Magazine article American Theatre

All in the Timing: Six One-Act Comedies

Magazine article American Theatre

All in the Timing: Six One-Act Comedies

Article excerpt

(No response. She sees the blackboard, reads:) "He. She. It. Arf." (She notices the numbers around the walls, and reads:) "Wen--yu--fre--fal--fynd--iff--heven--waitz." (Noticing the empty chairs, she practices her greeting, as if there were people sitting in them) Hello, my name is Dawn. It's very nice to meet you. How do you do, my name is Dawn. A pleasure to meet you. Hello. My name is Dawn.

The door at left opens and Don appears.

DON: Velcro! [i.e., Welcome!]

DAWN: Excuse me? About the Playwright David Ives was born in Chicago and educated at Northwestern University and Yale School of Drama. Besides the plays included in All in the Timing, he has written, among other things: Lives and Deaths of the Great Harry Houdini (Williamstown Theatre Festival, 1983); Seven Menus and Foreplay, or the Art of the Fugue (Manhattan Punch Line Theatre, 1989 and 1991); Mere Mortals and Long Ago and Far Away (Ensemble Studio Theatre, 1990 and 1993); The Secret Garden (Pennsylvania Opera Theatre, 1991); and Ancient History (Primary Stages, 1989). The Red Address, which premiered at Magic Theatre in San Francisco in 1991, was circulated as part of TCG's Plays in Process series. Ives has written for television and Hollywood, and teaches at New York University.

About the Play The premiere production of All in the Timing opened at Primary Stages in New York City on December 1, 1993, under the direction of Jason McConnell Buzas, and moved to the John Houseman theatre in March. Five of the six one-acts composing All in the Timing had been previously produced: Manhattan Punch Line Theatre first presented Sure Thing; Words, Words, Words; Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread and Variations on the Death of Trotsky; The Philadelphia premiered at the 1992 New Hope Performing Arts Festival in New Hope, Pennsylvania. The Universal Language, which premiered with this production of All in the Timing, will be included in Best American Short Plays: 1993-1994, to be published by Applause Books in September.

No Comparisons

An interview with the playwright by Stephanie Coen

David Ives and I met in a New York restaurant not unlike the cafe where Bill and Betty work out their future in Sure Thing, the first play in this collection. Our conversation initially seemed like a parody of his signature piece; a bell didn't ring, but the 43-year-old author called for the check anytime he wanted to change the subject. Ives has been writing for more than 20 years: plays, screenplays, an opera, fiction and journalism. He describes his early, full-length works as "terrible plays that nobody even knows about anymore," but the short comedies collected here have sent critics to their thesauri for variations on the word hilarious.

When the New Criterion reviewed All in the Timing, the reviewer used words like "Ivesian" and "Ivesland." How would you define Ivesland?

Oh my God. What's your next question?

I'm not equipped to answer that. I've been reading all these reviews and critiques of my work, and being wonderfully enlightened about what these plays are actually about. I thought they were just harmless little skits, and here they are saying "Ivesland" and "Ivesian." For me to consider what these plays are about would probably cripple me irredeemably in trying to write any more of them. You have to write innocently, up to a certain point. What does Ivesland mean to you?

Well, for one thing, the ordinary seems fantastical and the fantastical somehow seems ordinary.

I've never known the difference between those two things. I don't honestly try to be fantastical. I don't honestly try to be anything.

I write these things so that someone will write the sort of play that I'd like to go and see. Too much in theatre to me is literal and boring and unimaginative and untheatrical. My own interest in going to the theatre sort of slackened off when I finally started writing plays that I liked. …

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