Saturday, April 20, 2019

Play a Day: And Then You Die (BONUS)

Portrait by Amy Arbus (2010)
Ten years ago, my monodrama And Then You Die (How I Ran a Marathon in 26.2 Years) workshopped at Cleveland Public Theatre before receiving its world premiere at the Robert Moss Theatre in New York City as part of the New York Fringe Festival.

Training for my first marathon in 2006 was a life-changing experience, the culmination of a quarter century of trying and failing to be a consistent runner. As with my previous solo performance, I Hate This (a play without the baby) I relied heavily on the journaling I did tell the story of the preparing for the race itself, adding stories from my adolescence and early adulthood which described my struggles with health and exercise.

Response was positive in New York, getting laughs where expected and eliciting a strong response at the conclusion. I paid special attention to the critics, however, who were generous but also offered some helpful reflection.
“David Hansen’s autobiographical one-man show, about his lifelong obsession with long-distance running, is a simple and tragic yet reaffirming tale, told earnestly and with minimal poetics ... how refreshing to be touched by something real.” - Michael Freidson, Time Out New York

“We meet a lot of people that have crossed or influenced Hansen's life, but you will have a hard time understanding why they are important ...His father who used to run when he was just a child, his first inspiration, was he around to see him run the Marathon? … We needed more of these pivotal influences.” - Antoni Minino, Fab Marquee

"Segments about how he trained for the race, especially his final preparatory run, from his own home on one side of greater Cleveland, to his parents house across town, are similarly fascinating … What I wanted was to understand why running is so fundamentally important ... But this show never really gets us to that place.” - Martin Denton, nytheatre.com
Also, this comment left on my blog from audience member (now my friend) Cris Dopher:
“I was impressed with your clarity, organization of thought, and bold maneuvers on stage … If there was anything I was confused about, it was the family timeline and your relationship with your daughter ... you concentrate on your boy(s) so much throughout the show, and then at the end - it's all about your little girl. I wasn't sure why the switch.”
And Then You Die
(How I Ran a Marathon in 26.2 Years)
Good question.

When I had the chance to remount the show at CPT in 2011, paired with I Hate This as a single evening, I was took the opportunity to cut the show down to an hour (previously it ran about 75 minutes) which was a welcome change for everyone involved, but this piece suffered in comparison to the very weighty first act.

Writing for the Plain Dealer, Christine Howey said I Hate This “borders on brilliant,” but that ”the second play just can't measure up to the first. However transformative the process of completing a 26-mile run might be, it pales to insignificance after the cataclysmic event so tellingly presented earlier.”

So, I’ve left this piece alone for a while. But it’s one I have lately been coming back to. I want to respond the criticism, to rewrite the entire thing. Because there is a story there, one I enjoy telling, about running, about why we run, and about maturity, and having a goal and trying to reach it. About becoming a whole person, one who is happy with themselves. Or at the very least, has a capacity for happiness.

This is my goal for the rest of the spring, to rewrite And Then You Die, aiming for a performance some time in early fall. The decision to tackle this now isn’t arbitrary, either. This fall I will be running the Chicago Marathon, raising funds for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

Please check out my Team Challenge campaign page, read why raising funds for this organization is important to me, and make a contribution. Any amount with be greatly appreciated.

And, anyone who donates will receive an invitation to see the new revision of And Then You Die (How I Ran a Marathon in 26.2 Years). Contribute today!

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