Well, first of all, I saw a man die.
That’s the first line of my new solo play, Damascus. Basically, things go downhill from there!
It’s a fictional piece, rather than a memoir like Namaste Man. But despite its fictions, it seems more truthful to me. Go figure. I think of it as truth-based lies.
It’s the story of a man’s long, hilarious and pathetic decline into squalor, selfishness and loss. Wait. Did I mention it is hilarious???! Just when this very unlikely hero seems beyond the point of no return, the story takes a really unexpected turn, veering wildly down a strange road that leads to the other side of the world. At last, we get to a moment of something like clarity.
So what have we got here? We’ve got New York City, we’ve got squalor, we’ve booze, and laughs, we got a Russian landlord named Jeff. There’s a guy singing in the bathtub (not Jeff), there’s petty theft, there’s familial tension, a touch of death, a couple of postcards, Walt Whitman, some kind of spiritual longing, the NYC subway system. A bit of hilarious despair. No, not despair. Extreme disgruntlement. There’s a guy named Ahmed who asks: what the fuck you going to do? It’s a good question. We have foreign travel, animals, more squalor, just in a different place-India. Don’t ask me how we get there, but we get there. Heat and rain. A Scottish woman named Fiona with a beautiful voice, the transformative power of art, dirt roads, a rice paddy. A cinderblock school in the middle of a great field, next to a dirty stream. Magic happens there. A very crowded bus, about to go somewhere. Under a different bus, a dog happily sleeps.
We see a couple of Russian tourists, gazing out to sea. Near them, on the beach are a few cows. We go all over.
Dunkin Donuts. The Taj Mahal.
The little tree under which Shiva first kissed Parvati. Or so the man says. And he should know.
It’s the story of a long gnarly trip to a beautiful place.
“And who art thou sad shade?
Gigantic, visionary, thyself a visionary,
With majestic limbs and pious, beaming eyes,
Spreading around with every look of thine, a golden world,
Enhuing it with gorgeous hues.”
–Walt Whitman, “Passage to India”, from Leaves of Grass
Damascus was produced in association with The Acting Company at the Fourth Street Theater in NYC in June 2012. It was directed by Ian Belknap, with a set by Neil Patel, lights by Daniel Chapman, sound design by Fitz Patton and Mark Van Hare, stage management by Danielle Buccino.
It will be produced at Boise Contemporary Theater in December 2012. Read all about it at: http://www.bctheater.org.
For more information about Damascus, please contact me: email@example.com