I held a play reading at my house a few nights ago – a 1st draft of a new play. I came in very excited because a small group of us had read the play through a couple days before and it seemed great, full of promise. We did the reading at my house and I afterwards wanted to crawl under a rock.
To be fair there were powerful elements to the piece – it is the story of an aging white South African woman and a Zulu woman that takes care of her. There are funny moments, touching moments, moments of truth and beauty . . . some people were very moved.
But there are big problems with the piece – it showed up in the audiences reactions. It’s not clear whose story it is and what it is about. Is the piece about aging? the love between the two women? The racism/inequality in their relationship? All these elements are swirling around. People resonated with some parts, didn’t with others. Perhaps in part because it was such a varied group of readers and listener.
I love opening myself up to dialogue and input – this is why I write – to connect. I also find it so jarring sometimes – pulled (drawn and quartered?) by conflicting wishes and desires in others and ultimately in myself. I know this is part of the process – I love it, but I also sometimes find it hard, hard, hard . . . .