l to r: MFA, intern, teacher, intern, intern
Maybe it was just the time away from the computer but I feel cleansed and whole again. Like I’d been down to the river or something.
There was no rolling on the floor, lifting up of eyes, or frothing at the mouth, but in the end I can say the Kenyon playwrights conference was nothing short of a religious experience. I came away refreshed of spirit and with my faith in the muse renewed. Coming home I dedicated my life to the higher power of a nicely written conflict. I’m telling you, man, I am totally saved.
Maybe it was just the joy I experienced roiling in all that Midwestern optimism. Your sardonic sense of things retreats to the background as you bask in the innocence of a small, well-kept college town like Gambier, Ohio. Or, rather, bumphrak, Ohio as I lovingly call it. Considering I live in bumphrak, PA, I wouldn’t have thought farm air and a generally neat countryside would have provided much change, but it is different there. Imagine Berks County without the hills. In addition Gambier has the primness you usually find around places like Devon and Winterthur where even the weeds are manicured to perfection. You get the picture. It was lovely there and it went on and on and on, all the way to the horizon.
And what was I doing there? I mean besides drinking, carousing, and annoying the neighbors, which is expected of anyone attending a conference of any kind be it plumbing, Democrating, or vampiring. The type of thing that always happens whenever you get a group of people with a common interest together and send them off without their spouses. We held our own and proudly kept the reputation of writers being alcoholics intact. We carried on the Great Tradition with aplomb. And that surprised me. I think of playwrights as being intellectual and superior and staid and with families. They have names like August and William and Lillian. They’re not poets for chrissake. They write dialog, the very height of connection between people. They don’t need their Jones, because theater is a collaborative art, and so its creators are in touch, not isolated. They don’t hang about in garrets or clouds. They’re on porches and railroad platforms. There’s no reason for the mood altering chemicals. And yet, and yet, there is Eugene, Tennessee, Arthur. So the tradition exists and we held our own at the bar. Pretty much every night.