Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About Just out. (Portland, OR) 1983-2013 | View Entire Issue (Aug. 1, 1988)
In order to function, choices must be made
M I C H A E L
R E E D
fter a successful five-month run, my play,
seven Sundays, has closed in Los Angeles.
The producers are sending the play to
Edinburgh, Scotland, to be in The Fringe, the
largest international theater and art festival in
the world. As much as 1 am pleased with the
attention the play has received, I am anxious to
begin a new project.
The hardest part about writing a successful
work is the immense pressure to create another
equally successful work. After the first produc-
tion of seven Sundays in Portland, I stopped
writing for two years. I was getting calls from
people all over the country wanting to see a
script. I made vague promises and refused to
mail anything. I was uncomfortable with
strangers asking me for my words and thoughts.
I have since come to terms with that aspect of
writing, although I’m still reluctant to send out
manuscripts to everyone who asks because they
are seldom returned. It is, I suppose, one of the
many occupational hazards of writing.
My favorite part about being a playwright is
watching the first production of the play take
place. In fact, I really only care about the first
production. Once I have seen the play come to
life, I am ready to move on to something else.
In August, I will be producing a new play of
mine, easy choices, at the Northwest Service
Center. I wrote it in 1984, shortly after
completing seven Sundays.
My brilliant teacher, Suzanne, taught me a
valuable lesson as an actor: in order to function,
choices must be made. She also taught me that
one can get knocked around if one makes a
wrong choice. It was a resounding lesson I
wanted memorialized somehow.
easy choices is about two men who have
been friends for years and who find themselves
in common situations of loneliness. Their
relationship becomes more intimate than either
had ever expected. What makes their situation
peculiar is that one of the men (Joe) is gay and
the other (Frank) has been a heterosexual until
he and Joe embark upon their affair.
Many difficulties follow and many choices
are made. The irony of the title is that most of
the choices aren’t really that easy.
Suzanne hated the play. When discussing it,
the expression on her face was as though she
smelled something awful. She thought it was
far too intense and wanted me to open it up more
and include more characters. She said, “ Oh
yes, the sex is fun and the handcuffs made me
laugh, but it’s too much of a pressure cooker.”
She was not moved by my strangled pleas in
defense of the play. I took the sixty-odd-page
manuscript I had spent so many maniacal hours
typing and went home and tucked it into my
closet. After all. judgment had been passed and
there was no hope for the play.
When Paul Mortimer directed seven Sundays.
he asked to see another play of mine. (This is a
common request. People ask to see more of my
work, expecting everything to be like the work
they have already seen. Almost all insist that
nothing else I’ve written comes up to the quality
of seven Sundays, a response which bores and
irritates me to no end.) With wicked glee, I let
Paul read easy choices, mostly in response to
his smug heterosexuality. As expected, he didn’t
like the play. He did, however, give the play to
Douge Mart;p (who played Francis in the origi
nal production of seven Sundays in Portland). At
first, Douge didn’t like it either. He could not,
however, stop thinking about it. The same was
true for Paul. Somehow the play needled them.
It got under their skins, as art should. Both
eventually decided that they liked the play.
Douge has been instrumental in making this
new production happen. He convinced me that
the work was dramatic and provocative. He also
wanted to play Joe and has worked very hard to
be cast in the role.
The part of Frank will be played by Terry
Swenson, who was last seen in Kevin Koesel’s
production of Switch.
Holly Bennett, whom I have known and loved
for many lifetimes, will be directing.
The play is about passion, sex, power, love
and fantasies. It is about what happens when
people try to possess each other. Ultimately, it is
a reflection of man’s need to destroy that which
he does not understand.
I also wrote easy choices as an exploration of
the fantasies so many gay men have of sexual
involvements with straight men.
But academics aside, I think the play is hot. I
wanted a play that was erotic and terrifying,
romantic and kinky, passionate and funny.
One friend told me that she doesn’t think that
easy choices does what art should do. She
thinks that art should be constructive, not
destructive. I am of the opinion that if the veil is
tom away from the temple of our fears, forcing
us to look at the underbelly of our souls, then
tearing that veil is an act of liberation. In order
to validate sexuality as an integral part of
humanity, some misconceptions about sexual
labelling must be exposed. That is what I
wanted easy choices to do.
But even more than philosophy, I like the
story. It’s quirky and surprising. Those who saw
seven Sundays might want to brace themselves.
This play is new.
The performances are at the Northwest Ser
vice Center, 1819 NW Everett St., on Friday
and Saturday, August 26 and 27, at 8 pm. Tickets
are $ 10 and will be available at the door.
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