There was a moment — and I’m beginning to suspect this moment occurs in most productions — when we were deep into the nightly rehearsal process and all the fatigue that entails, and I did the math about what still needed to be done relative to the available time we had left, and the production calculator spat out the result: impossible; you’re screwed; have a nice day.
I remember the precise moment for this production. Renée, our effervescent, enthusiastic, and efficient stage manager, had posted to our production page a video of me giving post-rehearsal notes to the cast for a couple of cast members who had been excused the night before. And I started watching it and was reminded again that: a) I could stand to lose a few pounds; b) I have a weird command (“command” might be too strong a word here) of the spoken language where the first half of the sentence and the second half of the sentence sometimes don’t connect, and the second half often gets abandoned as a lost cause (I much prefer the written word, if it’s all the same); and c) there is no possible way to get this production ready in time.
I was in mid-wallow, when I flashed back to a point about a half dozen years before (I ended up trying to share this moment with the cast the next rehearsal, but not sure if it survived the trip via my spoken word). We were in the throes of the economic meltdown. My lawn was dying, because my sprinkler was broken, and I couldn’t afford to have it fixed, because my job had gone away, and we had just gone through the horrible process of laying off a bunch of wonderful people who were just trying to make some little films with us that would hopefully do some good out there in the wide world, and the economy looked like it wasn’t turning around any time soon, and I had written a screenplay at nights called “Incompleat Works” that I thought was promising and might help the cause, but people kept passing on it, and I wasn’t sure what was to become of me, but it was hard to think about all that because my lawn was dying, on account of this broken sprinkler, and I had no clue how to fix it, but I definitely couldn’t afford to replace my grass, so I better try to figure something out real quick, and I had already made a couple of pilgrimages to the sprinkler store for these weird pieces of plastic that couldn’t possibly fit together, but I did the best that I could to put them together, scraping knuckles along the way, and I said a little “please please work” prayer as I turned the water back on, and as the hole I was working in started filling up with muddy water to add emphasis to the point that I had no clue what I was doing with life, let alone this sprinkler, I started to cry. Right there. In my front yard. Over my little mud-hole. And the sprinkler that wouldn’t fix.
And 2015 me got to thinking that if crying mud-hole me could catch a glimpse of the future me giving notes to our wonderful cast of what is now the stage play version “Incompleat Works,” despite the extra pounds and weird syntax and impossibly tight timeframe and the fact that the play is still far from perfect, he would say to me, “Dude, you’re sitting there in a theater working with a wonderful cast on a play you wrote. Shut up and realize how blessed you are.”
To quote the Dead, what a long strange trip it’s been.
So I’m realizing how blessed I am and shutting up. Except not before saying this: tonight, the curtain falls on this cast. I hope you can join us for the last night of the run a half dozen years in the making. Except there is no curtain at The Echo. I like that.