It's an old story, I know.
But since I've reached the second third of this book, and haven't posted nearly as much as I had originally intended, I'd make today's story an excerpt from my new book, which tells how I became a playwright. It started at the second cast party for 40 Carats... and goes something like this...
It took nearly two weeks to plan and, by that time, we were ready. But actors are a transient breed, one job finishes and another begins, so we had to make the party last to allow windows for everyone's schedule.
Which gave us plenty of time to drink.
The party was a Sherryl's house, down in south county. Sherryl's husband was gone on another trip and we were drinking and music was playing. Before long, Sherryl and I were in each other's arms, dancing in the front room while everyone was in the back. Amidst the dancing, there was kissing. Suddenly, Annie Mezzacappa walked in the room to ask Sherryl where her restroom was. She only got about half the sentence out, which ended in a gasp. If the rest of the cast didn't know what was going on, they knew now.
We rejoined the group outside.
That sunny afternoon in May, we were all seated around a fire pit in the back yard, talking about the show. We had all worked together so well that the conversation seemed to focus and refocus on one thing: that we should all work together again and soon. But how to do it? Theaters had their seasons planned already. We certainly couldn't hijack a theater! What to do…
"Well, Ken's a writer. He could write a play and we could all be in it." I don't remember if it was Annie Mezzacappa or Lori Williams who said that but they were each sitting at either side of me and it could have been either of them.
The other agreed that it was a great idea.
"No. You don't understand," I said. "I write books - and I haven't written a book in years." The last book I had started was Vampire Society, and that was in late 1999.
"So," one of them said, "it can't be that hard. And you're really talented. You should do it!"
The other agreed.
And then, the rest of the cast agreed.
I said, "You're forgetting that just because I write a play doesn't mean it will get on stage. I'd need a director. There's no sense in writing a show if I don't have a director."
Steve Gomer leaned forward. "Ken, if you wrote a show, I'd direct it."
I would have gasped - but my foot was tickling my tonsils. I had to think of a way out of this mess and I had to do it fast; I was fighting a very large swell.
I thanked Steve but added, "If I'm going to go through all the trouble of writing a play, it only seems right that I get cast. In fact, I wouldn't write a play I couldn't act in."
Steve said, "Ken, we all know how talented you are, and you're a very good actor. If you write a play, I'll cast you in any part you want."
Which sealed it.
I was stuck.
And that's how I became a playwright.