Sunday, April 17, 2011

Travel Day

I’m in the lobby of the Independence Apple Tree Inn waiting for my ride to the Tulsa airport. The 30th annual William Inge Festival is over and plans are already in the works for next year’s event, which will be April 18-21, 2012.

I spent yesterday in a couple of playwriting workshops; one with Joe DiPietro, the writer of the Tony award-winning musical Memphis as well as the long-running off-Broadway I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Then I went to a master class taught by Marsha Norman, the Inge Festival honoree. Both were very enlightening, proving that playwriting is something that you’re always perfecting and that plays are never written but re-written.

The weather this week was interesting, to say the least. As I noted earlier, we had severe weather on Thursday, followed by frigid winds and rain on Friday. Yesterday — Saturday — was warmer and sunnier, and today looks like a good day for travel across the country.

This was my 20th trip to Independence. As is the case with a lot of places, there have been changes over the years, but they have been comfortable changes. Even in a time of a down economy, this town still maintains its charm and friendliness. At the tribute to Marsha Norman last night, the theatre was packed with a lot of the local people who have supported the festival since it began. I’ve seen people who have become friends over the years, and while time takes its toll, many of them seem to be ageless in their support of the festival and their friendly tolerance of the invasion of the theatre folk from all over the country.

I’m sitting on the same sofa in the lobby where twenty years ago I sat next to Edward Albee and introduced myself. And I can still remember seeing Arthur Miller standing at the front desk chatting with the desk clerk, or Robert Anderson coming out of his room in his familiar red baseball cap and raincoat. Over by the pool door I remember laughing with Wendy Wasserstein as she marveled at the rock structure that was on the edge of the pool, and smiling as Neil Simon stood in the middle of the lobby and asked “Who do I have to talk to to get a bagel in this town?” And right now, John Schuck — M*A*S*H‘s “Painless Pole” and the Klingon ambassador from Star Trek VI – The Voyage Home — checks out of the hotel.

Well, the van is here, so here we go. See you in Miami.