Thursday, September 23, 2010

Back to Cool

One odd thing about having a "body of work" as a playwright is that you constantly have to make an assessment of which of your creations is calling to you. You're a parent of a dozen kids, and you're always listening to which of them is screaming the loudest--and which really mean it, instead of just making noise for attention.

As we count down to 2012 and the 50th Anniversary of the Seattle World's Fair, I've been hearing more from Eugene Wright, the protagonist of my 2003 play How to be Cool. Eugene is far too polite to scream or yell--he stands there smiling, waiting for me to notice him so that we can begin a conversation.

I met with Eugene's co-creator, actor Evan Whitfield, last night for happy hour and drinks at Il Bistro. (Which has, let me just say, one of the best Happy Hour menus in the city. Their calamari? Their goat cheese bruschetta? I purr.)

We're plotting a short film to introduce Eugene to the people at The Next Fifty, the group that's organizing the 50th Anniversary of the World's Fair. For those of you who haven't seen Cool, it's in an affectionate look at life back in 1962, a time when there was optimism about the future and the ability of our society to improve ourselves into it. Eugene acts as a guide to modern audiences to that time, when for a few months anyway Seattle was very possibly the coolest place in the entire world.

Although I've been feeling run down with all of the projects I've been involved in for the last couple of months, talking with Evan about Eugene was a joyous trip back to a delicious wellspring. I don't so much write dialogue for Eugene as listen closely, and out of the air it comes, always in Evan's tones of scarcely-contained enthusiasm.

We'll be shooting the film in the next month or so, and if I can overcome my technical illiteracy, we'll post it here. Maybe we could wait longer to do it--we've got over a year to pull this together, right? But neither of us wants to. Working with Evan on this show and this character is one of those few theatrical experiences that always gives me more energy coming out of it than I did going in.

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