The end of summer and early autumn has been an incredibly busy time for me this year. Earlier this summer, I wrote to you about a play I’d been working on for years, Weaving Penelope, which is the story of the wife of Odysseus and what she did for 20 years while her husband was off having his eponymous adventures. The play alternates between storytelling choral scenes (in the style of Greek theatre, using voice, music, movement, and ritual) with more realistic character interaction scenes. I’m delighted to report that—unlike the Massachusetts workshop which was derailed by Covid just days before the scheduled showcase last June—the Oregon workshop showcase happened as scheduled, thanks to the sponsorship of Keizer Homegrown Theatre (who gave us rehearsal and performance space on their outdoor patio) and Ronni Lacroute (who generously funded stipends for the artists and covered production incidentals for both workshops).
The Oregon cast (only half the number needed for a full production) did heroic work presenting an “enhanced stage reading” to an invited audience. My co-playwright, Richard Carp, unexpectedly ended up directing the Oregon workshop due to serious medical challenges experienced by the original director. He got first-hand experience working with his own script as director, while I observed his rehearsals in the week before the showcase performance, keeping track of any script changes. Both our experiences were quite useful for continuing script development. Though we solicited actor feedback from both casts, he and I were also able to experience audience responses directly and got terrific constructive feedback from those who attended the talkbacks after each showcase performance. We are working on one more revision that we hope to complete before the holidays. Our next goal will be to secure a full production somewhere in 2023 or 2024, perhaps in a university setting or in a pro/semi-pro theatre company somewhere.
Before going out to Oregon for the last week of rehearsals and the workshop showcase, I submitted the manuscript of what I am calling my “grief memoir,” called That Day, And What Came After. to my publisher Here is a brief book description that I sent with the manuscript:
What if you came home one day and found your husband dead in his favorite chair? This grief memoir explores the author’s experience of the unexpected death of her husband from sudden cardiac arrest a mere three months after his doctors had pronounced him hale and healthy. The author shares details of the couple’s later-in-life courtship and marriage as well as other experiences she has had along the grieving road in the years since becoming a widow.
In our society, we often don’t want to talk or even think about death, so stereotypes about widows exist. However, each person’s grief journey is unique, and sharing tales of those experiences can be helpful and useful for those who find themselves in a similar situation. Though not a self-help book, this memoir is the story of a widow who defied the stereotype that widows are expected to “get over it” and move on with their quiet lives. Instead, this widow “got through it” and is now sharing her journey in hopes of helping others in comparable circumstances.
Though I don’t officially have a contract or a publication target date yet, I’ve been told by someone in the know in the publisher’s office that it’s very rare for them to decide not to publish a second (or in my case a third) book from an author they’ve published in the past. So, I’m hoping I’ll be able to share much more specific good news in the future. Now I need to start making some choices for possible illustrations for the book. I have tons of photos of Skip, who was very photogenic, so the task will be to find the ones that will help illuminate our story together.
What am I working on next, you ask? That’s a very big question at the moment. I have no concrete ideas for a new book, and I’ve been writing short essays in the meantime, just to keep my creative juices flowing. I identify those essays as part of my Mosaic Memoir, but I have no idea whether they will cohere as a book project or simply live as separate essays. My next concrete writing task, however, is to start working on the “matter” (details and insights that will become useful for publicity and marketing once the book is published), so I’ll be ready when Sunbury gives me a publication date and assigns an editor.