The Good Doctor by Neil Simon Power PointPresentation Transcript
The Good Doctor
Russia • Largest country in globe (2x size of the USA) • Spreads over 2 continents, Europe and Asia • Stretches over 11 time zones • 1/8th of the earth‘s land surface • World‘s longest boarder, bordering 15 countries • World‘s largest forested region, Taiga • Lake Baykal: world‘s largest freshwater lake and world‘s deepest lake, contains 20% of the world‘s freshwater • About 10% is swampland
In order to get a visual of Russia and its peopleand in order to read an excerpt of nationalideology, watch this video of the RussianNational Anthem with Pictures of Russia andits People– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKyAkdsSnCw &feature=related
―Russia is a riddlewrapped in a mysteryinside an enigma.‖ —Winston Churchill(Reason why I am not going over Russianhistory. View sources on blog.)
Russia‘s Population • One of the world‘s most diverse societies with 160 ethnic groups. • Three-quarters of Russians live in cities. • Majority of population lives West of the Ural Mountains in European Russia. • Two largest cities are the capital Moscow with a 10 million+ population and St. Petersburg with a 4 million+ population. • Roughly 80% of the population is ethnic Russian. The remaining 20% is a mix of other ethnic groups with the Tatars and Ukrainians composing the largest minorities.
5 Main Geographical Areas of Russia:1. Northern European Plain2. Ural Mountains3. Western Siberian Plains4. Central Siberian Plateau5. Kemerovskaya Peninsula
1. Northern European Plain
1. Northern European Plain• Located in the western-most part of Russia, this area is the most inhabited area of Russia, being the most livable, a fertile land of rolling hills.• Located in the humid continental climate region, experiencing four seasons year-round.• In Moscow and St. Petersburg the first snow usually falls in late November and stays until early April.
2. Ural Mountains
2. Ural Mountains•Mountain range dividing Europe and Asia. Dueto millions of years of erosion, the mountains arerelatively low-lying with wide gaps, preventingthe mountains from acting as a natural barrieragainst invasion.•Transgresses climate regions of, moving fromsouth to north, desert, semiarid, humidcontinental, subarctic, and tundra.
3. Western Siberian Plains
3. Western Siberian Plains•Severely harsh winters.•The land is depressed, so the when the snowfrom the harsh winters melts, it continue to sit,creating marshes, swamps, rivers, and lakes.•Located in the humid continental and subarcticclimate region.
4. Central Siberian Plateau
4. Central Siberian Plateau•Very high elevation with some of the harshest livingconditions in the world.•During certain parts of the year, some areas get colderthan Antarctica.•Antarctica is the coldest area on earth year-round, butAntarctica does not get colder than Siberia.•Located in the tundra and subarctic climate region.
5. Kemerovskaya Peninsula
5. Kemerovskaya Peninsula•Lies on the earth‘s largest tectonic plate, on thePacific Ring of Fire of very activevolcanoes, creating over 100 volcanoes on thispeninsula.•Incredibly cold winters.•Climate similar to Alaska.•Located in the subarctic climate region.•Evergreen vegetation, no deciduous vegetation.
The Good Doctor • Title: The Good Doctor • • Playwright: Neil Simon • • First Published: 1974 • • Original Language: English • • Characters: 2 Male; 3 Female • • Genre: Comedy • • Structure: 2 Acts • • Setting: Russia Early 1900s
The Good Doctor• Theatre: Eugene O‘Neil Theatre, NYC, USA• Preview: November 19, 1973• Total Previews: 8• Opening: November 27, 1973• Closing: May 25, 1974• Total Performances: 206 Image of Original Broadway Cast
The Good Doctor 1974 Tony Awards, The Good Doctor • 1974 Tony Award® Best Original Score Nominee • Incidental Music by Reter Link; Additional Lyrics by Neil Simon • 1974 Tony Award® Best Featured Actor in a Play Nominee: René Auberjonois • 1974 Tony Award® Best Featured Actress in a Play Winner: Frances Sternhagen • 1974 Tony Award® Best Lighting Design Nominee: Lighting Design by Tharon Musser
Set Designer Matt Mielke‘sProduction Concept for theWorld of The Good Doctor
Set Designer Matt Mielke‘s ProductionConcept for the World of The Good DoctorThe play occurs inside the Writer‘s head withchaotic ideas popping in and out.Back Wall: Picture Gallery-Each picture represents a story in theWriter‘s mind.-Each picture is of a different time, story,place, people, idea.-Some paintings will be covered in fabric tosuggest future stories.
