I made a resolution to read a play a week this year. Fifty-two plays. My goal is to create a varied and diverse reading list; get to know a wider range of playwrights and refamiliarize myself with the canon; learn; grow as a writer and critical thinker; enjoy; and, I hope, create a community where plays are shared/suggested (perhaps discussed, but not a required). I'm not a reviewer and will not 'review' the plays I read throughout the
year, but I will list them on my blog and occasionally write my feels
about them (or not).
There are no rules except one: read a play a week.
I begin with Portland by Ruben Carbajal. Portland is a one-act play recently published by Next Stage Press and previous winner of the The 2009 Armstrong Atlantic State University Masquers Coastal Empire One-Act Play Festival. It is the story of Ed, a "young man adrift in life, [who] moves in with his ex-lover. "Ed's awkward encounters as a hotel room-service waiter puncuate the ambigous intimacy with his roomate, as their murky past and true feelings become clear. A spare meditation on the indivisibility of love and loss."
Ambigious; a word I salivate over. Carbajal's play certainly satisfied. Of course, having written my own play that opens with a misbehaving air mattress, I immediately connected to the play with a bit of a metaphorical-wink and nod. But, I also loved the way the playwright slowly revealed Ed's life for us in short scenes and with an economy of language and dialogue that directly mirrors the 'murkiness' of his relationship with Li. I kept wanting to know more, but was never impatient.
In an interview for 31 Plays in 31 Days, Carbajal said he wrote Portland, "while I was at the Millay Colony for the Arts. It came to me all at once, in a dream. It’s a memory piece about a city I lived in, loved, and hadn’t thought about in years.” He talks about how having distance and separation from a place is helpful when writing about it and, I suspect, making sense of it, and that's what I think Carbajal has done to Ed: removed him emotionally (we assume) and physically from Li, then brought him back to that place of familiarity (proximity to Li) to watch how that separation will or will not give clarity to their relationship (past and present).