Special guest correspondent Cameron Grey Rose visits the creative team of “Rubble” a great new show debuting at the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival.
Mike Reiss has been writing for the animated series “The SImpsons for 25 years,but these days he’s only goes The Simpson’s Production office in Los Angeles one day a week. And he’s fine with that. Chatting with me at the afterparty celebrating his new play “Rubble” making its debut at NYC Fringe Festival he explained that he is a New Yorker at heart “I fly in on Tuesday night, spend all Wednesday at the production and fly out on the red eye that night. A good week is one where I spend less than 24 hours in LA.”
“Rubble” which is already received good reviews and standing ovations tells the story of Alvin played by Bruce Vilanch. Alvin is a comedy writer slowly aging out of the industry. Having one last chance to save himself, he is pitching an idea to a beautiful and humorless network exec Diane when an earthquake hits, burying Alvin up to his neck in rubble.
Reiss that Rubble is his stand in for LA. “I’ve seen so many movies about people being trapped. Ryan Gosling (actually it was Ryan Reynolds in the film “Buried”) was in a movie where he’s trapped in a coffin. And I thought that’s a good metaphor for a career. Well it should be theater! Let me write about my worst nightmare. I have to go to go back to LA each week for the Simpsons and what if that day is the day of the big earthquake comes? I’d hate that so much cause I hate LA. You’re always sitting in a car.”
But it was the comedy that attracted Vilanch “I read it and I loved it. I did Hairspray for two years and I was looking for something that was really crazy, farcical and funny that I could get in on the ground floor of. And that’s this. And Mike is talented, really crazy funny. 25 years of Simpsons. He has a following; people worship him and know who he is.”
Director James Valletti had directed a reading of “Rubble” at the Barefoot Theater with Richard Kind (recently on Broadway in “The Big Knife”) in February. And Reiss was thrilled with the results. “Mike said the piece is your do what you want to do with it.” Valletti explained “I found that I could really relate to it. Mike lived in LA for a really long time. But he loves New York it’s where he considers his home to be. I lived in LA for 16 – 17 months but I love New York I love theater. And this play explores themes of LA vs New York, TV vs Plays not even in a versus way. It weighs the options of all facets of our industry but with a really really funny hysterical eye towards it. So I totally related. The comedy is so funny. One liners! A few of my friends read it and they said “Oh I thought you wrote this. That’s how we knew it a good fit. “
Presenting at NYC Fringe Festival is truly about one thing though: Love of theater. As Vilanch stated “There’s nothing like being on stage and dealing with an audience. I think it’s the initial fantasy that everyone has in the bathroom mirror. We all perform for ourselves and then you get to branch out and do what you want to do performance. Its all about that connection with an audience. Every performance is unique. When you work on camera you hope the audience gets it when they see. On stage you know immediately.”
And no one ever gets rich doing Theater, Reiss laughed as he related one directive he issued to his agent when it came time to do ‘Rubble’. “ I told him I will do this project for zero dollars. But if necessary I’ll take less.”