As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on my friend Josh’s couch, and my family is three states away.
Josh lives about half a mile from where Casey and I lived until last week. We packed up a UHaul (well, our movers did) and Casey and I headed back to Pittsburgh, the environs from which we both sprang. After only about 24 hours of getting settled in the Burgh, I had to hop on a train to come back to Chicago. Now, I’m finishing up my last few weeks of business here while my family awaits there.
This is not easy. Since my daughter was born, I’ve only ever been away from her for a few days at a stretch. Now, I’m going to be without her, and Casey, for about 2 weeks. Luckily, there’s FaceTime.
It’s the summer of change. New city. New home. New job (theoretically, still looking). New theatre scene. New people. New places. Much of this is very exciting, especially the whole being near family again after a decade away part.
Back in June, I had my first show in Pittsburgh in 6 years. BREWED, with No Name Players. The production was lovely, with great performances all around, supported by an awesome company (take note, friends: No Name Players is legit). Casey and I went into Pittsburgh for a few days so I could pop in on the final preview and be there for opening. The production was well attended, and the press response was good. As a hometown boy, it definitely felt special to have the show written up twice in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The writer from the PPG called it Shirley Jackson-esque, which was pretty cool. The whole weekend felt like a big, warm “welcome back.”
We’ve been moving in stages. Casey’s family has been periodically making trips to Chicago over the past few months, not just to visit, but to start taking stuff back. The BREWED weekend was a nice chance to meet some people before the move. The move felt very permanent for Casey, but not for me since I had to come right back to Illinois. I’ll be back in a couple weeks, and then it will feel like our life in Pittsburgh is really beginning.
Of course, returning to Pittsburgh doesn’t feel like returning. It feels like starting again in a new city. I’ve never lived there as an adult, just come in to visit, so there’s a lot to learn. It’s familiar and yet completely not. Every article I read about what’s happening in the city is exciting and inspiring.
Meanwhile, back in Chicago, I haven’t had a moment’s rest. Over the last few months, I’ve been working on two commissions. I wrapped up my year with the Goodman Theatre Playwrights Unit and had a stellar reading of my play ENTRY (or, you think you know me), which teamed me up again with Devon de Mayo, who I absolutely love working with. Our cast of Emjoy Gavino, Jeff Trainor, Mary Williamson, Colm O’Reilly, Kelly O’Sullivan, and Erin Barlow crushed it. At the end of an unbelievable year of development at the Goodman, it was a beautiful finale.
Now, I’m working on a new play for Concordia University called OTHER FAMILIARS. It will be directed by Jason Narvy, first in a reading with professional actors at Chicago Dramatists next Saturday, August 8, at 2pm; and then in a full production with his students at Concordia in October. I have Jayme McGhan and Stephanie Stroud to thank for setting that up.
Where ENTRY is Horror, OTHER FAMILIARS is a dark fantasy with a lot of literary touches; both center on a subject that’s been heavy on my mind (and many peoples’ minds) this year: Grief. My friend Dana pointed out to me a few months back that a lot of my plays deal with grief. I never thought about it in those terms, but she’s right. I guess it makes sense, given that grief can take you to some places that are right out of a horror story.
Having these projects to work on has been healthy for me, keeping me focused on some things that are in my control with so many things that are out of my control approaching at full tilt. The end of our time in Chicago. The final day at my job, which I’ve been mostly happy at for the last 5 years. And now, at the end of September: Baby #2. (WE’RE HAVING ANOTHER BABY. WHAAAAT??) I’m glad I’ve knocked two plays out in the last year, because I have a feeling it’ll be some time before I can crank out another. Several months at least. Many sleepless nights ahead…
It’s all worth it though. Change is good. Family is great. And adventures keep life interesting.