Wednesday, July 02, 2008

THE NIGHT WATCHER at the Playhouse

Last night I saw the coolest play. THE NIGHT WATCHER was a one-woman page-to-stage production from Charlayne Woodard at the La Jolla Playhouse. Page-to-stage means that this play is still in development, and the creative team uses feedback from the audience to shape the work further. In fact, they say that if you see the play on night one, it's going to be pretty different on closing night.

On a technical note, I marvel at the openness of the creative team to take part in the page-to-stage process, because how many of us who write books or screenplays or songs want to keep our "visions pure"? Even though feedback is an excellent thing that often improves our work, it can be hard to take. But Woodard, who acts in *and* wrote the play, loves the process.

The play itself tackles a subject that I've never seen addressed before: the place of a woman in society who chooses not to have children yet who considers nieces and nephews and the kids of family friends to be, in many ways, her own. This is the "it takes a village to raise a child" philosophy, and I really relate to it because I, too, have children in my life who aren't my own. There's a certain stigma attached to a woman who can have kids but doesn't, and as Woodard tells a series of vignettes about her experiences in raising them when they somehow "fall through the cracks" of normal family life, it is incredibly touching. It doesn't hurt that she's hugely engaging, as well--a natural born storyteller who lights up the stage.

Happy Fourth to you and *your* kids!

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