Although I am old enough to have a grandchild taller than me, I only got around to writing plays fairly recently. So I still feel like a fledgling, thrilled with an adolescent euphoria when one of my plays is chosen for production. I don’t altogether like writing plays. It’s hard to get started, tough to get the character’s voice clear in my head. What I love is the rewriting, getting the tone right bit by bit, finding the pace, hearing the characters say lines I did not consciously invent. A play that started out being about death and keeping secrets evolved into a play about the deepest sort of friendship. This is the second time I’ve had a play selected for the Boston Theater Marathon. Between the first and the second times, I took a playwriting course taught by Kate Snodgrass, the CEO and Fairy Godmother of the BTM. She focused on subtext, the meaningful message that is never explicitly conveyed. So I’ve been pondering the subtext of the Boston Theater Marathon itself.
The text is exciting, if somewhat chaotic. I’ve sat through the whole ten hours when I didn’t have a play in the Marathon, thrilled by the crazy quilt of wildly different work. Gifted people from fifty-three theatre companies do whatever it takes to make the new play they chose come alive and grab our hearts in ten minutes flat.
So what is the subtext? What is the meaning that underlies all the exciting bits and pieces? I think it’s a collective amazement and delight at the Boston theatre community strutting our stuff. Look what we can do! New England playwrights yearn to be in the Boston Theater Marathon so we can be intimately involved in that collaborative celebration. It is what makes those of us watching and listening to our own plays and each other’s stay a few hours longer and scribble still more notes in the margins of our programs. It’s what makes us lean forward in our seats.
-- Andrea Fleck Clardy
We hope you’ll join us on Sunday, May 20 for Boston Theater Marathon XIV (and for the Warm-Up Laps on May 19!). Click here for tickets and complete event details. See you there!