Anne brings soturns to Plan-B following ROSE EXPOSED: DREAMERS this past August and the Script-In-Hand Series reading of CARAVAN at the Parliament of the World’s Religions last month.
According to Cindy (a fictional, almost-full-time-but-not-quite bookstore clerk and Hunger Games lover), the best part of working in a bookstore is playing with the books. According to me (a real-life, almost-full-time-but-not-quite bookstore assistant manager and Virginia Woolf lover), the best part about working in a bookstore is . . . playing with the books.
There is something charmingly romantic about the idea of working in a bookstore. Even now, when I envision it, I conjure up an image of myself wearing glasses and Mary-Janes and some sort of tweed jacket, airily drifting in and around tightly crammed bookshelves that go all the way from floor to ceiling lined with my favorite authors’ works. Isabel Allende is there, and e.e. cummings, Fitzgerald, Sarah Kay, Jeffrey Eugenides, Eudora Welty. In this fantasy, I am in possession of an impossibly ineffective but absolutely dreamy feather duster that I use to gently caress the books before settling into a cozy, leather armchair with a cup of tea and a cartridge pen that I use to write yet another stellar recommend.
In reality, I unpack a lot of boxes.
It is utterly bizarre to work in a real bookstore from 9am to 4pm and then trek over to rehearsal where many of my lines could easily be interchanged with sentences from my actual life. I am just waiting for the day when I answer the phone at work, “Thank you for calling Booksmart, this is Cindy! . . . I mean . . . ” There is no doubt in my mind this will happen sooner or later.
The specificity and detail that Rob Tennant has brought to the script truly makes the story come alive, and, although this play is a dark comedy and (thank goodness) my life is not, the entire script resonates with me. Working in customer service is simply not easy. In my real life, the rewards of the job overcome the challenges. The lovely customers far outnumber the difficult, but in the BOOKSMART world that isn’t always the case. This story is hilarious, but at the root of the comedy is the fact that we aren’t always as compassionate as we could be, especially during the holidays, especially when we want something quickly and easily. As a customer service representative, it’s my job to be efficient, friendly, and knowledgeable regardless of the situation, but my job becomes truly wonderful when customers are kind, curious, and caring. Kindness is never overrated, especially during the holidays. Remember this the next time you’re asking a clerk to wrap something in festive, non-demonational wrapping paper.
Rob Tennant’s BOOKSMART receives its world premiere December 3-13, 2015 in partnership with The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists, featuring Tyson Baker, Anne Brings, Joe Crinch, April Fossen and Sarah Young, directed by Jerry Rapier. Tickets are extremely limited – as of this posting 32 tickets are available for the entire run. Click here for details and tickets.