Shut Up and Listen

Playwright Hortua on Making It

"This obsession with pushing hard and succeeding instills a great work ethic, but it can also make for a rather neurotic country and culture, one that's self-absorbed and negligent in its relations toward other cultures and countries," Hortua said.

And it's self-obsession that "making it" and Making Itare all about. All these characters talk in long rants and are completely wrapped up in their own narratives. But while their desire to speak makes it appear they have a genuine need to connect with others, the simple fact is they can't communicate because they don't listen. At one point, successful playwright Leonard sarcastically rips into his whining protégé, Paolo: "Everything in the world is intended to hurt Paolo. Versus Paolo having a sense of other people's worlds coexisting around him. And guess what? I suffer from it, too. If it's any consolation. But get over it. Grow out of it. Write a play. Move on. Whatever."

"It's about solipsism, self-absorption, narcissism," he said. "I see it in the people around me. I see it in myself. I see it in the culture as a whole. The theme of self-absorption these days is enormous, and that's why I've never thought the three separate conversations in this play are separate. They all parallel one another."

If there's anything Hortua wants audience members to take from the play, it's a greater realization of how self-involved we've all become—how it's so easy to feel that our problems are huge and overwhelming and how, in effect, we are deaf and blind to everyone and everything around us. And how can we break that cycle? Maybe by shutting up, toning down our rants and honestly listening to the people around us.

As Claire, a woman stuck in the middle of a hilariously sad struggle between two men who are uncannily alike, tells her partner, "The two of you should listen to each other. It would help the situation."

Making It at South Coast Repertory's Second Stage, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5500. Opens Fri. Tues.-Fri., 7:45 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 & 7:45 p.m. Through Feb. 24. $19-$51; pay-what-you-will matinee ($5 suggested) Sat., 2 p.m.

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