It’s fall and I’m reading plays. I know it’s fall because the silly pirate hoodie is out. I like to sit on the couch on crisp fall days with the hoodie hood up, football muted in the background and read scripts. This year I’m reading from a couch in Boston. Last year it was a couch in DC, and the year before that a couch in Chicago. But it doesn’t matter where I move, the plays follow me. And I’m always reading in fall because I was supposed to read in summer, but it’s not the same, reading plays in summer. Stories have a different texture in July and August. They feel sluggish and sticky. A weekend bike ride calls, a cookout, a beer—but no plays please.
In September the theater photographers are in full bloom and I start seeing images of beautiful fall productions on Facebook. Everything looks 3D and lively and suddenly stories matter again, and I realize that broken promises to read the unread must be kept.
I’m always reading in fall because I was supposed to read in summer, but it’s not the same, reading plays in summer. Stories have a different texture in July and August. They feel sluggish and sticky.
And this fall the challenge is particularly daunting, how to read plays and edit journal posts, and write journal posts, and launch a new Center? How to keep the new and undiscovered stories of the stage in my purview? How not to give up on them in the hopes that the unread will be made alive by some other theater type in some pirate hoodie in some other city?
Some thoughts on the unread without completely killing the metaphor:
- Whenever I actually take the time to read them, I’m reminded that these pages were once fully alive, a playwright poured over every exchange, every stage direction, and every ellipsis. You can feel the supernatural powers of the playwright’s imagination when you blow the dust off of the inbox, and double click the PDF, and see the words coming at you under the power of their own meaning.
- The unread deserve to live. I’m frightened for our field—we’ve overlooked so many of them in order to produce the same three or four new plays that I wonder if the unread plan to awaken under their own power and become the night of the living dead for all those theater makers that didn’t have time to read something they didn’t already know existed.
- If we’re going to keep giving playwrights advanced degrees and extolling the virtues of our profession to the alive and newly aspiring, then we must find time to read the unread or put a stop to this whole zombie enterprise.
I’m grateful for fall. I’m glad to be alive in this profession. I’m glad to be inundated with stories of street kids, Muslim women, former Secretaries of Defense, Catholic school girls, and all the unread waiting their turn to see the light of day.