Jonathan Kravetz interviews Jonathan Kravetz and it all ends with a scene from The Deer Hunter

JK: Jonathan, I'm very grateful you're taking the time to talk to our readers.
JK: It's no problem, Jonathan. I'm happy to do it.
JK: Good, then let's get right to it.
JK: Shoot.
JK: Some say you're a genius. How do you respond to that accusation?
JK: Well, first of all, Jonathan, I don't really take it as an accusation.
JK: Oh?
JK: No, I think it's intended as a compliment.
JK: But those calling you that -- they must mean it ironically.
JK: Yes, I agree, they mean it ironically. Still, I choose to take it as a compliment.
JK: That's cheating yourself out of an opportunity to get to know yourself better, isn't it?
JK: Yes.
JK: Fair enough. Then how do you respond to the compliment?
JK: With false modesty. Thus: If you talk to any of my friends, I'm sure they'd be happy to tell you that I'm no genius.
JK: Just the opposite of a genius.
JK: Exactly! So, although it's flattering, I suppose I have to say that I'm just lucky to be doing what I do -- writing plays -- and I'm just lucky that people respond to them.
JK: Are you avoiding the question, then?
JK: Yes.
JK: I thought you would. Let me ask you this: do you really think people are responding to your plays?
JK: I'd say yes, they are. After a performance, frequently people come up to me and pat me on the back and say things like, "I really enjoyed that," or "You're very funny, you should write for cable television."
JK: And you believe these people?
JK: Not really, actually, but I continue writing plays, anyway.
JK: You're a bit of a self-deluding sort, aren't you?
JK: Yes. But I believe a bit of self-delusion is necessary to get through life. If we honestly assessed ourselves every moment of every day, we'd probably jump off the Brooklyn Bridge.
JK: Ha ha!
JK: He he!
JK: What sorts of subjects inspire you?
JK: Hmm, that's a very interesting question.
JK: Thank you.
JK: Well, to begin with, I'm inspired by stories where the author creates his or her own world -- a place that lives in the author's head and only there -- in response to experiences in the real world. Sort of speculative/realistic? But maybe that describes all stories.
JK: Can you give examples?
JK: Sure. I really like the film Brazil.
JK: Oh, yes, of course.
JK: And Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Or a comedy like Groundhog Day. I think the late great Billy Wilder was also something of a master of this sort of thing, though he was much subtler. Films like Double Indemnity, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment -- they take place in a universe that's eerily familiar, but where people talk and behave in a heightened manner. All of these stories explore existential issues in gripping, intriguing ways. At least, to me.
JK: So you're concerned with existence, then?
JK: Yes, I think that's fair to say. Even my comedies. Take Better Lucky Than Smart, for example -- on some simple levels it's about greed.
JK: I love that title, by the way.
JK: Oh, thank you.
JK: No problem.
JK: It's about greed, but it's also about who we are when we simply become striving, dreaming creatures. All the characters in the play strive for -- they desperately desire -- something that they think will make them happy. It's the American dream, if you will -- and they're trapped, ultimately, by their dreams. They can't enjoy what's right in front of them. They can't simply live.
JK: Yes, yes, and it's only the childlike Duke who can see what's going on.
JK: Very perceptive, Jonathan. Yes, Duke, expresses the play's theme in the scene where he talks with young Tyler about the difference between luck and reality.
JK: It's quite captivating.
JK: That was a joke, right, because Tyler is tied up?
JK: Am I trying too hard?
JK: Not at all. I appreciate a good pun as much as the next man.
JK: Anyway, it is a thrilling scene.
JK: Thank you. And I hope it's funny, too.
JK: It's not Seinfeld, but what is?
JK: Is that a rhetorical question?
JK: You can answer it if you'd like.
JK: Well, I love Seinfeld. Many people do. However, I'm deliberately trying to avoid writing sitcoms. I think sitcom-ish writing has become a plague in the playwriting community.
JK: What do you mean?
JK: Simply put, too many writers think they can substitute situational writing for character development. The writing ends up flat and uninteresting.
JK: That does sound bad.
JK: It is.
JK: What else are you working on?
JK: I have a reading of my play, The Beast in My Pants, coming up shortly with Emerging Artists Theater. When I have the details, I'll post them on Facebook, but I do know the reading will be Sunday, October 25th at noon.
JK: Is that really the title?
JK: Yes.
JK: Wow, that might the greatest title in the history of theater...
JK: Well, I don't know about that, but...
JK: I just peed my leg.
JK: You did pee your leg, I feel it trickling into my sock. Jesus, Jonathan.
JK: Well, that's a funny title.
JK: Control yourself!
JK: It's funny!
JK: Oy.
JK: What inspired that play and what's it about?
JK: Well, it's similar to Better Lucky Than Smart, in that it's about people full of unfulfilled desires. In this case, there are six characters and each is trying desperately to learn to love. And failing miserably.
JK: Sounds depressing.
JK: Not at all. It's just human nature. The way we fly at each other in various ways and miss connecting. It's actually quite funny. There's an inane therapist, Doctor Adam Applebaum, who is trying to seduce his patient, Steve, who is in love with his wife and wants to earn her respect, only she loves men who don't respect her. The protagonist, Marlon, is confused by it all and is trying to learn to love Pam, a pretty college student, but she can only love a genius, like Adam Applebaum. Meanwhile, Marlon's mother, Mrs. Rivington, is threatening to kill the therapist -- she's killed five husbands already -- because she's afraid Marlon will blame all his problems on her. Doctor Freud, a puppet that Applebaum talks to, tries to sort it all out, but of course fails.
JK: That sounds horribly sad.
JK: No, really, you'd like it. It's funny.
JK: I'm going to kill myself.
JK: Wait, what?
JK: I'm pointing a gun right now at my head.
JK: Put that down.
JK: I'll do it, don't come any closer.
JK: I said... On no! Jesus! No! Jonathan? Jonathan, speak to me! Jonathan! Jonathan! Jesus! Someone call an ambulance! Hurry! Jonathan!!!

No comments: