It's not very hard to come up with an idea for a play.
1. You need to be a person of about my age who spent a lot of time in front of the television while this commercial was airing.
Who was this Awan Buhh, you must wonder, idly, while licking marshmallow fluff off of gummy fruit snacks. Will I ever learn about him, in school? (No.)
2. You need to be a person whose family goes on vacation to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Roughly once a year for most of your childhood. For many of these years you will stay in a house that has a framed map labeled GRAVEYARD OF THE ATLANTIC. Right next to the television, that map. You should probably also visit The Lost Colony. And love it.
3. You need to be a person who decides, one day, that she has a crush on Alexander Hamilton. You don't even need to know anything about the guy, just, in roughly the year 2000, when the $10 bill is finally switched to the large-portrait format, you need to notice that this Hamilton guy was kind of a fox.
4. You need to be a person who spots a flyer in your local public library that is advertising a Birthday Party for Alexander Hamilton. You need to be so stunned by the absolute perfection of this idea that you need to go to this Birthday Party, which in the year that you noticed this flyer is held at the Morris-Jumel Mansion in New York City. You will drag your friend to this party, and the two of you will marvel at such things as: the Alexander Hamilton historical re-enactor! The fact that the Morris-Jumel house even exists at all! The fact that the Morris-Jumel house was actually super-briefly the residence of Aaron Burr, the guy you are fairly sure was the guy who shot your historic crush object (cf. that Got Milk? commercial, right?).
5. You need to be a person whose friend alerts her to the fact that Aaron Burr had a daughter named Theodosia, who died mysteriously in a shipwreck. Your friend will email you about this and you will respond with ALL CAPS ENTHUSIASM. Within hours (hours; I have receipts) you will have purchased two books about Theodosia.
It is at this point that you will start to suspect that you have an idea for a play. But what. Is it. What...IS IT. Is it a play about Aaron Burr, or Theodosia Burr, Alexander Hamilton, or shipwrecks, or duels, or milk? Is it seriously maybe a play about milk? (Okay, it is not a play about milk.)
I knew for years that I wanted to write about Theodosia but I did not know exactly how. Maybe I could connect it to this thing, or this other thing, or this other thing, or...! Last summer I read two books at the same time, one of them was a biography of Aaron Burr and the other one was Moby-Dick. And if I learned anything from the first one it was that eventually everyone gets a sympathetic biographer and if I learned anything from the second one it was that you must be patient with your white whale. Chase at your peril. Eventually the damn thing will surface and then, oh then, you had better be ready.
This is a play about a woman who disappeared at sea. It's about making a new home for yourself, about what it means to live a great life, about what family requires, about love. There is some history in it, and some magic. It's been tough to write but I like that. I like a hard-fought. The play is still very much in progress and this reading is part of the writing. If you come on Wednesday, you are also a part of the writing.
by Meghan Deans
Directed by Colette Robert
With Tina Benko, Megan Tusing, and Jonathan Silver
Plus Darcy Fowler on stage directions
Wednesday, May 30
Ensemble Studio Theatre
549 W. 52nd Street (btw. 10/11), 2nd Floor
Strongly Recommended: That you arrive at 7pm to see Erica Saleh's The Morning After.