...An old woman approaches me. The tip of her nose almost touches the tip of her chin. No teeth are visible in her mouth. In her gnarled hands she holds a plastic bag which she shakes to get my attention. Although she beseeches me in a language I do not understand, it is evident she desperately wants me to buy the contents of her plastic bag. What they are I don't know. I shake my head. "I'm sorry," I say. After a few tears, underscored by the anguish of failure, she moves away.
...A young man, T-shirt torn below his left arm, plays basketball by himself on a rundown court. The net hangs in shreds, but he doesn't seem to care. He shoots with fierce concentration as Larry Bird once did. But the young boy is not nearly so talented.
...A physician—a stunned look on his face—standing in the middle of an intensive care unit, watches the apparatus of survival blink on and off as he speculates on the prospects of a quality life for a 43-year-old woman whose heart doesn't want to go to work anymore.
What do these images have in common...what do they say to me...to you for that matter? There is little here that is in any way extraordinary. No storming of the balustrades as seen nightly in Les Miserables. Instead, these are images of daily existence—an existence filled with the simple yet stupefying tasks of living, and loving, and dying.
I haven't yet written a play about the Russian woman who stepped in from of me and asked that I save—for a moment—a portion of her life. And I may never write a play about her. I may, however, write a play about the man who didn't feel he could give her a handful of virtually worthless rubles. Why didn't I, I wonder?
...The fleeting image of my son playing basketball resulted in a play I wrote entitled Two Beers and a Hookshot. The doctor standing in the intensive care unit appeared in a play entitled The Center of the Universe.
Other plays I've written have been partially informed, shaped, textured or in some manner stimulated by casual as well as catastrophic events which have occurred in my own life and in the lives of others. We all have them. They seem so desperately personal and private to us. Yet, when these worlds are dramatized on the stage and witnessed in the public privacy of a darkened theatre they become each audience member's private story. "I walk this earth," we say, "and I want someone to take notice of that fact. Tell my story. I want to be connected to an energy greater than my own beating heart."
Maybe that is why I write. To make a scratch on the wall of the cave. To make a connection to an energy source greater than my own beating heart.
And if the work is good, we will be pulled into the tale—because we will recognize that we are watching our courage, our morals and our ethics presented for public judgement. Theatre is an experience which, when shared by both performers and patrons, can transport our spirits to levels of joy and recognition that no other art form—indeed, no other communal endeavor—is capable of.