Saturday, August 2, 2008

the upside--to writing and getting older

It can be easy to get caught up in the downside of playwriting--poor pay, long response times from theatres, a decreasing number of venues (it seems) for full-length work. General discouragement is in plentiful supply.

However, I was looking at a list from my publisher (Brooklyn Publishers) the other day and saw that my one-act play, The Elevator, has been produced twice this year by various high schools. This is the very first play I ever wrote, and it was produced by the Pendragon Theatre in 1987. It's a fine little piece about two people who get stuck together in an elevator. I wrote it on a whim and submitted it to them, since I'd worked with them backstage and as an actor, in our tiny little town of Saranac Lake, NY. The bill for the evening featured me, Elaine May, and Tennesee Williams. (It later went on to be produced in New York City and Denver.)

That production is part of why I'm a playwright and writer today. I was still in college and it helped give me the taste of watching my work live on stage, that first time of butterflies in my stomach as the lights went down and then back up on the actors on the set for my play.

I never would have thought, at the age of 20, that this same play would still be getting productions 21 years later. It's particularly gratifying to know that I wrote something that can still interest and entertain performers and audiences after all this time. I'm certainly a long way from being a well-known writer, but it's nice to know that you don't have to be famous for your work to have a long and productive life. There aren't many fields where you can create something that still sticks around after a generation has passed--I feel lucky to be a writer.

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