [REDACTED] sends me something real or i am going to have to write something
because otherwise i may as well just close Phindie
i don’t want people to go see theater just to get out the house and to pay actors
John M. Rosenberg
who pays actors?

***

Christopher Munden

John M. Rosenberg
i liked that!
i have never heard it
Christopher Munden
i went to see Ween reunion show in Denver and I’ve been revisiting my love for them since.
John M. Rosenberg
“from a sojourn away from a major market in Montana”:

Thank you for getting back to me. I am always interested in quality work, and my training and background is in theater. New work is also exciting, and having some affiliation with a theater company in Los Angeles is one of my goals. I have been back here (from a sojourn away from a major market in Montana) for just a few months. I looked at your website and some of the press notices and it looks pretty cool. I am confused about the venue though…when you say in ‘an apartment’ you mean an apartment set on a stage in a theater or literally in an apartment? Honestly I am not so sure that even my love of the craft affords me the time to do work that is being performed in an apartment without a legit audience. Coming from regional theater I am well acquainted with the idea of doing theater for no pay, really my experience is that doing theater actually costs an actor money. Could you elaborate on how these performances actually work and to whom they are performed for? Thanks.

fucking actors
Christopher Munden
when you say in ‘an apartment’ you mean an apartment set on a stage in a theater or literally in an apartment?
John M. Rosenberg
what a cunt
they all think they are special out here
Christopher Munden
you should invite him to your “set”

Never Gonna Be a Barrymore Judge, Chris Munden, John Rosenberg

***

John M. Rosenberg
oh dear
Christopher Munden
yeah
John M. Rosenberg
how is you?
how is fringe?
Christopher Munden
Oh it’s alright
Nothing blew me away but a bunch of fairly good stuff
John M. Rosenberg
hooooooooooooray!
are we going to continue conversation about stuff with philly theater or eh?
Christopher Munden
Well, there seems to be a point to Phindie, for me, during the Fringe
In a way there isn’t always at other times
So I’m going to regroup after and see
John M. Rosenberg
right
I think there is a point
Christopher Munden
At fringe or in general?
John M. Rosenberg
in general
John M. Rosenberg
I like the idea of you raising the bar for plays and criticism in philly after fringe
Christopher Munden
My plan is to review a bunch myself
But what if people do lifeless though not terrible shit
John M. Rosenberg
I really think your job is to demand the type of work you like and foster that type of work
Christopher Munden
One word reviews: Lifeless
I can testify that this was a play that was performed
These were the actors:
These people worked on sound and stuff:
John M. Rosenberg
hahahahahahahahahahaha
Christopher Munden
At the end there was applause.
115 minutes with one intermission
Show runs through October 6
John M. Rosenberg
the end
Christopher Munden
Yep

***

John M. Rosenberg
what did you do last night?
Christopher Munden
i went to two dance things
John M. Rosenberg
how were they?
Christopher Munden
Both solos
One was really good
She was charismatically crazy and she collected trash though so I may have been swayed by that
The other was by a someone I know
John M. Rosenberg
it only helps
Christopher Munden
And it was fine
Short

***

John M. Rosenberg
what you doing?
Christopher Munden
i was putting together a theater calendar for October
I’ve decided to pretty much review everything for Phindie myself that month
John M. Rosenberg
HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORAY!
what is coming up that looks bearable?
Christopher Munden
Um. A Philip Ridley play
Radiant Vermin
John M. Rosenberg
i like the title
Christopher Munden
He wrote Mayfly or something like that
look him up, he’s an asshole
John M. Rosenberg
who is putting it on?
Christopher Munden
Inis Nua
He directed a creepy 1990 horror movie The Reflecting Skin
Also, Curio is doing a Conor McPherson adaptation of the Birds
There’s an Exile show that might be okay
Guards at the Taj
PTC is restaging Rizzo
John M. Rosenberg
i like you reviewing for the month
Christopher Munden
I can write a mediocre review as well as anyone else in this town
John M. Rosenberg
hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
time to clean house
time to write a letter to philly theater being like i am worried it is garbage, let’s see what October brings us
Christopher Munden
I am going to publish an edited version of our chats sometime.
John M. Rosenberg
hahahahahahaha, why edited?
Christopher Munden
you’re too antisemitic
John M. Rosenberg
i was hoping you would say not antisemetic enough
Christopher Munden
i was writing with an eye for publication

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