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CURSED “MY ROAD TO HOLLYWOOD”

tales from the fringe

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CURSED “MY ROAD TO HOLLYWOOD” is an Ear Wax Medal Winner

I write this without the least rancor towards Ms. Mendoza.

I don’t know the woman.

I do understand she is something of a figure in the entertainment industry.

So what?

Her position or influence is of no concern to me and meaningless to this appraisal of her one woman show, Cursed: “My Road to Hollywood.”

I sat through it.

It was terrible.

That is a very sad thing for me to have to say, but that is my honest opinion.

What is even sadder is there was really no reason for it to have been a terrible show.

One must imagine, after a long career as a film and television director, that Ms. Mendoza has accumulated a ponderous store of anecdotes, remembrances, insights and observations; however, none of these seem to have found their way into this show.

I understand this is the fourth staging of Cursed; a fact I find rather depressing.

After four prior opportunities to assess and re-work it, this project has no excuse to be encumbered by flaws so basic. With the knowledge of these previous productions the glaring inadequacies of the present staging reflect poorly on her creative team, and sadly, on those friends who undoubtedly attend in “support” of Ms. Mendoza.

The lack of development displayed by the current state of the show points to only three possible conclusions:

Either Ms. Mendoza’s creative team, and those that made up her audience, reframed from expressing their honest opinion of the show out of concern of incurring her displeasure.

That both team and audiences lacked the necessary experience required to identify and determine what in the show had merit and what did not.

Or, what one hopes to be the case, both of these groups hold such fondness for Ms. Mendoza that they were unable to critique her effort truthfully out of concern for the pain it would cause her.

I may be mistaken, and certainly hope that I am, in assuming Ms. Mendoza has not made a point of attending many of the other shows that the 2015 Fringe offers.

If this is indeed the case, as so many solo shows this year have been generated by women, it would be a great shame for Ms. Mendoza to have missed such a golden opportunity to view and compare hers against others.

  • No, Traveler
  • Anna in the Darkness
  • Nell Gwynne
  • I Died…I Came Back…Whatever
  • Tiananmen Annie 

    These are superb shows which anyone stands to learn from.

The failure of Cursed has its source at the most fundamental level – it isn’t a show.

There’s no narrative structure, there’s no journey described.

Ms. Mendoza began as a little Mexican girl living in Detroit, she came to L.A. to work at a record store, went to lots of concerts, became a production intern, met Robin Williams, met President Obama, met her husband, the end.

This isn’t a story it’s a collection of mileage markers.

Ms. Mendoza’s show includes a large number of photos; Photos of herself with famous musicians, photos of herself with famous comedians, photos of herself with “famous” famous people.

In my show, Out My Window I share 248 photos with the audience.

Unless you’ve captured the burning of the Hindenburg or the impact of Oswald’s third shot, there is nothing intrinsically dramatic about a snapshot.

It is the story behind the taking of a particular snapshot where you’ll generally find what is dramatic. Only when enhanced by specificity and connected by details rooted in emotional honesty do you make a ‘snapshot’ dramatic and a story gripping.

Somewhere there is a snapshot of when I met Joseph Campbell.

This ‘snapshot’ is, at best, marginally interesting.

But wait!

The mother of my girl friend at the time was flying in from Asia with her friend Joe. They were scheduled for a two hour layover in LAX. My girl friend wanted me to accompany her to the airport and keep Joe occupied so she could have some time alone with her mother.

I consented to her wishes and we drove to the airport.

Joe turned out to be one of the most engaging and convivial people I have ever encountered. He was also smart, able to talk to anyone, and told really great Irish jokes.

For the next three hours we “played” at LAX, “played” in that wondrous childlike way that is lost to us in adulthood.

When it was time to board their flight Joe handed me his card and invited me to visit him up north.

I put his card in my pocket and we embraced.

It was a week afterward that I actually looked at the card and realized who I had been playing with.

I am not the type who is intimidated by others.

Meeting God would probably intimidate me. Or Shakespeare.

Meeting Joseph Campbell did. That I never followed through on his invitation to visit is one of the three regrets of my life.
Now that “snapshot” is dramatic.

Ms. Mendoza’s snapshots remain snapshots.

There is no genuine story told here, it is merely a recital of isolated events which reduces Ms. Mendoza’s presentation to little more than a dramatic reading of her IMDB page, only without the “dramatic” aspect.

In the end, what I sat through was some forty-five minutes of:

“ME, me, me, me, me, me, me –“ (show photo of me with someone famous).

“ME, me, me, me, me, me, me – “ (show photo of me with that really famous someone).

“ME, me, me, me, me, me, me – .“

She described “steps” to the audience, taken over her career; one “step” after another “step,” until there were a pile of “steps” there on the stage before us.

But she failed to weave these steps into a story. She did not share her “journey” with the audience.

When she was done talking I stood up from my seat and left the theatre.

And the saddest part of it all?

I took nothing away with me.

(NO MORE PERFORMANCES AT THE FRINGE)

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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, Among the Vipers was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist three times in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. After a wild and misspent youth, which lasted well into middle age, Kearney has settled down and is focusing on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. Ernest's stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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