Fertile Ground Portland

A Festival of New Works Blog

Meet the Artist: Rich Rubin January 22, 2013

Filed under: the writing process — fertilegroundpdx @ 8:07 am
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A new play By Rich Rubin

Rich Rubin, playwright, "Marilyn/Misfits/Miller," at Fertile Ground 2013

Rich Rubin, playwright, “Marilyn/Misfits/Miller,” at Fertile Ground 2013

Directed by Karen Alexander-Brown

January 26th at 2 pm and 29th and 30th at 7:30 pm

Suggested donation: $12 at the door, cash or check only.

Reservations for pass holders accepted in advance.

Link to buy Fertile Ground passes: https-//www.boxofficetic#48781E

At CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh, Portland, OR 97210

In Rich Rubin’s new play,”Marilyn/Misfits/Miller,” Arthur Miller desperately tries to salvage his fragile marriage to Marilyn Monroe by writing a serious drama for her, The Misfits. Rubin’s script follows the love story of the Egghead and the Hourglass back to the early 1950s when Miller was still married to his first wife to the slow painful dissolution of his relationship with Marilyn and beyond her death into the early 2000s. Miller and Marilyn are joined by a star studded cast of characters, including Clark Gable, John Houston, Eli Wallach, Montgomery Clift, Thelma Ritter, Saul Bellow, parasitic journalists and a couple of self serving members of HUAC. The script takes us in and out of different time periods starting in 2003, taking us back to the 50s and 60s and back again. Miller is understated but clearly filled with shame, haunted by Marilyn and his failure to rescue her.

Written by Rich Rubin
Directed by Karen Alexander-Brown

Interview with Rich Rubin by Karen Alexander-Brown:

KAB: What compelled you to write the story of Monroe and Miller?

RR: From a dramatist’s point-of-view, it was downright irresistible: Two universally revered, transcendent stars – both titanic figures their respective realms – coming together and then pulling apart? I mean, it’s like a combination of Greek mythology and astrophysics! What’s there not to like?

KAB: Talk about the metaphor of the “misfit mustangs” and how it relates to both the characters in the movie and the characters in the play.

RR: The main characters in the movie were all misfits in one way or another, all somehow out-of-sync with the mid-twentieth century America in which they were living. The wild mustangs, of course, were similarly out-of-sync, at least with the time, if not the place. Like the characters, the mustangs’ longing for independence repeatedly clashed with the reality of their situation, and the results were often not very pretty. Still – and I think this was Miller’s main point – there was something undeniably noble in the clash itself, the struggle to exert one’s inner nature despite the odds.

As to the characters in the play, that’s a tougher call. Based on what I’ve read, I would say that Monroe, Huston and Clift were all “misfits” of a sort, frequently in conflict with their studios and unwilling to play the game the way others in Hollywood wanted it played. As a playwright much more comfortable with words than visual images, Miller was clearly a misfit on a movie set, but I’m less convinced that he was a misfit in any meaningful sense in the world at large. While his politics may have been outside the mainstream of middle America, they were probably not substantially different from many other intellectuals and writers of the day. If anything, what set him apart was the courage of his convictions.

KAB: Did you draw upon personal experience in marriage when writing the dialogue?

RR: Wow, what a loaded question! I was going to say “yes,” but I checked with my wife first and she said I should answer “no.” And for those of you who are interested, that right there is the secret to a very long and happy marriage!

KAB: What was your comfort level in writing dialogue for a female character, and in particular, for the complicated Marilyn Monroe?

RR: The main character in one of my first plays was a woman in her late eighties, so I actually enjoy the challenge. In addition, since half of the best actors in the world are women, why wouldn’t I want to write great roles for them? With regard to Marilyn, I fully agree; she is, indeed, an incredibly complex character. Luckily for me, I had a lot to work with: Not only has much been written about Miller and Monroe, but both of them also wrote (or spoke at length to others) about their relationship.


Although Marilyn undoubtedly treated Arthur very poorly on The Misfits set – several eyewitnesses described her behavior as “despicable – at the end of the day I felt enormous respect and admiration for her. Despite a really crummy early life and all the tinsel-land adulation, she was constantly working to hone her craft. She was a one-of-a-kind actress and comedienne, and her struggle for acceptance on her own terms is something I think all of us can relate to on some level.

KAB: Why do you think people should come to see this show?

RR: Ah, at last an easy question! Because it’s a fun play I think folks will really enjoy!


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