Monday, March 23, 2009

Inspiration's Promise, Fulfilled

I enjoy reading old interviews with my favorite artists while experiencing the benefits of living in the future: they don't know what will happen to them in years to come, but I do. My favorite thing is when they mention some project that is no more than a glimmer in their eye at the time the interview was conducted--a project that had a distinct possibility of never being realized at all--and yet I know that they did write that play or make that film, and furthermore, that it is brilliant. I collect these stories, because they inspire me, give me hope and make me happy--"dreams can come true" and all that. Here are examples from some of my own favorite artists.
  • During the marathon interview sessions that became the classic Hitchcock/Truffaut, the two filmmakers discuss how strange movie soundstages can look to an outsider, what with all the behind-the-scenes tricks that don't show up in the finished film. At this point Truffaut confesses, "It's often occurred to me that one might make a first-rate comedy on the making of a movie." The Hitchcock/Truffaut interviews were published in 1967. Six years later, Truffaut released Day for Night, which is a first-rate comedy on the making of a movie--one of those films that always makes me happy.
  • I once read a profile of Tom Stoppard from the late 1980s that mentioned that he was halfway through reading James Gleick's nonfiction book Chaos. The interviewer asked Stoppard whether this subject might find its way into his next play, and the playwright responded noncommittally. But in 1993, Arcadia premiered, a play inspired by chaos theory (plus a whole lot of other stuff)--and a work of freakin' genius!
  • In the introduction to his collection of plays Death & Taxes: Hydriotaphia & Other Plays, published in 2000, Tony Kushner wrote "Though I have been handsomely remunerated for my movie and TV writing, I am bitterly disappointed, as none of my work for Hollywood has achieved what I'd hoped for it, which is to provide its author a pretext to meet Meryl Streep." As we all know, three years after that, not only had Kushner met Streep, but she was starring in the epic miniseries adaptation of Angels in America!

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