Monday, April 8, 2019

Play a Day: Familium Vulgare

Melisa Tien
For Monday I read Familium Vulgare by Melisa Tien and available at New Play Exchange.

This past weekend, my wife and I attended a beautiful French Quarter wedding in NOLA for some Millennial aged artist friends, Melissa and Patrick.

I have mentioned Missy a number of times in this blog, she directed the reading of The Way I Danced With You at Playwrights Local. The service was conducted by Chennelle, another person who followers of the blog will be familiar with.

The ceremony itself was held in Preservation Hall, and afterward as we were comparing notes my wife and I both observed that this was the first time we had been witness to a marriage ceremony where we saw ourselves in the shoes of the parents, and not those of the young people involved.

So it was this morning as I began reading Familium Vulgare (translation: common family) which describes a Chinese-American family, the tragic and fatal allergic reaction the mother suffers from a bee sting, and the immediate fallout among the other members of the nuclear family - father, son and daughter.

The father is described as in his 50s, and so it is with me. When I was at school someone said you know you have matured as an actor when you can read a play without automatically casting yourself as the lead character. That’s as may be, sounds like just some more bullshit theater advice, regardless, may I suggest true maturity as a writer is creating a play in which everyone is the main character, no individual personality is more or less significant than the others.

And yet, to me, today, the father striving to cope with grief through his Buddhist philosophy is the main character. Your opinions may vary.

What Tien so movingly captures is the manner in which different folks struggle to manage the earth moving devastation of a recent loss; the father by clearing the decks, the son by visiting an revisiting recorded memories of the past, and the daughter through a psychic connection with the very creatures who brought death to her mother.

Who should I read tomorrow?

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