Last week I had the chance to see Clark Gable Slept Here written by Michael McKeever and directed by Bryan Fonseca at The Phoenix Theatre. Aside from the amazing acting (as to be expected), I was very happy to have several interesting topics emerge.
1. Does it really matter if someone enormously famous is gay?
Without giving away too much of the plot, there is someone who is famous that is gay, and according to everyone around him, the news that he is gay would totally ruin the careers of everyone involved. Is that really true? Do we as a society really care so much about the gender of who a person loves, sleeps with, etc. that it would ruin their acting career (let alone the careers of those closest to them)? Why?
Along with that, Raven-Symoné was in the news this week after appearing on Oprah saying that she rejects the notion of labels, especially related to her sexuality. This TIME article sums it up pretty well. She’s got a point that speaks closely to the plot of the play: sexuality shouldn’t define a person or their career.
2. A play can have both English and Spanish in it while still flowing well.
I don’t speak Spanish (though I am learning), and I can almost guarantee you that most of the 35 other people in the audience that night didn’t speak it either. Not being a speaker of the language myself, I can’t attest to the quality of the Spanish (check out this article about Spanglish in television). The actors playing the Spanish speakers did an excellent job, and I would hope it’s because the Spanish dialogue was well-written.
With that said, there isn’t enough Spanish to make the show understandable for Spanish-only speakers, though there’s enough English to make it suitable for English-only speakers. However, it’s a play being performed in a place where there are mainly English speakers; it doesn’t have to cater to Spanish-only speakers, but it would be neat if it did.
I don’t know much about Spanish-language theatre, but I plan on looking into it. Regardless, I’m happy there was a lot of Spanish. It tells the English speakers in the audience that there is more than just English in the world and to not be scared of other languages appearing in theatre. Good plays challenge us to think, and I think that having a bilingual play challenges the audience to learn more about another language and culture.
I hope I’m able to see more bilingual plays, and I hope the dialogue is done well.
3. There’s a lot we might not know about the world of Hollywood.
It should come as no surprise that what comes out of Hollywood influences the way we think and do things. From advertising to the TV shows and movies we watch, we are being fed ideas (good and bad). However, as it’s said in the play, the people behind the scenes create the legacies of the people on the screen. It hints that there’s a lot that goes on that we mere mortals never see. They make these people into supposed super-beings. They aren’t humans who make mistakes (though they really are and we all know it). To the audience, they appear to be perfect beings, and that is the image that is crafted for us by Hollywood.
The real question here is what are the motivations of people in Hollywood? Why can’t celebrities be normal humans with a very public career? What are they hiding from us about celebrities and why? Is it a privacy thing, a money thing, both, or something different all together?
I’m not saying I want to know every detail about their lives (nor do I have a right to know), but why do actors need PR managers? Can’t they just be themselves without someone micromanaging every detail of their lives? I don’t know. I’d like to know more about what goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood and why certain things are the way they are…
Back to the play, Clark Gable Slept Here was a very interesting eighty minutes. Though it wasn’t the greatest comedy in the world, it brought up a lot of interesting topics that still need to be investigated further.
That’s the great thing about theatre. It asks questions. It makes the audience think. It questions our beliefs without us being totally aware of it. Michael McKeever does a great job of challenging us without making it overly obvious.
That’s good theatre.