I’m feeling more than usually European these days. For my drama workshop, I have to read Camus, Artaud, Durrenmatt—which takes me back to a time long ago, when I fell in love with theater and read every play, indiscriminately. I wanted to act. I wanted to find another character for myself. Neither venture was a success—not least because I understood nothing of what I read or experienced. Nothing important, that is.
Has anything changed? Well, I’m much better now at playing the part I draft for myself every day. That often feels like my life’s work. Otherwise, I put words on the page and send those pages flying out into the world, intending to connect. Good intentions. Hell.
I took another drama workshop a couple of years ago, during which I wrote a three-act play that failed to be either realistic or free from the constraints of realism. My head was filled with visions of Arthur Miller and his cohort, I guess. I made up for any sense of unease by trying to be funny.
For this workshop, I have written a three-page scene about two strangers who meet and fail to connect. I see and hear the scene as brush strokes on a blank canvas. I was thrilled when Dr. Stetco said my scene was very cool. Less is more. (I'm still trying to be funny.)
I’m not an actor, but I think of myself as a performer: I love to read my own work, love to have an audience. Even so, when I read in Louisiana, or in Georgia where I lived for four years, or even in New York City, I am always aware of my stranger status. My voice gives me away, every time. Now I am back in theater again, and I realize that, sweet as my cohort is, they likely won’t think to cast me. I don’t sound right, I don’t look right either, to play an American character.
To be in a theater feels like coming home. To be only in the auditorium, looking at the stage, feels like a metaphor too close to home. My default is angst.
When i was an undergraduate, i directed three plays. The first and most tragic of these was Waiting for Godot. I did not direct well and still cringe to think about that production, but Beckett's play continues to draw me. Some days I am Estragon, and some days I am Vladimir. How absurd. But surely not more so than waiting for Trump to be President?