August 21, 2021
Actually, it's a recycled old play that I started writing in 1987. I FINALLY have a version that I want to share.
In the summer of 1987, I was working as the costume designer at Timberlake Playhouse in Mt. Carrol, Illinois. One night, while the crew was enjoying the air conditioning in the break trailer, one of the networks on the TV announced they were doing a one-hour prime time special on the impact of the growing AIDS epidemic. This was a major milestone in media coverage of AIDS. They were finally taking the pandemic seriously. One of the people interviewed talked about who he would want to say goodbye to if he were to find out he was about to die. That comment stuck with me. Who would I want to say goodbye to? The seeds of the play were planted.
After the summer, I moved to Omaha, where I met my now husband, Vern. A few years later, we moved to Birmingham, where I became a tenure-track assistant professor of theatre at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I had put this play on the back burner, but soon things started happening in my life that mirrored the fictional play I had written. The original play became a play within a play. The new “outer” play became a fictionalized version of my actual life at the time, interspersed by the original play. The character of Benjamin in the “outer” play is writing the “inner” play and dealing with his own life. Within the “inner” play, there are moments where the two characters, Jeffrey and Chuck, go back to an essay about first childhood memories that Jeffrey wrote while taking Chuck’s honors freshman English class. Birmingham AIDS Outreach helped me stage what was the current version of the play in the early 1990s. What I learned from that experience, and my own life since then, have shaped this final (?) version.
Like much of my work, Goodnight Dr. Watkins is about AIDS and recovery, and the connections we make and keep through love.
AIDS PLAY COMPETITION
I have entered the play in the Write it Out competition, sponsored by various LGBTQ and AIDS organizations, and funded by THE Billy Porter! I will probably not offer the play for sale on Amazon until after the contest is completed. The contest may have guidelines about that. The judges might also have ideas for improving the play, even if I don't get a prize.
I am offering a limited number of PDF files if anyone wants to read the current draft. If so, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org