Director Alan Litsey‘sProduction Concept Visuals for the The Good Doctor
Artist: Mark Kazav•Born in former USSR in 1960.•Kazav and his family left the USSR in the1990‘s as a result of political disorder andwar, migrating to Canada where Kazavbegan to gain artistic recognition.•Kazav ―produces works with bountifultexture as part of a ‗wet-in-wet‘ techniquethat captures the essence of subject ratherthan the intricacies.‖
Director Alan Litsey is using Kazav‘s paintingsas concept visuals for The Good Doctor, statingthat Kazav‘s expressionistic work represents theinner life of the characters, theirpassions, obsessions, playfulness, chaoticnature, vibrancy, quirks, eccentricities, vaudeville comedy, and, even in one, their dark side.
Neil Simon • World‘s most successful playwright. • Prolific output, writing more than fifty plays and screenplays • Has won Tony Awards, Emmys, a Golden Globe and a Pulitzer Prize for his work • Has never won an Academy Award but has been nominated on four occasions for Best Screenplay • Has received more Academy and Tony nominations than any other writer • The only playwright to have four Broadway productions running simultaneously • His plays have been produced in dozens of languages and have been acclaimed successes from Beijing to Moscow
Neil Simon • Born in the Bronx on July 4, 1927 • Full Name: Marvin Neil Simon • Grew up in Manhattan • For a short time attended NYU and the University of Denver
Neil Simon • 1940s he worked as a newspaper editor and then as a radio scriptwriter, learning conciseness. • 1950s wrote for Your Show of Shows, a landmark live television comedy series, working with some of the best comedic writers of the day, including Woody Allen. Simon attributes this collaboration as the experience most influential to his writing. • 1960s began concentrating on writing plays for Broadway.
The Works of Neil SimonPlays Plays• Come Blow Your Horn (1961) • I Ought to Be in Pictures (1980)• Little Me (1962) • Fools (1981)• Barefoot in the Park (1963) • Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983)• The Odd Couple (1965) • Biloxi Blues (1985)• Sweet Charity (1966) • The Female Odd Couple (1986)• The Star-Spangled Girl (1966) • Broadway Bound (1986)• Plaza Suite (1968) • Rumors (1988)• Promises, Promises (1968) • Lost in Yonkers (1991)• The Last of the Red Hot Lovers (1969) • Jake’s Women (1992)• The Gingerbread Lady (1970) • The Goodbye Girl (1993)• The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971) • Laughter in the 23rd Floor (1993)• The Sunshine Boys (1972) • London Suite (1995)• The Good Doctor (1973) • Proposals (1997)• God’s Favorite (1974) • The Dinner Party (2000)• California Suite (1976) • 45 Seconds to Broadway (2001)• They’re Playing Our Song (1979) • Rose’s Dilemma (2003) • Oscar and Felix: A New Look at the Odd Couple (2004)
The Works of Neil SimonScreenplays Screenplays• After the Fox, United Artists (UA), 1966. • Chapter Two (based on his play), Coumbia, 1979.• Barefoot in the Park (based on his • Seems Like Old Times, Columbia, 1980. play), Paramount, 1968. • (With Danny Simon) Only When I Laugh (also• The Odd Couple (based on his known as It Hurts Only When I Laugh; based on his play), Paramount, 1968. play (The Gingerbread Lady), Columbia, 1981.• Sweet Charity, Universal, 1969. • I Ought to Be in Pictures (based on his• The Out-of-Towners, Paramount, 1970. play), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1983.• Plaza Suite (based on his play), Paramount, 1971. • Adapter (with Ed Weinberger and Stan Daniels), The• Star-Spangled Girl (based on his Lonely Guy, Universal, 1984. play), Paramount, 1971. • The Sluggers Wife, Columbia, 1985.• The Heartbreak Kid, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1972. • Brighton Beach Memoirs (based on his• Last of the Red Hot Lovers (based on his play), Universal, 1988. play), Paramount, 1972. • The Marrying Man, Buena Vista, 1991.• The Prisoner of Second Avenue (based on his • Neil Simons "Lost in Yonkers" (based on his play), Warner Bros., 1975. play), Columbia, 1993.• The Sunshine Boys (based on his play), UA, 1975. • The Odd Couple II, 1998.• Murder by Death, Columbia, 1976. • The Out-of-Towners (based on his play), (1970• The Goodbye Girl, Warner Bros., 1977. screenplay) 1998.• California Suite (based on his • The Heartbreak Kid, (1972 screenplay) 2007 play), Columbia, 1978.
