Q Report; Dearest Joseph Pulitzer
Dearest Joseph Pulitzer,
I hope this message finds you well. I am writing to you from the future, where you are quite dead. As disco. As a donkey. Who is dead. I was compelled to think about the structures and development of the prizes named for you and thought that a more meaningful and lasting means of collecting my thoughts could be the written word. So, here we are. Just you, me, and the dozen or so robots that frequent my online writing. I guess my main beef is with the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, so we will focus on that.
What an impossible Godsdamned category of writing. As if writing a Pulitzer Prize winning novel was easy? But no, write it as a script, and then see that script is produced (for reals produced on Broadway) and for absolute really reals spending millions of dollars. Also, if you have not spend a quarter of a million dollars on your education, you may as well mail your materials to the nearest incinerator. Let some poor saps in the backwoods get some energy from your trash pile of 6 scripts and a DVD. Why let the interns lampoon it over morning decaf (those squealing piglets)?
First, you must write something that is unimaginably compelling, driven, and entertaining. Then you must pimp that singular piece of art to a producer that is willing to throw untold piles of money at it. Then you must place-make within the process to ensure and/or witness that your written intention is translated to live performance. Then people must go see it. Then all that stuff that you just did either succeeds and everyone gets paid, or it fails miserably, and is taken down. Likely forever. Rights and domain are a nightmare of postmodern collapse. No one knows what they can and cannot write or perform or protect from piracy. Intellectual property theft goes back millennia.
Institutional intellectual piracy goes at least as far back as Rome stealing everything Greek and turning it into something gross and boring. Then Shakespeare took all of the Greek and Roman plays, and changed names and locations slightly, and zazzed up a bunch of historical retelling, and made a long and relatively impoverished career off of stealing all but one of his stories. They call him The Bard, but from a literary standpoint he should be The Thief. I have written more original plays than Shakespeare. Fact. Eat dead dick in hell, Wilbur Shakespal. We’re out here trying to forward the canon and more often than not it is a matter of fighting against you. You boring dead A hole.
Oh, Joseph, after all that nonsense. After the writing, and the producing, and the success, you then must get a member of the Pulitzer Prize board to go see your dumb play. They will not come to see you elsewhere. I have checked. Sweet Jesus Jehovafat, Joe, what are we doing out here? They increased the prize amount recently, did you see that? It was $10,000, and they bumped it up to $15,000 in 2017. I mean what is that? What is that amount? Generous Xmas bonus. That’s the Griswold pool. Who are we giving this prize to? Because I don’t think Lin Manuel Miranda needs the money. He’s sucking rat milk from the Disney teat. I don’t think David Mamet needs that check. He’s doing well swindling the fine arts kids. Does anyone who wins it really need it? After taxes, I don’t think I could get a 2016 Chrysler Town and Country for that prize.
So, why do it at all then? Why waste the $50 application fee every year, just to get ignored by the people collecting? Quixote? Cue Impossible Dream. Die. Maybe it’s something beyond that? Maybe it’s trying to get a dirty thumb into the right eye (turning it a vibrant pink)? Maybe a clarified Jeremiad requires a suitably vile audience? Maybe the desire to bore people in uncomfortable chairs really is the driving force that sustains the universe. Choose your own reason.
I was in this play once, just to the right of your scary prop skull, and we were saying our lines to offend you, and the room started to shake and there was this massive noise, and I thought “This is it. I’m going to get dragged into hell by scary ghost Joseph Pulitzer.” But it was only a train. A well-timed train that didn’t show up any other performance night. You might not have any pull anymore, in the reals world, but also you might have been driving that train? The point is, all I want is a 250 word response by email and/or a score/rank.
“To Whom it May Concern, Your play was a boring train wreck and we all had an awful time reading it. It contained numerous grammatical errors and wildly unconventional formatting. The DVD was poorly produced and the performers were obviously on drugs while not knowing a full 50% of their lines. You should quit writing plays and investigate working underground, perhaps as a coal miner, grave digger, or sewer worker. Please refrain from further submissions. Sincerely, Lin Manuel Miranda, Chairman, The Pulitzer Prize for Drama Board.”
Rank: 1,202 out of 1,203
Why the hubris? Well, there’s a baseline. There’s some feedback I can action, from the source. A dramatist could follow up with that feedback, no matter how hard they may be crying, or how much they longed to suck the sweet taste of chrome from the barrel of a pearl handled revolver in the locked desk drawer. 1,202 out of 1,203 is not 1,203 out of 1,203. Who knows? If I sold a kidney, ate the dog, and forced my children into working I too might be able to get my credit to the point I could go to the Yale School for Drama. Where all the Pulitzer Prize for Drama winners go to masturbate over the students, germinating wide open minds with their brilliant seed. Maybe if college is free, someday? I could work full time while going to school full time while not dying in the process?
Until that day, these crap plays are not writing themselves. I’m glad we could find this time together, Broseph. I really do hope that you are doing well, and not burning in the flames of hell for all those people you killed in the pursuit of global information dominion. I bet these $15,000 checks are going to help you out, if that is the case. When all is said and done, there is but one love, and we all must share it.
Originally published at http://www.gonzotheater.com on May 20, 2019.