HLS - The Letters Of Harvey L. Slatin

Plaza Azul Productions
2954 Plaza Azul
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505
Office Of The
Executive Director
(505) 473-1954

“Semper Pothoegdus!”

March 17, 1989

Harvey L. Slatin
Chemical Electrochemical Metallurgical Consultant
a/k/a Thomas Udo, Contractor
78 Main Street
Stamford, New York 12167
Dear Tommy, Thanks for the check. You will be getting a receipt and a formal letter of acknowledgment shortly. Standard practice for donations of $25.00 or more. You got in under the wire.

I see that economy has once again taken command of your senses, and that you no longer squander precious letterhead on frivolous correspondence with the likes of me. Very wise decision. Your name, rank and serial number are now stored in my memory typewriter (the one I use for addressing envelopes), so I will continue to use your full title when I write to you, unless you ask me to do otherwise.


While you are looking up Vitallium, you might also look up Udylite. This was a cadmium.alloy, developed jointly by my Old Man and a chap named Udy. I have no idea what it was good for, but Udy got his name on the product. They couldn’t have called it “Herzogite” or “Herzogolite,” because nobody would have been able to pronounce it. When I was a kid, I had a small (3“ X 5”) picture frame made of this stuff. It has since been lost or melted down for Star Wars. As far as I know, the only thing it was ever used for was one picture frame, which didn’t weigh as much as bronze and never required polishing.


Henry Ford was one of those huge hero/Villains who comes along every so often in the Great Panorama of History. True, he was a union-buster. But we musn’t forget that $5.00 a day in his time was a pretty decent wage. Ford wanted to be sure that all his employees could afford to buy one of his Tin Lizzies. I recall, from the ’30’s, Henry announcing to the world at large his plan to build and sell an automobile, at a.profit, for $138.00. Everybody thought he was nuts, excepting Dr. Ferdinand Porsche.

“THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER“ is dated. The Director, bless his heart, decided that he was not going to attempt an update by trying to substitute contemporary characters for those in the original script. He did take out a reference to Chauncey DePew, but otherwise no changes. DePew became Johnny Weismueller, at my suggestion. One anachronism replacing an even older anachronism.

The audience attending the performance that was taped did, indeed, sit on its hands. Audiences have that right. But, we had several houses of people who treated the whole business as a nostalgia trip, and loved every moment. Some nights, we got cheers, whistles, foot~stomping, and standing ovations, and every laugh line got a laugh. Theatre is magic and mystery. No, I was not Sheridan Whiteside. I auditioned for the part, but was delighted and relieved when it went to someone else. Someone else, I migh add, who did it better than I could have done it. I was Mr. Stanley, the uptight martinet union-busting head of the household. My daughter was, as you so cleverly discerned, the very same young lady who is hopelessly in love with me. We are staying in touch.

You questioned our selection of a “dated vehicle.” Well, Tommy, we d the best we can with what we can get in the way of plays that people may pay money to see, productions that we can afford to mount, shows that will fit onto our tiny stage, and Directors who are willing to direct them. Le me illustrate:

Enclosed is an announcement that was posted prominently in the theatre lobby and stuffed into the program for the last two shows. Most of the entries on the wish-list were suggested by patrons who responded to our survey of audience likes and dislikes. The deadline for submission of proposals has now passed, and we have six of them. One is for a show that was not on the list, and the other five are original scripts, submitted by the playwrights themselves. What the Fucking Hell would you suggest we do? Punt? Close up shop? .Fish or cut bait? Shoot or give up the pistol? Shit or get off the pot? If you are so Goddam smart, why ain’t you runnining SFCT by remote control?


I have decided to pass on “UNCLE VANYA” for several reasons. First, I don’t like the Director. 1 have worked with her on other shows (she was Harriet Stanley in TMWCTD). She has plenty of talent, but she also has a lisp and is a pain in the ass when it comes to smoking. She claims to be allergic to tobacco smoke and, she further claims, it makes the costumes stink. Bullshit.

Second, she is treating “VANYA” as a drama. Chekhov thought his plays were comedies, and that is how they should be played. I did “THREE SISTERS“ a few years ago, under a Director who understood Chekhov’s intent, and it was wonderful. Some people said it was the best show ever done at SFCT in sixty years.

Third, and most troublesome: She had pre-cast several parts before readings were held. That is to say, she had promised roles to a couple of people with the understanding that all they had to do was show up at auditions, which they did. Anyone else who came to tryouts seeking one of those parts was already out of the running. In fact, the show was already in sub rosa rehearsal before the so-called “open auditions” took place.

I regard that as the dirtiest kind of pool. It is perfectly reasonable for a Director to have some specific person in mind for a specific character, and to urge that person to study up on the part and to read for it. Happens all the time. It has happened to me, usually when a dirty old man is called for, or a priest or a Judge. But it is quite another matter to have several parts all locked up, and then pretend that anybody who wants a shot at them has equal opportunity to stand or fall on his or her performance at auditions‘ Simply put: A fucking lie.

So I decided to pass on “UNCLE VANYA,” even though I love Chekhov.

Thanks for the reassurances about electrocuting my cat. I am really very fond of him, and he of me, and I wouldn’t want to destroy this rare example of inter—species love. He doesn’t want that either, I gather from what he tells me with great purring and hoisting of his tail as a flagpole. I will look into the “URINE AND STOOL DEODORIZER,“ and try giving it a shot. You will be kept informed.

By the way. One of my lifelong ambitions is to hear a full-grown tiger purr. Can you imagine what that would sound like?

I understand your problem with Spell—Checker‘ There is one in my T/Master system, but I wiped it out because it took up too much space in the working area. I rely on proofreading. My memory typewriter has something called a “Spell-Right Dictionary,” and it is built in so I can‘t delete it. It beeps at me on “Brie,” “Camembert,” “Shit,” “Fuck,” ”Slatin,“ “Herzog,” “Fe” (as in Santa Fe), and other commonly~used words. It is a pain except when it catches me running two words together, which I do from time to time.

Your problem is that your spell-checker passes words that are spelled correctly, even if they are wrong words. For instance, you said “It didn’t like Vanya …” when you meant to say “I didn’t like Vanya …” No program on Earth can catch that sort of goof. Try proofreading on the screen before committing nonsense to precious paper. Save our Forests! Be a responsible desk—top publisher! Recycle aluminum! Erase paper plates and toilet tissue! waste not, want not! The Watchbird is watching you!

I think that is quite enough from this end.

Fondly, As Always,
John K. Herzog
Executive Director a/k/a Howard

Encl: As noted above
Attention Directors - 1989-90 SFCT

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