Artistic Statement

Artistic Statement

I’m a language-based playwright pulled in more by ideas than classic story, but that thematic pull usually brings me to world and the beliefs that prop up those worlds. Since I’m also drawn to outsiders, I typically find myself at the edge of a world (realistic or not) asking what guidelines define goodness and how power gets deployed to enforce that.

I do think that as some (possibly) screwy) level, most people want to see themselves as good whatever others might think. Yet if you sit a bit outside, but still wish to be the “right” kind of person as defined by that society, you will be in strong tension with who you are.

In my early writing, I mostly looked at the outsiders themselves. Lately I seem to be exploring also the community itself as it wrestles with how to deal with those who don’t deserve to be outcast, yet nonetheless don’t quite fit.

As to worlds, I most adore those that sit slightly askew. Geographic place is seldom a factor, although if it is, it’s huge, as in COMMUNION.ALONE’s empty western Kansas landscape. More often, setting matters, as in the morgue prep room of VIEWING, or the isolated storage unit of FLOTSAM, or the passenger train compartment loaded with cardboard boxes in my one-act absurdist play, THE JOURNEY, which has since become a full length non-realistic piece entitled A GOOD PLACE NOT TO BE. I don’t think I’ve ever set a piece in someone’s house, except for one short, sad tale which unfolded in an attic.

One thing that has so far mattered is that my outsiders be ordinary-seeming outsiders, not someone actively rejected, more someone who carries alienness hidden inside. Perhaps they struggle to discover better-fitting roles as in LOVED ONES. Or escape ill-fitting ones as in VIEWING. I usually explore this lack of belongingness from the personal angle, although in COMMUNION. ALONE the roles became part of a bigger something defined by both the community’s and various characters’ views of race, religion and belonging. But that ended badly for my poor characters, as I think it often does in my writing. Though lately I’m working on something new where I see the possibility of a happy ending. Which feels right at this moment. Not because things seem so likely to go well in our current world, but because we need to discover bonds, or at least moments, to sustain us: outsiders, insiders, middlesiders all.