This review & interview originally appears here: http://www.guyvestal.com/home/2014/09/game-of-life-by-mary-cote-a-review-author-interview/ as well as at Amazon...
Those that know me know of my love of the Theatre, so I could not help myself but to purchase this play and another, and spend some time immersing myself. I had communicated with the publishing house about the possibility of an author interview, because I am hoping to get Goodreads, as well as other book bloggers interested in the value of the stage play, and its place in a civilized society, academia, and entertainment itself.
Let me first be clear before we start. If you are an unyielding feminist, a Judeo-Christian, or Islamic zealot/extremist, then you will by no means find this play entertaining, let alone humorous.
The Game of Life is a play in two acts that stars 3 spiritual icons, their four assistants, the earth religion representation of Mother Nature, and a biographer.
The spiritual icons involved are:
-God - A liquor drinking, sexually overactive, sometimes excitable, irreverent, female representation of the Judeo-Christian Deity.
-Allah - A Martini drinking & cigar smoking player, a smooth as silk Aladdin. The representation of the Islamic Deity.
-Buddha - A beer drinking, snack food guzzling, well liked, and quite Casanova looking. Far from the spiritual vision of enlightenment.
-Mother Nature - A worrisome, unstable, stereotypical woman from the male POV, that babysits the overall creation in chaos. The representation of the earth religions.
They sit around a table playing a board game known as "The Game of Life". Throughout the play, they are shaking and throwing dice, moving their game pieces, and commenting on the spaces for which they land, all the while discussing various topics that include historical spiritual references, everyday human life, and hidden interpretations of social commentary. All taking place with their busy assistants fulfilling their whims, among tiki bars, tents, and military barracks type backgrounds.
The creation of the world, fruits and vegetables, natural disasters, sex and excess, and various other things that relate to the human condition make the game players a hoot to read, let alone the possibility to see performed on stage.
The majority of the dialogue is centered around both the daily life activities of the creation, and their adding to the thoughts and commands of the deities, as well as reading between the lines, and interjecting their own failed interpretations of the will of those they worship, causing the confusion and conflict the players of the game are embroiled in at the table.
All of this is tied together by the random interjections of their biographer named Seuss, and rightly so. His ramblings sound as if coming straight from the adult versions of the children's books, feeding off of the dialogue at the game table, such as...
"Whores in stores, whores galore, whores with scores and bottoms sore, whores you meet on the street, I met my whore on Muggwump Street."
This work is complete, it contains a detailed outline of the cast, dialogue with stage positions and notes for direction, a costume plot, property plot, stage furnishings, sound effects, and a stage diagram. This all inclusive book can be used effectively with all actors, stage hands, director and producer.
It is a work that would do best in a liberal arts setting, such as a drama department for a community college, or a university setting as a production for students and the surrounding community. If directed properly (which I would give anything to direct, this is a director's dream for running wild with!), and the actors allowed to ad lib a bit, it could be stretched into a comfortable evening performance at a university. As is... Being shorter than average in a typical two act script, it might just be a nice afternoon matinée on a community college Saturday.
I would be a little reluctant to see this in a community theatre setting. It does not have a wide enough appeal to be given the possibility of a warm reception, let alone a long enough run, to make it even worth producing.
This playwright has a sharp mind, and the ability to visualize the stage, and the needed actions and interactions required to make for a good small production, as well as transmitting those thoughts/ideas to ink and paper. I would highly recommend that anyone interested in seeing the working of a play from the ground up, buy this work, give it a read, and after a few re-reads, you will better understand what goes on, and the foundations of what it takes for a stage production to get from script, to cheers and jeers in the local newspaper.
(The review was written prior to the interview, and was the impetus for the questions submitted to the playwright.)
Interview with playwright: Mary Cote:
Question: Are you a theist, or a non-theist, and how did that play a part?
MC: "Well, let’s jump into the deep end. I’m a theist, raised Catholic, but consider myself to be more Gnostic (probably if I walked into a Catholic Church right now, there would be a lightning bolt shower). Obviously some of my personal beefs regarding organized religion and religious dogma play a significant role in the play."
Question: Why this play?
