One night in Little Rock
I’m in Little Rock, Arkansas. Has anyone ever written that sentence with an exclamation point and meant it. “I’m in Little Rock!” “Little Rock! It’s where I’m at ya’ll!”
Yeah it doesn’t feel right.
I got to the hotel at like 11pm, and I was starving. I walked along President Clinton Ave. looking for something to eat. There was no food, but there were two Dueling Piano Bars within 50 feet of each other. That's something.
I tried to do Uber Eats, but my only option was McDonalds. I was so hungry I contemplated paying $16 for Chicken McNuggets and fries but I could literally hear the cancer saying, “Yes! Do it!”
Not that I’m saying Chicken McNuggets cause cancer. But I’m also not saying they don’t.
I finally found a Dominos open and willing to deliver to me. So at 12:30am I was watching Sports Center eating a veggie pizza in a Double Tree Hotel in a city I’ve never been to and if I had to sum up the entertainment business in one sentence this would be the one.
Also- how did Biscoff become the official cookie of flying? I’m not mad about it. It just seems like an impossible feat for a cookie that every time I eat it I spend the next thirty minutes partially convinced that was the worst thing I've ever eaten.
I’m in Little Rock to perform Stages for the Southeastern Colon Cancer Consortium. Then I head back to Greenville tomorrow to make the opening night of Stages in Greenville.
I’m writing this blog when I should be working on my script. My play needs a new ending. Not like a major new ending, but conditions have changed since I first wrote it and I feel like the play should reflect that. Or not. I can’t even decide if Biscoff is a cripsy, delicious treat or a rancid piece of cardboard, so what do I know about art.
That’s the thing about the story of Stages I find so intriguing. There isn't a beginning and there isn’t an end. The play stops and starts obviously, but it’s arbitrary. I pick us up and drop us off, but the story continues long after the play is over.
This idea didn’t come from me. It came from my lighting designer and friend Lauren Duffie. Her, Adam Knight and myself were hanging out last year after tech rehearsal, in a little nook in Charleston that is no longer there because Marriott bought it, ripped it down, and is turning it into a time share. Back in college she played Prospero in The Tempest, and this warm Tuesday night in May she started reciting the closing soliloquy.
“Let me not, since I have my dukedom got and pardoned the deceiver, dwell in this bare island by your spell; but release me from my bands, with the help of your good hands.”
“Prospero wants to leave, but he can’t,” Lauren said, drinking a beer and staring into the night. Adam, if anyone knows him, did that thing where he puts his head in is hand, turns his head to the side, squints his eyes and starts nodding. “In a way, you can’t either.”
It wasn't an ending so much as it was a closing.
But I'm a writer. I like things to be tied up with a bow. So here I am in Arkansas, drinking coffee while children are banging the legs of my chair. Still looking for the ending of a play I wrote a year and a half ago. But maybe the point is we never find it. And if I spend too much time looking for the ending I miss the life happening around me. The Biscoff cookies. The empty Dueling Piano Bars. The comforting smell of pizza when you’re starving and alone in a strange city. That’s the story. All the life that happens between the beginning you were never aware of, and the end that none of us know when is coming.