The theater people asked me if I had a play and I quickly said yes. I did have a one-act I had nurtured for years. I brought it out and we went into production. This time it was not avant-garde so the café-théâtre people were happy because they thought we might get larger audiences.
My play had two-characters. It was a turgid thing called Killing Time. I am of the opinion that most would-be authors are keen on writing turgid material. They believe, like I did at the time, that such is the direct avenue to hooking up with the muse.
The night before we were to open, the leading lady dropped out. She not only dropped out but she left town. Unthinkable, we thought, but it happened. We were desperate. Trying to find a replacement in one day was impossible. The husband of the young woman playing the other character said he had watched all the rehearsals and could do it in drag if it would save the show. I knew that we would be laughed out of the place if we tried presenting all my turgid thoughts via drag. So, I quickly re-wrote and re-directed it as a camp piece of ersatz high-drama. We opened, got a great review and instead of running for one week as originally planned, we ran for six weeks and made money. A producer of one of the nicest café-théâtres in Paris caught me after a performance one night and asked me if I had a play for him. He had had a cancellation and needed something to fill the spot. The problem was that the production had to open in two weeks. Instead of saying no, I said yes.
I merely went home and started writing another play, a comedy. I wrote it, cast it and rehearsed it all at the same time. We opened on time in two weeks and the play, News From Freida, became so popular that we had to have two different casts in two different venues. From that I went on to found the Paris English Theatre where 8 of my plays had their original productions. I eventually got offered a contract to go to Los Angeles to write a screenplay. My muse in Paris had treated me well. (A detailed accounting of my ten years in Paris and an anthology of the 8 plays of mine presented there are in an available volume entitled PARIS PLAYS.)
In the next bog, Paris meets Hollywood.
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