Another year that lasted as long as a baby’s nap- by which I mean, long enough to get inspired by wonderful writing but too short to act on that inspiration. Again, I remain thankful to Ken for putting up with my exhausted attempts to keep up as drama editor, (always late and always sorry); yet I remain quite happy for the excuse (my husband still doesn’t know I do this for free) to steal time to read plays and put the playwright’s imagination on the pan. I’ll start with my most recent playwright and hope my memory is sufficiently shocked into recall mode.
Geoffrey Nauffts is a sly, subtle writer. He has the actor’s gift of natural storytelling that feels organic, fresh, funny and unrehearsed, but courses with silent purpose and intent, leading the reader/listener/audience to a place they didn’t expect to end up. To have one’s first full length play end up on Broadway and nominated for Best New Play Tony award might go to another writer’s head, but not Geoffrey Nauffts- he’s far too neurotic and self-denigrating to believe his own best press. Which is another reason to read and enjoy Next Fall- once you hear our interview (my first audio interview!) you will enjoy discovering the character he wrote based on him. And it will surprise you.
DeeAnn Newkirk’s play Faith, which, much like Next Fall, examines that which tests or creates faith. Faith, the play (as opposed to faith: the belief, confidence or trust in a person, object, religion, idea or view) may be a short play but it brims with power, pain, wonder and grief at the power we give away when faith becomes more important than truth. A two-character drama, Faith reads profoundly, begs to be performed, and will be the play people will find themselves debating for hours (if not days) afterwards.
Hotel, by Sandi Johnson, is a rompy diversion from dramatic, life-altering explorations of faith. A witty, frolicsome vacation from reality-based drama, Hotel is a retro-caper play where the audience can sit back and wonder which double-crossing, role-playing greedy criminal ‘mastermind’ they most identify with. Very much a tribute to the quick and chilly Thin Man martinis (I mean movies) of the 1930s, Ms. Johnson has penned deliciously evil and strong female characters you will love to identify with will not in any way hate.
Heather Jones, Every Creature’s Shadow is a strangely spiced dramatic offering- a play incorporating dance, the magical cruelty of imaginary wood pixies and somehow is set in a death row jail cell. And no, that’s not just the Malbec talking. I loved interviewing Heather because within minutes of emailing her, we were trying to figure out when we could meet somewhere between California and Florida and drink together. Actually, Every Creature’s Shadow resembles the other plays of the year in that it’s an exploration of faith and denial in the face of either literal death or the death of whom/what we hold most dear.
B. H. James play opened this literary year with a play that was submitted to Connotation Press. I eagerly dove into Before We Were What We Are Now, and it felt like diving into a deep lake that’s colder and darker and deeper and less calm than it initially appears. A painfully funny and awkward exploration of the absurd death of a relationship, the play takes brilliant twists and turns that will confound the reader’s initial allegiance to the character (they fear) they most resemble. Realistic enough to induce shudders of remembrance, this play will resonate with everyone who’s ever thought they were in love.