The day after a show closes is hard.

It’s even harder when that show is a one-night-only event.

Last night, SiteLines Indy in partnership with the Lou Harry Gets Real podcast presented Steven Dietz’s “Bloomsday.” For years–ever since reading this magical play and meeting the playwright when I presented him with a Steinberg Award citation (and a nice check) for the play–I’ve wanted to see the play performed in a pub.

Since no one else seemed to want to do that, I figured I’d do it myself. Well, not myself. It wouldn’t have happened without my podcast producer Patrick Chastain, who nudged me in the direction I wanted to go and made sure that we had the venue and the audience and the financing to support the project.

Casting should have been tricky. The play required not just two women who could nail Irish accents but also two women who believably could play the same person 35 years apart. And two men who could also play the same guy at 20 and 55. It required actors who could inseparably play the ache and the humor of Dietz’ full-blooded characters. BloomsdayDavyByrnes.jpg

I said “should have been tricky.” But it wasn’t. I got my first choice for all for spots–Adam Crowe, Beverly Roche, Frankie Bolda and Ryan Claus. Their work started out strong and got richer through both (yes, there were only two) of our rehearsals and rose even higher and dug even deeper for the performance.

I didn’t have the best seat. But I had a great seat. From my position in the front, facing the audience (I was reading minimally necessary stage directions). I could see the tears wiped away. I could see the leaning in. I could see the surprise and the laughs. I could see the joy.

Last night was thrilling for me.

Today has been hard.

Because, like the characters in the play, I’m wrestling with a moment that’s gone.

But that’s what theater is. That’s what life is.

And that’s why I love both.

I’m committed to doing more play readings at the Aristocrat, our home pub. I firmly believe that they can be as powerful as full productions as they strip the art to writer and actor. (That’s no slight on costumers, scenic designers, etc.–this is a plus, not an instead.) I still believe people are hungry for stories. They are hungry for human connection. And there’s glory in being in a room when a story is coming to life.

Maybe we’ll do “Bloomsday” again next year. Maybe not.

Whatever is next, I know I must remember James Joyce’s words, as used by Dietz and beautifully delivered by Adam Crowe. These three voices shared what Joyce imagined a dead man in a coffin might be thinking:

Wait, I wanted to.

I haven’t yet.