It was just a year and a half ago that Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen staged their work-in-progress How to be a Rock Critic as a reading at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Los Angeles Times arts reporter and pop music critic Mike Boehm delves into the story behind the story:
"But Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen had something else in mind while spending two years sifting carefully through the 50,000-page output of a single critic in hopes of distilling his writing into a dramatic monologue that would tell his life's story and convey the core of what he'd thought and felt about music.
Their play's full title is "How to Be a Rock Critic (based on the writing of Lester Bangs)," with Jensen playing Bangs and Blank directing. Still in development, with a public staged reading set for Dec. 15 at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, the play is a full-on homage to a writer whose flamboyant, calculatedly outrageous first-person articles mainly inhabited music magazines from 1969 to his death in 1982.
Bangs was just 33, his end hastened by hard living. But his prose, including work for Rolling Stone, Creem magazine and the Village Voice, has survived in two posthumous books of his selected articles.
... They don't see 'How to Be a Rock Critic' as a form of slumming or creative ease-taking following those high-stakes precursors. To them, Bangs was no mere entertainment writer but a moral philosopher for whom rock music was both an end in itself and a weather-gauge by which he tried to read the state of society and his own soul.
'I think there's nothing better than tackling the plight of the human heart' as reflected in how we respond to music, Jensen said in a phone interview..."
Read the full article at the Los Angeles Times.