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End Of Scene Blog Entries
SATURDAY, DEC 7, 2013
Ken makes a scene about why he wrote LIFE ON PAPER
FRIDAY, JUN 7, 2013
[EXCERPTED REVIEW] Broadway World makes a scene about Warrior Class at the Alley Theatre.
FRIDAY, JUN 7, 2013
[REVIEW] The Houston Press makes a scene about Warrior Class at the Alley Theatre.
SUNDAY, FEB 3, 2013
Ken makes a scene about an upcoming reading at Ensemble Studio Theatre
FRIDAY, FEB 1, 2013
Ken makes a scene about joining Season Two of House Of Cards
SATURDAY, DEC 8, 2012
Ken makes a scene about a letter from Liz Engelman
THURSDAY, DEC 6, 2012
Ken makes a scene about "Red State Blue State" on This American Life
MONDAY, NOV 5, 2012
Ken makes a scene about a stage adaptation of Warrior Class for the BBC.
TUESDAY, OCT 16, 2012
Ken makes a scene about participating in Baltimore Center Stage's MY AMERICA PROJECT, directed by Hal Hartley
SUNDAY, JUL 29, 2012
Errol Louis makes a scene about Warrior Class on NY1's INSIDE CITY HALL
WEDNESDAY, JUL 25, 2012
Head critic for NYTimes makes a scene about Warrior Class on WQXR's Around Broadway.
TUESDAY, JUL 24, 2012
REVIEW: The Daily News makes a scene about Warrior Class
TUESDAY, JUL 24, 2012
REVIEW: The New York Times makes a scene about Warrior Class.
TUESDAY, JUL 24, 2012
REVIEW: Variety makes a scene about Warrior Class.
TUESDAY, JAN 24, 2012
Ken makes a scene about The Montgomery New's Review of FALLOW at People's Light and Theatre Company.
THURSDAY, JAN 19, 2012
Ken makes a scene about STAGE Magazine's review of FALLOW at People's Light and Theatre Company.
THURSDAY, DEC 1, 2011
Ken makes a scene about a remarkable piece of writing about the American theatre
TUESDAY, NOV 22, 2011
Ken makes a scene about a character's stage transformation
MONDAY, NOV 21, 2011
Ken makes a scene about WARRIOR CLASS online
TUESDAY, SEP 27, 2011
Ken makes a scene about the Asian American Performers Action Committee
MONDAY, SEP 26, 2011
Ken makes a scene about the fast work of SCR's casting department
FRIDAY, SEP 16, 2011
Ken makes a scene about Anne Garcia-Romero's post about LoNyLa
WEDNESDAY, JUL 6, 2011
Ken makes a scene about the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage's $150,000 grant to FALLOW
SUNDAY, JUN 19, 2011
A letter from Kaitlin Hopkins - Head of the Musical Theatre Program at Texas State
TUESDAY, FEB 15, 2011
Ken makes a scene about science plays.
WEDNESDAY, DEC 22, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Intelligence-Slave making the Houston Chronicles Top Theater Shows of 2010 list
TUESDAY, OCT 19, 2010
Ken makes a scene about intra out-group persecution.
WEDNESDAY, OCT 13, 2010
Ken makes a scene about why theater is not a humanity.
WEDNESDAY, OCT 6, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Athol Fugard's criticism about the failure of modern dramatists
MONDAY, JUL 26, 2010
Ken makes a scene about the diverse audience of Queens Theater in the Park
SUNDAY, JUN 6, 2010
Ken makes a scene about the Jewish Herald-Voice's profile of INTELLIGENCE-SLAVE
WEDNESDAY, JUN 2, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Lee Williams's review of Intelligence-Slave in the Houston Press
TUESDAY, JUN 1, 2010
Ken makes a scene about his Intelligence-Slave interview with culturemap.com
SATURDAY, MAY 29, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Everett Evans's review in the Houston Chronicle
TUESDAY, MAY 25, 2010
Ken makes a scene about sharing a collective spirituality in the theater
SUNDAY, MAY 23, 2010
Ken makes a scene about seeing the bird through the feathers
FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010
Ken makes a scene about tech, letting go of the play and making discoveries in production
MONDAY, MAY 17, 2010
Ken makes a scene about INTELLIGENCE-SLAVE in the Houston Press
SUNDAY, MAY 16, 2010
Ken makes a scene about INTELLIGENCE-SLAVE in the Houston Chronicle
THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2010
Ken makes a scene for the Alley Theatre's Mark Bly
WEDNESDAY, APR 21, 2010
Ken makes a scene about being playwright 151 in Adam Szymkowicz's blog.
THURSDAY, APR 8, 2010
Ken makes a scene about changing the name of his play.
THURSDAY, MAR 18, 2010
Ken makes a scene about pundits and why Tom Hanks is "injecting" racism into World War II.
TUESDAY, MAR 16, 2010
Ken makes a scene about writing "winning" dialogue.
MONDAY, MAR 15, 2010
Ken makes a scene about agents and the ecology of show business.
SATURDAY, MAR 13, 2010
Ken makes a scene about the beauty of the theater actor
THURSDAY, DEC 17, 2009
Ken makes a scene about non-English language productions
TUESDAY, NOV 17, 2009
Ken makes a scene about reviewing business books for theater artists
WEDNESDAY, NOV 4, 2009
Ken makes a scene about THE BIG REWRITE!
TUESDAY, OCT 27, 2009
Ken makes a scene about the discovery of an algorithm for happiness (7ZJJBYD9U6PX)
THURSDAY, OCT 22, 2009
Ken makes a scene about Holocaust fiction as a literary genre
TUESDAY, OCT 13, 2009
Ken makes a scene about Asians who don't go to the theater.
MONDAY, OCT 5, 2009
Ken makes a scene about the challenge of bravery in the theater.
MONDAY, SEP 28, 2009
Ken makes a scene about the death of Tragedy and Comedy.
TUESDAY, SEP 22, 2009
Ken makes a scene about Dave Matthews's statement that racism is "everywhere" in America.
WEDNESDAY, SEP 16, 2009
Ken makes a scene about why playwrights need websites.
End of Scene Blog

