Friday, August 24, 2012

Reflections on Steven Karam's Sons of the Prophet

Writing facilitates thinking.  I am writing about the things I read because it helps me to think about them.  Just finished reading Steven Karam's Sons of the Prophet published a few months ago in American Theatre Magazine.  As is my usual mode, I had just planned to skim the play given mommyhood provides me with limited reading time but I was drawn in.  I found the play universal and profound.  The fellow is not afraid to stop and reflect.  Gloria's line "Manhattan is fabulous but...I'm not sure there's anything more...invisible in that city than a single, 60 year old woman."  He underscores this with humor by having the male character respond with "A single, 70 year old woman?"  This observation took my breath away.  Performers frequently get sidelined after 40 - an acting career - the hardest thing ever to decide to do - becomes hard in ways that were unimaginable when one was twentysomething.  Yet, I've always felt most actors don't realize their full potential in terms of emotional depth and thinking until after 40.  The other line that really grabbed me (there were many) " one's life should be about finding stability..." "Yes, but whose life isn't?" These words in terms of a life in the theatre.  Yes, I agree, this young writer is compassionate and profound and understands well beyond his years.  Steven Karam was discussed at a producer round table at the Roundabout that I recently attended.  Todd Haimes said he gave this young man a chance because he felt he would drop out of theatre if he did not receive immediate encouragement.  Though I felt the punishment of this remark, I can understand too.  However at the time I felt like shouting, "What about the rest of us, Mr. Haimes?  Those of us who keep going in spite of receiving very little encouragement, very little major recognition?  You feel you need to encourage yet another white male?"  But I didn't.  Any remark like this would make me seem ungrateful, bitter, unhappy.  So I look to this script as inspiration for my own work and hang on to that.  I like the idea that Karam allows characters to observe profoundly on life, on what it's like to be alive.  A play isn't just about true to life dialogue, it must contain those universal hooks, else why write?  These hooks must be woven into dialogue so that the characters HAVE to say them.  That makes the work truly remarkable.  Thank you, Mr. Karam.