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retread| When Playwrights Die 29 April 2006

Posted by EDITOR in Arts, GUESTS, Reviews.
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Retreads are quality posts from yesterweeks that are given a second run on Saturdays. This piece was originally posted by guest contributor Imran Javaid on 31 January 2006.

We lose so much when playwrights die. Just look at what, now dead at 55, Wendy Wasserstein left behind.

HARRIET: You sound like your mother.

JANIE: No. Tasha would believe you ‘cause you’re thin. Look at us. You look like a Vermeer and I look like an extra in Potemkin.

HARRIET: Janie, I think someone’s watching us.

JANIE fluffs her hair: Do I look all right? You know what I resent?

HARRIET: What?

JANIE: Just about everything except you. I resent having to pay the phone bill, be nice to the super, find meaningful work, fall in love, get hurt. All of it I resent deeply.

HARRIET: What’s the alternative?

JANIE: Dependency. I could marry the pervert who’s staring at us. No. That’s not a solution. I could always move back to Brookline. Get another master’s in something useful like Women’s Pottery. Do a little free-lance writing. Oh, God, it’s exhausting.

HARRIET: He’s coming.

I pulled my three-play volume of Wasserstein. Those lines are from Isn’t It Romantic. I picked them at random and only vaguely remember reading them despite all the underlining I apparently did in high school trying to reduce the play to its essential components (“Dependency” … “Oh, God, it’s exhausting”…). I think Vermeer was an artist, and I just learned (or relearned) Potemkin’s an old Soviet movie, presumably with very thin extras.

It doesn’t really matter though, does it? Or it only matters a little. It’s not the words. It’s the lines. Just look at them. Now read them. Now read them with attitude. Now read them like you mean it. Breathe life into those lines. Let those lines breathe life into you. Open yourself up. Let your soul follow the air rushing in fits and starts out of your mouth and into the world made warm by your presence and other presences, the present world. Now inhale according to rhythms marked by punctuation and let the author’s many selves in. Taste for a moment what it might mean to be someone other than who you think yourself to be. Read those lines and LIVE.

Oh, God, it’s liberating.

I don’t mean escape. This old heart’s still beating with these old bones under cover of this same skin glowing under the halogen on my desk. I don’t mean escape. I mean discovery.

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