directing, theater, writing


I catch up with an old friend and fellow playwright, to recruit her to the staff of the National Theater of the United States. She’s going to be, among other things, our ambassador to Poland.

I talk about the reading of 13 WAYS, and how completely the bottom dropped out of my brain after it. The post-birth doldrums was a thousand times worse than it’s ever been for anything I’ve directed. I ask her, already knowing the answer, if it’s always that way with writing.

Yes, she says. But she says it with a smile – and it reminds me of my old comparison between the loggers and the theater people – the more pain, the more pride.

She also brings up something I hadn’t considered, that the further you go in the playwriting field, you quickly lose control of casting. This startles me. I realize how specific and important it was to me to be able to cast the particular actors that I cast in the reading.

I walk across the mental aisle, I put on my rapidly fading “director hat” and imagine directing a play that someone else had cast for me. Not so much.

I know, however, as tough as it’ll be, that I would be willing to give up casting in order to give up the responsibility and stress of directing. Just another thing to practice letting go of. (Definition: a writer: someone who has let go of everything except the words?)