The Works of Neil SimonTelevision Series Television Movies• (With Danny Simon) The Phil • Plaza Suite (based on his play), ABC, Silvers Arrow Show, NBC, 1948. 1987.• Your Show of Shows, NBC, 1950- • Neil Simons "Broadway Bound" (based 54. on his play), ABC, 1992. • The Sunshine Boys (based on his play),• The Tallulah Bankhead Show, NBC, Hallmark Entertainment, 1995. 1951. • London Suite (based on his play), 1996.• The Sid Caesar Show (also known • Jakes Women (based on his play), 1996. as Caesars Hour), NBC, 1956-57. • Laughter on the 23rd Floor (based on• Sid Caesar Invites You, ABC, 1958. his play), 2001.• (With Danny Simon and Mel • The Goodbye Girl, (1977 screenplay) Brooks) The Phil Silvers Show (also 2004. known as Sergeant Bilko), CBS, 1958-59.• The Garry Moore Show, CBS, and A Quiet War, 1976.
The Works of Neil SimonTelevision Specials Radio Series• The Trouble with People, NBC, 1972. • The Robert Q Lewis Show, CBS • (with Danny Simon) Goodman Ace,• Writer for:• Love, Life, Liberty, and Lunch, 1976. CBS.• The Sunshine Boys (based on his play), Memoirs 1977.• Barefoot in the Park (based on his play), • Rewrites: A Memoir. Simon & 1982. Schuster. Oct. 7, 1996.• "Big Joe and Kansas," a segment of • The Play Goes On: A Memoir. Simon Happy Endings, 1975. & Schuster. July 1, 1997.• Adapter of Material for:• Best Foot Forward• Dearest Enemy• Connecticut Yankee
Neil Simon‘s Prolificacy• Note the immediate, hyper frequency of Simon‘s prolificacy• Example: – The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971) – The Sunshine Boys (1972) – The Good Doctor (1973)• Usually no more than three years between works being, not written, but produced
Neil Simon‘s Awards and Honors 1956, 1957 • 1968• Emmy Award Nomination for Best Writing in a Variety or Situation Comedy • Sam S. Shubert Foundation Award• The Sid Carson Show •• • 1968• 1959 • Academy Award Nomination and Writers Guild Award for Best Screenplay Based on• Emmy Award Nomination Material from Another Medium• The Phil Silvers Show • The Odd Couple• •• 1963 • 1969• Tony Award Nomination for Best Author of a Musical/ Best Musical Play • Tony Award Nomination for Best Musical• Little Me • Promises, Promises• •• 1964 • 1970• Tony Award Nomination for Best Play • Tony Award nomination for Best Play• Barefoot in the Park • Last of the Red Hot Lovers• •• 1965 • 1972• Tony Award Winner for Best Dramatic Author • Tony Award Nomination for Best Play• The Odd Couple • The Prisoner on Second Avenue• •• 1966 • 1973• Tony Award Nomination for Best Musical • Writers Guild Award and Tony Award Nomination for Best Play• Sweet Charity • The Sunshine Boys• •• 1967 • 1974• Writers Guild Award Nomination for Best Screenplay • Shared Tony Award Nomination for Best Score• Barefoot in the Park • The Good Doctor •• 1967 • 1975• Evening Standard Award • Academy Award Nomination for Best Screenplay Adapted from Other Material • The Sunshine Boys
