Chuck Mee

I’m writing as a fan. Big Love was the first thing I saw of Mee’s and I remember how much I wanted to be an actor on that stage. The production at BAM (directed by Mee) was a massive, wet, slapstick kiss—a giant heart embrace of contradiction, love, sex, and the messy human body. When I saw Vienna Lusthaus (Revisited) I remember wishing I could dance. When I saw bobrauschenbergamerica I remember thinking “I wish I had written that.” Not because I wanted to BE Chuck Mee – Mee certainly doesn’t project a cult of personality the way other contemporary U.S. playwrights do – Shepherd and Shawn come to mind. In fact, I never feel like I’m seeing a “Mee play” when I’m there – writer’s voice vanishes in the layers of media; he binds with his collaborators. I don’t think play titles, I think Clarke, Landau, Waters, Bond, Euripides, bodies, space, abundance, the United States (also, “America”), refuse, my friend Matt (don’t ask), grace, generosity. I mean, he’s literally giving his plays away here, folks!

Mee happens to be a favorite of university students in theatre studies. I think this is because he embodies a work ethic, intelligence, and sense of artistic freedom and collaboration that many of us experienced in college (at least I did). Upon leaving the institution we were faced with a far crazier reality: three-week rehearsal processes, repertory theatres seeking to develop only plays with small casts, and, frankly, a lot of corny, conventional, commercial crap (like I said, I’m writing as a fan, not a historian). It could be that we fled back to the embrace and paradox of institutional freedom so that we could hang around a little longer with artists like Chuck Mee.   Hang with Chuck on Monday night, May 3 at 6:30 in the MEST for the Edwin Booth award ceremony.

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