“[A] wonderful little historical play that takes a chance encounter between a nun, a bereft mother, and a famous artist and turns it into life-affirming art. .” — Susi Westfall, Literary Director, City Theatre
New York during World War II. A nun, eagerly collecting scrap metal for the war effort, and Alexander Calder, desperate for raw material for a new sculpture, plead with a grieving mother, clutching a crushed tin airplane tightly to her chest. Will she let go? And for what?
Soon to be available in the Best American Short Plays 2015.
Commission: The Welders (DC, 2014). Productions: New Theatre (Miami, 2015). Readings: The Welders (DC, 2014); City Theatre (Miami, 2014). Recognition: City Theatre National Award for Short Playwriting (2014).
About the Play
I’ve always been fascinated by Alexander Calder: particularly (and perhaps unsurprisingly) by his mobiles. I love the way in which, because they move, they change the relationship between art and art-viewer. With a traditional sculpture, after all, the art sits still, while the viewer moves around it, observing it from different perspectives, controlling both distance and angle. With a moving piece of art, however, we aren’t ever fully in control. All we can do is sort of dance around the work, watching it change, even slowly. It’s never quite possible to master the entire thing. The art eludes full comprehension.
As all art does, in the end, really.
In any event: when The Welders set out to create an evening of plays about, well, actual welders, I resisted the idea at first. It seemed far too on-the-nose for my tastes. But my colleagues were gung-ho, so I said yes… and quickly realized that I could write about Calder, given the he was, technically, a welder. He was my way in, and I’m glad I found him.
But really, this is a play not about Calder, but about a bereft mother trying very hard to transform her grief into something beautiful: a subject I seem to return to very frequently. And I think that’s what people seem to connect to in the story, too.