Friday, February 01, 2013

Bohemian neighborhoods

In the early 80s I had a wonderful agent at Fifi Oscard repping my plays. She got me a commission from Actors Theatre of Louisville, for example, which I blew. I was abandoning traditional theater for hyperdrama. At any rate, my agent had a business trip in Seattle and flew down to Portland since we had never met.

Our afternoon together, hanging out in Northwest where I lived at a time before gentrification, was an experience I've cherished. She loved the neighborhood ... This is the way Greenwich Village used to be! she kept saying. (A few years later I'd hear the same thing from OyamO, a NY playwright whose work I admired. Stay put, he advised me, you are fortunate to have all this.)

Probably at no time did a traditional career in theater seem more likely to me. My agent was a fan and true believer in my work. It seemed to be just a matter of time.

But even before I divorced traditional theater, something happened that changed everything. All the arts are changing, she wrote me a few years later. Everything is becoming too commercialized ... small gems are losing their home in theater, publishing, galleries ... the reasons I became an agent are disappearing. I'm leaving the business.

She did. And the NW neighborhood lost its bohemian atmosphere. And I became obsessed with hyperdrama. Instead of a playwright in residence at a Portland theater I was in electronic residence with a company in Santiago, developing hyperdrama in a chat room.

Portland's NW bohemian days came to mind as I read about Albee's days in Greenwich Village in the 50s. I can relate.

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