Today is Pullitzer Prize and Tony Award winning playwright Michael Cristofer's birthday (b. Jan 22, 1945) and we're celebrating by making him our playwright of the day.
Cristofer is a writer, director, actor (I'm not sure which order he prefers) for film and theatre. You may know him for his recent recurring performance on the popular television series Smash. If you don't know him, however, please don't google "Smash" to find out. Please, instead, recognize him for his brilliant body of dramatic works.
Cristofer is best known for the award winning piece "The Shadow Box" (1977). If you haven't heard of it, you could easily find a number of somewhat entertaining renditions of the fantastic monologues that he's crafted. Instead, I'd suggest reading the entire play. The scene study that could come out of act 2 is endless. I had a great time today reading and re-reading the act, studying the craftsmanship and wondering how the heck he did it.
After reading some of his other works, I've decided upon what I think makes his writing so authentic: In Cristofer's works, the characters really speak to one another. The relationships that he's crafted are heavy and important to the point where no conversation is unaffected. He does this, however, without approaching melodrama. Cristofer's works are humorous. His characters are too intelligent to start yelling at one another so, instead, they have witty, cunning conversations. Even at the height of emotion, very authentic emotion, in Cristofer's works, nothing is redundant or predictable. All of his characters think. It makes for a really fulfilling script.
I've noticed, thematically, that he might be a little too intrigued by death, if that's possible. It seems like a number of his characters are waiting for death. Certainly in "The Shadow Box" each character is terminally ill and dealing with their fatal prophesy. However, after looking through some of his other works it isn't unique that a protagonist be distracted by either retrospect or avoiding retrospect but always in the interest of life being too short.
Cristofer's most recent play, "The Whore and Mr. Moore", Premiered at the Dorset Theatre Festival in Vermont last year. The show didn't get great reviews, from what I can tell, but in any case, I'm glad he returned to the theatre because we wouldn't want to lose the voice of a talent this touching.
Here's to you on your birthday and to many more plays--
Interview with Playbill from his August 2012 show "The Whore and Mr. Moore": http://www.playbill.com/celebritybuzz/article/168902-PLAYBILL-BRIEF-ENCOUNTER-With-Michael-Cristofer-Smash-Star-and-Pulitzer-Winner/pg2