ABOUT MY PLAYS
[If you are interested in producing any of my plays, don’t hesitate to contact me]
In 1990 I reconnected with an old friend from my high school days (we actually went to different high schools), a beautiful woman who I knew as Sally back then, but now went by Sarah. We had had no romantic interest back in the ‘60s, but now in our 40s we thought we’d give it a try. As part of my courting her, I wrote her letters at a prodigious rate, sometimes four or five a week. And the letters took all different forms, some serious, many humorous. Since I was deeply involved in theater I eventually thought I’d write a letter in the form of a short play. I had thought about playwriting for quite sometime, but the idea felt overwhelming to me. But this seemed manageable.
What I wrote was pretty awful, and I never sent it to her. But I wanted to give it a second try, and for that one I put her and me on stage and just went from there. And once I started that, I couldn’t stop. It was way too long for a letter and it became my first show, Roadsigns.
(Didn’t help the relationship, though, as we parted soon after I wrote it)
But now I had the confidence to keep at it. This was 1991 and in the next dozen years I wrote prolifically. I particularly enjoyed writing short, quirky comedies, many with fantasy elements, and these I could fairly easily get to a stage.
I joined a writers group in Manhattan called Aural Stage and the extraordinary folks in that group, all of whom had wonderful training and education as writers, taught me the “how” of a play. I began submitting my plays to national contests and entering them in festivals. A number of my shows had success in these venues. I was having productions and readings on a pretty regular basis.
And then in 2004, I took a look at a show I was writing, I realized how forced the writing had become and that I was writing for the sake of writing, and I quit. I moved on to write in other forms. I said goodbye to playwriting and was quite at peace with that decision.
It’s the nature of playwriting in the amateur world I inhabit that the writing of a play is just the beginning of the process. Then comes the workshopping, refining, promoting and producing of the play, which can go on for quite some time. And in the wake of the end of my playwriting, I was still extremely active for many years getting my shows produced, and with some wonderful results.
In the late summer of 2013, one of my plays was included in an original works festival run every summer by the Hand To Mouth Players. Something happened to me in the process which to this day I don’t really understand, but the day after the final performance, I sat down and started playwriting again. One very important aspect was how impressed I was with one of the actors there, Carly Lichtenstein. I loved the way she lit up the stage (she wasn’t in my play but one of the others, and she had a very small part). And I thought she’d be great doing my stuff and I wondered how I could get her interested in working with me. Coincidentally, her boyfriend (now husband) Pete Lillo was in a play with my wife, and Robin would come home from rehearsals raving about him.
So I put the two of them on a bench (in my mind) and started writing a play which is now called Paradise Enow. What is most telling about how driven I was is that when I finished the first draft and showed it to Robin (a wonderful dramaturge [and playwright] who has made my work so much better), she didn’t have one positive thing to say about it, and yet although I am particularly sensitive to criticism, and I hadn’t written for ten years, instead of just junking it I dove back in and started rewrites. And by the time I finished, I not only had a serviceable show, I had written five other short plays, two of them tailored for Pete and Carly.
I haven’t written since then but those half dozen plays have already jumpstarted my theater life, got me involved with three new playwriting groups, and will keep me busy for several more years.