First and foremost, I am so thankful for the opportunity that Karla Hartley has given me here. I’ve been a fan of Annie Baker’s work for years — I teach her plays in my Text Analysis classes and she’s been on my company’s short list for several years in a row. It’s a treat to finally be able to dive into one of her plays and to do so “just” as a director, a guest in a good friend’s house.
The musicality and economy of Baker’s dialogue sets her apart from every other modern dramatists. People make so much of her silences and pauses, but they usually ignore why she writes the way she does: “The way human beings speak is so heartbreaking to me — we never sound the way we want to sound,” she says. “We’re always stopping ourselves in mid–sentence because we’re terrified of saying the wrong thing. Speaking is a kind of misery. And I guess I comfort myself by finding the rhythms and accidental poetry in everyone’s inadequate attempts to articulate their thoughts. We’re all sort of quietly suffering as we go about our days, trying and failing to communicate to other people what we want and what we believe.”
I also love that Baker writes characters I know, characters whom I get. I don’t always like them, I don’t always approve of their choices and that makes them all the more real. I’ve met all three of these “lost boys” in various incarnations over the years. I’ve likely even been all three of them at one point or another. I think we’ve all been an alien at some stage in our life, some of us may feel like we’ll always be on the outside somehow. The “outside,” however, is always inextricably bound to the status quo. They need each other. They are defined by one another. Whether you consider yourself an occupant of the center or the margins of society, I hope that you enjoy this smart meditation on trying to find our place. – David M. Jenkins