Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Play a Day: Swimming While Drowning

Emilio Rodriguez
For Tuesday I read Swimming While Drowning by Emilio Rodriguez, a playwright whose work is available at New Play Exchange.

Yesterday I was casting about for what to read today, and my friend Mimi suggested this play. Swimming was also profiled yesterday in HowlRound. The play received its world premiere last February at Milagro in Portland, OR.

This play is a lovely, lyric dance of dialogue between two teens in a shelter for LGBT youth. Angelo seeks connection, and Mila's every response is a wall that Angelo must climb over, dig under or break through, but the very fact that Mila responds invites that struggle. Otherwise, he wouldn't respond at all.

Mimi interviewed Rodriguez for HowlRound when Swimming was in development, and his comments about receiving audience and company feedback in shaping the work are insightful. Sometimes hearers tell you what is strong about a scene, which by omission can clue you into what may be weak, or unnecessary. It is not always the easiest thing to intuit if you are merely searching for validation.

Rodriquez says, "playwriting feels like the perfect blend of theatre, poetry, and creating art with a purpose." His belief in the power and importance of playwriting is evident in Swimming, which employs performance poetry to move the story forward, not merely as commentary on the action, but to take emotional leaps forward in the relationship between these two young men.

Good morning.

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