Monday, February 6, 2012

The power of theater

I am making a big change in my life. It's only fitting that I have theater to blame thank. Last summer, The Normal Heart devastated me. It broke me. Or, rather, it showed me that my life was a bit broken. Seeing all those names projected on the walls just ... hurt. I cried for half an hour. I could barely speak. I couldn't even string words together more than to say that I was wasting my life. That I needed to do more. That I missed the kind of passion for a cause that Ellen Barkin scorched the stage with. I missed feeling that I could change the world--that I could fix more problems than I was causing.

It took me six months to gather my courage to act on the epiphany I had walking out of the Golden Theatre. How funny it was, so soon after making my decision, to be back in the Golden in December seeing Seminar--a play about editing, which is the profession I am about to leave. (To all my former authors: Just be glad that I'm nothing like Alan Rickman's character in that show.)

I'm giving myself two months to phase out of my job and into my new one as part-time caregiver to my grandmother. She's a 91-year-old force of nature, and I'm really looking forward to hanging out with her and causing as much trouble as we can possibly get into together. (After moving into her retirement building in Brookline, she produced a reading of My Fair Lady that rehearsed for two years before playing to the residents and garnering great acclaim. I bought her the book with the scripts for Pygmalion and My Fair Lady at the fantastic Drama Book Shop in Manhattan.)

Eventually, this time-out should help me plan my next step, which will be volunteer work (or an extremely underpaid job) at a nonprofit organization in the Boston area. I think I'd like to work with transgender teens and young adults, or maybe to help people transitioning off Welfare with their interview skills and resumes. The more I think about it, the longer the list grows with things I want to do with my free time, once I have some.

I'll come back and talk more about this later, I'm sure, but I started this post a month ago, so it's time to just throw this out there. And it's past time to publicly thank theater, and The Normal Heart in particular, for kicking me in the ass. I have so much gratitude for Larry Kramer, Joel Grey, George C. Wolfe, Ellen Barkin, and the rest of the cast and creative team for setting me on this new path--wherever it takes me.

Please, go back and read what I said after seeing the show last June. That feeling I had as I left the theater never went away. What a powerful show! I'm looking forward to taking a trip to D.C. in June to see it on tour. That should wrap this story up perfectly, I think.


  1. Congrats on your new adventure! I work with the transgender community in my pro bono work and it is really rewarding.

  2. Thanks! And we definitely need to talk about that when I get back from Dublin!