As part of the new works festival, tonight I saw Fire in Dreamland by Rinne Groff, starring Bree Elrod. Last Saturday as part of the festival I saw Michelle T. Johnson’s play reading “Rights of Passage.” A few months ago I had seen “Lot’s Wife” while it was still in workshop. I am mixing everything together and it may not make sense, but, my overall point is that it is an amazing time to be part of Kansas City Theatre. There are new works being created and new works being accepted this season by the Unicorn as part of the National New Play Network. It is a place of creation, and if I may be so bold, it reminds me of the environment Mamet talks about in his book “Theatre” – everyone working together and creating for hours and hours, demanding perfection simply out of the sheer number of hours put in. It is incredible to watch new works be workshopped and born, to change and modify over time, and to watch actors develop their roles. It is glorious. And there is a wonderful group in Kansas City doing this. Right now.
It was surreal watching Bree. I knew it would be, as I think the last time I saw her was 15 years ago in Harbach for Treacherous Journey. In the same creative vein of making and re-creating a work, actors put the hours and the time into their craft. She was always brilliant in college. Young 20s, we knew she had it. I still remember her acting this monologue where she had to pretend to act on the phone, her comedic timing was impeccable, a skill the rest of us took years to learn. As when I went on vacation to watch Kate Berry act, I had a little bit of sadness. For the past 15 years, they’d been continually working in theatre since school, while I’d put it away in a drawer since that’s not something I thought I was allowed to do. I thought to myself, they’ve grown their craft over all these years, and I’m so behind. Look at how magnificent they are.
Though the sadness is there from missed time, I’ve been working on making up for it since 2014, when I got a restart. Why are you always writing like you’re running out of time. For some reason, I feel oddly competitive to those I went to school with and others in Kansas City. It is not a bitter jealousy of my 20s, or a stuck hopelessness of my 30s, but a woman nearing her 40s who knows there is a limit to time and how many stories you can create in one lifetime.
With this, let us all create new work.