If you’re lucky enough to work regularly in Richmond theatre, it’s likely that you work for more than one organization. Actors, directors, designers, choreographers, musicians, and, yes, playwrights, all bounce from place to place, perhaps rehearsing Sunday through Wednesday in this building while performing Thursday through Sunday in that one.
Some might view such a life as a sad scramble, and murmur sympathetically about “those poor homeless artists.” But I tend to think of it as rather the opposite-- that those of us who are blessed with these chances aren’t the least bit homeless; rather, we have many homes. We relish our ability to move without passport from place to place, making nonsense of the very idea of borders and boundaries.
So it gives me great pleasure to look out the window and smile as my train brings me into the land of Firehouse. It is at once familiar and strange-- the same building, the same stage, the same staircase….but such intriguing new features, such bright new colors, such wonderful new people. The landscape is in full bloom, and its scent is of possibility.
It’s especially nice to be returning with a play that had its very first public hearing on this same stage. Five years ago, thanks to Carol Piersol, a very early draft of THE BOATWRIGHT was given voice by Bill Patton and Matt Bloch, with Jan Guarino directing and Audra Honaker helping us to imagine the stage directions. It then made its way to Ashland, Oregon, where it received extremely useful help from extremely talented people; around that time, it also won the inaugural American Association of Community Theatres New Play Contest, after which it had its world premiere at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre in Michigan and was published by Dramatic Publishing.
As the play itself says, the point of a good boat is that it can bring you home, and it’s extremely nice to see THE BOATWRIGHT receiving a full production on the very stage where it began, expertly helmed this time by Gary C. Hopper, who has piloted several of my works through tricky waters for over twenty five years. Its cast features two of Richmond’s most talented actors in veteran David Bridgewater and newcomer Tyler Stevens. My play could not be in more capable hands.
I won’t really be spending much time here until after THE BOATWRIGHT opens in February, at which time I’ll be settling in periodically to fiddle around with one play or another (or a third.) Joel and I expect to be putting something called FOOD, CLOTHING AND SHELTER in front of you at some point during the year, and there’s something else I’ll be working on just as soon as I decide what it is… but in the meantime, I just wanted to say how pleased I am to be back, and how excited I am about all the good work I hope you’ll be joining us for in the year ahead.