Last night I got a very cool e-mail. Just out of the blue, a retired scientist from Indianapolis wrote to me, asking about my play, Reading the Mind of God. (It's about the difficult relationship between the astronomers Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe in the year 1600.) He saw the production done by the Phoenix Theatre in Indy in 1997. That's right, he saw the play more than 12 years ago, yet still finds himself thinking about it. Thinking about it enough that he tracked me down to see where he could find a copy. (It's unpublished, so I'm the only source. Though I'd like to see it published, actually, since colleges occasionally use it in classes).
Reading the Mind of God was something of a breakout play for me, with several very exciting productions, though it never was widely produced (a cast of 8 can get in the way). I'm sometimes a little sad that it doesn't get done more (and sure wish I could find a home for it in Boston--is there any city where people would better understand the sort of grad student/professor vibe of this play?). So knowing that audiences (or, we can at least say, one audience member) still remembers the play and wants to revisit it after all these years--well, that feels pretty great.
In the end, I guess it's one of the reasons why writing and producing plays is worthwhile. We do make an impact, in ways that last for year and years. As a young writer, this lasting residual effect never occurred to me. Theatre seemed so ephemeral. But that's the beauty of a such a human artform--the persistence of memory, long after the lights are off, the sets are struck, and the actors have moved on.