Seminar teaches campus a thing or two
Sex, power, envy, search, fame. These were some of the words displayed on a projected background before a performance of Theresa Rebeck’s play, Seminar.
Seminar stars four aspiring novelists in modern New York who sign up for private writing classes instructed by a legendary literary fi gure, Leonard (Jeff Williams).
Leonard, who was portrayed by Alan Rickman during the play’s fi rst run on Broadway, is not a traditional teacher by any means. The foul-mouthed lecturer, with the hyper-masculine persona of Ernest Hemingway, fried his mind with drugs throughout the course of his life.
He’s ruthless and belittles his students, most notably Kate (Madison Kisst), who hosts the class in her apartment.
She struggles for attention and acknowledgement throughout the play while drowning her sorrows in ice cream and other consumables.
The young and spunky Izzy (Jasmine Mathews) is able to impress their teacher not only with her writing capabilities, but with her beauty. Leonard’s praise of Izzy causes some ten sion with Kate who becomes envious of her.
Martin (Jack Lafferty) and Douglas (Verhoeven) also become subjects of harsh criticism.
Struggling financially, Martin was barely able to scrap together the $5000 needed for the 10-week-long course. Despite the expensive fee, Martin is reluctant to share any of his work with Leonard or his fellow peers.
Douglas, is the nephew of a famous playwright, and has talent for writing. However, Leonard constantly accuses him of being a “name dropper.”
Collectively, the characters become embittered with each other as the seminar progresses. Steamy romances are formed, and the students question the validity of Leonard’s unorthodox teaching as they search for success.
For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed the play. While I thought all of the actors did superb job, I felt that William’s role of Leonard was the most captivating.
Yeah, Leonard was a terrible person and highly unethical by stealing love interests of both Martin and Douglas. Nevertheless, I felt that William’s portrayal of the grumpy old writer almost made it seem like he was actually like Leonard in real life.
The plot remained clever and witty throughout full of raunchy humor and plot twists. The dialogue was also praiseworthy for its sharpness and blunt wording as the characters discussed issues such as sexuality, masculinity and being successful as a writer.
Somebody with an interest in literary history would of probably taken joy hearing references to writers such as Jack Kerouac, Jane Austen and Emily Dickenson.
While the play only had two distinct settings, Kate’s apartment and Leonard’s apartment, the show remained visually rich due in part of the actors and a rotating stage that helped provide different angles of the set.
Overall, I found Seminar to be a bit of a fun learning experience as I realized how difficult it can for an aspiring writer in this day and age.