“The Hermit Bird” is a short play, less than one act, that I wrote in an all-night marathon at school. It won a writing contest and convinced me to write more. Eighteen years later, I’m working with Virago Theater to expand the piece into a full-length play.
Such a length of time for the development of a play is not unheard of. Tennessee Williams’s greatly underappreciated “Orpheus Descending” cooked for seventeen years from the original version to the final. And Peter Shaffer has hacked away on “Amadeus” for more than two decades running. Thornton Wilder compulsively rewrote “Our Town,” rarely letting be staged without tweaking something. And don’t get me started about Star Wars. Ultimately, I feel that if a story lives in the heart of the teller, then it has an indefinite shelf life.
So every time I sit down and try to type this thing out, I am quite sure that the story has vanished from me and I’m simply a poseur pretending to be a writer, and then I start and then the story is there and I’m quite sure it’s not me doing the telling anymore, and I’m simply a reporter telling the facts I’ve witnessed.
Anyway, whatever happens, you’ll be able to watch it at Virago in the spring of 2009.