Bitch! Bitch! Bitch!

I curse a lot in rehearsal.

Seriously. A lot.

Never in anger. But there are times when I'm really cookin' and we're getting a lot done and everybody's creative juices are flowing, and every other word out of my mouth is some form of fuck. I do love that word. (Check out the outstanding documentary Fuck.)

And over the past couple days, I've been wondering why I do that. Don't get me wrong, I curse like a sailor in my everyday life as well. I have always rejected the idea that certain words should be off-limits because they're "bad." Words aren't bad; only intentions are. On the other hand, I know I can't curse on our radio show and I know I can't curse in business meetings. So why does it feel okay to me in rehearsal?

I think it has something to do with the New Line attitude and approach. Maybe my potty mouth is a signal to the actors and designers not to take ourselves too seriously and not to take our work too lightly. This experience will be intense, I'm telling them, and also fun and vulgar and extreme. I don't do any of this consciously, but I did learn long ago how much my mood influences a rehearsal. If I'm suffering from low energy, the rehearsal will suck. If I had a bad day -- and if the actors can tell -- we won't do our best work. But if I come in high energy and laughing and smiling, we'll do great work and lots of it.

So now I'm wondering if subconsciously I've applied that lesson about mood to my language too.

It puts me in mind of that amazing HBO series Deadwood. I remember watching an interview on DVD with the series creator David Milch, and he was talking about the language in the show, where every other word is fuck or cocksucker. He said the reason he wrote that way was that he wanted to convey the feeling of lawlessness, the idea that there were no rules here, no protection, that this was The Wild. And since most TV viewers never experience that kind of world in real life anymore, he found a way to get that sensibility across through the use of extreme, wild language.

And maybe that's what's behind my language in rehearsal -- that feeling of wildness, of no control, of complete freedom. That's exactly the kind of work we do, fearless, crazy, wild, outrageous; and maybe my subconscious knows that controlling or "watching" my language would curtail that freedom and would send that message to the actors. It's the same reason (in my opinion) that HBO and Showtime series are so far superior to anything on network television, because on HBO and Showtime there is total artistic freedom, while there are tons of restrictions and rules on broadcast TV. Even if characters wouldn't necessarily curse, the curtailing of the creative spirit has a consequence.

And the last thing we ever do at New Line is curtail the creative spirit. I count on our actors to be my full collaborators in bringing a show to life. They don't work for me; they work with me. And if you've ever seen our shows, like Bat Boy, Forbidden Planet, Urinetown, Two Gents, The Wild Party, or numerous others, you know the one thing we excel at is fearlessness.

And so I curse. All the fucking time.

Long Live the Musical!

P.S. Several months after I originally wrote this entry, we added a new item to our merchandise site, The New Line Fuck Clock, in honor of the foul-mouthed musicals we love to produce...