• 1968 • 1975 • Writers Guild Award• Sam S. Shubert Foundation Award •• • 1977• 1968 • Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Screenplay• Academy Award Nomination and Writers Guild Award for Best • The Goodbye Girl Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium •• The Odd Couple • 1978 • Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay• • The Goodbye Girl• 1969 •• Tony Award Nomination for Best Musical • 1978• Promises, Promises • Academy Award Nomination for Best Screenplay Adapted from Other Material• • California Suite• 1970• Tony Award nomination for Best Play • 1978• Last of the Red Hot Lovers • Tony Award Nomination for Best Play• • Chapter Two •• 1972 • 1979• Tony Award Nomination for Best Play • Tony Award nomination for Best Book of a Musical• The Prisoner on Second Avenue • They’re Playing Our Song• •• 1973 • 1979 • Laurel Award, Writers Guild of America• Writers Guild Award and Tony Award Nomination for Best Play •• The Sunshine Boys • 1981• • Honorary L.H.D. Degree from Hofstra University• 1974 •• Shared Tony Award Nomination for Best Score • 1983 • New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best New Play• The Good Doctor • Brighton Beach Memories• •• 1975 • 1984• Academy Award Nomination for Best Screenplay Adapted from • Honorary D.H.C. Degree from Williams College Other Material •• The Sunshine Boys • 1985 • Tony Award for Best Play• 1975 • Biloxi Blues• Tony Award for Over-All Contributions to the Theatre
• 1987• Tony Award for Best Play• Broadway Bound•• 1989• Lifetime Creative Achievement Award, American Comedy Awards,• George Schlatter Production • Like his canon, note the• 1991•• Pulitzer Prize for Drama Lost in Yonkers immediate, hyper frequency•• 1991 and esteem of Simon‘s• Tony Award for Best Play• Lost in Yonkers accolades, the best in the••• 1991 Drama Desk Award for outstanding new Play business.• Lost in Yonkers•• 1995• Kennedy Center Honoree•• 1996• Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award•• 1996• UCLA Medal•• 1997• William Inge Theater Festival Award for Distinguished Achievement in the American Theater•• 2006• Mark Twain Prize for American Humor
Neil Simon‘s Humor • Simon created humor from the lives and troubles of everyday people. • Of Simon, actor Jack Lemmon said, ―Neil has the ability to write characters — even the leading characters that we‘re supposed to root for — that are absolutely flawed. They have foibles. They have faults. But, they are human beings. They are not all bad or all good; they are people we know.‖
Neil Simon • Paul Reiser said, ―When I was a kid growing up in New York, there were only a few things you could count on with any confidence. You knew the Yankees would be playing in the Bronx; you knew the Daily News would be saying nasty things about Mayor Lindsey; and there was always going to be a Neil Simon play on Broadway. Just always. It was a staple of life.‖
Video Examples of Neil Simon‘s Comedy• Brighton Beach Memoirs – ―Ketchup‖• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XieVHX5 BOU&feature=related• The Prisoner of Second Avenue—―We‘ve been robbed‖• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aU- hlsa72JY&feature=related
Photographs of 19th Century Russia for Visualization
• Empress Alexandra of the Russian Royal Family
Interior of Wealthy Russian Drawing Room
Typical Russian Architectural Design on House Front
House with Carriage
Chekhov Family, 1874From left to right: standing - Ivan, Anton, Nikolay, Aleksandrand MitrofanEgorovich; sitting - Mikhail, Maria,PavelEgorovich, Eugenia Yakovlevna, LudmilaPavlovna and her sonGorgiy.
