First, before we talk, please watch this — trust me, it’ll be worth it:
I have been watching that video off and on all morning, as well as several others by the same fellow, utterly entranced. Part of what’s happening is that my high school self—the me that believed, with all sincerity, that people who loved The Who were morally and in every other way superior to people who loved Madonna—is having a very cathartic moment. All the teenage girls I loathed for what looked like shallowness and smug materialism are, in this video, reconciled with the rebellion and anger-at-the-system I valued so highly. It’s a powerful feeling.
What’s also happening is that I’m beginning to take more seriously an idea I’ve been joking about for some time. A while back, a fellow playwright and I were inventing funny mash-ups of play titles, as in:
Life with Father + Death of a Salesman = Death with Father
Tick Tick Boom + In the Boom Boom Room = In the Tick Tick Boom Boom Room
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? + The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? = Who’s Afraid of Sylvia?
Having seen the video above, however—and with recent successes like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and The Grey Album in the back of my mind—I’m wondering whether there might not actually be real intellectual and artistic merit to the notion of mashing one play up with another. Take the first example I listed above. Imagine alternating between the humor of Lindsay and Crouse’s story and the melancholy of Arthur Miller’s in some Grand Guignol hot-and-cold-shower experience, or watching Linda Loman try to trick Willy into getting baptized while he spirals toward death. Might there not be something to that?
Or perhaps it would be easier to take a public domain work of some kind and simply fold new elements into it: to replace the witches in Macbeth, for example, with time-traveling aliens, or add a chorus of Supreme Court judges to Medea. The possibilities are endless (and probably far more compelling than the two I’ve just pulled off the top of my head).
I am going to think more on this. I think I would like to try it. If I get inspired, I will.