Monday, April 1, 2019

Play a Day: The Story of Walter

Audrey Cefaly
Two years ago I chose the month of April to read one new play, each day, from the selection available at New Play Exchange, and comment upon it here in my blog.

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?

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