An introduction by George Weinberg
[Office note: George Weinberg, PhD, is a polymathic scholar and the author of a dozen books, including two on Shakespeare.]
This is how good I believe Tom McCormack the playwright is:
I think the accumulation of his scripts has slowly grown to what may one day be accepted as a part of our national theater treasury.
Take his latest script, FOUR-AND-A-HALF STORYTELLERS. I assume you'll read many new playscripts this year, but I claim none will surpass "4 ½" in the number of rare and special qualities it displays. Yet, above all I urge you to read it for its story.
Among its other virtues is an animating intelligence that I feel is unexcelled by the work of any other script-writer going – not Stoppard, Frayn, Sorkin, or anyone else.
I know there are some theater-savvy people who will despair when they hear a play described as 'intelligent', but please read on.
"4 ½" displays an excellent ear. The four very different well-rounded characters -- two women, two men -- are definitely non-slackers. Yet their dazzling dialog always sounds like human speech, with distinctive voices -- even while delivering more quotable high-carat lines than any recent play I know. Despite their braininess, the four are made earthy by lust, wit, rage and violence. And I guarantee you will from time to time laugh out loud.
Still, I hope your first read focuses on the story. It uses complication, acceleration and revelation to produce a model of beginning-middle-and-end tale-telling. It varies pace, pitch and color with an imaginative scenes-within-scenes technique. Its final moments are unforgettable.
As a playwright, McCormack combines a long-stride confidence that what he's just written is worthy, with a writhing surety that what he's just written needs to be improved. So he's a constant reviser. One of the happy results of his relentless honing is that, to an extent you may never have seen before, everything connects. Especially in "4 ½".
The three full-length plays on this website are now quintessentially theatrical in ways that show why, though film, tv, and the web thrive, live theater will always be with us. His fourth, ENDPAPERS, is published by The Dramatists Play Service. It has already been mounted in New York. Its cumulative Off Broadway audience was among the three or four largest of the 21st century so far -- and it was a first play.
McCormack's agent Helen Merrill, and his producer for ENDPAPERS Ben Mordecai, have both died. I yearn for an able agent, producer, director or actor who will read these plays and decide they can win not only audiences but prizes, stagings on five continents, and a place in the permanent American canon.
Please see the folders on your left. In the "Scripts" folder, Besides FOUR-AND-A-HALF STORYTELLERS and some one acts, you'll find RAVISHING THE MUSE (a farce that ranks in laugh-frequency with NOISES OFF), and PROBLEM PLAY (a deeply personal father-daughter drama that also provides a solution to the most celebrated puzzle in entertainment history). The plays, with their high line-to-line and scene-to-scene intensity, will bring a special satisfaction to those viewers who come with an extra alertness that they want rewarded. Granted, McCormack will never be accused of underestimating his viewers' intelligence, but I hope that means his plays are just right for you.
Queries sent to that address will be promptly answered.