What To Listen For: The Language of Grief/The Beauty of Loss

Haven’t had as much time to blog as would have liked – been in rehearsal for three–count ’em; three new plays in rehearsal–and last night (Monday) we went public with the most beautiful of the bunch: Kathleen Tolan’s ambitious play with (and about) music, What To Listen For, directed by Rebecca Bayla Taichman. Only about 35-40 in the house, but what we heard and felt was a treat. We’ve had the blurb out for months — so I’ll skip the plot, such as there was, or is one. There is, in fact, the most gentle of dramatic arcs to this play about connecting to memory and fighting grief through engagement with the spirit of music and the embattled composers who created some of our culture’s most enduring, radically challenging pieces.

Notes taken from the talk-back discussion with our very moved audience:

“It’s about longing for resolution.”

“It’s about the beauty of loss… I remembered my own grief; listening to music and crying for a year.”

“I was touched more by the power of imagination than by loss. Touched by the connections made between people because of imagination.”

“The notion of time and its fluidity”

“All of earth happens in one note. The play was about everything!”

“The play, for all its innovation, has a solid structure. It’s about containers and content.

“Struck by the sweet-sad private life of the public figures and their connection with unsung people.”

“The play was about the experience of listening.”

For the record, this play which we adore, had the following cast:

Margaret……… Kathryn Kelley*
Herman………..Fred Schiffman*
Mahler…………Michael Milligan*
Freud/Schoenberg…….Jesse Lenat*
Gould…………..Louis Butelli*
Hannah…………Regina Aquino*
Stage Directions…….Adrienne Nelson

* denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association

The beautiful piano accompaniment was provided by Alvin Smithson

The ambitious sound design was created by Neil McFadden

Karen Currie* was our stage manager

Tonight we read the revised version of my Love and Yearning in the Not-For-Profits (And Other Marital Distractions) at 7:30. Been working on that for the past few weeks and rehearsing here and there as time allows.

And next week it’s Noor by Akbar Ahmed at American University. So much to say, in such personal terms, about each one of these labors of love. But duty calls, as does rehearsal, and many new letters to crank out as well.

This blessed theater marches on…