Chekhov‘s Biography• Born January 17, 1860 in Taganrog, Russia, a small town in Southern Russia.• Family: Father, Mother, three brothers Ivan, Nikolay, Aleksandr, and sister Masha• The son of a former serf, his Father habitually beat his children and his wife.• Anton‘s older brother also beat him.• ―In a letter in 1892, Chekhov described his childhood as ‗suffering.‘• Yet, also wrote, ―My father and mother are the only people in the world of whom I cannot say enough. Their endless love for their children is beyond any praise and outweighs any failings which are the result of a hard life.‖
Chekhov‘s Biography Cont…• His father was an artist who played violin, conducted the church choir, and painted.• Chekhov attributed his and his sibling‘s talent to his father but their common sense and heart from their mother.• All of the children were artistically talented.• Chekhov‘s self-discipline set him apart.
Chekhov‘s Biography Cont…• His father owned a grocery store, which his children, particularly Anton would run.• In 1874 he grocery bankrupted, and the family moved to Moscow.• Age 14, Anton stayed behind, living alone for five years to complete his schooling.• He became breadwinner, tutoring and publishing stories in order to send money to his family who were living hand to mouth in Moscow.
Chekhov‘s Biography Cont… • 1878 Chekhov, age 19, completed school. • 1879 enrolled in Moscow University to study medicine. • Published humorous short stories, writing every spare moment, often starting and finishing a story in one evening • 1882 began writing for one of the leading publishers ofChekhov, 1882 the time.
Chekhov‘s Biography Cont… • 1884 self-diagnosed Tuberculosis, not telling his family, friends, or colleagues • 1884 graduated from Moscow University and began working as a doctor on the outskirts of Moscow • Continued to publish short stories, which he called ―little things‖ • 1886 began, on invitation, to write for one of the most prominent newspapers in St. Petersburg, garnering popular attention for his workChekhov, 1888
Chekhov‘s Biography Cont…• Turning point for Chekhov when he began taking his writing more seriously• Esteemed Russian writer, DemitriGrigorovich, after reading Chekhov‘s short story ―The Huntsman,‖ wrote to Chekhov, ―You have real talent, a talent which places you in the front rank among writers in the new generation.‘ He went on to advise Chekhov to slow down and write less and concentrate on literary quality.‖• Chekhov responded, ―Your letter struck me like a thunder bolt. If I have a gift, then it should be respected, but I confess that up til now, I have shown no respect for it, simply writing my stories for the fun of it, trying not to get too close to feeling that really matter to me, unconsciously attempting to put them to one side.‖
Chekhov‘s Biography Cont… • March 1897, Chekhov underwent a major hemorrhage of the lungs. Doctors diagnosed him with tuberculosis on and ruled a change in his lifestyle • 1898 Chekhov‘s Father died • The last decade of his life he spent in Melikhovo, 50 miles south of Moscow, his Golden Age, when he wrote the majority of his most famous work. • ―As a doctor he looked after nearly 1,000 patients, many of them peasants who he did not charge. He built a school and a road. When the cholera epidemic started, he was in the forefront of the battle againstChekhov, 1897 the disease, not having the chance to even think about his literary activities.‖
Chekhov‘s Biography Cont…His sister, who was immensely devoted to himand served as his assistant in his medicalclinic, remembers him as, ―Chekhov got upvery early, had a cup of coffee, and then settleddown to work. Often he wouldn‘t sit at histable but use the windowsill when he wrote,constantly glancing out across the park. Hedidn‘t eat or sleep very much and wasparticular about everything being neat andtidy.‖
Chekhov‘s Biography Cont… • Chekhov became friends with the most famous Russian writers of the day, including Goncharov, Tolstoy, and Gorky. • Tolstoy stated, ―Chekhov is always sincere. It is thanks to him that a whole new style of playwriting has been born.‖Chekhov and Tolstoy, 1901
