An Epilogue

I did a panicked double-check this past Monday, worried that I had somehow miscalculated. Perhaps a miscount would send me on an emergency read of The Normal Heart or Moon For The Misbegotten. But here they are, 52 plays read and commented on in one year.

Hamlet, The Children's Hour, Machinal, A Doll House, A Dream Play, Living In The Present Tense, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), The Laramie Project, Riders To The Sea, Lovecraft's Follies, A Night At An Inn, Frankenstein In Love, The Weird, Man And Superman, The Three Sisters, Doctor Faustus, Oedipus Rex, Our Town, Three Tall Women, Boston Marriage, The Little Dog Laughed, An Ideal Husband, Angels In America: Perestroika, Angels In America: Millenium Approaches, Civil Sex, The Crucible, The Piano Lesson, We Happy Few, Eurydice, A Lie Of The Mind, Take Me Out, The Brothers Size, The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot, The Changeling, Three Days Of Rain, Aria Da Capo, Actor's Nightmare, Stage Directions, Exception And The Rule, Women In Arms, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Dancing At Lughnasa, DEAD CITY, Shining City, Riding The Bull, The Invention Of Love, Betrayal, Love Song, Topdog/underdog, Black Watch, The Guys, Waiting For Lefty

... and?

What'd I learn? How'd I change? What life lessons did it teach me?

It wasn't exactly a transformative experience. Harold Ramis won't be playing me in the blog-to-book-to-movie. Truth be told it became a slog for a few reasons. Other than a few notorious culprits, it wasn't the reading itself ... it was the blogging.

  • The writing became a chore because it fell in such a middle ground. I wanted something more compelling than a "thumbs up/thumbs down" but the pace and format didn't allow for a truly deep analysis. I tried to remain honest with my reactions, but often I had little reaction other than "another one bites the bust".

  • The scattershot reading list didn't help. I think more focus would have helped. Had I stuck purely to new plays, or to classics I've neglected, or even just reading the Shakespearean canon in a year I would have had a more cohesive experience (and blog).

  • As a corollary to that last point, I probably should have stuck to "new to me" plays at minimum. What can I say about The Cherry Orchard or Hamlet in 300 words?

  • I really wanted to have the reading lists out in advance so people could read along, but that proved to hamstring me. I should have tossed any vague themes, and merely read from week to week as inspiration took me. As it stands, I have a huge play reading list in front of me, consisting of the plays I wanted to read but never got around to.

Obviously I re-read some amazing plays I'd discovered before. But the year's discoveries? The plays I'd rush out and shove in anyone's hand who'd listen? Machinal, The Children's Hour, Love Song, The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot, and Dead City.

This sounds like quite a bit of whinging, doesn't it? The fact is, I made a tangible goal and I stuck to it. Every week of 2009, I spent some time making myself a better theatre-maker, a better actor and director and teacher. Complacency can be so tempting. It's so tempting, especially as an actor, to sink back into that "primordial ooze" between shows and not continually work. This was an effort to awaken some of the drive to better myself that I used to have.

I think it worked, and the discipline helped me in many areas, as 2009 became a pretty good year: a farewell to smoking, 35 lbs. lost, landed a directing gig, was accepted into the Director's Lab, and played Macbeth.

And I read 52 plays.


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