Monday, March 28, 2011

Princess Grace Submission...Am I Too Old to Emerge?

Susan B. Reinhard, DGA
Personal Statement
I realize that being 61 years old is a bold challenge to the concept of “emerging artist” and might be considered disqualifying by many. However, for those who have had long years of experience in trying to get a play produced, it is almost understandable.
What I bring to the stage is not just theatrical experience, but Life experience. Also, I am now retired, on Disability and I have one precious asset I’ve never had before: time. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in the year 2000 and went into a 10 year depression that ended in 2010. I awoke with a start and at my age, in my condition, almost immediately booked a weekend of staged readings of “The Talking God” at my church.
My theatrical experience is very well-rounded. I was a line producer of plays in Philadelphia. I have directed at least three times. I have been asked to refrain from acting by wiser hands.
I became a playwright at the age of 14, when Lorraine Hansberry died. I wanted to carry on her inspiration and goals. I began in Business School, where an English teacher ordered me to become a writer. I transferred to the Playwriting curriculum at Ohio University. My first production “Lullaby Dance” was canceled when the school closed due to Anti-Vietnam riots. Then, the entire major was canceled due to the fact that I was the only one left. I call it the luck of the Borings.
I somehow got myself trapped in dead cities and bad marriages until I arrived in the New York/New Jersey area in 1982. Once there, you can see from the resumé, I worked and studied and got quite a few productions. Then, I was diagnosed and stopped all.
The amusing part of the genesis of “Amour Américaine” was that a gentleman had informed me in 2010 that he had no interest in me because I was “too short”. (I am 5’6”, he is 6’, my second husband was 6’7”, but, as Woody Allen says “The heart wants what it wants.”) And then, I realized: “Cyrano de Bergerac!” Thus, Professor Sirianna D. Bergmann of N.Y.U. was born.
There have been no female Cyranos because it is non romantic to call a woman ugly. BUT she can be disabled. She can use a cane and wield that cane like a sword. Roxanne is now Robert Xavier Yeager, called “Roxy.” Christian is now Chrissie. The setting is the art scene of New York City in 1996 and the plot turns on a whole lot more than a kiss.  And while there is poetry in “Amour”, I bow to Rostand and realize that I have to hear it to make it sing.
I have talked to my church in Montclair about starting classes for young people to write 10 minute plays. This is the sort of thing I would want to use the Fellowship for. I would also like to use my proximity to New York to experience other emerging playwrights. At this point in my life, I don’t have many more scripts left in me or the time to develop them. My favorite writing time is in development, working with director and actors. This is also an important skill to pass on to others. The Fellowship would help me to experience it again, frame it, and teach it.

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