When I type the words “end of play,” I mentally follow them with “what have I done?”
That’s because I don’t really have too many clues about what a play is until I hear it read by actors.
They breathe into it.
Friends who aren’t writers or involved in the theater think “end of play” means I’ve completed something. That’s far from the case. the words simply mean that I’ve made it through the initial writing period (in this case, a three-year — with gaps — initial writing period).
How much longer will it take to finish finish?
That depends on when a theater company or producer takes an interest in it. And, of course, what the world of theater looks like down the road.
Assuming there’s theater.
And assuming there’s a road.
Right now, this play is called “On the Way to Cape May.” It was partly sparked by one-of-a-kind friend/actress/singer/storyteller/force of nature Karen Irwin.
Karen changed my creative life by directing my play “Beer Can Raft” for the IndyFringe Festival and, in the process, helped me take myself seriously as a playwright. She also build an actual friggin’ beer can raft, which served as its centerpiece. I repeat, SHE BUILT A BEER CAN RAFT.
And, since then, she’s given me shit because I haven’t written a part that was a perfect fit for her. Even though I lifted something she said about “magic shoes” and used it as a key element in my play “Clutter.”
She also lets me crash at her place when I’m in New York.
So I owe her, big time. But it’s a good kind of owing. Because I would be thrilled if Karen actual got to play a part I wrote for her.
Of course, plays don’t come from one source. They come from a whole bunch of things all put through the Play-Doh Fun Factory in my head and mixed and mashed and extruded into something I hadn’t planned on.
So I wanted a part for Karen. I also wanted to write another play set in Wildwood, NJ, my hometown. I’ve written two already. You can listen to one of them, “Rita From Across the Street,” here.
I also wanted to write about minor scams and ethical gray areas. I wanted to continue to explore some of the ideas that ended up in my play “Popular Monsters”— about the stories we tell about ourselves and the ones we don’t tell.
I wanted to write about nonjudgmental grace. And I didn’t want to write a love story — at least, not the kind of story you think about when you hear the words “love story.”
And I didn’t want to sand down the edges. I didn’t want to tie characters with neat bows.
Okay, so I didn’t work for three years straight on it. I took time out to write another play and do things like work, eat, and sleep.
So what’s next?
Well, we’ll figure out a time to have a private Zoom reading of “On the Way to Cape May” and see how it feels. See the places where I should drive faster, the places where I need to pull over, the exits I’ve missed and the places where the ride was just too smooth.
We’ll see if the title makes sense or not (probably not).
“End of play” felt good to write, though. I can now step outside of it, at least partway, and start to answer that question:
What have I done?
I look forward to finding out.