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From The Artistic Director: “Who Am I This Time?”

by Kenn McLaughlin on February 02, 2017

I first read Who Am I This Time? (& Other Conundrums of Love) in March of 2015, the day after Stages’ production of Aaron Posner’s play Stupid F**king Bird closed. I was driving Aaron to the airport, during which time he literally sent me the script for Who Am I? from his phone. I read it that afternoon on my kindle - I too on a plane going somewhere. What struck me powerfully in that moment was the fascinating juxtaposition of the two plays, which were written back-to-back. Bird is a powerful, angry play about the failures of theatre to impact the world, and Who Am I? is a sweet love letter to the theatre and its magical power to move us deeply - sometimes in ways we can't understand. Taken as a set, the plays are exact opposites of each other - a mirror of a mirror if you will. I loved Who Am I? immediately and I wanted to produce it right away, but by that time the season for last year was set so it took until now to bring it to life.

It is important to note that two years have passed since we produced the first of the two plays, and in that time we have seen seismic changes in civic expression. A play as gentle and unassuming as Who Am I This Time? seems almost archaic based on the rhetorical passion flowing from nearly every avenue of human communication these days. But it is because of that very quality - the simple, guileless expression of community and love - that the play stands out as stunning and unique in the modern moment. No one is screaming to have their perspective heard, no one is debating the wisdom of choices (good or bad), and no one is much concerned with the winds of change. Instead, a group of actors gather to tell a few stories about love without any expectation of finding answers to age-old questions or receiving any kind of reward other than a few hours of good company with you, the audience.

Our production is beautiful, precise and endearing. It honors the unique voice of Kurt Vonnegut and it also reveals the imaginative scope of an important and prolific American playwright. As you share in Who Am I This Time?, I do invite you to consider it alongside Stupid F**king Bird and consider the journey that this playwright has taken in his quest to enliven the connection between the theatre and the human heart. Taken together, these two plays represent an impressive achievement for any writer. When one considers that they were written concurrently, the achievement is all the more stunning. 

And great credit goes to director Sally Edmundson for bringing forward a production of grace and style. Her commitment to a clear vision and her fierce dedication to detail are why the production is so very, very right!

As theatre artists, we are tasked with sharing the human story. At Stages, we continue to share our work in surprising and meaningful ways. Who Am I This Time? joins our body of work as a unique, refreshing and intimate piece. Frankly, it may well be one of the most subversive things we've done in a while because it dares to celebrate the good of people and the simple desire of everyone to love and be loved in return. Perhaps a good deep breath and a play with real faith in humankind will do us all a little good.

That's certainly my wish.

See you all in the theater!