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"Gloria" by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

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"Gloria" by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins#1
Posted: 8/15/16 at 11:02pm

Hello!
I just put down my copy of "Gloria" written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, one of my new favorite playwrights... and I was simply blown away. I could not imagine what this play must have been like live.

The characters were realistic, one extremely familiar to me, and the themes of the show truly resonated with me.

I did some research to find other threads, but I could only find a review thread with almost no responses. (Sorry if there is another thread! If there is, please direct to me to it!)

Would anyone be willing to share their experience? What did they think of the show? Also, if you can recall, how were the final moments of Act One staged? I'm very curious!

For those who are not familiar with this show, be weary of spoilers! I also highly encourage you to go and obtain a copy of this play. One of my new favorites!

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CapnHook
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Gloria#2
Posted: 8/15/16 at 11:37pm

The extreme plot occurrence that closes the first act was staged realistically. No one saw it coming. People in the audience screamed. It was an act one closer that was a similar "OH MY GOD!" feeling that I hadn't felt since AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY. I was stunned.

GLORIA was my favorite play of last year, and perhaps of many years.

"The Spectacle has, indeed, an emotional attraction of its own, but, of all the parts, it is the least artistic, and connected least with the art of poetry. For the power of Tragedy, we may be sure, is felt even apart from representation and actors. Besides, the production of spectacular effects depends more on the art of the stage machinist than on that of the poet."
--Aristotle
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Gloria#3
Posted: 8/15/16 at 11:45pm

I am passing along the script to a friend of mine who runs a small production company in our neighborhood. They use two venues and I think this will fit perfectly in the much smaller, intimate venue. 

We plan on taking notes and experiencing the show through the TOFT resource at Lincoln Center to see if it is a viable option. 

I'm certainly envious of those who were lucky enough to experience this show live! 

While the final moments of Act One were truly shocking and shattering, I feel that the subtle closing moment of Act Two truly highlighted the major theme of this piece. 
I feel as if I could discuss this show for hours! 

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ggersten
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Gloria#4
Posted: 2/17/19 at 5:28pm

We just saw a production in Denver.  We were not as big fans of the play.  The characters almost all have little redeeming qualities - they are mean to each other.  I don't think the Act Two, Scene Two focus on one character redeems the play.  And the play just seemed to end - with little resolution/redemption or retribution.   I don't think the final scene added much to the themes at all that weren't already apparent at the end of the first scene of Act Two.

My daughter was  slightly incensed at what she viewed as misogyny.  Slight spoiler 

 
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There are few female mass shooters.  There was no reason to make Gloria the shooter. All of the things that theoretically drive Gloria over the edge could have happened to George.  The same points could have been made with a male shooter.  Especially as the play doesn't discuss any particular "female" aspects of Gloria.   The only reason to make Gloria female is for the double casting with Nan.

The female characters are not nice people - they are quick to cut others down - they seem to have little empathy - they are unhappy and seek to pass along that unhappiness. The female bosses are portrayed as distant and uncaring who don't know the people who work with them.  The male characters have more sympathetic elements - Dean, Loren, Miles, the Starbucks kid, and even Devin.  Dean has negative qualities but enough positive ones 

 
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and he doesn't finish his exploitive book unlike Kendra.

As for Act One ending:  

 
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Miles comes out of Nan's office, Annika is at her desk - they had the desks in two rows back to back, Dean is too. There is a hallway off of downstage left. We hear one gunshot and screaming then Gloria comes out - shoots Miles who falls to the floor with a bloody chest. Annika gets shot, falls to the floor - she is behind the desks so we couldn't see from our first row seat, but Gloria then shoots Annika again.  Dean has retreated to upstage left by some filing cabinets clutching paper to his chest.  Gloria says her piece and then shoots herself, and blood splatters on the office window.  And lights out.  

 

Updated On: 2/17/19 at 05:28 PM
Alex Kulak2
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Gloria#5
Posted: 2/17/19 at 6:21pm

"Appropriate" and "Gloria" are two of my favorite plays, both by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. 2016 has to be one of the closest Pulitzer races ever, between "Gloria", "The Humans", and "Hamilton".

Regarding the issues ggersten brought up regarding my misogyny, here's my two cents.

 
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It's a bait-and-switch. It sets it up like Lorin is going to be the violent one. He's screaming, belligerent, has violent thoughts, and talks about how lucky is that Shannon Tweed got to die. Gloria is just quiet, off-putting, and socially awkward, traits that are far more seemingly harmless than Lorin's.

