Want to read a terrific and terrifying piece of theatre?
Our own edd’s “The Moon Away.” I told him in a PM it is a contemporary “Inherit The Wind.”
Several weeks ago, I told him I would read it when I got time.
When I had read the opening brief scene a few weeks ago it grabbed me by the collar and would not let go. I had to shake it off, because I knew I would get engrossed and I had other stuff going on that I had to do. I had to save it for another day.
This morning I had some time and thought I would read the first act maybe this morning, and get to the second act either later in the day or maybe tomorrow.
I could not put it down. I resented a phone call coming in that I knew I had to take about two thirds of the way through.
I've just read it and I echo the wows. It's a strong compelling brutally honest piece.
And I love the theatricality of it, the bridge, the dream, the tormentors, the way the play dances from scene to scene.
It's stark and completely unambiguous. I hope it finds the stage it deserves, well done Mr Edd
Here's my response. I did the same thing you did -- I wound up reading Edd's play all the way through. Great play, Edd. . .
Re: The Moon Away:
Well, Edd, I just did exactly what in media res did: I sat down to read the first few pages of this play, but I wound up reading the whole thing! I had to know the answers to the questions, what had Joe lost? Why did he want to destroy himself? And was it God, or Satan sending the dream/nightmare? Also, I had to know the meaning of the dream.
This is absolutely weird Edd, but I had the same dream. . I had shoved a woman to her death off of my high porch. I felt guilt, and I knew the deed could not be undone and the police would come for me, and I just waited. I also dreamt of smashing my other self in the face with a rock.
Actually, I still am not sure what the dreams mean, but I read somewhere that dreams of a double are your soul attacking your secular self. I am often fighting or attacking a double in a dream. Often we are fighting for control of a car.
So I had to read the play to find out the answer to what the dream meant more than anything. Maybe it means killing your lying self and restoring your truthful self?
I also wanted to hear Joe’s answer to the question, why do I lie to myself? I liked Joe’s line, “ I have felt like a liar all my life”. Because Joe is artistic, he would be sensitive to lying, because artists are after the truth. Chekhov said that he hated lying, in all its forms, did you know that?
One of the big lies that Joe tried to live with was motherly love. Neither of the mothers loved their children. Junior’s mother was a pathological person who invaded the boundaries of her son, his physical and psychological boundaries both. She was hostile and incestuous, and probably more physically invasive than Joe ever thought of being: Maybe that’s why she projects the crime of molestation onto him. Joe’s mother was equally pathological, using her son against her husband, and making the son feel guilty for being alive.
Connie was likeable and entertaining. Joe was totally believable and a deep person: You develop him and we get to know him in the play. His suffering in the scene with the Pope/father and Mother/mother was moving: It was a painful scene to visualize and hear, and I felt terrible for Joe. . . When his mother commits suicide, I felt terrible for him again.
That scene was so visual that I feel like I saw it!
I admired the way you wrote the scenes with the therapist, by the way. I thought that they were realistic, and when Joe described the suicide to the therapist, his formal speech struck me as entirely appropriate: A person describing such a traumatic event would use formal, objective language, in order to be the truthful witness. A person becomes a formal witness when he has seen an event so horrible that there is nothing else he can do but witness: Joe’s manner of speech describing the suicide trauma reminded me of the type speech used by Jewish people in those films where they become historical witnesses to the Holocaust. It’s almost deadpan, recitation of fact.
I think it was Scene 8 that ended with the question, “What causes a man to lie?" This was a good line to end the scene with. I was relieved when that scene was ended, too, because it was so intense that I needed a break, and the next scene provided that break. The next scene was lighter in mood or tone.
In fact, the whole play had a good rhythm of mood changes, and mood/tone changes are important to the audience. No audience can endure non-stop intensity – Marsha Norman pointed this out when she was talking about her play ‘Night Mother. She said that the audience and the actors, too, needed a break in the intensity in order to get through the whole play.
And your play is like that. It is like a roller coaster, and we needed the break to get ready for a whiplash ride, that surreal scene with the Pope.. That whole scene was hypnotic, like a nightmare, sort of horrifying and shocking. I was thinking that you, as an author, must have been traumatized by the war of the sexes in a dysfunctional family in order to write that scene.
