A grieving sister attends wedding parties in the Occupied Territories and Woodland Hills, California.
Emily Dale White / Laura Sukonick / Jenna Kuerzi / Douglas Williams
Papermill Theater, Kensington, USA
Background story on creating Cana of Galilee from 2014
i am gonna talk about this one because it is very special and it is filled with regret and hopefully it has a bittersweet ending. i think the putting on story is gonna be like the actual play…
me and my ladyfriend Yael got married last summer in her mom’s backyard. it was beautiful and wonderful and a most wonderful day. the best.
i dont know if it was bananafish or what but at some point (not that day) i thought about who yael would be with after i die. i always made the joke that if she died i would just move back to california.
but yeah, i am gonna die before her.
it is a joke of course but dudes are not around for the long haul. you usually dont see pairs of old men shuffling off to a deli. it is usually best friend ladies. in my life it is yael and stephanie, best friends for life.
i thought it would an interesting hook for a play, the idea of the next best day ever for someone.
i thought about my sister going to yael’s new wedding and what the fuck that would be like. so i guess i started with the idea of writing my sister at my wife’s second marriage. but then i thought it more interesting if she dies and i get remmarried hella quick. hahahahahahaha.
i didnt know what the play was gonna be other than that idea, so i put out a thing for actors to find people to build a show around.
i knew i wanted to do something with Sarah Knittel, who is a fantastic actor and i thought it would be great to see her put through the paces of a full play, see if she could carry it. i think she saw hannah and was like, okie doke, i want to fuck around on stage like that shit.
through francesca, i met ellie ruttenberg, who as soon as i met her i wanted her to play my sister. we read an old short play of mine and she just ran with it right away. ellie was awesome and i super wanted the chance to try to break her emotionally on-stage. hahahahahaha.
nell bang-jensen is the ladyfriend of ben grinberg (heartthrob/actor/clown) who was in hannah. for some reason i felt honored that nell would want to do a thing. i dont know why. i guess i felt the same way about nell as i did ben. there is something about the two of them that is just the future, like these motherfuckers are gonna be on the crest of something and it would be awesome to work with them before they turned into coke-addled beasts and i could tell people i worked with them while on my 15 minute break at rite-aid.
e theater alliance posting. we met at the what is the name of that place like panera that is in old city on walnut? i cant remember. but i remember we met outside, it was super cold, i kept asking her if she was cold, she was like no, dude, i am from vermont. we talked for a little bit and she said what she was looking to do which was do new shit on-stage. i told her i wanted to do a thing but didnt know what it was and she was like, cool. she smoked with her left hand which was cool. i liked the sound of her voice and how she carried herself and thought she to be a cool customer.
so i had a monster cast. it just was right from the jump-off. the play was the four actors, Nell, Ellie, Sarah and McKenzie.
it seemed like i was close to really finding a thing about building a show around actors and this one was gonna be heehaw.
the four of them are in the mid twenties and in my opinion, super talented actors who havent been given a chance to really soulflex on-stage. i mean, they do shit, it isnt like they are languishing, but fuck in a good way parts in old plays or weird parts in shit. I was pumped to showcase these four motherfuckers.
part of it for me was rolling my eyes about the thing that there are no good parts written for women or whatever. not the fact, which is a super fact, no doubt. But i guess i was like heehaw that there was super coverage and press about a lesbian version of romeo and juliet while we were doing hannah, an original play about young motherfuckers in love who happened to be women.
i guess i think if people think there should be something they should kinda just do it themselves. but heehaw. i guess i wanted to write something strong for women like i do with every play i write that has women characters.
I think what was neat about cana of galilee was i wrote what i thought of each of them as people, not knowing them at all, but what i thought they were.
Cana of Galilee. June. Booked. boom. four white women in Kensington. it just was right and good and was gonna be monster.
but then yael was like fuck philly, let’s move to los angeles.
so that was the end of this.
i felt terrible about walking away from this play. i hated telling them it was off. i felt like a fake dude who talks hella shit about stuff and then is just full of shit. i hated the fact that i had produced everything ihad written up to this point. hooray los angeles but fuck los angleles, i got these animals for kensington. i felt like divorced dad cheap guy.
As some type something, i decided i would do a short version of the play as the last thing i did in philly as part of smokeyscout’s nice and fresh winter series.
i wrote an ending to the play that featured ellie talking to her former brother-in-law.
I got bob Stineman for the part of the brother-in-law. Bob is a great dude. He is a soldier in the church of doing good theater done by good people who are good people. I think it would be awesome to see Bob as a stressed out platoon leader who just cant make the right decision at a critical juncture while holed up in a church. I think it would be awesome.
i did the short verison with them. they were great.
The thing is it didnt feel right leaving philly without doing the whole thing.
Mostly since the characters are super based on the actors involved.
The play is them, it isnt anyone else.
so i got them to agree to read it one time on April 30th.
Knowing they are gonna read it makes me feel good. i dont want to do this play with anyone else.
I am not really gonna have a chance to work with them before the reading, it is more just tallk to them a bit leading up to it but really leave it in their hands. and there is something sweet about only one shot at this thing, whatever they do is what it is and that is all it will be.
I tried something different this time, which was to offer to the actors an emotional soundtrack of things that might have ahppened to them before the play or moments in their lives that are reminded by hearing a song or the things that play in their heads. Maybe they use, maybe they dont…but here is link to the list. Cana of Galilee Playlist
i am dramatic and i am like this will be the only time the play is ever done. it is whatever to say something like that if your shit isnt done in the first place and you can big pimp it and be like this is the only time. but i put on my own shit and dont fuck around with the stuff. my wife laughs at me when i say this. but i am pretty much like this is it. there is something special about the four actors, this is their play and it was meant to be done with them.
What is hilarious /heehaw is i say all this bullshit and then had a to make a cast change. Ellie it turns out has to get her wisdom teeth pulled out two days before the reading and she was gonna try to do the reading but there is no way she could have surgery and then two days later read this play. I was gonna cancel it but then yael reminded me about Anna Flynn-Meketon.
I did two plays with Anna in Philly, California Redemption Value and Automatic Fault Isolation. Anna is simply a beast with a huge brain. Anna agreed to step in at the last minute and read for Ellie. I feel terrible that ellie will not be able to do it but am looking forward to anna flynn stepping in.
i am gonna try to audio tape it and have it to have but i will see if i fuck it up.
if you want to see it, it is happening on april 30th around 7pm in center city. let me know, email me at email@example.com