Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Vine Tata (Daddy’s Coming) - A Wise, Funny, and Poignant Play

Recently I had the chance to visit New York for the second time. It was not only a vacation, but a chance to finally meet my agent and editors in person. Up until now I’d only communicated with them via phone or email so it was a special treat to finally meet them face to face. The other special treat was to spend time with my friend Irina Eremia Bragin, and see a rehearsal of her play, Vine Tata (Daddy’s Coming), which runs from October 3 through October 19 at the Queens Theatre in the Park.

Irina and I have been friends since junior high school and spent many a rainy San Francisco afternoon holed up in her bedroom, taking multiple parts and reading aloud from plays, from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf to The Tempest. I was the frustrated performer, she the frustrated writer. Irina went on to get her PhD in English from UCLA and has won awards for her plays. She also penned a memoir, Subterranean Towers, parts of which have been published in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post Sunday Magazine, and Reader’s Digest. And I found my way to becoming a novelist and finally getting my MFA in Writing after years of futzing around with music.

My experience as a writer is only in the realm of book publishing: I know very little about the playwriting world. So it was fascinating to observe the process of a rehearsal of Vine Tata (Daddy’s Coming), where the playwright can see her characters come to life on the stage, and is able to give input to the director and even make changes to the script, all as part of the collaborative development process. I’ve heard stories about the film industry where the author of a book being adapted for a movie may be lucky enough to visit the film set once and, of course, the screenwriter (or more often screenwriters plus various screenplay doctors) are rarely welcome on set and seem to “disappear” once the movie is being made.

Vine Tata (Daddy’s Coming) is about a father, a former political prisoner in Communist Romania, who comes to visit the daughter he hasn’t seen in 25 years. He was forced to choose between his family and his principles and now she faces a surprisingly similar dilemma. Bringing together two separate worlds: a dungeon in Romania and a family kitchen in modern Los Angeles, this award-winning drama is about family and the strength to stand up for what you believe.

If you’re in New York in October I hope you won’t miss this moving and entertaining play!

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