Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Previews for Song of Extinction begin tonight...

So -- previews for Song of Extinction begin tonight. What an emotional rollercoaster this process of producing a play is! I'm usually a somewhat emotionally stable person, but not lately.

I had lunch with my playwright/professor friend Dorinne Kondo today. She asked how I was feeling, and I told her that there were so many emotions in me about the production itself -- excitement, delight, worry, nervousness, excitement, vulnerability, responsibility, fear, delight again. And on top of that, I'm filled with all the stuff that caused me to write the play in the first place.

There's a place in Song where Khim Phan talks about teaching.
Teaching is a strange thing, though. You learn in school to teach one subject, you are hired to teach one subject, the class is called by the name of that subject -- and you find, at some point, that you are teaching your self. Your whole self to them. My whole self to them, which includes biology but also funny stories about milking cows with my host family in Wisconsin, who were very nice Baptist people. And bad, expensive addiction to cigarettes, which I hope they do not learn. And Cambodia. Maybe I also teach them Cambodia. Because... I don’t know. Self-indulgence. Maybe. No. I do not talk about it all the time. I do not talk about it ever. But in this chapter on extinction, my country and history and family come up bitterly in my throat. And maybe I teach them about Cambodia without ever saying its name.
Playwriting is kind of the same. You write about one subject. You research about that one subject. You tell people the play is about that one subject. And then you find, at some point, that you've written about yourself. Everything you are, for good and ill, is in there.

It's a little daunting.

But I'm also excited.

And nervous.

And excited.

1 comment:

michael said...

we are all so very very lucky that you write with the same generosity, love, and humantiy with which Khim teaches.

I don't think I've ever been so simultaneously honored and humbled to be in a production.

I'm so grateful to have discovered Ellery....not found, discovered.

Enjoy this moment. We'll hum the Song of Extinction to you as you sit and listen to the dark.

thank you for this opportunity!