What does the death of Tragedy and Comedy foretell?
Monday, September 28, 2009
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Some time ago, I went to see a play by a very fine Asian American dramatist. It was a play that talked about contemporary Asian American issues and struggled with many of the conflicts with which many multi-cultural immigrant families contend. I was very moved by this play and left the show feeling rejuvenated and excited. Then, I went out for drinks with some friends who were not Asian and their take on the show was quite different. Under the glare of their well-measured critique, I had to admit that the play was technically flawed and that there were a bunch of loose ends that weren't addressed. But, concurrently, I truly understood that my colleagues were missing nuances about the immigrant experience that were fundamentally important to play.

At this moment, I came to an important realization. I had experienced this play the way enfranchised, affluent, well-educated theater audiences are experiencing much of the work that is being produced right now. I can't begin to tell you the number of times I've walked out of a theater saying, "Why did this prominent theater with a forward thinking mission statement decide to do this particular play about enfranchised, affluent, well-educated people? It's technically flawed and there were a bunch of loose ends that weren't addressed!" But, now I know. These theaters are speaking to their audience. When a person sees a play about himself, certain things fall away. He consumes it with his soul and all those technical critiques can be saved for the people who can't quite go along for the journey.

American Idol, Lonely Girl, Bridezilla, Survivor, Big Brother, Extreme Home Makeover -- it can't be denied that we've acquired a certain appetite for experiencing stories in which we play the central character and this translates to the work we see on stage. But this trend begs an important question: Where does this kind of work fit in the spectrum between Tragedy and Comedy?

A tragedy, following Aristotle's formula is a play about people who are above the audience's social status. A tragedy does not end happily. According to Plutarch, a comedy is a play about people who are below the audience's social status. A comedy ends happily. But, if the audience is seeing a play about itself, with characters that are neither above or below its social standing what is it seeing?

This question becomes important in the context of distance in the theater, and I don't mean the difference between Orchestra seats and Mezzanine seats, but rather political and social distance. Write a classical tragedy about a King and you have a lot of real estate for political discourse. Write a classical comedy in which, as is typical of the form, a low class person and a high class person switch places and you have automatic social critique. But, write a play about yourself and what do you end up with?

The answer is: melodrama, and I don't mean exaggerated over the top theater. I mean a highly digestible form of theater, developed in the 18th-Century in which the emotions of the audience are manipulated with music (melodies). A typical melodrama follows a highly formulaic structure. There is a hero who is unquestionably good. His actions are highlighted with heroic sounding music. There's a villain, who's really, really bad and his actions are highlighted with ominous sounding music. Ultimately, the hero prevails over the villains (HOORAY!) saves the heroine (NICE!) and things, by and large, end well. (Phew!) This structure should feel familiar to you. It's been perfected by Hollywood.

When's the last time you saw a play that had a genuinely tragic ending? When is the last time any of us have seen a true satire that wasn't written by Moliere? I know there are exceptions, but Tragedy and Comedy are BOTH dying. What's the cost?

Well, if we continue to cast ourselves in melodramas, it foretells a society that is really bad at talking about it's leaders and itself. Who among us is good a critiquing himself? A recent psychological study shows that people are not even accurate in determining whether they are extroverted or introverted. If we are constantly demanding and being presented with stories about ourselves in which there is a good guy (us) and a bad guy (them) and the story resolves tidily in ninety minutes, how long until we relent to a president who doesn't want the networks to show coffins coming home from Iraq? How long until, as Paul Krugman suggests, we have a grid-locked Congress in which Richard Nixon would be considered a leftist and our representatives no longer have a forum to speak about what's best for the nation? How long until Nancy Grace, Rachel Maddow, Stephen Colbert, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olberman and John Stewart are the only characters in the universally important drama about politics?

end of scene
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