MC: "Frustration perhaps. Dismay. Disgust. Perhaps a bit of fear. I think that everyone should learn about all religions because that would go a long way to stopping a lot of the hatred that exists. I think that religion should be a personal choice, but that it should not be a convenient tool on the shelf of our lives. The incongruity in society with what they preach and what they do is staggering, and not just a little ironic. I hate that religion is used to propagate fear and that it is used to manipulate. I hate that God, whatever God you’re talking about, has been lost in the dogma. We’re told daily by preachers, politicians, etc what God wants. I picked up the ball from them and took it to extremes. God should be something more than someone you thank for making a touchdown, or that you should espouse while making a speech, yet that you totally ignore when you see a hungry person on the street, or who becomes invisible as you bully your way up a corporate ladder. It’s convenient to blame Him for the bad and praise Him for materialistic gains. Organized religion has been responsible for a LOT of hurt throughout the history of man. Wars have been through, battles waged... we have terrorists on every corner of the world, extremists who use their holy books in their attempt to mold the world into their own personal image, all in the name of religion. The Christian right is as scary as the rest of them, and we’re seeing more of it, so perhaps this was my cry to get people at least talking about it. It also doesn't hurt to have a religious edict issued against you when you’re trying to sell books."
Question: What is your response to those that will be offended over the content?
MC: "I would tell them that if they are comfortable with their relationship with their God, then they have no reason to feel threatened by my relationship with their God. The intent is to make us examine our own relationship with whatever deity we choose to embrace, but that we should do so honestly. The intent is to make us discuss religion and spirituality, why there is a difference between the two, and that while we see something we think ridiculous in one religion, they might see something we do in ours the same way. The way religion is used today is offensive; I just took it to the extreme. I suppose I could have had George Burns leap out of a cake somewhere along the way, to make people more comfortable. Why is it okay to assume that God could be an old man with a cigar and coke-bottle glasses, but not a strong woman? Mostly, if they can prove that any of the portrayals are wrong – scientifically prove it – I will gladly retract my position."
Question: Describe Mary Cote utilizing 7 nouns, 7 adverbs, and 7 adjectives within the description.
MC: "Oye. I profoundly dislike adverbs in descriptions – they tell. I would rather show, but that’s for another day. Mary is painfully shy, slightly conflicted, mildly obsessed, occasionally sarcastic, mischievously provocative, always questioning, never confident. She is needy, grumpy, anal-retentive, precise, irreverent, patient (when necessary) and hopes that to some degree she is humorous."
Question: Tell us who you would want to see into the role of each cast member, in the hopes of giving us the best representation of your work.
MC: "I have actually two dream casts – one British and one American. How sad is that! In the British version, I see Dawn French as God, Helen Mirren as Mother Nature, Alan Rickman as Allah, Gerard Butler as Roach, Anthony Hopkins as Buddha, maybe John Cleese as Seuss. On this side of the ocean, it’s David Hyde Pierce as Buddha, Bebe Neuwirth or Kathy Bates as God, Carol Burnett as Mother Nature, Channing Tatum as Royce, either Christopher Walken or Daniel Day Lewis as Allah."
Question: What venue do you see this work getting the best reception in? Example; community theatre, college/university, etc.
MC: "I think because of the nature of the content, it is probably not community theater fodder. I suspect it would be most likely seen in a college or university."
Question: Improv time... Pick one cast member to give the readers here the parting shot, before I say Thank You and Goodbye.
MC: "I told them to start taking care of the earth. I told them, but would they listen? Noooo. They continued to dig and frack and blow up and destroy. They fight and war and hoard money... like money is going to feed them when they've ruined everything else. I keep sending them warnings. I give them hurricanes and blizzards, but do they pay attention? Noooo, they just don’t care, and when it all goes down the crapper, you know who they’ll blame? You know! Of course you know! Just like they say You created the earthquakes because women exposed some cleavage, they will say that it’s your fault that you let this other mess happen. Oye!"
CCC: Thank You, Good Luck...
Interested in the Playwright?
Facebook link -- https://www.facebook.com/MaryCoteAuthorPage
Publisher's link -- http://www.writersamuseme.com/gameoflife.htm
Author's link -- http://www.marycotewalkden.com