Saturday, April 15, 2017

Play a Day: This Is How You Got Me Naked, Revisited

Graphic: Tim Peters
When I chose to read Catherine Weingarten's play This Is How You Got Me Naked last Sunday morning, I was unaware that this script was her MFA thesis at Ohio University, nor did I know the annual Seabury Quinn Jr. Playwrights' Festival was this weekend and that this play was one of the featured productions, but I did know I was heading to Athens for the holiday weekend and that meant there was a good chance I could actually see one of the new plays I have read as part of my month of play reading performed on stage!

This is so totally why I am doing this.

However, walking through Uptown Athens at night, on a beautiful spring night, when class is in session, by myself, is a very weird thing for me to be doing. Each corner is crammed with memories, but they are ancient memories and I am very aware that I am a very middle-aged man, with a very white beard.

Don't make eye contact with the coeds ... don't make eye contact with the coeds ...

I had a fast pint at Jackie O's before the performance, sitting at the bar, not making eye contact, free-writing into my notebook. I came up with a brief dialogue about how I used to get hit on my older men when I would bring a small sketchbook to a bar and draw cartoons. It's like, I have this so I don't have to talk to people, and yet it makes people want to talk to me.

No one tried to hit on me at Jackie O's.

Balm In Gilead (1989)
It was exciting to return to the Forum Theatre. Most of my undergraduate work took place on that stage. The playwright held a seat for me right in front of the vom, and I could picture myself slouching in there during Balm In Gilead, smoking actual cigarettes.

The performance of Naked was just hysterical, it's one thing to read funny and another to play funny. Bonus, the characters are played by actors the correct age, you have to wonder with future productions how often the actors will be a tad too old, like the nearly-thirty teenagers in all those 80s sex comedies.

Bonus, too: There was a post-show discussion featuring O.U. sociology professor Dr. Thomas Vander Ven, whose works include The Morning After: The Definition and Management of Post-Intoxication Illness in a University Student Sample and Getting Drunk and Hooking Up: An Exploratory Study of the Relationship Between Alcohol Intoxication and Casual Coupling in a University Sample.

His comments were illuminating, he spent years skulking college parties, doing anthropological footwork, and much like myself he was hyper-aware of being the old guy with a notepad. But he came away with fascinating insights on the positive, social benefits of the collegiate hookup.

We know the bad things, and they are bad (when did blacking out become a badge of honor?) but for many young adults, the party is where many have their first opportunity to display basic adult competence, what he calls "drunk support."

Remarkably, put into a large social context, Catherine's play took on greater significance, especially the character of Jackie (played here by Kristin Yates and totally endearing) who navigates the annual "Dress To Get Laid" party with skill, bravery, resourcefulness, and after all, success.

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