BY DARRYL STAMP
This post also appears in the current issue of QSaltLake.
Darryl Stamp's latest play, GO HOME COME BACK, centers on
Will, a sales manager, and James, who is in disaster management. They meet while shuffling off their mortal coils.
A heartwarming ‘what if’ of missed opportunities, first impressions, and second chances.
My play GO HOME COME BACK grew out of my fears during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reading and hearing about patients whose final conversations took place via FaceTime prompted me to reflect upon my life and my health. Being asthmatic and using inhalers for emergencies since childhood, memories of struggling to breathe came rushing back to me. I ruminated about my own mortality and the possibility of leaving my wife, daughter, and relatives behind. I thought about family members and friends who passed away without having loved ones by their side and wondered what I would say in my final moments.
That thought took me back to an incident in 2008 when I was driving up I-15 North in snowy and icy conditions. I was about to miss my exit ramp and foolishly attempted to cut over at the last minute. I slid on some ice and was about to crash into a wall, and I overcorrected my steering to avoid doing so. The car spun around 180 degrees and headed toward the cars behind me. At that moment, I yelled out, “I can’t believe I’m going to fucking die this way!” I was able to steer my car away from oncoming traffic and landed off to the side of the road just outside of the exit ramp.
In retrospect, I found it interesting that, having been someone who used to believe in God, I didn’t yell out something like, “Oh God, help me!” Years ago, I decided that I didn’t want to revere archetypal religious figures, and I would live my life in the spirit of several religious philosophies instead. I questioned whether I was lucky or if I had experienced a moment of divine intervention. The story of my life flashed in my head like a slideshow of obstacles, failures, regrets, loves, and successful accomplishments. If I died, would I be satisfied with the life I’ve lived so far? Would I be missed by my family? Would my friends remember me?
Then I thought about moments when I sensed the presence of my loved ones in my dreams, or through signs, symbols, even song lyrics while I was awake. I realized how grateful I was for those fleeting moments. Did they come back to let me know they’re watching over me, or to remind me of their love for me? If there was a way to come back, would I return to let my loved ones know that my spirit is with them? But where would I come back from?
These thoughts prompted me to write a play about having a second chance to be with those we love, who we would choose to share a final moment with, and what the afterlife might look like. So, I decided to create a twist on this familiar genre using magical realism as a catalyst. I created characters that are flawed human beings who explore the real-world implications of their previous lives, and the consequences they face because of their efforts.
I hope audiences who see GO HOME COME BACK will consider that, since we don’t know what tomorrow brings, it’s incumbent upon us to embrace those we love, strengthen our friendships, and act with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness before our lives end.
GO HOME COME BACK is dedicated to the life and “soul vacations” of my mother Julia, and my Aunt Viola.
Darryl Stamp is a member of Plan-B Theatre’s Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop. His first play, "Roar," premiered at Plan-B as part of an evening of short plays titled …OF COLOR. GO HOME COME BACK premieres February 24–March 5, 2023.