“You’ve really managed to capture something this time.”
Saul, a Hollywood producer, offers this morsel to Austin, a screenwriter desperate for his big break, and Austin gobbles it up. But how long will it sustain him? How long has Austin been getting by on these crumbs of encouragement from Saul? How many other writers waiting for their big break does Saul have on a string?
You never really know a producer, but Saul Kimmer isn’t hiding. He’s sincere in his embrace of inauthenticity and about who he is: the very embodiment of New West norms. Saul lives and breathes commercial values, commercial expectations. The New West is his world. He likes it. He’s good at it.
In the New West art is a commodity. Maybe it always was. Or maybe it's just a matter of degree. As Saul tells Austin's brother, Lee, "In this business we make movies, American movies. Leave the films to the French."
There’s a paternalism to Saul’s relationship with Austin – and, eventually, Lee – that influences the brothers more than most. Their father, The Old Man, the abstract representation of the Old West, is absent, physically and psychologically. And he has rejected his sons. Saul, to Austin and Lee, is a new kind of father figure, one imbued with hopes of acceptance, even though neither Austin nor Lee is fully comfortable with the New West to which he belongs. Just as there is ambivalence between Austin and Lee, there’s ambivalence between the brothers and Saul. They simultaneously want his approval and stand ready to reject it.
Even in those who have embraced, and who thrive in, the New West, there is a sense that something’s missing. There is a yearning for an authenticity, for artistic spirit, that can’t survive in their world. So when Saul meets Lee – an untamed, romantic figure, someone who wears authenticity like an open wound – he’s drawn to him. Lee is something of a relief and a shock to Saul, fascinating and alien, magnetic because he represents something Saul hasn’t really encountered before. Someone who seems to have stepped out of the heat haze of the Old West. Saul’s world – Hollywood, the New West mecca of artificiality – doesn’t include people like Lee. Does it include Austin?
About IAN D. LOFT
Ian D. Loft is very pleased to be portraying Saul in his first theatrical endeavour with Post Productions. Not a novice to local theatre, he has performed in shows with Theatre Windsor, Korda and Ghost Light Players. His past performances include Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol, Max Smart in Get Smart, Father Mulcahy in MASH, Grumio in Taming of the Shrew, Montano in Othello, Selsdon Mowbray in Noises Off, and Peter Quince in A Midsummers Night’s Dream.
(Photo credit: Martin Ouellette of Churchwood Pictures, with Kieran Potter)