 

Speaking of the final scene in Act Two (and this is still a theory I'm working on), I think it foreshadows that Lorin will follow the same path as Gloria. He tries to reach out to his coworker for camaraderie and fails, just like Gloria with her party. He is dazed trying to fit into the conformist nature of corporate America (possibly an illusion to Sophie Treadwell's Machinal). The play itself alludes to this by presenting that the world treats tragedy first with rapidly-fleeting worry, then urgent commodification.

 

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theaterkid1015
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Gloria#6
Posted: 2/17/19 at 6:33pm
Saw this in original run at the Vineyard. Loved it.

Even though the theater was well air conditioned, my body started sweating as we reached the end of act three. Once I left, I realized that it was because I was anticipating another event like what ended act one.

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Gloria#7
Posted: 2/17/19 at 10:22pm

Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a talented writer and no doubt Gloria has much to say of interest, but the choice to show the Act One finale on stage is absolutely morally reprehensible.

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Gloria#8
Posted: 2/17/19 at 10:56pm

I saw an excellent production probably 2 years ago at the Asolo Theatre in Sarasota.  The performance I attended had a post-performance discussion about the play.  It was probably the most lengthy after-play discussion I have attended, with many more people than usual actively participating, and many different points of view expressed re intent, whether it succeeded, etc.  

The most interesting to me: two friends who saw it the same night did not stay for the discussion because they hated the performance; however, a week later, they were still talking about it and essentially changed their minds about their initial impressions.

The particular theatre only had a couple of hundred seats, so it was very disturbing not just when the killing spree began, but in the scenes leading up to the shooting.   As I remember, Act 2 was very cynical, as some minor players talked about  (and did) publishing books about the event, when the person most directly involved could never bring himself to complete his.  Very cynical about how tragedy brings out the parasites.

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Gloria#9
Posted: 2/18/19 at 2:21am

Synecdoche2 said: "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a talented writer and no doubtGloriahas much to say of interest, but the choice to show the Act One finale on stage is absolutely morally reprehensible."

sorry that real life horror is too much for you. 

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Gloria#10
Posted: 2/18/19 at 1:15pm

The end of the first act and the original staging was excellent. The audience lives through a traumatic experience which helps them better empathize with the surviving characters and the aftermath in act 2. We as a society have become so numb to shootings because we hear them on the news. If the final sequence of act 1 was to happen off stage or not be as violent, hyper realistic and shocking the second act would be moot.

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Gloria#11
Posted: 2/18/19 at 4:55pm

LightsOut90 said: "Synecdoche2 said: "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a talented writer and no doubtGloriahas much to say of interest, but the choice to show the Act One finale on stage is absolutely morally reprehensible."

sorry that real life horror is too much for you.
"

I have survived a shooting before.

Alex Kulak2
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Gloria#12
Posted: 2/18/19 at 10:39pm

Synecdoche2 said: "LightsOut90 said: "Synecdoche2 said: "Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is a talented writer and no doubtGloriahas much to say of interest, but the choice to show the Act One finale on stage is absolutely morally reprehensible."

sorry that real life horror is too much for you.
"

I have survived a shooting before.
"

 

That's horrible, and I'm sorry that happened to you.

I don't think Jacobs-Jenkins shouldn't have shown the Act One Finale, but it is the responsibility of whatever theatre is producing the play to clearly offer Trigger Warnings to its audience.

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Gloria#13
Posted: 2/19/19 at 12:07am

The Curious Theatre (where we saw the show last Saturday) had the sign stating there wiuld be gunshots in the play. The program also had information on workplace violence

Updated On: 2/19/19 at 12:07 AM
broadwayindie
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Gloria#14
Posted: 2/19/19 at 12:43am

I believe when I saw it at the Goodman they may have had a warning about live gunshots. However I know some theatres (like Steppenwolf) take the stance that they can't trigger warning for everything and that if there is something that may trigger you, you should be able to manage your triggers and they usually do not give warnings. Not to go off on a tangent but I think that this is at the crux of the conversation

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Gloria#15
Posted: 2/19/19 at 9:01am

I agree with Steppenwolf to an extent. While most plays don't need trigger warnings, and extraneous ones go to oversensitize the audience, things like gunplay and workplace violence, especially now, should have very clear content warnings.