'What I Want Right Now': Title Match
Titling a play can sometimes be a tenuous proposition, as was the case with Tom White's most recent work
Titles give plays context. Sometimes, they even tell a story. Death of a Salesman. A Streetcar Named Desire. Long Day's Journey Into Night. American Buffalo. Buried Child. Titles give audiences a taste of what's to come, and the better the taste, the more likely they are to attend.
But titling a play can sometimes be a tenuous proposition, as was the case with Tom White's most recent play, currently receiving its world-premiere production from Different Stages at the Vortex. "The name has gone through many combinations," says Norman Blumensaadt, Different Stages' artistic director as well as the director of the current production. "The first name was The Royal Family. And I thought titles of plays could be copyrighted, and I told Tom: 'The Royal Family is a play by Edna Ferber. You can't use that.' I was also concerned that, because we do so many plays of that time period, our audience would think that they were coming to see a comedy about the Barrymores, which of course this play is not. So then Tom e-mailed me a list of 10 or 15 titles, and I liked What I Want Right Away, but I could never remember the last word, and I kept calling it What I Want Right Now. And finally the cast and I sat down one night, and we agreed that, rhythmically, What I Want Right Now was better than What I Want Right Away. And Tom said whether it's 'now' or 'away,' I don't care.
"I also thought that What I Want Right Now was more to the point, because so much of America is about instant gratification. I want the big boobs and the big dick right now. I thought it was a stronger title because, as I said to Tom, Tennessee Williams' plays aren't always great, but they've always got great titles. You've got to have good titles."
Of course, effective plays are always about much more than their titles. In this one, White tells the story of a couple (well, in a sense, two couples, but really they're both the same couple) who actually gets what they want – for the most part. "The play is very reminiscent of Garrison Keillor," says Blumensaadt. "I love A Prairie Home Companion, because Keillor has fun with people without necessarily making fun of them. And that, I think, is a real talent – finding the humor in a situation without the put-down.
"Another thing that amazes me about this script is that Tom has the scenes fold back on each other. There's something mentioned in one scene, and then two scenes later, there's the 'Aha!' moment. And hopefully we'll be able to get to the point where all those are clear to the audience, so they can have all those 'Aha!' moments with us."
And despite its unquestionably kind, gentle, even whimsical nature, this Different Stages production is for mature audiences, as more than a few big boobs, big dicks, and even some really fine asses make an appearance. And who among us wouldn't want those – and right now!
What I Want Right Now runs June 27-July 19, Thursday-Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 7pm, at the Vortex, 2307 Manor Rd. For more information, call 478-5282 or visit www.main.org/diffstages.