Sometimes you don’t want to talk about plays because you want people to be surprised. So I’ll talk around the plot of A/VERSION OF EVENTS and tell you why I wrote it. My parents lost a baby when I was 18. Actually, he died on my nineteenth birthday. I can still hear my stepdad sawing wood for a tiny blond coffin in the backyard. I can still hear Benjamin cry. I can still feel my younger self’s cold anger. I didn’t understand my baby brother’s suffering. Or the certainty with which our neighbors cooed things like, “You’ll see him again one day.”
Now I’m 36. Twice the age I was then. I’m not twice as wise, probably, but I can parse the remembered anger from the faith, love, and hope that was also alive in our house. The play isn’t autobiographical, or even an adaptation of those events, but it’s a place for my past anger and present acceptance to live side by side for 90 minutes.
But besides grief, it’s a play about . . . I was going to write “love,” but more accurate would be “love and marriage.” When you marry, you vow to walk with another person “come weal, come woe,” but it’s a lot easier to vow than to do. Can you think of a worse torture than watching your wife folded with sobbing and you powerless to stop it? Sometimes that’s exactly what “come woe” means: standing there, watching them choke and sputter.
A not-so-hidden secret, though, is that our choking and sputtering is often sort of funny. (At least, down the road.) Anger is almost always overreaction, making it the mortar of comedy. A friend once urged me to always dig for the comedy in my dramas (and vice versa) and so I wrote A/VERSION OF EVENTS knowing “this too shall pass.”
A/VERSION OF EVENTS receives its world premiere March 5-15, 2015 at Plan-B featuring Carleton Bluford and Latoya Rhodes, directed by Christy Summerhays. Click here for more information and tickets.