Backstory: Dance in Venice
I proposed to my wife during a Julia Fordham concert. I had arranged it with Julia, who's just a lovely woman--and a talented singer. Chances are you don't know her, but I've enjoyed her music for years. And there's a lyric in her song "Italy" that goes, We can dance in Venice, kiss in Rome. The song begins, Can we move to Italy?/I will take a boat and meet you there./Can we move to Italy?/I will put fresh flowers in your hair. Lovely song. And one day it got lodged in my head--both the lyrics and the idea they brought: two people at the end of a vacation and one of them doesn't want to go back to her old life. Out of that came this play.
I think that in the beginning, this was going to become an exploration of their relationship. I recall that I wanted her to tell him he hadn't a romantic bone in his body--despite his arranging a lovely getaway to a villa--and have him defend it.
If you've read other backstories, you may know that nothing stays on the path I first imagine. (That's called writing!) So instead, Rachel laments her routine and romanticizes about staying while waxes practical.
I like this play, but I must confess that there are times when I want to add something to it. I want there to be more of a trigger for Rachel's decision. I worry that she plays like a whiny broad--not that I've seen that come through in the two productions that have been mounted.
I've known several lawyers who, despite the effort it takes to pass the bar in the first place, decided to get out. To do something more meaningul. To some degree I see Rachel like that with her medical practice. She's tired of being defined by it. She's tired of the bureaucratic side of it, office politics and playing favorites and needing to be seen in the right places.
If I had to narrow it down, I'd say that Rachel isn't really looking for a romantic life in Italy; she's looking to simplify. Which is something that's a major concern in my own life.
So maybe she's not so whiny after all.
This show was first produced by the Paw Paw Village Players in Paw Paw Village, Michigan. Which sounds like a place I just made up. But it not only premiered there, but it was also voted the audience's favorite play of the fest it was in. And all of a sudden the play apparently worked better than I thought it did. I shelved the idea of changing it at all. And the show lingered, unloved for a while. Then we had a chance to put it up once more as part of a fest at Curtain Call Theatre. Different actors, different crowd...same basic reaction. People liked Gary and Rachel. They laughed with them and listened to them. And no one thought Rachel was all that whiny.
Doesn't mean I don't still think about changing it.