We did it! Opening weekend was beautiful. The audience members laughed and cried and also questioned why I would do such a “disturbing” play. I am including my director’s notes here as an explanation/defense. Ta-da!
I first discovered The Marriage of Bette and Boo—and Christopher Durang—in college. It was love at first read through. He is bold and unapologetic, and he confronts even the touchiest situations with truth and humor. Whenever I am sad or cold or discouraged, I take a bath and read his plays. They always make me laugh out loud, and put everything into perspective. And, while I feel like I’m always trying to please people in daily life, he doesn’t write to please people. Directing Durang’s plays, make me feel more bold and unapologetic. And the world needs more bold and unapologetic women.
I enjoy Durang’s notes about his plays almost as much as his plays. To address audience members who might be troubled by the dark or cynical nature of the material he writes, “Some people, I’m told, dismiss this play as too angry; I don’t agree with them and feel that they may be denying something that I’ve found to be true: that unless you go through all the genuine angers you feel, both justified and unjustified, the feelings of love that you do have will not have any legitimate base and will be at least partially false. Plus, eventually you will go crazy.”
I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes you need to do more than just scream into a pillow and smile bravely on. I think that many of us are slowly going crazy with anger, and we should do something about it. For me, plays like this show me traumatic events that resonate with my own life experience and make me laugh at them. It is a great type of therapy.
Throughout The Marriage of Bette and Boo, we see the characters making choices about how to interact with each other, but mostly at their worst. Do we know these people? Are we these people? Usually, when art hits close to home, it’s doing its job. Who are we in the face of another’s struggle? In this play, if we ask that question of the characters, the answer is: not very helpful and mostly awful. Maybe it makes us realize how grateful we are that our lives are the way they are.
This show asks a lot of questions through the characters. “How can I make Boo stop drinking?” “Eventually there’s menopause, right?” “Is the phrase ‘my own stupidity’ hyphenated?” My favorite one comes from the long-suffering Father Donnally, who is charged with solving everyone’s problems: “Why did God make people stupid?” The play answers no questions, but it shows us that life is a journey that can good even if it’s bad.
I could not have done this show without Michele’s encouragement and ability to catch whatever I had missed, Bobbie’s diligence and attention to precision, Susan’s ability to generate a gazillion functional props, and Tess’s support in all other areas of the production. I also want to acknowledge Bill for his efforts in our brilliant publicity campaign, and Shonte for her incredible photos.