Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Distant Memories of "Perversity"

By Russ Bickerstaff
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As I write this, I am waiting for Michael A. Weber to show-up. I’ll be interviewing him for a preview column on Alchemist's upcoming production of Sexual Perversity in Chicago. He’s directing the show. The play was, of course, written by legendary contemporary playwright David Mamet.

My  history with the play goes back to Junior High School. Around that time, I recall my father telling me that he had done his master’s thesis on the original production of Mamet’s American Buffalo . . . and had ended up actually meeting the playwright some time later. The stories of semi-celebrities my father had worked with (the list includes, George Wendt, Joe Mantegna, The Flying Karamazov Brothers and the late Spalding Gray) had fascinated me as a kid. Unlike so many others Dad talked about, I could actually get in touch with Mamet. I went to the library and promptly read scripts like Oleanna, Edmond and American Buffalo. There were only isolated copies of these at the local public library, so I didn’t get to them right away. The first Mamet script I read ended up being Sexual Perversity in Chicago. I read the script in Junior High School . . . and was fascinated. It was a story about intimate physical and romantic relationships between people in their mid-twenties in very adult language from a different era—one that existed just before I was born. Years pass and a local theatre is doing a production of the play. My mid-twenties are nearly a decade behind me. I mention to my wife that I’d read the script in Junior High School and only when she reacts does it occur to me that Sexula Perversity in Chicago wasn’t exactly normal reading material for a kid in Junior High School . . . but it’s been years since I’ve read the script and my own mid-twenties have come and gone. It’ll be odd seeing the show having lived through that era of my life twenty years later—in the late ‘90’s, which are now nearly a decade into the past . . .

Alchemist Theatre’s Production of SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN CHICAGO runs July 9th – 25th. My preview of the show will appear in the July 2nd issue of the Shepherd-Express.

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