The 3-Play Project
“What the hell is a finance guy doing writing plays?”
Four years ago, I heard something on the radio that sparked an idea for a story. Three years and three scripts later, I was eager to hear how all that sounded in action. As a first-time playwright/screenwriter, though, I was pretty sure that finding a willing production company would be, well, tough. So, I decided to produce these works on my own.
As audio dramas.
Soon after, I had the good fortune to meet a dynamic fourth-year drama student at the University of Hartford’s Hartt School for the performing arts. An initially skeptical colleague (whose quoted reaction sits atop this note) was kind enough to introduce us. Through that student, I met another, and another. Before long, my payroll swelled to include seven actors and two musicians (one of which with a talent for sound engineering) from Hartt, and three fourth-year illustration majors, thanks to the recommendation of another colleague at the Hartford Art School.
The collection of audio dramas that follows was made possible by these remarkably versatile young artists. Their efforts are fully attributed, and their contact information is linked.
Every couple of weeks, I get together with one of my closest friends—a guy I met when we were paired for a tennis round robin some 30 years ago. Our first game was great, so we decided to book a court for the following week. And the week after that. We ended up playing singles nearly every Thursday night for the next 15 years and came to know all there is to know about each other—more than most others know about either of us.
This friendship—and the story idea it inspired—came to mind after hearing someone comment about the difficulty that men in their thirties and older have in forging close relationships with other men. As I thought about that, it occurred to me that the friendships we make in our formative years are the ones that we value the most and work hardest to maintain. By contrast, the relationships that we develop at work or through people close to us are often not as intimate because we worry about disagreements and indiscretions.
Thursdays @ 8 is a tale about four men who are serendipitously paired for doubles tennis one Saturday morning. They have little in common. In fact, one might argue that theirs is the unlikeliest of combinations, given their strong personalities. Yet, despite a rocky start, they agree to another game. And another one after that. Over the next couple of years, the protective walls crumble as the four come to realize the extraordinary bond they share.
The theme of this piece is rooted in an activity that I’ve long enjoyed: biking into town on a warm summer day, picking up a paper and a freshly brewed cup of coffee, and parking myself on a bench to watch the world go by. And, yes, eavesdropping is always bonus.
On one of those trips, I overheard a woman complaining to her friend about her husband. There was nothing subtle about the conversation. She was pissed. Really pissed. Not only was I grateful not to be married to her, but her rant got me thinking. About the little hurts that all add up. The big ones that are never forgotten. Not really. And how all that squares with my personal view on committed relationships—how you’re either in or you’re out.
So, as I sat on my bench, I began to sketch out a play about best friends who for ten years, along with their families, rent a beach house every first week in August. Men who, despite that friendship, are each burdened with a secret. For one of them, it’s at the core of his deeply troubled marriage. For the other, it’s a betrayal yet to be revealed.
When you were a kid, did you ever fantasize about running away from home? Perhaps you believed your parents were uncaring or unfair. Maybe you had a sibling who made your life miserable.
I thought a lot about disappearing when I was in my teens. You know, pack it all up and split. Head to Woodstock, even, except that I was a year shy of legal at that point. Still, the temptation was almost irresistible. In the end, though, I knew that I didn’t have a good enough reason to act on it.
But what if you really did have a good enough reason? One that spurred you to travel halfway across the country, change your name and fabricate a backstory that no one—not your spouse, your kids, your friends—would ever think was anything but the truth?
Secrets come at a cost. Sometimes, more than we’re prepared to pay.