I have a play opening tonight in New York tonight. I could not be any prouder. ABSTRACT NUDE is running at The Secret Theatre as part of the Wired Arts Festival produced by Virtual Arts TV. (And if that isn’t enough information for you, check out this NSFW Tumblr written from the point of view of the only character who never really appears in the play.) I really can’t wait: the cast is terrific, and I haven’t seen this show on its feet in enough years that I bet it’s going to feel brand new.
If you happen to live in New York, I’d love to see you at the theater. (Yes, you.) But if you don’t, or if you can’t make it in person, you’re still in luck. With this production, you actually have the option of watching a live-stream of the performance, too! The free version (just tune in to UStream TV every night between 7 pm and 11 pm) has commercial interruptions. Want to get rid of those pesky commercials? Tickets to that are an almost shockingly low $2.50! Who can’t afford that?
But there’s also a third way to experience the play as well: in print. (Well, two other ways: there’s a Kindle edition, too. Oh, and anyone who does all four? You are amazing.) The beautiful cover, for your judging-the-book-by pleasure:
Like everyone who makes theater, I suspect, I believe there’s no substitute for the live performance; even a staged reading is better, I think it goes without saying, than reading a play yourself. But I am a lifelong book fetishist of a somewhat high order. My home has an actual library; my (adjacent) study has books the library couldn’t hold, and my bedroom even has a small cache of favorite books — they’re everywhere. Two of my first jobs out of college were with publishers, and (though it’s been two decades) I can still conjure the romance of the profession. And as much of a technophile as I clearly am — hell, I even read on a Kindle quite regularly — nothing will ever replace for me the heft and import and significance of a beautifully bound book.
I came to theater late in my life as a writer, and I came to it through literature, not through performance or through film. (Though I did act for a while, and design sets, and run a few light boards back in the day.) I didn’t grow up wanting to see the characters I created be brought to life; I wanted them brought to mind. (For the record, and so nobody gets confused: now I want BOTH.) So I really can’t understate how important it was to me — nothing less than the fulfillment of a lifelong dream — to have my work published. (My publisher, Original Works, also released my short play CRACKED.) I feel as if the anxious 14 year-old who wanted to be a novelist because that seemed like the most impressive and serious kind of writer to be can finally settle down a bit. I wish I could go back there now, in fact, and tell him not to worry: that it will finally happen.
What’s odd is that here I am, a blogger who publishes his own work electronically all the time, and I just don’t get the same kind of satisfaction from hitting the enter key. Even when my work appears on other blogs, the spirit just isn’t the same. I do experience great satisfaction from blogging… it’s just a different sort of pleasure. More like skipping a stone into a lake than adding a granite block to a monument, if that makes sense.
Neither pleasure compares, however, to the experience of sitting in the room I’ll be sitting in tonight. I loved opening the package that contained my author’s copies of ABSTRACT NUDE, but breathing in the same space as those performers and that audience while the story comes to live all around me and beams out electronically into the wide world? That’s really going to be something. That presence and energy and real-time connection with other human beings is unforgettable for a playwright: nothing compares, and nothing can replaces it. So yes, you can tune in online, and you can buy the play… but I really hope I see you there in person. I know you’re going to love it.