Then it was a series of numbing events: dragging bags around, jumping on and off the Silver Line, ticket kiosks, TSA checkpoints, long waits in a crowd of people that slowly got more and more manic as the push-off from the gate got later and later, conversations with strangers just to pass the time, more TSA checkpoints at Newark airport then the long leg to Omaha. And all the while I'm wondering if this or that is a play, how would you stage this feeling that I get every time I travel that leaving is a form of death, always watching and observing the circus that's the United States and wondering/hoping that it all somehow, some way is all sticking in the recesses of my brain for future creative use.
Then you're floating down through some rain clouds over some of the biggest farms I've ever seen and you've landed in Omaha.
As always, I deplaned blinking, feeling gravity's pull putting the brakes on the chaos and the world starts moving at its usual 33 1/3, checking out the people, the ads on the wall, the books in the bookstore (an entire rack of David McCullough; now what does that say about Omaha?) just trying to get a bead on where I am and who's there. Oh look, an Omaha Steaks store!
It turns out there were about seven playwrights on the plane out of Newark. We all recognized one another from the plane at the hotel, and I know even back at the gate in Newark I was looking around wondering if this or that person could be a playwright, until the realization that this sort of profiling was idiotic. What the hell does a playwright look like anyway?
Andrea Hart met us individually in the hotel lobby and after we settled in to our rooms we all trickled back down to the lobby for wine and some chitchat to start to get to know one another. Quickly one playwright became our leader and organized dinner. She found a bar that served really good burgers with a smokin' jukebox, and we were set.
It was like the first day of school, when we as individuals were brought together into a group because of our shared passion but then we quickly bond through other like interests. Tomorrow after an early breakfast--well early for me--and then orientation at 10:00, I'll meet my director, Beth Thompson and my dramaturg, Emma Goldman-Sherman in person for the first time. And I have a rehearsal at 1:00 for Turtles for a reading at 10:00 Sunday morning. After that? I'm not sure. There are plays and readings and workshops. Almost too many from which to choose.