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October 2011 Archives

October 19, 2011

4 Openings in Two Months!

I’ve just returned from London, where we opened Crazy For You at the Novello Theatre on the West End. It was a wonderful experience all around. I spent the week before we opened with the cast, working on a new twist on the ending, and it ended up working just fine. People are saying that the show is even better than it was in Regent’s Park, and that is also just fine.

Here's the new video trailer:

The other fun news is that I’m about to jump into rehearsals for three new world premieres, all of them opening in November within about two weeks of each other.

Midsummer/Jersey, a play I wrote specifically for high school students, premieres at Robinson High School in Fairfax, VA on November 17th and runs for three performances, through November 19th. As you might have guessed, it’s A Midsummer Nights Dream meets Jersey Shore. I wrote it in part as a way to help high school students understand and appreciate Shakespeare. I'll be working with them throughout the rehearsal process, to give them a sense of what it's like to work on a new play with the playwright in the room. From what I understand, the kids are having loads of fun with the script. They’ll be performing a one-hour version of the play in a couple of weeks as part of the Virginia Theatre Association play competition (Oct 28-30 in Reston, VA). I’m thrilled to be delivering the keynote speech at the awards banquet on the last day of the conference. More on that soon.

'Twas the Night Before Christmasstarts rehearsals this week at The Adventure Theatre in Bethesda, MD and performances start November 18 and runs through January 2. (For those of you new to my blog, this one chronicles the adventures of a mouse, an elf and a spunky little girl who set off to save Christmas from an evil ex-elf who is trying to double-cross Santa.)

Finally, my new comedy-thriller, The Game's Afoot (or Holmes for the Holidays) will have its world premiere at Cleveland Play House. Previews start November 25, opening night is November 30 and the play runs through December 18. The story takes place during the holiday season, when William Gillette, the star of Sherlock Holmes, invites the cast of the play to his Connecticut castle, an isolated house full of tricks and mirrors. One of the guests is stabbed to death and Gillette transforms into Sherlock Holmes (metaphorically ... sort of) in order to track down the killer before another murder takes place. Aaron Posner is directing and the cast is marvelous.

So I have a busy month ahead, but what could be better? You mean I get paid for this?

October 10, 2011

My PEN/Faulkner Gala Speech

PEN-Faulkner_178.jpgI am currently writing a book about Shakespeare. How it will be received I don’t know. As one fellow scribe has said, “However much we writers claim to be indifferent to critics, all of us are secretly only satisfied with “Hail, Sun God, Rise and Lead They People.”

At the moment, I’m up to the Hamlet chapters, and so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Free Will versus Fate. One of Shakespeare’s central metaphors related to this theme involves the relationship between the world of the theatre and so-called “real life.” He makes this comparison again and again, from one play to the next. “Life’s but a poor player who struts and frets his hour upon the stage.” “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” “A kingdom for a stage, princes to act, / And monarchs to behold the swelling scene.” Shakespeare seems to be asking: Are we human beings merely actors? Are the lives we lead written out for us and predetermined, or are we free to change the script as Hamlet tries so desperately to do?

Four weeks ago today I dropped my daughter at college as a freshman. For several years now, I’ve seen that moment marching towards me as surely and inevitably as Hamlet saw the Ghost of his Father marching across the battlements of Elsinore, and I saw it coming with a similar sense of doom. (As I recall, the Ghost was not known for his joie de vivre.) For my wife and I as we boarded the plane with our daughter, as for Hamlet on the battlements, the writing was on the wall. The script was written, the future was inevitable and there was no changing it.

When Hamlet sees the Ghost for the first time, his reaction is staggering. Something absolutely impossible has happened right before his eyes. He cries “Angels and ministers of grace defend us!” and he thinks, “That’s my father!”

Three nights after dropping my daughter off at college, she called me. She had just been to the college health clinic because of a sore throat. She told me that she had had a throat culture, they discovered strep, she was on an antibiotic that she was taking twice a day, and that she was feeling much better. She sounded level-headed, and spoke with a sense of maturity that I had never heard before. This was a girl who once, at tennis camp, got her head stuck in a freezer. She sounded happy about her classes and eager to study for them. I thought: “Angels and ministers of grace defend us! That’s my daughter!" The writing, once again, is on the wall, and, unlike Hamlet, I’m happy to follow the script and not even try to change it. The wheel turns. Life goes on. Aren’t we lucky.