Monday, August 20, 2012

W4G on the road

On December 8,1987 I stood outside of St. John the Divine on the upper west side of Manhattan with hundreds of others who could never fit inside the church.  We waited to hear the final words of praise offered over the body of James Baldwin at his going home ceremony.  I remember being heartbroken that his voice was silenced by death and at the same time feeling inordinately proud that so many people had come to be part of his send off even though we knew we'd be not in the pews but out on the sidewalk.  I also remember being annoyed at some of the voices of praise coming from those who'd bad mouthed Baldwin in his life time because they thought his being gay meant he was not 'black enough.'  All of those feelings have lived inside of me since that time and as I wrote "Waiting for Giovanni."

Now, it's been just over a year since W4G premiered at New Conservatory Theatre Center in San Francisco...hard to believe.  The experience of working with the company of actors, designers and staff has spoiled me. They too honored Baldwin's life and set a really high barre for a collaborative, theatre experience!

So I feel fully prepared to move into a new arena, but can I contain my excitement??? New York Theatre Workshop ( has accepted my play for their staged reading series that supports the development of new work!   I'm not going to get ahead of myself, it is simply a reading...actors with script in hand...done explicitly to help me re-envision the piece and hear what my most recent rewrites sound like.  BUT I am thrilled!!!  This is the theatre that has nurtured work by Tony Kushner, Kate Moira Ryan and Paula Vogel and it gave birth to "Rent!" AND it did win 13 Tony awards this year for "Peter and the Star Catcher" and "Once."

Knowing the company's history of supporting important work and pushing boundaries I'm being ALMOST totally chill.  So when I was told who would direct the reading I nearly lost my ice cubes.  Pulling it all together will be Patricia McGregor, highlighted among the up and coming theatre talent in a recent NY Times piece (  And most exciting she worked on one of my favorite theatre pieces: FELA!

This is, of course, kind of like a blind date.  Who knows if what she sees will be what I see but her enthusiasm feels warm and genuine and I can barely maintain my sophisticated cool until I see what she does with the piece in October.  In the meantime I'll busy myself with re-reading the script to see if the story is being told in the strongest way so she has the best material to work with.

James Baldwin is so beloved and iconic in New York City...I promised not to fail him. I'm hoping that some of those folks who stood in the cold outside that church in December 25 years ago will some day soon have the opportunity to stand and praise him again when they see W4G on stage in full production.