Hello, readers! Hello, hello, hello… anyone still there? It has been quite some time since I’ve written anything here. But, I have a story that I just had to share. It’s about that play I wrote. The one about the housing crisis. The comedy. No seriously, there is actually a lot of comedy in the play. But… it’s not actually a “comedy” comedy. It’s a drama. A drama with humor… with comedy. Dark comedy. That comes from the characters and the situation and there’s a lot of dark stuff because the subject matter but there’s humor too because that’s how it works and… you know what… just… here’s the story:

The Foreclosure-y Situation

It was December 2008, thereabouts, that I decided to write a play about the situation we were in. The foreclosure-y situation. The one where we were no longer able to pay our mortgage payments and where that ‘f’ word was being thrown around quite a lot. Where we were clinging to a house that likely wouldn’t be ours for much longer. Where the meaning of the word “home” changed by the day, it seemed. Where the only path available was the one to financial ruin. I was, ironically, working as a temp at a real estate development company in the accounting department. Bob was working from home for a computer consulting firm. Our paychecks didn’t come close to stopping the gushing wound. We were clawing to keep both our sanity and our house– it would turn out that we could only keep one of those things, though we didn’t know that at the time.

Foreclosure was in the news. Stories like, “Man Bulldozes House in Foreclosure,” and “Woman Takes Own Life Before Auction of Home,” and “Husband and Wife Set Fire to House in Foreclosure, Killing Selves and Dog.” First of all, no one sees this as their future when they buy a home. No. You see gatherings and traditions, holidays and parties, babies and neighbors, cozy nights and a safe space. Safe space. Safe. You don’t buy a house anticipating failure. You don’t foresee the cloud of shame hovering, surrounding your safe space…choking you while you try to just breathe. Secondly, where were the helpful/hopeful stories? It was all doom and gloom. There weren’t any stories like, “Woman Loses House in Foreclosure, Happier Now.” There weren’t any resources like, “What To Do If You Default on Your Mortgage.” Resources like that – that didn’t shame or judge or take advantage- were what we desperately needed. That’s when I decided to start blogging. If a positive, hopeful and empathetic space for people facing foreclosure didn’t exist, I would create it.

Getting Personal with the World

This meant opening our curtains wide. Letting in the light. Letting in the world. Because shame can’t survive that kind of light. It felt like such a relief to turn and face the fear instead of hiding from it. Talking openly about the mess we had gotten ourselves into… I had no idea how that would save us emotionally. People in the same situation found the blog and shared their stories with me privately and sometimes publicly in the comment section. There was now a community of us learning by the day what to do when facing foreclosure and sharing strategies for overcoming. We were no longer alone. People who had made it to the other side and were happy there, wrote to me. People who were overcome with fear and shame wrote to me and we became a support for each other. It was so helpful.

Write What You Fear

But still… every day, every hour brought new challenges. I’d be doing well and then some thought would enter my brain and take me swiftly down a dark hole and my anxiety would surge. That’s when I would walk and breathe and share my fears with Bob. It was on one of these walks that it hit me: I had to write this play. Now. While we were in the middle of it. This wasn’t something I had ever done before. But, the words of Marsha Norman- Pulitzer Prize winning playwright- were banging against my brain: Write what you most fear. I felt like if maybe I wrote my worst case scenario, I wouldn’t live so much in fear of it. So that’s what I did. I gave myself only one rule: no censoring – and I set out to write a play about what America was experiencing– the foreclosure of the American Dream.

Through writing the play, I had discovered a way to take the reins of our story. I had found a place to put my fears. One of the most difficult aspects of foreclosure is the lack of control over your own destiny. Writing American Home gave me a sense of control and purpose. A way to hopefully make a difference for other people. It was my therapy.

Fast forward eight years and… drum roll, please..  American Home is getting a world premiere in Los Angeles! We open on August 26th at the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena, not too far from the house we once called home. So much has changed since then in our lives. We now have two wonderful boys and I could go on and on about them and all that’s changed in our lives since then, but I won’t. And I mean, where do we begin to talk about everything that’s changed in the world since then? And how there are hints of another foreclosure crisis on the horizon. (I hope not!) Or how California is in a housing crisis because of the lack of affordable housing. This is true. So much changes, so much stays the same. And sometimes if feels like we’ve forgotten… But I digress…

A Show!

Putting this play up on its feet has been such an incredible experience. I’ll admit, it’s slightly terrifying- opening that box again and diving back in to feel all the feels. Putting something so personal out into the world. I have had to remind myself that it’s okay to feel this vulnerable. I’m grateful that my production team and everyone at Little Candle Productions. My director Kate Woodruff and stage manager Betsy Roth have created such a safe space. Our actors have been champions and have gotten cozy with that vulnerability as well. I’m grateful.

Eight years later here is what I’m hoping– that this play gives voice to those people who lost everything or who are currently in danger of losing everything. I hope it serves as a reminder– you are not alone. We have no idea what each other is really going through. The shame around financial hardship is so thick– it keeps it hidden. We’re really good at hiding that shame. We don’t really know what each other is experiencing. So, be kind and be there for each other. Be kind. Be there.

And if you are in or around L.A., please come see this play.

Thank you!

The end.

Information about American Home

The cast features Jennifer Adler, Ozioma Akagha, Marc Barnes, Jono Eiland, Mel Green, Ethan Rains, Bette Smith, Jessica Temple, and Caroline Westheimer. The play is directed by Kate Woodruff with lighting design by Rob Van Guelpen, and costumes by Paula Deming.

August 26* – September 24

8pm on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays; 2:00pm on Sundays

*with one 8pm preview on Friday, August 25

Fremont Centre Theatre

1000 Fremont Ave, South Pasadena

TICKETS:

$25 general admission, $20 students/seniors/military

$34 opening night gala includes champagne and dessert reception following the show

$10 preview on Friday, August 25

Group discounts available

www.littlecandleproductions.com

 
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