February 21, 2005

Delayed- Discovering that my play and my soul are works in progress

How exactly does a playwright pack? My first play was going to be produced by a company in Atlanta, and they were flying me up to help me fine tune the script. There were a few potential problems but nothing we couldn’t work out. And they were going to produce my play! So, I was playwright, but I didn’t have an ascot or pipe to my name.

I zipped up my suitcase and grabbed my borrowed lap-top, in its borrowed case and waited outside for my ride to the airport.

Fifteen minutes later. Ring. Ring. “Hello?”

“Yeah, Dad. Are you coming to bring me to the airport?”

“Oh! Forgatchya!” he grogged and he was practically disconnected before he got out the words

“I’ll be right there.”

When he arrived I had to concentrate as I greeted him not to sound supremely annoyed. I arrived at my gate in plenty of time. In fact, I was six hours early.
As we were boarding, roughly three rows before my seat assignment they stopped letting people on. They described the problem as a potential mechanical problem. The cheerleader and her family who were waiting behind me to board the plane that would bring her to some competition in Atlanta, said “Does that mean we’re going to be on a broken plane?” To which her father replied “No, it means we’ll be on a fixed plane.”

The potential problem with the airplane was, in fact, full of potential. There was a hydraulic leak in the landing gear. I bravely joked to a nearby commiserater, “I wanna take off, but I wanna land even more.” He smiled, and the passengers now “deplaning” joined us in the terminal looking as though they’d just lost the state tournament. We all settled in for a delay. The large flat screen television showed the anticipated departure time in cheerful colors and had a real time clock in the top right corner that kept catching up to the departure time. And just when it seemed it would pull alongside, the departure time would leap out in front, by half an hour, and hour, and finally by three hours.

Playwrights have to deal with this all the time, as they are jet-setting around the country. In my waiting, I met two people exactly my age. The first was a national spokesperson for the Nutrition Council of America and the second was the president of a highly successful athlete representation firm. When they asked me where I was headed, I explained quite simply, “I’m a playwright and I’m meeting with a company that wants to produce one of my plays.” We were all arriving. We were saying goodbye to youth, but having arrived, to some extent at our desired destinations. I even remember saying to the Nutrition Spokesperson “I feel better about turning 30 knowing I’ve accomplished a lot of my personal goals.”

My plane was delayed again one more time, so I furrowed my playwright’s brow and told them to get me to Atlanta because “I was done waiting.” So they put me on the next plane out of town.

I used that same line when I arrived in Atlanta and discovered my luggage was lost. They told me my bags were still on my original plane that wasn’t due for another hour. They agreed to deliver my bag later that night.

Once I was with the script development team of the theatre things seemed quite positive at first. I told them why I wrote the play and how excited I was to see my idea finally come to fruition in their April production of the show.

As we began to work, the problems and weaknesses of the script started popping up. Each one was tied to three other plot points, which meant if one was to be moved or written, the others had to be adjusted as well.

By the time we’d met for four hours Friday night and five on Saturday, it was quite clear that I had a good script that could be made excellent, but I’d have to do rewriting on to blank pages. I looked at the director and told him he should cancel the show in April. The script would be incomplete and its production wouldn’t serve the company or me if we both knew its flaws already.

As a result of pulling it from the April slot, it would not be able to be produced until 2007. Two years away. I’d have to return home and tell the dozens of people who were cheering me on, and praying for me that there would be no group trip, no charter bus to Atlanta for my premier. But worse yet, there was a personal note of disappointment. I was not a playwright. I hadn't written a full-work to completion. My play’s problems were full of potential and take off was seriously delayed.

As I fly home I remember the question of the cheerleader about our plane. And I have to admit I’d rather have a fixed play than a broken one. Just like the airline, God knew that the time was not right for my play to make its lift off. For as much as I wanted to see it in the air, I want to see it land as well.

In truth, the observations started spreading to myself. I have, in no way “arrived.” And despite how “done” I am with waiting, God’s will is not impressed by my furrowed brow. My play and I are in process and while I will eventually come up with a final draft of my play, my soul will always be best described as incomplete.

It only took me six hours in an airport, and a slight delay of a lifelong dream for God to remind me of who is the true author. But did he have to make them lose my luggage?

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