Monday, February 8, 2010
The Wise Mistress of the Imagination
I began writing again a few days ago. I'd noticed a contest for a one act and looked through my dozens of unfinished scripts and decided to yank one out of the slush heap of the abandoned. I really love when this happens, this beckoning. This one is a 2 character piece which is something I have never been able to handle before because my imagination tends to expand outward once I begin a play. In this case, however, the story of the long love affair that goes amiss between a man and a woman and then full circles again set against the backdrop of a failing America is irresistible. It's perhaps about many of us in a lot of ways; at least I'm hoping it has a universal quality to it. The tug on me to write this is really not about entering a contest. There's something else going on here. The recognition, perhaps, that a love from the past that would not be entirely extinguished may just have been the one true love of my character's life. And I wonder if there really is such a thing as a second chance when damage has been done both to the heart, mind and body of the relationship. Can we heal? There is after all the deeper Platonic love that won't die but what about the sexual love? What happens if that leaves? Is it true once that is gone it will never return? There's also the passage of time. So much has happened in the US during the 30 year span of the play. I like the way I am fracturing time, mixing up the decades, pulling from real events; I like the way this play has the potential to make a statement about both the personal and the political. The grand master of that blend was of course the late great Arthur Miller. Not coincidentally I am also working on a piece from A View from the Bridge in Richard Seyd's acting class where I am Beatrice Carbone, the neglected wife of Eddie Carbone who has an obsession with his 18 year old niece, Catherine. My play is nothing like A View except that it is about love: love of a man and a woman and love for a country's ideals and the sadness that comes to everyone when we betray each other and those ideals. Now that I think of it, I suppose it is a bit like Miller's piece. Any way it is good to be back, to be pulled at by the muse again. When she disappears under the onslaught of grading papers and writing course outlines and fixing up something else that has gone wrong in my 100 year old house, I think she will never return. But then one day she whispers seductively in my ear and I am pulled into the love affair with the pen. Or in this case, the keyboard. And then time becomes meaningless for a while as I disappear into the lives of these imaginary people speaking words they are saying for the first time and directing me through the labyrinth of imagination. (Aren't I lucky to be able to do this?) So here's a task for you: let your imagination seduce you in some small way today and as you do, be present to what that moment is like when you let yourself fall into her clutches. I would propose it is a lot like falling in love. Every time it happens, it really is a second chance.