The Long Shadow, Part One

Late in September 1920, a notice appeared in the Springfield, Ohio, newspaper that the young wife of Bill Collins had died. The cause was edema, a complication of pregnancy that she might have survived had her caregivers not put her to bed—and thus ensured the onset of the pneumonia that took her life. The fluid that swelled her legs also filled her lungs. Feverish and weak, she passed away within a month of giving birth to her only son, my uncle Jack.

 

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The Soul of the Drama

Plays have to be lived to be written. This much I know.

 

If a character’s heart is broken, the playwright’s heart must be the first to go.  So be willing to live and relive the struggle and loss and hope that drama is made on, because if you refuse to feel these things, you can never write authentically.

 

Dare to suffer.

 

Dare to endure.

 

Endure the sense of inadequacy that comes from slogging through scenes that aren’t working and can’t work and won’t work. Choke back the panic of not knowing how to get started or how to stop, or how to fix that dreadful scene or how to fall out of love with those six lines you know just cannot stay and yet you need them, surely you need them, at least for now.

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I Get Letters

Tempting as it is to believe my labors are all for naught, I am occasionally confronted with a different reality. This time it is a note card from the exhausted but grateful and excited cast and crew of RADIUM GIRLS at The Shea Theater in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Director  Robert Freedman kindly forwarded  a review from the local press (quite positive), a copy of the program, a DVD of production photos, and a card full of love. Witness:

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Doors & Windows

Let us consider a simple mystery.

 

A man at a party lights a cigarette; from ten feet away, at the end of a narrow hallway, a woman observes him. The next room buzzes with talk and laughter, the rattle of glasses over a Patsy Cline record in full croon. But she sees only him.  For months he has been the focus of her fascination, moving at the edge of her circle of friends, chatty and charming, always clever, usually evasive, never alone.

 

And now there he is: by himself, striking a match with one determinedly casual stroke, a movement so sleek that she wonders if he had practiced it before a mirror. She smiles at this idea, and as she does, she catches his eye. This time, she holds his gaze. Continue reading

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