Mercy Machine revisited (or…getting pulled back into the past)
October 13, 2014
Yesterday I received an email from a woman in Texas, inquiring about Mercy Machine, a play based on my experiences working in a Nursing Home in the Bronx.
It was a dream of mine to have this play presented in readings around the country, partnering with community groups to educate the public about the need for having an Advanced Directive.
I published the play, and talked to a lot of Advance Directives advocates around the country. I’d also gained the support of Nursing Home Abuse activists. They all believed in the play, but that didn’t translate to money to support the project I’d conceived. In 2011, after a few readings and performances, I’d decided to let the project go and move on.
The woman who’d contacted me said that she’d recently started a nonprofit whose whose mission was closely linked with that of The Mercy Machine Project. I was elated, and a little shocked.
—She said she that she wanted to do all of the things that I had wanted to do with the play.
—She said she was so excited that I understood the work she was doing.
—She told me that my ideas and instincts were spot on, and that now was the time to act.
I already see myself trashing it a bit. From my experiences a couple of years ago, I’d learned to maintain a pragmatic view of any potential developments in an attempt to avoid getting too whisked away in the romantic notion of success.
Rakesh (my boyfriend) suggested celebrating the fact that someone expressed interest in my play, validating that I was on totally target with my vision for using Mercy Machine as a springboard for an education project to increase awareness about the need for Advance Directives.
Immediately my mind jumps to the fantasy of having my face on the cover of the New York Times Magazine (in black and white — with a very serious expression.) That fantasy played in my head for a long time. She said that the play is my baby (no kidding), and that of course they want to give me credit. Duh. As if there could be any other option.
She told me that her nonprofit is in the infancy stages; I did some research on the Director and found that she has experience in starting non profits, etc. It sounds as if she already has a number of people invested in her vision. She said her creative director wants to meet me and how they should bring me down to Austin….ok…..I need to talk to Geoff about all of this. It feels way too good to be true.
And their website is lame.
I’m going to continue to work on all of my stand up material. This is no excuse to put on the brakes. It’s good, right? I’m just trying to figure out which mental basket to put it in and maybe it’s the ‘wait and see’ basket.
Guess it will be a mental exercise in not obsessing about the future, not trying to figure it out.
But Back to the idea of Stand Up
Yesterday I talked myself into typing out the notes for a couple of bits. The next part is rehearsing them. I didn’t allow myself to get sucked into the Google pit today. Avoided Facebook as well. Both activities are extreme time suckers.
I sent her links to my blog; re-examining it, I reread each entry. I got filled up with self-love and acknowledgement and appreciation of myself and my efforts.
I had hope.
She asked how I would feel about doing talk-backs, about speaking to groups. I lied (to myself and to her), and said I would love to, that it would be a dream come true (I’d be delighted).
We’d spoken about having me write additional scenarios and vignettes, and the idea excited me a little because it had been a long time since I’d written anything theatrical. I’d felt blocked in that area for about a year, and that troubled me.
This morning I wrote half a scene. It opened with a woman standing before a window. It’s a snowy day–perhaps in December. She is happy. Her mother enters, nervous, perhaps distressed. During the course of the scene we learn that the daughter has chosen to end her life because she has an incurable illness (similar scenario to the young woman with the brain tumor in the news right now). It actually echos Night Mother by Marsha Norman.
The idea came to me (as all good ideas do) in the shower. Drying my hair, I quickly sketched out the setting and some dialog. On the train to work, I filled in the details. I felt somewhat elated, but there was also a sinking feeling.
Did I really want to be getting into all of this depressing material again?
We held talk backs after those first performances in 2011. It was my idea — to engage the community, to create a conversation between the healthcare providers in attendance, the audience, the cast, and of course–me. Afterward — I wasn’t sure if it was the effect of post-performance blues or if it had actually bummed me out to hear all of the stories shared by the audience. Some of their stories were pretty intense and emotionally horrifying.
Wasn’t I working on reinventing myself? Didn’t I say that my heart’s desire meant embracing comedy?
Did I still want to be that girl who writes depressing, tragic plays?