I’m going to end this post with a request, so if you’re pressed for time, jump to the end.
First, an update: it’s been nearly two months since my last entry, due in part to my acting in the film The Golden Scallop (so fun) and the opening of Dream Walker (page updated w/reviews and pics), as well as TCG and Flux heating up. I’ve been going so non-stop since the honeymoon that as soon as Thanksgiving arrived, I promptly got sick.
One of the benefits of keeping crazy busy is you can pretend momentum is progress. Look at all I’m doing! All this motion must surely signify something! On the plane ride to and from our Thanksgiving in California, I finally had time to more closely examine all this activity.
On the one hand, as a playwright I feel as strong as I ever have: when I write something now, the first draft comes out quickly and pretty close to its final form. I have plenty of ideas – a tally on the plane found 33 plays that I have either started or plotted in my head, ready to finish or begin. And people seem to be connecting to my work – Dream Walker (so grateful to the cast and crew!) received a lovely audience response, and I have a bunch of readings and productions to look forward to in the coming year.
I can’t shake the feeling that I’m falling short of what I’m capable of – a feeling I know most playwrights share, but knowing that the feeling is common doesn’t diminish its strength. The playwrights I truly love are Can’t Miss Playwrights – as soon as I hear about an upcoming show (or even a reading), it goes into my calendar and I do everything in my power to see it.
I think we all have artists like this; people whose work becomes essential to us. This is the kind of artist I would like to be, and though I know I only have so much control over that, I don’t want to fall short through lack of honesty, effort or daring.
So here is my question to you: who are the Can’t Miss Playwrights for you, and why are they Can’t Miss? Be as specific as you can – please list moments in plays that exemplify what makes them essential to you.
For example: Octavio Solis’ Lydia made him a Can’t Miss Playwright for me. The ending of the play balances the brutal honesty of a human trapped in an almost irredeemably broken body with the possibility that some hope remains, through the simple power of human touch. Our protagonist Ceci is a young woman left by an accident in a near vegetative state, but the magic of theatre allows her to slip out of that and share her longings with us. What she longs for more than anything is sex, touch, love. When, in the final moment of the play, her brother gives her a small measure of what she wants, his mercy is both grotesque and beautiful, magically theatrical and painfully real; morally uncertain and physically charged. The unsettling complexity of meaning and moving simplicity of action in this moment make Solis a Can’t Miss Playwright, and I have more such CMPs (enough to need two hands to count).
I’ve never taken a playwriting class, which has been both good and bad – all of the learning I’ve done has been first hand. This has perhaps given me a kind of blindness to something missing from my work; something that might be revealed by you (yes, you) sharing your Can’t Miss Playwrights, and why their work is so essential. This is how I learn best, by listening to others talk about what they love.
So please, take five minutes to write your CMPs in the comments below. You’ll help me become a better playwright, and I’ll try to pay you back by writing an unforgettable play.
(PS: If you are one of those rare and beautiful people who consider me a CMP, thank you so much, but please leave a different playwright behind – this isn’t fishing for a praise, though that is always nice.)