It's been four days since we opened our new show, Bite the Bullet. The premiere itself felt a little lack-luster, to be honest. Maybe it's because it's my third opening, or perhaps it is a result of the show opening on a Monday, but whatever the reason, the energy in the air was not exciting, but instead anxious and quiet. Now, as I'm sure you're aware from my last few posts, I was not happy with the direction the show was headed. Some of that sentiment had changed by the time we opened, some of it had not. Be Skeptical, while not entirely similar to my original draft, contained enough of my personal opinion that I was proud to perform it in front of an audience again. And Conservative/Off remains a script that I am surprised at. There are enough pieces in the show that I am excited to be a part of; Matt's conclusion to the show is a brave and elegant choice for a Boom Finale, for example. Date-Frat is also a great and brave piece for the Boom stage.
However, much of the rest of the choices made during this artistic revolution left me feeling numb and disappointed. So far, our reviewers have felt the same. As of today, we've received three reviews, all of them negative. One of the reviewers did single out Skeptical as a highlight of the show, but I don't know the real wording of the piece as the actors/writers have not yet seen any of the print done on Bullet.
There is a bitter part of me that is smugly delighted to receive negative reviews. I know that the producer was doing his best to keep the show headed along a specific course, but my instinct tells me that this vision was dictated by a need to please the papers, as opposed to a clear artistic desire to make a Show. The best show Boom has ever done was about American Politics. I can't shake the feeling that it is uncomfortable to pretend to be Dutch. The producer (and director?) seem to want nothing more than to be accepted as members of the Amsterdam Elite, and to do this, they have to become nederlanders - or so they believe.
I think the only way to make a truly strong statement is to remain true to your own identity, to say the things that come rushing out of your throat, to pay heed to the things which affect you - whether it be environmental or social. For example, a scene about videogames might not be universal, but the way those games affect me, personally, will be something that resonates louder than any newspaper cop-out. Religion may not be "relevant" to the audience, but the desperation with which I attack it will allow the art and comedy to harmonize. The best thing I can do as a comedienne is to give voice to my journey so that others can laugh at it because they identify similar things in themselves. Theo van Gogh doesn't affect me, so the jokes I tell about him will be shallow. Gay Marriage in the states is something I wanted to talk about, but didn't get to in the end. I bet that my opinions on the latter would have been more appealing to any reviewer, despite the fact that Holland is So Over Homosexuality.
The alumni are here, and I've spent some time talking with them about their careers and their struggles, and it sounds like it never changes. Nicole is on MadTV, and her ideas are shat on weekly by the untalented production department. The same is true for Seth at SNL. I want to find a place where I can achieve a balance between no and yes. Somewhere in-between MadTV and Episode 1. Any artist should be happy to get told no once in a while, otherwise you end up with bloated, anti-art like Matrix 2 or The Phantom Menace. But there should also be space to allow a vision to get through intact.
This entry rambles because what I've taken away from Bite the Bullet is so mixed. My fellow actors are so incredible. Every one of them is extraordinary. My director is someone I would love to work with again. But the sum of the process left me hungry to create something truly revolutionary, in a place where reviewers are welcome but never invited. To put up a show that is brave and personal. BtB has elements of this, which is why it remains frustrating.
M.L. King, Spiderman, Paris Hilton, Matt Jones, Osama and Dr. Skeptical all say good-night.