‘Red’ (Ken) – “Bores you?!”

'Red' by John Logan

From: Play

Type: Dramatic

Character: Ken - Rothko's assistant. He's very bright,learning the ropes and paying his dues

Gender: Male

Age Range: 20's

Summary: Master abstract expressionist Mark Rothko has just landed the biggest commission in the history of modern art, a series of murals for New York's famed Four Seasons Restaurant. In the two fascinating years that follow, Rothko works feverishly with his young assistant, Ken, in his studio on the Bowery. But when Ken gains the confidence to challenge him, Rothko faces the agonizing possibility that his crowning achievement could also become his undoing.

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KEN: (Explodes.) Bores you?! Bores you?! – Christ almighty trying working for you for a living! – The talking-talking-talking-jesus-christ-won’t-he-ever-shut-up titanic self-absorption of the man! You stand there trying to look so deep when you’re nothing but a solipsistic bully with your grandiose self-importance and lectures and arias and let’s-look-at-the-fucking-canvas-for-another-few-weeks-let’s-not-fucking-paint-let’s-just-look. And the pretension! Jesus Christ, the pretension! I can’t imagine any other painter in the history of art ever tried so hard to be SIGNIFICANT!

You know, not everything has to be so goddamn IMPORTANT all the time! Not every painting has to rip your guts out and expose your soul! Not everyone wants art that actually HURTS! Sometimes you just want a fucking still life or landscape or soup can or comic book! Which you might learn if you ever actually left your goddamn hermetically-sealed submarine here with all the windows closed and no natural light – BECAUSE NATURAL LIGHT ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU!

But then nothing is ever good enough for you! Not even the people who buy your pictures! Museums are nothing but mausoleums, galleries are run by pimps and swindlers, and art collectors are nothing but shallow social-climbers. So who is good enough to own your art?! Anyone?!

Or maybe the real question is: who’s good enough to even see your art? . . . Is it just possible no one is worthy to look at your paintings? . . . That’s it, isn’t it? . . . We have all been weighed in the balance and have been found wanting.

You say you spend your life in search of real human beings, people who can look at your pictures with compassion. But in your heart you no longer believe those people exist. . . So you lose faith… So you lose hope. . . So black swallows red.

My friend, I don’t think you’d recognize a real human being if he were standing right in front of you. (Pause. ROTHKO’s stern and uncompromising Old Testament glare make KEN uneasy. KEN’s resolve starts to crumble. He moves away.) Never mind.

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