Last year the folks at NPX were inspired to make a competition out of it, to see how many plays could be read in one month! I came in second of all those reading full length plays. They sent me a pin!
This year I am on my own again, but determined to read thirty plays in these thirty days. You know why? Because I am not good at concentrating on my reading, or on anything at all. Having a goal, competing with myself is a great way for me to get things done.
Also, there is a world of writers out there, all across America, and I very much want to know what work they are producing. All of them.
And so, for Monday I read The Story of Walter by Audrey Cefaly and available at New Play Exchange.
Here’s the thing, I have two living kids. The eldest is a daughter, and there was a point, probably during second grade, where she began holding me at arm’s length. I don’t mean we were emotionally estranged or anything like that, it’s just that was the moment she stopped running up to me to hug me, and if I put my arms out for a hug like I used to she would give me that face like, no, dad. That’s okay.
I could deal. I knew this was temporary. She was growing closer to her mom and that was fine, I would be patient. And sometime, about a year or so ago, it all changed back. Now that she was in high school, she would greet me with a hug, maybe out of nowhere. Maybe while I am making dinner.
In this play, Cefaly describes a much more challenging experience, and it is a heart-hurting tale of grief. Not the grief you feel when someone has died, but when someone has decided that you are dead, and leaves. Walter’s story is lyrically told by a narrator, cut with dialogue between the main character and his young daughter as he navigates a new life without his partner.
I can relate to this father, his feelings of utter helplessness and inability to do anything right for his child, the constant sense of self-judgement. It is a particular kind of self-pity … is it a feeling unique to fathers? Regardless, Story of Walter is a touching sketch book of emotional recovery.
What should I read tomorrow?