Writing workshop turns brutal in the Award-winner and Pulitzer Prize-finalist Theresa Rebeck’s new comedy “Seminar.” Famed author Leonard uses unorthodox methods to instill in his pupils the importance of true writing. Alliances are made and broken and sex becomes a weapon in manipulating your way to literary fame.
The comedy was praised as the “funniest show on Broadway,” by WOR Radio. Rebeck’s fast paced dialogue creates a few funny moments within the story. It gets repetitious and at times tedious when nearly the entire play is taking place in one of the student’s living room. Leonard walks in, gives the students feedback and then leaves. A new day arrives and the same thing happens, however, during the last few minutes of the play the setting is switched to Leonard’s messy apartment.
“Seminar” stars the Academy Award and Emmy Award-Nominee Jeff Goldblum playing the brutal teacher and successful writer Leonard. Four aspiring young writers paid $5,000 to partake in a four-week writing workshop taught by the famous Leonard. Leonard is a complicated, harsh and clever teacher who is not afraid of telling the students that their work “sucks.” Advice was given to the students and the audience.
“If they weren’t honest in their stories, no one would care about their writing,” preaches Leonard. “Don’t defend yourself, when you defend yourself you’re not listening.” Leonard uses a sexist language by saying “If you are gonna write, be a man about it.”
The story is taking place in Kate’s, played by Aya Cash, nine-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side, New York City. Kate is upset throughout the whole play, having been working on the same story for six years. Leonard tells her he didn’t get through her first sentence. “Re-writing squeezes the guts out of it,” Leonard responds.
After listening to Leonard critiquing Kate’s story, no one wants to be next. The students are frustrated and they don’t feel the $5,000 was worth it, just to have their writing torn to pieces.
Martin played by Greg Keller is broke, evicted from his apartment and moves in with Kate. Leonard calls him a “pussy” and tells him he is a regular Emily Dickenson without the charm, a talented nobody.
Douglas, played by Lucas Near-Verbrugghe, comes from a wealthy family and contacts. Douglas spends most of the time bragging about himself and the people he knows, but when asked about his recent work he talks around it. Leonard responds by saying, “Your work is hollow, kind of like; Hollywood. So you should try your luck there.”
The play also addresses the issue of how to get ahead as a poor unknown writer. According to Leonard, fraud and plagiarism is the way of life in a capitalist culture.
“Seminar” continues their show at Ahmanson Theater in downtown Los Angeles through November 18, Mon-Friday 8 p.m. Sat at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sun at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.