Chekhov‘s Biography Cont… • Gorky wrote, ―[Chekhov is] an amazingly nice man, but a very lonely one. Few people really understand him. He has plenty of admirers, but producers unmercifully cut his plays. A lonely man invariably feels like he‘s living in a desert, and those are not just empty words.‖ • Gorky also wrote, ―Anton Chekhov is a man to be remembered, and when you do so, you are reminded of happiness and the reason for living.‖Chekhov and Gorky, 1900
Chekhov‘s Biography Cont… • ―Everyone who came to Melikhovo was fascinated by his hospitality, the friendliness of his home, the conversation sparkling with wit, the sheer exuberance of his personality, his natural grace and self-reserve, and his keen sense of humor‖Chekhov‘s room in Melikhovo
Chekhov‘s Biography Cont… • 1901 marries Olga Knipper, an actress in the Moscow Arts Theatre (MAT) • MAT produces his four revolutionary plays that ushered into theatre a new style of naturalism: The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard. • Olga wrote about him, ―People who didn‘t know him just like him and were desperate to meet him. When I asked them why they had been so keen to see him, they said that just to sit beside him forAnton and Olga, 1901 a few moments made you feel like a new man.‖
Chekhov reading The Seagull to members of the Moscow Arts Theatre, including Stanislavsky and Olga Knipper
Chekhov‘s Biography Cont… • Died July 2, 1904, age 44 • His wife Olga Knipper illustrates his the final moments: ―On the night of July 2, 1904, he woke up unable to breath properly. The doctor told me to give him a glass of champagne. Chekhov took a sip of his drink and said in German, ‗I‘m dying,‘ and he smiled, charmingly, just as he always did and said something about not having had champagne for a long time. Then he finished his drink,Chekhov‘s final photograph, 1904 turned onto his side, and died.‖
Chekhov‘s Writing Philosophy Chekhov developed his concept of the dispassionate, non-judgmental author and outlined his ideas in a letter to his brother Aleksandr: 1. Absence of lengthy verbiage of political-social-economic nature; 2. Total objectivity; 3. Truthful descriptions of persons and objects; 4. Extreme brevity; 5. Audacity and originally; avoid the stereotype; 6. Compassion. This writing style was a complete departure from that of the theatre of his day.
Chekhov on Medicine• ―Medicine is my lawful wife, but literature is my mistress. When one of them bores me, I sleep with the other.‖• ―Doctors are just the same as lawyers; the only difference is that lawyers merely rob you, whereas doctors rob you and kill you too.‖• ―It seems to me that as a doctor I have described the sicknesses of the soul correctly.‖• Critics describe Chekhov‘s writing as possessing a ―bedside manner,‖ a mixture of compassion and necessary distance.
Chekhov on Writing• ―They say all kinds of things about me. Lots of silly things. Above all, I am a man. I love nature and literature. I love pretty women. I hate routine and despotism. To lie in the hay and fish for perch is a much greater satisfaction than good reviews or loud applause.‖• ―You speak of fame, of happiness, an enlightened, interesting life. For me, all those words are like so much jam, which I never eat. Night and day I have only one obsession: I have to write. I have to write. I have to, I have to.‖• ―A writer is not a confectioner, a cosmetic dealer, or an entertainer. He is a man who has signed a contract with his conscious and his sense of duty.‖
Chekhov on Writing Cont…• ―The Novel,‖ he wrote, ―is a lawful wife, but the Stage is a noisy, flashy, and insolent mistress.‖• ―All I wanted was to say honestly to people: ‗Have a look at yourselves and see how bad and dreary your lives are!‘ The important thing is that people should realize that, for when they do, they will most certainly create another and better life for themselves. I will not live to see it, but I know that it will be quite different, quite unlike our present life. And so long as this different life does not exist, I shall go on saying to people again and again: ‗Please, understand that your life is bad and dreary!‘‖• ―It is time for writers to admit that nothing in this world makes sense. Only fools and charlatans think they know and understand everything.‖