About the time that I started thinking that, Joe is threatened with being put in a closet. That was so real to me, because I knew a Catholic mother who put her kids in the closet whenever they got on her nerves. Her daughter was suicidal and this daughter would lock herself in the closet to punish herself. She must have learned as a child to go to the closet when she was bad. Is putting the kid in the closet a Catholic mode of punishment or something?
I'm not Catholic, by the way.
Also, the scene where the mother lies down with arms folded over her breast is just like a scene that I saw once in a Catholic home: When I was a freshman in college, I boarded with a Catholic family and the wife was hysterical. She would have one of her “attacks” when life got to be too much for her. One day I came home from class and she was being carried out of the house “unconscious” on a gurney. She was obviously faking -- holding her eyes shut and deliberately holding her arms folded across her chest. Is that a Catholic thing too?!
The scene of the Pope/Mother was climatic:. You took it as far as you could, dramatically. It was a very, very strong scene.
In fact, there is only one weak place in the whole play that caught my attention:
When I got to the scene where Joe decides to go to trial instead of making a plea, I had to read that scene twice to see why he changed his mind. I felt like Joe was resigned to making a plea bargain up until that scene, so when he suddenly reverses himself and decides to face a jury trial, I had to know why. So I read the scene twice to see if could catch the minute when he changes his mind. I wasn’t sure of his reasons for changing his mind. I felt like he changed his mind because the lawyer offered him that ridiculous plea deal of going to a sex offender program.
Finally he says, “But I’m not a sex offender.”
I was thinking, that is a REALLY important line that you ought to emphasize more somehow.
“But I’m not a sex offender. Hey. I am NOT a sex offender. Mr. Lawyer, I am not a sex offender!”
And he means it. All his life he has felt guilty of being a “sex offender”, of offending people because he was homosexual. Suddenly he realizes that he is not guilty of being a sex offender, in any meaning of the phrase: He never molested the boy and he never did anything wrong being homosexual.
When Joe rejected the lawyer's deal, I had a feeling that he would tell the jury that he was gay and he did. However, I was not sure how the trial would turn out, so I had to read the rest of the play.
I think it’s a great play that ought to be performed. I think it would be a gratifying ritualistic role for somebody who really is homosexual to perform.
"The only sin is cruelty," Tennessee Williams said.
Whoa. . .It is morning and I woke up with a whole nother view. Well OF COURSE, we know when and why Joe lost his guilt over being homosexual and reversed his decision to plead guilty. That is SHOWN in the flashback of the Father/Mother arguing . . .the dysfunctional family. Why, and how, could Joe continue feeling guilty over who he is, compared to who his parents as heterosexuals were? As he suggests, what good are family values if they are not human values also????
"The only sin is cruelty," Tennessee Williams said. Being gay is not a sin.
“Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable. It is the one unforgivable thing in my opinion and it is the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty.” ~Blanche
While I'm here I thank all of you who have read and who have commented on "The Moon Away." In case there is any doubt, it is painfully autobiographical. It is the clearest picture of me anyone will ever see in any of my work.
I think that I quoted Tenn. Wms. correctly. This quote is from one of his biographies. However, he paraphrased the same quote several times. I'd forgot about Blanche's paraphrase though. I know that he said that a lot because I just finished re-reading his plays and the interviews he gave, etc. His films are terrific -- I watched all of them three or four times. They are that good.
I think it is a great play, Edd. . .it is one of those plays that I keep thinking about, and it gives me inspiration for trying once again to break down the wall of silence over conflicts in my own life. Maybe I will just give up and shout over the wall!! ARGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH
The entire play rings true in my mind. . .lor of times I write something and do not feel like I have expressed it truly. . .it feels like a lie, or the characters feel phony. But I feel like I am hearing truth in your play. It really is a wonderful play, and if it hasn't been produced, it ought to be. However, you may have to produce it yourself or with friends. . .I am afraid that directors will be afraid to show the papa Pope and Mother for fear of being criticized for mocking religion. However, I feel like this is extremely important material. People don't want to admit how betrayed they feel by parents and by religious mentors in their life. Our parents and relatives who are supposed to nurture us destroy us instead.
I love Joe's comments on lying.
I felt like a liar all my life too. . .and I have not yet learned to tell the truth. I started 18 years ago on one play, and I finally got it written, after writing through layers and layers of lies. However, it stills needs more drafts. I feel really inspired to try to finish this play now because I see by your example that is possible for people to say what seems to be unsayable. I am really glad that I got to read this play, and I want to check out some of your other plays.