Heather McDon­ald

Pasatiempo - - RANDOM ACTS - An Al­most Holy Pic­ture Amer­i­can Idiot Spring Awak­en­ing. was loss of­ten au­di­ence

al­most a wild an­i­mal kind of re­ac­tion to pro­tect her,” McDon­ald said. “But an­other part of it is — and this hap­pens with chil­dren — that he re­al­izes that there are whole parts of her life that are sep­a­rate from him that she has re­la­tion­ships that have noth­ing to do with him, that there are parts of her day he knows noth­ing about. That’s both nec­es­sary and good, but it’s also fright­en­ing.”

is a med­i­ta­tion on faith, love, ill­ness, dif­fer­ence, fatherhood, and a host of other themes, only some of which McDon­ald was con­scious of dur­ing the writ­ing. Even though she con­sid­ered it all very lit­eral, there is a mag­i­cal-re­al­ism qual­ity to the play that al­lows au­di­ences to read sym­bol­ism and metaphor into Ariel’s con­di­tion that re­flects their own ex­pe­ri­ences. The first pro­duc­tion, in 1995 at the La Jolla Pla yhouse, was di­rected by Michael Mayer, who went on to co-write and di­rect and win a 2007 Tony Award for di­rect­ing McDon­ald knew him from grad­u­ate school but was not sure he the right fit for this piece, since he usu­ally did mu­si­cal theater and had no chil­dren. “I had this idea that only a fa­ther would get this play,” she said. She met with Mayer any­way, at the urg­ing of the theater’s artis­tic di­rec­tor.

“I asked him what he con­nected to in the play, and he got tears in his eyes and said, ‘This is a play about and how you go on from it, and no one will love this play more than gay men.’ I was stunned. But in that first pro­duc­tion, the re­peat au­di­ence was gay men. That re­ally shifted my think­ing about who I should be col­lab­o­rat­ing with, be­cause I re­al­ized I didn’t need a di­rec­tor who brought ex­actly what I bring, be­cause I al­ready bring that. It also shifted my think­ing about writ­ing what is true to me and trust­ing that peo­ple will re­spond to the ideas and themes. I thought it was such a weird piece, way too odd, but peo­ple in the cried and stayed af­ter and wanted to talk.”

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