Wednesday, April 28, 2004

From last summer's View Thru Quarter Pane, which, in my estimation, was a complete love-fest, and though I was disappointed by the light turnout of audience members, I could not have been more pleased with the production.

This play began as a concept piece. Four vignettes, four characters apiece, four men, four get the idea. I called it "Quartet." I was asked, "but what's it about?" I didn't know. I said I would know when I was finished writing it.

And so I did. Without the slightest inkling of writing to fit a certain theme, I wrote four pieces that were whole in and of themselves, and that, when strung together, became emblematic of a whole host of things I'd never predicted.

The first piece, Bringing Spring To Hinckley, was a classroom challenge from a fellow student. "This is Annual Buzzard Day in Hinckley, Ohio," he said. "Somebody should write a play about it." And here it is. Thanks, Jim, for the nudge.

Part Two, No Business Like It, was based on the autobiography of my favorite Marx brother, Harpo Speaks. I was fascinated by his accounts of the early years, before they had nicknames, before they played to packed theaters, before they made movies.

On first contact with Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, I found it evocative, obscure, and strangely sad. Eventually, after a college course in Carpe Diem and a bit more analysis, I realized why. Love You, J. Alfred is a turning around of viewpoint. J. Alfred Prufrock was narrow-minded, blinded to possibilities by his own raft of insecurities. It disturbs me to find characters who miss out on their own potential.

As a finale, Hey, Feed Us, Feetus! began with a name. A silly name. At my birth, I was given a name with a story attached, and very nearly given an extremely silly name. I wanted to tell the story of another silly name, and where it led. Of course, it turned into a great deal more. Doesn't it always?

When I pulled back and squinted a little at the picture, I realized that the pieces were linked by a theme of love. Not the goopy kind that advertisers exploit, but actual love as its used in real life. Love in real life? Now there's a concept.

I've always maintained that casting is 90% of a director's work. Thanks to a brilliantly talented, enormously committed and tremendously hardworking cast, I think we have a show of which we can all be proud. I have truly been blessed to have a cast that was built with the care and assistance of my friends, who brought to me devoted actors, people who wanted to work on the show, with me, with one rare, how fine. Hey, look: it's love in real life.