Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Glimpse into the Life of a Playwright

Several weeks ago the New York Times magazine ran a glimpse into the life of playwright Richard Greenberg.  I love Broadway plays and every chance I get to New York, I try to get to the theater—at least once and some times several times. I find it a magical experience but even as a writer, I don’t often think about the playwright who wrote the words of the actors.  It takes a special gift to write such beautiful words and plays.

Just look at the opening to well-written piece from Alex Witchel, “As the playwright Richard Greenberg and the director Doug Hughes hung around the stage of the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Center waiting for the noise to subside and their meeting to begin, some not-so-idle chitchat was in order. Hughes’s Broadway production of “Doubt” had just changed casts and been re-reviewed, mostly positively, the previous day.
“I don't read reviews myself,” Hughes said. “I have someone who is on my side read them, then tell me about them.”

“I don't read them at all,” Greenberg said.

“You’re a better man than I,” Hughes declared.

“I’m a scareder man than you,” Greenberg answered.

No one knows better than Greenberg that “scareder” is not a word, but with five plays in production — four of them new — he’s allowed.”

Later in the article, we learn, “Greenberg is somewhat misunderstood because he doesn’t get out much. At 48, he is already the author of 28 plays; the extent of the interviews he has given in the last 15 years or so consists mostly of snippets delivered by phone, from an agent’s office, a rehearsal hall or his local diner. His social reticence is a consequence, he says, of being burned by the spotlight of theatrical Schadenfreude when “Eastern Standard” became a sensation in 1989, combined with a renewed zeal to work after a bout of Hodgkin’s lymphoma went scarily undiagnosed in 1992 (it was later cured).”

Notice how Greenberg doesn’t get out a lot—to his own plays or other plays. Instead he’s tied to his computer and writing. It’s a life I can understand and appreciate.

Unlike the playwright, most of my work is tied to the printed page—the query letters, the fiction manuscripts and other projects—like the nonfiction books that I’m involved writing.  There are times when I do escape from my computer. One of those times are coming up next week. I’ll be teaching at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference which begins on Sunday.

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