There’s been a lot going on lately, though you wouldn’t know it from this blog. A wonderful production of The Farm wrapped up, I’m in rehearsals with Fresh Ink Theatre for a similarly wonderful (though wildly different, tonally) production of Priscilla Dreams the Answer, and, most importantly, on November 5th I got married to my favorite person. There’ll be much to say about all of that soon, I’m sure.
And then I came back from the honeymoon and immediately froze up on what to blog about. Until I was riding the T this morning, and reading this article by Howard Sherman in Howlround, about “old” new plays and their necessity. It’s a great article, but what’s even more remarkable the follow-up comment by playwright Bill Cain, in regards to his play Stand-Up Tragedy. The whole thing’s worth a read, but this quote in particular hit me like a bolt from the blue:
Stand-Up didn’t just teach me how to write; it also taught me why I should write.
On opening night at the Taper in Los Angeles – a wonderful night – one of the young teachers on whom the main teacher was based – had flown himself out to see the show. I was very nervous to hear how it had affected him. When I found the courage to ask, he didn’t say that he had liked it or not. He said something much simpler. He said, “I didn’t know anybody had seen me.”
When the show opened on Broadway – also a wonderful night at least until the review came out – the boy who was the model for the central student was there and I was terrified of his response. He said something similar. He said, “I’m the hero, aren’t I?” And I said, “Yeah – you always have been.”
They taught me what writing is about.
Letting people know that they have been seen in all their hidden greatness.
It was a big thing to learn.
And a new way to evaluate success and failure of a work that took years to write.
I feel like I talk all the time about theatre’s ability to spark conversation, to inspire, to awe the audience. But there’s so much possible connection and validation in just taking people’s stories seriously and making sure that they know. Cain put it perfectly, and I’ll be thinking about it all day as I work through a few new projects and enjoy what’s been, as of right now, a really wonderful year.