Mistakes Were Made – Craig Wright


Received its world pre­miere pro­duc­tion in 2009 at A Red Orchid in Chicago and at Hart­ford Stage in Con­necti­cut.  New York pre­miere in Novem­ber 2010 at Bar­row Street Theatre.

Orig­i­nal Cast:

Felix Artifex  (a pro­ducer)                           Michael Shan­non
Esther (sec­re­tary to Mr. Artifex)                   Mierka Girten
Pup­peter (koi fish)                                       Sam Deutsch

Direc­tor:  Dex­ter Bullard
Set Design:  Tom Burch
Cos­tume Design:  Tif Bullard
Light­ing Design:  Keith Parham
Sound Design:  Joseph Fosco
Hair and Makeup Design: Nan Zabriskie
Stage Man­ager: Richard A. Hodge

Pub­li­ca­tion:  Wright, Craig. Mis­takes Were Made. Drama­tists Play Ser­vice, 2011. Drama Library PS3573. R5322 M57 2011

Set­ting:   An office in the present.

Lan­guage:  Contemporary.


Okay, so—okay, so—fine— so you tell me, Johnny, so, then, no, you tell me, who is the star of the French Rev­o­lu­tion if King Louis is not the star?

Genre/Style:  Com­edy.  See pre­vi­ous post (The Elab­o­rate Entrance of Chad Deity)about how I don’t find most stage come­dies very funny.  This would be an exam­ple.  It’s amus­ing in parts, but the struc­ture, a one-man show where said man spends most of his time on the phone, becomes tir­ing very quickly.  That said, there are some very funny moments, they’re just few and far between, and a lot would depend on the par­tic­u­lar actor play­ing the part.  Also, given that the play first pre­miered in 2009 and con­tains numer­ous con­tem­po­rary ref­er­ences, it feels curi­ously old-fashioned.  Wouldn’t a high-powered pro­ducer do more of his work on a smart­phone these days?  I can imag­ine some­one field­ing texts and tweets, but not deal­ing with ten land lines.

Plot:  A Broad­way pro­ducer is fran­ti­cally try­ing to seal the deal with a big star, finan­cial back­ers, the­atre own­ers, and the play­wright of a play about the French Rev­o­lu­tion called Mis­takes Were Made.


Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mono­logues: Note: Although Felix’s sec­re­tary is a char­ac­ter in the play, she is only seen in sil­hou­ette and her lines are neg­li­gi­ble. The play is closer to a one-man play than a true two-hander, so there are many mono­logue oppor­tu­ni­ties.   (Long mono­logues con­tain the first few lines and the last few lines; please con­sult the pub­lished text for the mono­logue in its entirety.)

p.16: Felix is try­ing to con­vince the play­wright, Steven, to make the changes to his play sug­gested by a star Felix is try­ing to get to com­mit to the play.


Steven, here’s the deal:  life is unbear­able and short.

(Clar­i­fy­ing) Yes, life is unbear­able and short and peo­ple want to be entertained.

Mean­while, you’re in the Heart­land, with your wife and kid, work­ing your day job, but get­ting ideas, which is what I love about you. You’ve got your cute lit­tle fam­ily, your ten thou­sand things, your gro­cery lists, strollers, your torn-up floors, but you’re sit­ting there think­ing, “Maybe the French Rev­o­lu­tion would be fun to put on stage! [Lines cut]

[Lines cut] And me, Steven, lit­tle me, I’m sit­ting here in New York City, the hub of the West­ern World, with the razor-sharp bot­tom of this whole pyra­mid rest­ing on my eye­ball, you know, I’ve got all these myr­iad vec­tors, Steven, bear­ing down on my lit­tle watery eye­ball, I’m sit­ting here see­ing all these forces at work, and all I’m doing, kid, all I’m doing all day long, is try­ing like hell to do what­ever I can to draw all these dis­parate, tragic, lovely forces together because for me, Steven, poor sucker that I am, this is my curse, there’s no great­est plea­sure in life I can imag­ine right now than to make your play hap­pen on stage!

p.36–37:  Felix finds out the owner of the the­ater where he hopes to put on the play has pulled his slot.


Oscar, I was just about to call you!

[Lines cut]

It sure as hell is my slot, Oscar—what show?

(The phone rings.)

No, you’re not.

NO, you’re not doing a musi­cal ver­sion of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Because, Oscar, it’s the worst idea in the his­tory of West­ern Civilization.

You have to ask? Because Atti­cus Finch is not a singing char­ac­ter, Oscar. He’s not a char­ac­ter who can be made to cred­i­bly sing, it’d be like watch­ing an—anteater stand up and sing! Gre­gory Peck shut the door on this idea 50 years ago!

You never sat down with Miley Cyrus. That’s a lie.

And Billy Ray? Really? For Atticus?

Wow! Another lie! I love this game!


Select Bib­li­og­ra­phy of Reviews and Crit­i­cism:  (Note:  arti­cle title links are to the online ver­sions, mostly UW-only restricted unless des­ig­nated as open access.)

Dziemi­anow­icz, J. (2010, Nov 17). ‘Mis­takes’ misses its call­ing. New York Daily News.

Ish­er­wood, C. (2010, Nov 16). A pro­ducer, his tele­phone and des­per­a­tion. New York Times.

Plem­mons, C. (2009, Nov 13). ‘Mis­takes were made:’ hart­ford stage sad­dled with been there, done that com­edy. The News — Times.

Rizzo, F., & rizzo@courantcom. (2009, Nov 08). PLAYWRIGHT HAS FEET ON TERRA FIRMA, HEAD IN COSMOS. Hart­ford Courant.

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