25 is the magic number. This weekend's performance marks the 25th production of the script. Strangely enough, the storyline was written 25 years ago this month. A celebration is in order. Or, at the least, this blog entry.
|From a recent production of Are You All Right in There?, |
performed at Saint Bede Academy in Peru, Illinois.
I went to work on the first draft of Are You All Right in There?, in the form of a short story. In it, a high school student named Gina Harbor, locks herself in the master bathroom at a raging party and reflects on her life, particularly the superficiality that constantly surrounds her, the people who have left her feeling disenchanted - her promiscous best friend, her unfaithful boyfriend, her emotionally unavailable mother. Gina's life is at a crossroads, as she's about to leave behind the small town life she's always known and breakaway, bound for college.
Contrary to popular belief, the story is not autobiographical. Although, the character of Gina certainly contains many elements of my own personality (particularly her sense of humor, love of tacos, and references to The Young and The Restless), she was much more mature emotionally than I was. She was someone that I aimed to be, but hadn't come close. The charatcer of Madeline is not based on a real person. However, she is definitely a composite of girls I knew with bad reputations (they were always the most fun to hang out with in high school). In the earliest version of the story, the character of Mickey was not the dumb, beer-drinkng, fake-crying jerk he became later. In the first draft, he was loosely based on a male dancer/model I had a crush on at school - and much of his dialogue came from a note he'd written and passed to me secretly once I got to class, just moments after the crying girl in the school corridor inspired me.
Nothing ever came of the short story for ten years.
|From the first Chicago production of Are You All Right in There?|
Although I was majoring in theatre at the time, I wasn't sure how a one-act play was written. I'd never thought about writing anything but angst-filled fiction and really pathetic poetry. I went to the school library and studied the format of Tennessee Williams's This Property is Condemned. I used the script as a template, molded Are You All Right in There? into a one-act play, and - exactly two weeks later - submitted the script to be considered for an upcoming student-directed one-act play festival.
My script was selected. And, I can honestly say, my life has never been the same since.
|The first actors to play Gina and Mickey: |
Marta Sobelman and Carlos Perez.
|Actress Kimberly Faye Greenberg, who originated |
the role of Madeline in Are You All Right in There?
|Kimberly Faye Greenberg and Marta Sobelman in a promotional photo |
for the first production of Are You All Right in There?
There was just one problem...I didn't have any other one-act plays.
I locked myself away from the world for a couple of weeks, and after a self-imposed writing marathon, emerged with a handful of sketches (rather than what I consider to be fully realized scripts). Later in my career, some of these original sketches would be developed into produced plays.
|Marta Sobelman reprised her role of Gina in |
a subsequent production of the script in Sacramento.
|Actress Melita Ann Sagar, who has appeared in many productions |
of my plays, including Are You All Right in There?
|From the Atlanta production of Are You All Right in There?,|
featuring Israel Korn.
Actor and model Israel Korn, who played Mickey in
the Atlanta production of Are You All Right in There?
|Are You All Right in There? was published in 2003. |
Since then, the script has been produced around the world
and has become one of my signature pieces as a playwright.
I've never looked back since.
|Me with the original cast of Are You All Right in There?;|
Marta Sobelman, Kimberly Faye Greenberg, and Carlos Perez.
Photo by Bryan Northup.