In January, Heidi Van asked me if I'd be interested in presenting a reading of a short play (60 minutes) at her space, The Fishtank Performance Studio, for her series called Spring Shorts. I jumped at the chance.
Then I pondered, with my partner Bryan, what to do. There was less than two months before the performance date, so we were considering doing something that was already finished, or at least started. Writing a new play was out. No time.
But then Bryan suggested putting together a play that was several short scene that were variations on a theme, so there would be minimal writing. I changed that up a bit, and within three days, I was writing a new play.
Because, of course, I knew there was no time to write a new play. But there I was, typing away.
Seized by a wave of inspiration, I cranked out 28 pages in three days. Then, my brain breaks screeched to a stop. It took me awhile to get going again, but within a couple of weeks, I had the first draft of (duh) Variations on a Theme.
The play consists of two actors portraying different characters in fifteen short scenes that all begin and end with the same few lines, and carry a common theme (well, of course). It was read by the incomparable Teri Adams and Parry Luellen to a crowd of thousands (the Fishtank seats about 50).
There was a talkback afterward, where the audience asked me various questions such as why I was moved to write it, how much we rehearsed, and if I had a favorite scene. There was also a heated discussion between audience members about whether it was "too long" or "perfect the way it is," that sort of thrilled me. It's nice when a work you've created gets people riled up.