The Journey for a New Play
In 1982, when I was about to leave the University of Memphis with my graduate degree, I told my professor Henry Swanson that I was going to write for a year and then apply for jobs if things didn't seem to be happening. He said, "better make that 10 years." Okay, so it's been over 35 years, but things ARE happening!
There have been three versions of my play, "Some Day for a Crown" that have been produced. I have just completed the fourth major rewrite. The latest produced version was actually two related short plays. Since the earlier versions only showed my father's Alzheimer's Disease, I scaled it back to a long one-act play and then wrote another short play that depicted my father in the great beyond trying to reach out to a grandson he never knew. The theme that mothers are wired to preserve the family still persisted in the second play.
When the play was produced at Southwest Tennessee Community College, I realized during the first weekend that the first act was about a half-hour too long. I might have freaked the actors out a bit, but I cut the first half-hour off the script before the second weekend of performances. Since I hadn't required that the actors memorize lines I could do this relatively guilt-free. The script was improved but I knew I still had a big rewrite ahead of me.
The version I'm about to start pitching alternates scenes from each of the acts of the Southwest version. This time we start out seeing my father without the apparent symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. However, as his grandson prepares to flip the house after the death of his grandmother, we see the struggles that took place there 23 years earlier. Sadly, it appears that the disease did not skip a generation. However, grandmother saw it coming and managed to devise a way to preserve the family. I've been calling this new version, "An Old Rugged Cross," after the same favorite hymn of my father's that inspired the first title.