Unlike some writers, I don’t write topical material. When some item in the news inspires me (and it’s quite often), I always try to write the piece in a way that it will work for future occasions.
For instance, after the horrific Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, I wrote the five-minute “Cellphones of the Dead,” which was performed that Friday night at No Shame Theatre in Roanoke, Virginia. It doesn’t reference Virginia Tech and could be staged again — although No Shame producer Todd Ristau said it was so powerful, it shouldn’t be performed too often. In fact, he said it was too powerful (and too much of a downer) to include in that year’s Best of No Shame Theatre.
After Friday’s equally horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, I thought about bringing that piece back for an encore performance at No Shame Theatre. One problem — kindergarten students don’t have cellphones.
So while watching a rehearsal of my Christmas show, “Klaus,” I scribbled out a new piece. And I broke with my practice of having others perform my work — and performed this one myself. I’m no actor, and have never pretended to be, but thought perhaps those who known of my self-imposed prohibition on doing my own works would find the performance even more powerful then.
James Thompson was kind enough to take this photo of me performing the short monologue “Chalkboard Scribbled in Blood.”
Regrettably, it will fit the next time there’s another one of these awful events.