Wednesday, November 13, 2013


by Ashley Argall 

Maya Angelou once said, “If you can’t change something, change your attitude toward it.”
Playwright Wendy MacLeod

Award-winning playwright Wendy MacLeod seemed to have these words in mind when writing some of her most famous works.

MacLeod possesses a unique ability to examine the world’s misfortunes through comedy. Her plays do not shy away from challenging subject matter, but her uniquely lighthearted and comical characters create a tone that is positive, irreverent, and entertaining.

MacLeod says her main goal as a playwright is to fully express her outlook on life at a given moment.

Considering the themes of her plays, MacLeod’s outlook seems to understand that troubles exist in the world and that many cannot be easily fixed. However, instead of lamenting life’s miseries, MacLeod opts to poke fun at them.

Through her candid, witty, and intelligent writing, she provides audiences a unique perspective on human suffering, leading them to leave the theater uplifted, inspired and, most greatly, entertained.

MacLeod’s uplifting and comedic writing style has proven quite popular. Her 1990 play THE HOUSE OF YES became the second-longest running show at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre and premiered oversees in both London and Berlin. It later was adapted into a Sundance award-winning film.

In 1994 and 1995, SIN and SCHOOLGIRL FIGURE, respectively, premiered at Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, and in 1997, THE WATER CHILDREN premiered at The Matrix Theatre in Los Angeles where it earned six L.A. Drama Critics Circle nominations and earned recognition in L.A. Weekly, which called it, “the most challenging political play of 1998.” The play grapples candidly with the pro-life vs. pro-choice debate.

In 2003, MacLeod wrote the two-man comedy THINGS BEING WHAT THEY ARE, which premiered at Seattle Repertory Theatre and was produced at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre. The Chicago production was so popular its sold-out run was extended twice.

Be on the lookout for Milwaukee Chamber Theatre’s rendition of the play running from November 20 – December 15, 2013!

"THINGS is a departure for me, in tone and form,” MacLeod said in an interview with Mark Howell in 2004. “It is a comedy, but more traditional, bittersweet, and REAL than my other plays.”

While the play deals with a variety of human troubles, including loneliness and infidelity, it takes on a much more relaxed an conversational style. Comedic lines are subtle and natural, as opposed to overtly dramatic. Audience members can almost picture themselves in the room with the two main characters, Bill and Jack, sharing in their conversation about life.

The play is written from the male perspective, a departure for MacLeod as a female writer. As the Chicago Tribune put it, “Despite (or maybe it’s because of) its origin in the female mind, this…play…probes the vulnerabilities of heterosexual, middle-class, decaying maleness….with good humor, affection, and incisive accuracy.”

MacLeod says the main theme of the play concerns the “restlessness and dissatisfaction” she believes many affluent people suffer.

“Once they’ve solved their basic problems – choices about their careers and mates – there’s this, ‘And then what?’ There’s this real yen for some kind of connection. The most banal choice is to flail around for a sexual connection. But in the second act of THINGS, two men make another sort of connection - a humane one.” 

Through this connection, MacLeod looked to end the play, as she always does, with an uplifting tone. “When one person treats another like a human being…there’s hope in that gesture.”

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