I don’t watch TV. This is not a higher-than-thou artiste assertion; actually quite the opposite. I have deep-seeded slovenly tendencies and the pretty shiny light box nurtures my inner mouthbreather; it’s better to just avoid TV all together. I DO, however, have a TV. To which a DVD player is connected. In which I play movies and quality, commercial-free, scripted television shows recommended by people I trust. If I’m going to drool and stop blinking for thirty minutes at a stretch, it better be for something really, really good. Which brings me to the following public love-letter to the creators/writers of Slings & Arrows, a bitingly accurate and stunningly hilarious Canadian television show following a loose-cannon director, the gritty rehearsal process, and the bureaucratic hell of arts administration. It is brilliance. Having worked for fifteen years as a performer, five years in arts administration, and a year in a granting organization, this show slays every single aspect…from the fights with Development over corporate sponsor logo placement to the angst of the performing apprentices in the wake of some diva’s breakdown. And yes, in case anyone was wondering, it appears that being a stage manager really is as thankless as it looks – those people should be sainted.
Written by Mark McKinney of The Kids in the Hall, playwright Susan Coyne (who coincidentally plays here one of the best understated comedic roles of all time), and a comedian named Bob Martin, it served as a perfect peek backstage for my non-theater-person mate...finally something that accurately demonstrates what I experience during rehearsals; because really, there are no words that do rehearsals justice. Granted, there are plenty of over-the-top ridiculous elements in the script, but for the most part this is spot-on honest in its portrayal of life backstage. Paul Gross nails the role of the director – an incredibly nuanced performance that had me awed into silence and energized simultaneously. THIS is really, really good television.
And here, compliments of the series of tubes known as internets, are the first ten minutes. Enjoy.