Monday, January 30, 2006

Monday, Bluesday

Monday was recovery day. Cleaned and packed away my costume and accessories. Checked the weekend number on my web site-- there will be over 40,000 visitors by January 31st, I believe. A huge number. Wyn Snow, my web mistress, is installing a widget that supposedly will give us a better idea of where the visitors come from and whether they are stumbling in by mistake or actually come and find what they are looking for. If it really is the latter, then I am one of the most popular playwrights in America-- amongst Jr. high school actors???

Checked in by phone to see how Larry Stark's recovery is coming. He has medical horror stories, but minor ones. Basically the doctors did a good job with the important part-- the knee repair-- and he'll be fine once they've figured out what happened to his pain prescription and he gets the pills and can bear to work on his recovery exercises.

Went with Eliza to the New Rep reading of a play they are thinking about producing by the author of BEAST ON THE MOON, which I admired when they produced it some seasons back. I think that this play, THE CROOKED MAN, may be an early work, because although it has some of the virtues of BEAST the construction is clumsy naturalism compared to that play's theatricality, and unlike the complex relationships in BEAST here only the central character is vivid and interesting. The seven other characters seem to exist only as the means for the Armenian war hero to tell his story. The New Rep cast, Ken Baltin especially, gave it a great reading though-- filling in characterization and nuance. Eliza and I felt that we could predict what was going to happen in the second act-- and we were right-- but we stayed for the pleasure of the performances. I wonder if the author is interested in re-working it?

Wendy Wasserstein died today. I read all the obits as they appeared on line. I only met her briefly, and heard her speak on a couple of playwright panels, but the warmth and generosity everyone spoke of was evident to me even so. I've always felt mildly envious of her: she was enough younger than I that a few of the barriers to women writers in the theatre were beginning to crumble, and she had money, credentials, and connections that made it possible for her to nurture her talent. But the talent is real, she's a unique voice and a significant one. I came away from the Huntington's revival of SISTERS conscious of the deep sadness under the stoicism that's under the surface brightness; and that sadness runs unspoken through the tributes today.
NYTimes-- "In the play's bittersweet final scene, Heidi has become a single mother to a new infant — a path Ms. Wasserstein would herself choose to pursue many years later, (!) ultimately at great physical cost (!) , when she gave birth to her daughter, Lucy Jane, at age 48 in 1999."
"No matter how lonely you get or how many birth announcements you receive," a character says in "Isn't It Romantic," "the trick is not to get frightened. There's nothing wrong with being alone."
My bizarre and totally personal reaction is one of frustration and sorrow that Wasserstein sacrificed her health, her talent, an enormous quantity of medical and financial resources, and finally, her life, in order to give birth to a baby of her own on whom she could lavish love--- a baby who is now left an orphan.
I sympathize: my daughter is the great love of my life, raising her and enjoying her adult friendship my most rewarding experience. But I am very very sad that Wendy made the choice she did, and wish that she had adopted instead. In a sense, we are all Wendy's distant cousins -- enjoying her jokes and profiting from her insight and rejoicing in her success. Weren't we appreciative enough? Didn't we let her know her melancholy love wasn't going to waste? Thousands, maybe millions of us felt it, and returned it.


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