Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What's the play about?

Talking about the play with the violist and recording technician the other night got me thinking about how you tell the story of your play to people. It's a tough thing. Flannery O'Connor once said that if she could tell you what her story was about, she wouldn't have needed to write it. And I totally get that. I certainly hope that the play will be bigger than any synopsis of it! But the world requires a playwright to say over and over again what their play is about, between the time when you start working on it (and maybe refuse to tell them) and when you finish it, when you start sending it out and when you get it produced.

Song of Extinction is particularly difficult to synopsize. It's about a musically gifted, troubled boy who is dealing with his present, and a solitary, haunted man who is dealing with his past. It's about death in three different layers (cancer, extinction, genocide), without trying to conflate the issues. It's about music and it's about science. Fathers and sons. Teachers and students. Bolivian wetlands and Cambodian fields.


I told the musicians that it's about how music stands in the face of death.

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