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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Jesse Kellerman

While searching for some scripts a few months ago, I came across a name that was both familiar and unfamiliar. The last name was a jolt of instant recognition: Kellerman. I've been a huge fan of Faye Kellerman for years and through her, became aware of her somewhat more famous husband, Jonathan.

However, the script I was looking at was by neither Faye nor Jonathan, but their eldest and only son, Jesse. I was immediately intrigued, especially when I learned he had also recently written a novel.

Now, I have to admit that I feel more than a little guilty mentioning his parents in a post about Jesse Kellerman, for he is definitely a writer with his own distinct style and voice. Nor am I of the belief that we are necessarily the product of our parents (even though I myself followed in my father's career footsteps and it truly isn't that unusual no matter what the occupation). However, his parentage is something that provides us with context and I know that if I didn't mention it, I would leave many readers thinking, 'Hey, I wonder if he's related to...'

Plays, Inc. recently published Jesse Kellerman's collection of six short plays that can be presented together as 3m1w or Very Small Things. They are a collection of plays that were performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (a locale that is also the site of Kate Atkinson's latest book, One Good Turn, but more on that next week).

I was immediately enchanted by these plays and have been busy ever since pushing them on theater folks I know because I would very much like to see them on a stage. They're modern, absurdist shows that are highly entertaining and often poignant.

From my review posted this week at Book Help Web:

It's a collection of comedies that mock science, bureaucracy, poker, room service, literature/academia, and fashion. They're all meant to be fun sketches, ones that put together run between 100 minutes and 2 hours.

In the tradition of modern theater, it makes liberal use of explicit language — in part because the characters are explicit and true to the language they would speak. Jesse Kellerman provides a fair amount of stage direction that encourages directors to keep the play flowing. There are pauses in his plays, but more importantly, there is overlapping speech that characterizes high-energy productions.

It is also possible to do all of these sketches one right after another with minimal set requirements.

3m1w is a great exhibition piece for actors with some delightful and challenging lines to dig their teeth into. All six of the sketches are intelligent affairs that trust the audience to keep up on a madcap journey. For the most part, the one woman in each sketch has some of the least interesting roles.


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