Larry Blossom gives a first-person account of the creative wellsprings of his latest production.
“I have always wanted to write. Even as a boy, growing up in the small town of Pueblo, Colorado, writing was what I enjoyed most and what I most wanted to do when I grew up.
But it seemed unimaginable to me from that vantage point.
Even getting through college seemed like a big deal, let alone coming to Washington, D.C., becoming a psychotherapist, and building up a practice.
So, my desire to write went into hiding and lay dormant for 30 years – like a cicada, waiting patiently for something in the environment to activate it.
In my case what activated it was Transcendental Meditation (TM). This quiet and simple technique proved to be surprisingly powerful. Delving into the depths of my psyche twice a day helped me feel comfortable with many things that previously frightened me – including my desire to create.
But how could I start? I asked a writer friend for advice and he said, “Just start with the first page.” I did that, and the rest came tumbling out. My first play was A Family Reunion, which I wrote, directed and produced at The Writers’ Center in 2011. Like so many others, I had seen stories of children who had been abducted and empathized with the victims and their families. But my work with traumatized people led me to ask: Even if these people are reunited with their families, what happens next? How do they work through their trauma? What about the children who were not abducted? How do they handle their own pain? – not to mention the parents who routinely berate themselves for not having protected the abducted child sufficiently.
In my latest play, The Waiter, I continue my dramatic exploration of trauma and recovery. In this coming-of-age-story, Billy Beasley becomes a waiter in a diner and finds among the motley and curious diner workers a surrogate family to whom he eagerly gravitates. I have always been fascinated by this aspect of adult development. But often I find that those who gravitate to alternative families of this kind are running away from some sort of pain in their families of origin. They are hopeful that others will love them and help them, but their hope also renders them vulnerable and insufficiently self-protective.
The play draws on my knowledge of what it is like to grow up in a small town. When I was a child, the steel mill dominated Pueblo – influencing how it smelled, where people worked, how they suffered from occupational diseases resulting from chemical exposures, and how they died. What struck me is how little hope people had of leading better lives. In The Waiter, I wanted to portray someone who does manage to transcend his small town background with the help of the new friends he makes. Before he can do so, however, he must run a gauntlet of challenges and setbacks, some buried deep in his past, and others on the road ahead.
My hope is to entertain and enlighten at the same time, bringing to the stage a raw intensity which I often seek in the plays I find most intriguing. Have I succeeded? I will leave that up to the audience to decide.”
The Waiter plays from June 7th through June 1oth at The Undercroft Theater at the Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church – 900 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them online.
Meet the cast.
The Waiter website.