Chekhov on Writing Cont…• ―Literature is accepted as an art because it depicts life as it actually is. Its aim is the truth, unconditional and honest….To a chemist there is nothing impure on earth. The writer should be just as objective as the chemist; he should liberate himself from everyday subjectivity and acknowledge that manure piles play a highly respectable role in the landscape and that evil passions are every bit as much a part of life as good ones.‖• ―The more objective you are, the stronger will be the impression you make.‖• ―Sometimes I feel totally discouraged. Whom and what do I write for? My audiences? I don‘t see them and believe in them less than in spirits. They are uneducated, ill-mannered. Even the finest are unscrupulous and insincere with us. Writing for money? I never have any and am so unused to it, that I don‘t miss it. Writing for praise? Praise exasperates me. The Literary Society, students, girls, adored my ―Attack of the Nerves‖. But the description of virgin snow was only noticed by Grigorovich.‖
Chekhov on Writing Cont…"The demand is made that the hero and heroine should bedramatically effective. But after all, in real life people dontspend every minute shooting each other, hanging themselvesand making confessions of love. They dont spend all theirtime saying clever things. Theyre more occupied with eating,drinking, flirting and talking stupidities - and these are thethings which ought to be shown on the stage. A play should bewritten in which people arrive, go away, have dinner, talkabout the weather and play cards. Life must be exactly as it is.And people as they are - not on stilts.... Let everything on thestage be just as complicated, and at the same time just assimple as it is in life. People eat their dinner, just eat theirdinner, and all the time their happiness is being established ortheir lives are being broken up.‖
Chekhov = Cheetah• ―About a month before he died, the desperately ill Chekhov visited Moscow zoo. Chekhov loved animals. Apart from his dachshunds and the livestock on his estate he also had as pets two mongooses and, in Yalta, a tame crane. Conceivably, during that visit to Moscow zoo, Chekhov might have seen a cheetah in its cage. Donald Rayfield, Chekhovs best and definitive biographer, speculates that Chekhovs sexuality was like that of the cheetah. The male cheetah can only mate with a stranger. When the male cheetah mates with a female cheetah familiar to him he is - bizarrely - impotent. Its a fanciful image but one worth contemplating: the dying Chekhov staring at a cheetah in its cage.• Perhaps this explains this rare mans extraordinary life and the view of the human condition that he refined in his incomparable stories. Perhaps it explains his enigmatic, beguiling personality: his convivial aloofness; his love of idleness; his immense generosity; his hard heart. For this artist to avoid impotence only strangers would do; it only worked with strangers. Anton Chekhov was a cheetah.‖
Similarities Between Chekhov and Simon‘s Writing1. Always writing. Two of history‘s most prolific writers. Dedicated and severely self-disciplined. – Chekhov wrote one-act plays, multi-length plays, and hundreds of short stories • Chekhov wrote, ―You speak of fame, of happiness, an enlightened, interesting life. For me, all those words are like so much jam, which I never eat. Night and day I have only one obsession: I have to write. I have to write. I have to, I have to.‖ – Neil Simon…you saw the list. • When Simon told an actor that he was stuck on a play he was writing, the actor asked, ―Whoa what do you mean you‘re stuck? You‘re Neil Simon. Doesn‘t it just come.‖ To which Simon replied, ―No. Everybody thinks that, but no, it doesn‘t just come. It‘s always hard and it‘s never easy.‖
Similarities Continued2. Critics claim they created new styles of theatre. – Tolstoy stated about Chekhov, ―It is thanks to him that a whole new style of playwriting has been born.‖ – Simon‘s three plays The Seagull, Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard are accredited with ushering in a new style of theatre, naturalism. – Simon created American comedy about the common American.3. Audiences claim that each wrote people as they really were. – ―Tolstoy wrote people as they ought to be. Chekhov wrote people as they are.‖ – Richard Dreyfus, actor, claimed, ―He [Neil Simon] gets us right.‖
