Theatre Masks.pngBecause I believe every story has a home, that is a certain venue where it is best articulated. I studied theatre in New York City for two summers. I workshopped a play at the Raft Theatre and took playwriting courses at the HB Studio. Needless to say, I saw as many plays as I could afford. After the experience, it made me wish I would have become a playwright. Theatre is about words and the love of them. In movies the universe can be a set; with theatre, it’s a room or two. Aristotle’s assertion that the essence of playwriting is “soul against soul” is also a foundation of screenwriting.

I lived with my Italian-immigrant grandmother the summer she died. I had just finished my Ph.D. and was tired of books, abstract thinking, and my feet were no longer on the ground. My Grandmother, who we affectionately called “the General,” was an extremely private person who seldom if ever talked about her past or herself. But with death in sight, she wanted to talk and I wanted to listen. She grew to trust me, and with her shared one of the most profound experiences in life.

Maria Panzica, my grandmother, the summer she died

I wrote a short story about the experience but felt it wasn’t the proper “home” for what had transpired. She was from an oral culture. She had long thought about the things she told me, filled with a wisdom that I hadn’t received from books and years spent in higher education.

Her words had to be heard, not read. The context for them had to be revealed,  not remain hidden. The affection and coming dread had to be experienced live.

I wrote another play that has been produced (Gepetto’s House), and another (The Second Horseman) will receive a staged reading in the fall.