My dad is a playwright, and so is my boyfriend. This was a total accident. Somehow, I’ve wound up with two, when so many wind up with none. And let's be clear: It’s spelled playwright, not playwrite. This is important. It was confusing to me, at first, though. Wouldn’t a person who writes plays be the latter? Anyway.
Being a playwright is not the easiest road out there; trust me, I have a front row seat. There are many sleepless nights, mind-numbing head scratching, way more rejection letters than acceptances, frighteningly low bank accounts, second-rate safety jobs, and lovers who are constantly pleading for more “us time.” So why do these people go through all this agony? Because they have this indescribable urge to show AND tell us a story. So, they labor over them, agonize over them, their plays becoming an extension of themselves. Their work isn’t simply written. It is wrought.
John Greiner-Ferris, my dad, and good pal, grew up in Ohio. Every now and then, if he’s talking to the right person, or if he’s had enough beer, you can hear the mid-western accent. (Ask him to say “Grandma.”) Dad was (and is) a bookworm; he had those cute little kid glasses and everything. His very first chapter book was Tom Sawyer.
He was raised in Cincinnati, and spent many summers and school breaks at his extended family's’ farm in rural Indiana. I’m talking roads of nothing but farms and fields, which gave him plenty of time to think. And dream. I’m under the impression that it was here, somewhere between cornfields and chicken coops, that dad discovered words, stories, and Hank.
When I was a kid, I was allowed to pick three books before bed. Dad had this way of making these stories come to life on the page, so much so that still to this day I picture some of my favorite stories’ illustrations moving like a vintage film. So, I guess it was pretty much right off the bat that I noticed his gift of story telling. Later on, when the storybooks stopped, life happened. All kinds of life. The good stuff, and the bad stuff. Plenty of writing material stuff.
He was always writing, be it journalism, journal entries, copywriting, short stories, or editing my history papers. It wasn’t until all that life happened that suddenly he longed for a different outlet. He says that he just started writing, and out popped a play. And then another. And then another. And then…he was a playwright.
I was 22-years-old when I attended dad’s first public reading. This is when I met Hank. Highland Center, Indiana is about Hank, a man who wound up in a life that he didn’t ask for, yet also fled from the life he came from in Indiana. (Hmm….) It was in that little basement theater that I understood what my father had wrought. The summers in Indiana reading and thinking, the years of bold storytelling to his daughters before bed, the mounds of papers, the good and bad stuff of life, had all come to this: My father had found his outlet.
Boston Public Works is a theater company that produces only Boston playwrights' plays. For such a little city like Boston, you'd think it would be easy for local playwrights to be produced. But it’s not. Dad hopped on board with this project because he wants to give other playwrights an outlet to tell their stories along with his own plays. Boston Public Works is going to produce one play by each of the members of Boston Public Works, thereby creating new slots for new work. The team is raising money to put on these productions to their full potential. Please show your support, and give these playwrights the opportunity to see their wrought work come to fruition.