a few notes about Poochie, my play, that opens Wednesday

Production shot from 'Poochie,' (Bob Paolino and Chris Speer -- from The Salisbury Post)

This new play has been different from any production of any play I’ve ever had.

I’ve had plays in other cities or states where I just showed up and saw the show. And I’ve had some around here where I basically watched the sausage being made.

But I’ve been busy. So I wrote it, gave it to the director, Justin Dionne, and basically left it at that.

I’ve had very little input. Even if I had had time for input, it wouldn’t have been a good idea. The direction and design is way beyond anything I had in mind for the little black box theatre on Lee St.

Because I didn’t really have time to go to rehearsal, I even gave Justin permission to change any lines he thought needed changing. A new play needs a little work, and I trusted him to do that.

It opens this Wednesday.

Saturday night, I went to rehearsal and saw the second act for the first time.  I was moved to tears — and I’m not exactly sure where the emotion came from.

Maybe it came from the profound gratitude I felt for these people applying such talent and hard work to the task of realizing something I wrote. Or maybe it was just the realization that I’m putting this material out there for others to see. Or maybe it was that I wrote about a piece of my life and saw it given back to me.

The play is about caring for a person with Alzheimer’s Disease, and although I intentionally did not make this autobiographical — I have had experience watching the progression of the disease — with my aunt, my grandmother, and now my mother.

What it is, I think, is that my own play brought back memories in the staging that I didn’t experience in the writing — if that makes any sense.

People may think or say I wrote a play about my mother. And there’s some truth to that. But I realize now it’s not about the mother who is now in the final stages of Alzheimer’s.  It’s about the mother who took care of my grandmother when she had Alzheimer’s. And it occurs to me now (and not before now) that the granddaughter is me.

So that’s my note on autobiography. It’s all so personal and subjective. I don’t  know how audiences will react but will find out soon enough. Wednesday night.

Whatever happens, I’m awfully proud — stunned, actually — by what these folks are doing.

Almost Maine, directed by Justin Dionne, gets 9 nominations

I was excited to see that, just this week, Justin Dionne, who will be directing Poochie, my new play, just got nominated for 9 MTA awards for his recent production of Almost Maine with St. Thomas Players.

St. Thomas Players is a small theatre troupe here in Salisbury. The MTA is the Metrolina Theatre Association, and it encompasses theatre from the entire Charlotte area and surrounding counties.

Nine nominations (including best director) is a lot — and quite an honor for Justin. I was excited and privileged for him to take on this project because I knew he had a real future as a director, and apparently that future is now. It’s a new play and a new theatre company. Justin is young, energetic, enthusiastic, and extremely talented. His day job is working as marketing director for Piedmont Players.

My vision was a bare stage with a couple of pieces of furniture. Lights up and lights down. I wasn’t sure if there was any humor in the play or not. Justin has “people” working on set design and lighting, and he does see humor.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of friends and family, the funding for Poochie is almost halfway there, with 11 days to go. Please share the link, if you’re so inclined…