Thursday, March 27, 2008

Platwright's Platform member John O'Brien's Obituary

Platwright's Platform member John O'Brien's Obituary appeared in the Globe, along with his photo.
There's no photo credit for John's picture, so I assume it is one supplied by the family that I'm free to use.  I have a few dozen photos of John from the thirtysome years I knew him, but none are "newfangled digital" .

QUOTE: "One of his plays that I worked on was called 'Due to Die at Dawn,' about a guy who was going to get executed in the morning," said Jason Taylor of Boston, who directed or acted in more than a dozen of Mr. O'Brien's plays. "I don't know how he did it, but he managed to put laughs into the play, and it's not a particularly humorous subject. When he gave me the script, I have to say I didn't know if it was going to work, but it did."

I remember that play well.  Another memorable one is about a couple staying in a luxury hotel outside the US who see out their window the police clearing out a gypsy camp of squatters.  It is similar to one of Wallace Shawn's works, but based on John's personal experience, and written before Shawn's.   John chose it as the play to summon his theatre friends to hear read at Community Church when he was told that he had not long left to live.  His voice was diminished and his energy limited, but he served as chief jokester and story teller at his own Irish Unitarian wake, giving us all a chance to say, "Thanks, friend, for the memories.  We love you."

I'm thinking of sending in a Correction.   The Globe says "more than 20 works for the stage..."
In the early 1980's, when I known him for a decade, I asked John how many plays he'd written.  He said "One hundred and five."  In the quarter century since, surely John at least equaled that rate of production-- so somebody must have slipped a decimal point.  It should be "more than 200 works for the stage...".  
Surely I'm not the only Boston-area playgoer who has personally seen far more than 20 of John O'Brien's plays! 

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