Just another episode of a run-of-the-mill cooking show transforms into an intricate, otherworldly grief ritual as the program’s hostess — or is she some kind of middle-class priestess? — devises increasingly elaborate ways in which to defer the simple act of cracking an egg. When it’s finally time for the demonstration, will she actually be able to just… let go?
Rights and copies (in both acting and Kindle editions) available from Original Works Publishing.
One-act play commissioned by the Intentional Theatre Group for the Midtown International Theatre Festival (NY, 2009) as a companion to Daniel McIvor’s Never Swim Alone; directed by Emerie Snyder and featuring Grace Kiley. Awarded best production and best supporting actor. Later produced by Point of Contention Theater (Chicago, 2009). Produced at the Minnesota Festival of Shorts (MN, 2010); won audience choice Best Play award.
“A tonally subversive solo piece… the overall effect is beguiling.” — David Ian Lee, NYTheatre.com
The funny thing about Cracked is that it began at a very different place than it ended. Long before the Intentional Theatre Group reached out to me to ask whether I might be interested in writing a companion piece to Daniel McIvor’s Never Swim Alone, I’d been considering writing a short comedy about a cooking show host who turns vegetarian and just can’t bring herself to crack an egg. I imagined a good bit of banter between her and her producer, a few nearly-dropped eggs, the risk of a union crew needing overtime: ten minutes of funny, boom, you’re done.
Between the birth of the idea and the commission, I lived through a loss that utterly transformed what I needed to write about: my brother passed away unexpectedly. Among the many devastations, for me, was the need to watch the near-total disintegration of my mother’s entire being, her grief being so utter and deep as to erase her entire ability to function. I knew she would need some way to rebuild what she could of herself, in time, and though at the moment I knew there was nothing I could do, the idea lingered inside me and would not go away.
Some months later, then, as I sat down to write my commission, I return to that question: how does one reclaim one’s humanity after such a total loss? For some reason, my mind kept directing me to my cooking show idea, and I kept rejecting it as frivolous… until I suddenly realized, in a single flash of inspiration, how to transform it into exactly what I was looking for. The play now retains none of the original humor; instead, it transforms the act of a woman teaching a cooking show audience how to prepare an egg into a ritual of release: my small offering in the name of the enormous grief we must all, in time, have to face.
If you’d like to watch a production of the play — starring, I am tickled to report, my mother-in-law — you can watch one here. Fast forward precisely to the 25th minute for the first beat.