Similarities Continued4. Wrote comedies of the common person‘s human nature. Also, wrote comedies in troubled times as though saying, ―Life in all its strife and ordinariness is funny. People are funny. Laugh.‖ – Rosey Hay, Professor of Acting at The Ira Brind School of Theatre Arts, stated, ―I believe what Chekhov meant by a comedy was that human behavior is funny of foible and folly and idiocy and ridiculous things that happen. It‘s not exactly a farce with people running in and out, and it‘s very much a comedy in terms of human nature.‖ – Theatre director Michael Blakemore stated, ―I don‘t think it‘s a mistake that he called his plays comedies. The vision was essentially array and amused you of human weakness. The surface of the plays are actually rather bright and animated and energized.‖
Similarities Continued– Steve Martin stated, ―Neil, you have taken the stuff of life— marriage, divorce, love, death—and written about it so hilariously, that it took years for anyone to notice that you captured an entire time in 20th century American life.‖– Simon created humor from the lives and troubles of everyday people. Of Simon, actor Jack Lemmon said, ―Neil has the ability to write characters — even the leading characters that we‘re supposed to root for — that are absolutely flawed. They have foibles. They have faults. But, they are human beings. They are not all bad or all good; they are people we know.‖
Neil Simon Collaborating with Anton ChekhovThe Good Doctor, of course, is not a play at all. Thereare sketches, vaudeville scenes, if you will, written withmy non-consenting collaborator, Anton Chekhov. Notthe Chekhov of The Sea Gull and The Three Sisters, butthe young man who wrote humorous articles for thenewspapers to pay his way through medical school. Itwas a pastiche for me, an enjoyable interlude beforegetting on to bigger things. It was, to digress for amoment, a joyous experience for me. I met my wifedoing this one. Some of the scenes worked; othersdidnt. The marriage, Im glad to say, did.– Neil Simon, Los Angeles, Nov. 7th, 1977 (McGovern, 1979)
A Brief History of Comedy
Commedia Dell‘Arte • Began in Northern Italy in the 15th century. • Improvisational comedy troupes that toured Europe in the 16th and 17th century. • Use of mime • Extremely physical comedy • Wore masks to communicate the archetypal stock characters • DidiHopkins stated, ―When you‘ve got all these characters together big and bold with their desires, their needs, their energies, their shapes, their ways of walking, it‘s like a fireworks display. It‘s an exaggerated mirror of society.‖
Commedia Dell‘Arte• Example of Commedia Dell‘Arte. A Montage of the Yale Repertory Theatre‘s 2010 Production of A Servant of Two Masters. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10JbRd- VxzQ&feature=related
Vaudeville • In America, Vaudeville began in the 1880s. • Popular in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th century. • Live variety show. • Nothing separated audience from performer.
Vaudeville Legacy: Buster Keaton • Buster Keaton ―Nice to Meet You‖ Scene from Spite Marriage – http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=zNY1n3tYjcA &feature=related
Vaudeville Legacy: Charlie Chaplin • Charlie Chaplin ―Table Ballet‖ – http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=xoKbDNY0Zw g
Vaudeville Legacy: Abbott &Costello • Abbot & Costello Perform ―It‘s Payday‖ – Comedy style similar to―The Mistress‖ scene in The Good Doctor [0:28 to end] – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3hI Mv0lklA&feature=related • Abbott & Costello at Their Best [0:40 to 3:06] – Comedy style similar to ―A Quiet War‖ scene in The Good Doctor and to Chekhov‘s One-Act Play ―The Proposal‖ – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9b8o EcFmQD0&feature=related • Abbott & Costello ―Dentist Scene‖ from The Noose Hangs High [2:00 to 3:27] – Comedy style similar to the ―Surgery‖ scene in The Good Doctor – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DD Yz6zID7k&feature=related
Vaudeville Legacy: Leslie Nielsen The Naked Gun • The Naked Gun Excerpts – [Dock Scene 1:26 to 2:29] Comedy style similar to―The Drowned Man‖ scene in The Good Doctor – http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=i91E0BOQxW A&feature=related
Vaudeville Legacy: Seinfeld • With disconnected episodes of life‘s everyday absurdity, Seinfeld represents Vaudeville, Chekhov, and Simon. • Seinfeld―The Soup Nazi‖ – http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=M2lfZg-apSA
For a cornucopia ofmore information, check out The Good Doctor blog: www.thegooddoctoradramaturgy.blogspot.com