My play Strangers in the Night
One thing I've learned is that for anything to happen, it must happen quickly — or else it won't happen at all.
So on the surface, it looks as though my latest play "Strangers in the Night," which just wrapped its six-show run at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, happened very quickly. It was accepted into the festival, I found the cast a week later, we rehearsed for a few weeks, and then closed the show, all in a little over a month's time.
But that doesn't tell the whole story. To tell that, I'd have to go back to the beginning of this script, which I wrote two years ago in a flurry of madness in a library in my old neighborhood. The only reason I finished it is because I had a deadline. A competition. This was my first script/screenplay/play, and writing it made me want to throw up. Not because the topic was particularly gut-wrenching (it's a pretty tame romantic comedy), but because starting and finishing something, especially something new, is usually the most harrowing process of all. So I wrote my 20+ page script in two days, submitted it, and thought: That felt right. That felt right and good and I should do more of that.
Then I waited. And waited and waited, until two months later that competition came back to me and say, hey, we like this, you're moving on. And strangely enough, this "Strangers" script made it to the top 22 out of 1,730 scripts submitted that year. That was the stamp of approval I thought I needed. That was my "good job, now keep going."
And so off I went, writing things, directing things, reacting to things and pursuing things one at a time, slowly, slowly, slowly, until a full two years later, I submitted the script (since revised into a play) to a one-act festival. They chose it. I cast it. We rehearsed. We put it up. And it was a lot of fun.
Fun and so fast.
But my friend Abby reminded me that two years ago, when she told me I should make a short film or put it up as a play, I shot her down. "No, no, no, never," were probably my exact words.
Sometimes in the beginning projects are scary and too big to hold all at once. So you hedge and you shrink and you wander elsewhere. And that's okay. Because one day — maybe not soon, but one day — you'll be ready. And all that hedging and shrinking and wandering will have done you good and you'll have learned what you needed to learn.
And along the way you'll find the people that you need to make your projects come to life, as I did with Lindsay B. Davis, Jordan Douglas Smith, and Carl Zurhorst, who played Wendy, Charles, and Noah in this short 'n' sweet production. They were a dream to work with. Actually, most of this feels like a dream. The show goes up, you're present and it's intoxicating, and just as quickly: it's over. Maybe that's why I like theater so much. In a world that clings to the past and worries over the future, theater is the form that roots you solidly in the present. Even if it's only for 15 minutes.
I didn't even get into all of the other strange coincidences and conversations and happenstance that had to occur to make this happen, but rest assured: I traced it back. I'm trying very hard to pay attention to how things get made. I was trying to think of what to write about the show, and this came out instead.
Nothing comes from magic.
Writing and directing "Strangers in the Night" was a pleasure. The act of doing it was the biggest pleasure. Oh, yes, and we made it to the festival finals — and I won the Best Director award through the audience vote. If you had told me two years ago I'd ever have the guts...
Well, it's amazing how things change, isn't it?
On to the next.