Traveling Light makes its Philadelphia premiere this September in the Philly Fringe.
Once upon a time there was a young man who heard some really beautiful music. He’d dedicated his whole life to aesthetic pursuits, but when he went down into a dark cavern and heard the beat and the harmony, he knew he had to bring that beautiful music up out of the dark and polish it and present it to the whole world. This music became bigger and stronger and more beautiful, until finally it could move on its own, and it was too heavy for him to carry any more, and it threatened to break him.
At the same time, there was another young man, almost exactly the same age, who liked to tell stories. Unlike the first young man, he’d been surrounded by a lot of ugliness and anger for most of his life, and the best way for him to deal with it was to create stories in which tricksters gave the bad people the badness they created right back. He went to a school that taught all about beauty (strangely enough, the same school that the first young man attended), and the first time he tried to make something beautiful and strange, it was so strange that people got scared, and he was sent to prison. While he was in prison, he polished his process, and when he got out, he continued making things that were strange and odd and funny and sad, with a vengeance.
This was all at a time when the world was changing. It was easier to make your voice heard over miles and miles, and the world seemed to be getting smaller, and people were starting to realize that maybe if they started treating each other as equals, kindly, amazing things could happen. But sometimes, even that was abused, because it’s awfully hard to get rid of things like greed and jealousy.
The first young man said to the second one, maybe this beautiful music I manage and your odd and strange stories could be put together to make something amazing. and the second young man said, I’ll see what I can do. so the writer went home and wrote a story, and brought it back to the music manager.
and the music manager said, this is too much. this is just too extreme, and rough, and unusual, and I don’t even know how to describe it.
and the storyteller said, but you’re just the same as this kind of story, you’re indescribable in the same way. you’re also that which can’t speak its name for fear of prosecution.
Later that summer, the storyteller came home, to find the person he expected to be waiting for him, waiting, as always, but this time with a hammer and a jealous rage, and by morning, the storyteller was dead.
and twenty-one days later, the music manager took too much medicine that he thought he needed, and the next morning, he was dead too.
the story teller kept a diary. so did the music manager. those diaries are kept secret, as diaries should be. but some things happened that summer, and some of the diaries’ pages are believed to be destroyed. and nobody knows why.
that summer was called “the summer of love.” which is an odd name for a summer in which there were a lot of fires and war and riots and protest. there were also a lot of warm, sexy nights where people broke rules and did what their hearts told them to do.
this isn’t a dissertation. it’s a play. less factual, more fun.
It feels weird to be promoting this play in Philadelphia, now, when I wrote it years ago. The production in Minneapolis, by Theatre Pro Rata, directed by Natalie Novacek, is still extremely close to my heart, and had a lot of magic in its site-specific production at Layman’s Cemetery. Carin Bratlie and I still brainstorm and I still miss Minneapolis, the people I met there, and their commitment to making fun, brilliant theatre. After that production, I somersaulted straight into Temple’s MFA program, and it’s been hard to come up for air at all ever since.
I don’t want people to think this is the only play I’ve ever written, but it seems to be the one people like the most, and I’m deeply grateful that Liam Castellan said, “I am going to pick this play up and run with it.” and finally, this play gets to happen in my home town.
We have a cast. They’re beautiful. We’re still looking for designers and crafting press releases and planning photo shoots and so on and so forth. for now, I get to be so excited about it that I am forced to be experimental with capitalization.
Details to follow. Keep your eyes peeled.
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