My Dinner with André

by André Gregory, Wallace Shawn

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 463

My Dinner with Andre is a screenplay written by the actor, writer, and director Andre Gregory and actor/playwright Wally Shawn. Playing versions of themselves, the two actors philosophize, debate, and muse over their lives as artists. The two characters have taken completely different career paths, and some of the most important scenes examine their differences.

At the beginning of the film and screenplay, Wally talks about his struggles finding acting work and paying the bills. He admits he doesn't want to meet his friend Andre because he had heard that Andre was having problems.

I had been trapped by an odd series of event into agreeing to have dinner with a man I'd been avoiding literally for years, and I was looking forward to the evening with a feeling of absolute dread.

Initially, Wally decides on a tactic to get through the evening.

I thought to myself that the only way to make this evening bearable would be to find out as much as I could about the person I happened to be with. I always enjoy finding out about people. It always relaxes me.

His tactic works. For the first half of the screenplay, Andre talks exclusively about his own experiences and views.

Well you see, this experience in Poland was the first of many experiences that I led-or you can call them workshops, but analogy with the old workshops I used to teach when I was teaching acting in New York-but these new workshops were very different, because the basis of these workshops is just to create some terrible hole that we would all drop into. And that's usually quite frightening, because we don't know where we will be at the next moment.

Finally, Wally opens up, contributes to the conversation, and shows the differences between the two men.

Yeah, but I mean, I would never give up my electric blanket, Andre. I mean because New York is cold in the winter. I mean, our apartment is cold! It's a difficult environment. I mean, our life is tough enough as it is. I'm not looking for ways to get rid of a few things that provide relief and comfort. I mean, on the contrary. I'm looking for more comfort because the world is very abrasive. I mean, I'm trying to protect myself because, really, there's these abrasive beatings to be avoided everywhere you look!

Andre is more adventurous and unconventional.

But, Wally, don't you see that comfort can be dangerous? I mean, you like to be comfortable and I like to be comfortable too, but comfort can lull you into a dangerous tranquillity.

The film ends with Wally's voice over.

When I finally came in, Debby was home from work and I told her everything about my dinner with Andre.

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