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Private Jokes, Public Places

Private Jokes, Public Places
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Oren Safdie
Publisher: Playwrights Canada Press
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 96
Pub. Date: 2002
ISBN-10: 0887546285
ISBN-13: 9780887546280
Cast Size: 1 female, 3 male

About the Play:

Private Jokes, Public Places has become a favourite of acting teachers for Female Monologues, Male Monologues, and Female/Male Scenes.

Private Jokes, Public Places is a full-length comedy by Oren Safdie. An architecture student. Her thesis. The jury. A female architecture student defends her thesis project, a swimming pool facility designed to demonstrate her theories of public spaces. With intellectual pretension and a great deal of pontificating, the all-male jury challenges her identity and professional vision, leading her to turn the tables on them with a spectacular and unexpected action.

Private Jokes, Public Places captures the character of architectural discourse – in all its subtleties and foibles – and gives the public a disturbing and humorous glimpse inside today's architecture schools. Margaret is a young Korean-American student who must present her final degree project – a design for a public swimming pool – to an all male, all white jury of three famous architects. This simple premise is a jumping-off point for a facile examination of academia, intellectual pretension and the failure of postmodernist culture. In 1981 Moshe Safdie, one of the most celebrated architects in the world, published a controversial article in Atlantic Monthly entitled "Private Jokes in Public Places." In it, he bemoaned the trend toward focusing more on design and less on the needs of clients. He stated "Postmodern architects find social consciences inconvenient." Twenty years later his son, playwright Oren Safdie, premiered a play he called Private Jokes, Public Places that echoed many of the elder Safdie's views. The play asks compelling questions about the state of the male-female power struggle, fears of disrupting the status quo and ultimately, the importance of challenging tradition.

Private Jokes, Public Places premiered in 2001 at the Malibu Playhouse in Los Angeles, and then played off-Broadway in 2003 at La MaMa E.T.C. before transferring, appropriately enough, to the Theater at the Center of Architecture in Greenwich Village for a 5-month run. Private Jokes, Public Places was a critical off-Broadway hit and was singled out in 2010 by Terry Teachout of the Wall Street Journal as one of the best half-dozen new plays he had seen since he started reviewing. The play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and is performed regularly by students at architecture schools to mark the beginning of the year.

Cast: 1 female, 3 male

What people say:

"Implausible as it may sound, Mr. Safdie has done the impossible: He's written an unpretentiously witty play of ideas about some of the most pretentious ideas known to man. Instead of telling you what to think, he leaves the thinking to you, and in between the laughs you'll do plenty of it … The funniest new play to hit New York in months." — Wall Street Journal

"An X-Acto-blade-sharp new comedy that doubles as a cry of indignation. Safdie exposes the emperor's new blueprints for all to see." — The New Yorker

"Inspired and astonishing…The verbal dexterity alone is mesmerizing. A battle of wits between four sharply defined characters. An hour and a quarter of laughter... [Safdie's writing] is a reminder that terrific original work often comes from a strong point of view and a willingness to take chances." — The New York Times

"Anyone who has ever suffered through a dry academic symposium, with various ‘experts' pontificating in prolix philosophical terms that would baffle Spinoza, will find much to hoot about in Private Jokes, Public Places … a facile examination of academia, intellectual pretension and the failure of postmodernist culture. As for Safdie, comparisons with Yasmina Reza's Art will be inevitable. But Safdie rivals Reza in wit and often outstrips her in intellectual heft." — The Los Angeles Times

"A biting satire with a humanist heart – seldom has theory-bashing been dramatized with such erudition and wit. The more of it you know, the funnier – and more frightening – the play is. A take-no-prisoners comedy." — Time Out NY

"Safdie's frenetic new plays of ideas … raises just about every issue that has kept design offices, coffeehouses and university hallways in conversation for he past century – then makes us laugh knowingly at ourselves for taking them so seriously." — Metropolis

"Safdie has captured the character of architectural discourse – in all its subtleties and foibles – and brought to the public a disturbing (yet humorous) glimpse inside today's architecture schools." — Architecture Week

About the Playwright:

Oren Safdie is a Canadian-American-Israeli playwright and screenwriter. A native of Montreal, he is the son of famed Israeli-born Canadian architect Moshe Safdie. He attended the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University before turning his attention to playwriting. He has written for and contributed to Metropolis, Dwell, Beyond, The Forward, Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, The Algemeiner, The New Republic and The National Post. He is also the recipient of numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec, The John Golden Foundation, and The Graham Foundation. He has taught playwriting and screenwriting at the University of Miami and Douglas College in Vancouver.