Two March Reads
I just read a play and a book, both inspired by smart, supportive friends.
After the recent Jewish Repertory Theatre of Western New York’s Zoom reading of my play, “Finding Mr. Rightstein,” writer/actress Laurie Graff, whose work I have known and loved for decades, emailed kind words that choked me up, offered great, way-out ideas for staging and tweaking and suggested I read Christopher Durang’s play, “Beyond Therapy.”
Talk about funny. Dark funny. Dating and mating and therapists, oh my! Durang’s main characters, Bruce and Prudence, are kooky. Their psychotherapists, who say and do crazy things, are more off the wall.
Everyone in this black comedy is nutty. And aren’t we all? That, to me, is Durang’s underlying truth. In making play revisions now, I am getting wilder and surprising myself.
On March 3, I attended the virtual book launch of “Rules of Estrangement” by my longtime colleague and writing buddy, Dr. Joshua Coleman, a psychologist. He engaged me immediately with his winning personality and his reading of the informative, right-on introduction about parents and children, in which he shared his own struggles with his adult daughter with whom he now gets along well.
Josh’s intelligence, expertise, and wisdom come through in every chapter as he seamlessly weaves in quotes from the famous with his decades of experience in his practice. There is no preaching. Only humanness. The dynamics and strategies about parenting and children apply to couple and sibling relationships so well. Radical acceptance of our loved ones and where they are, he writes, is key. Using many examples, he shows how empathy, compassion, taking the high road and taking it first, not fighting fire with fire are at the top of the list, reminding us that guilt and criticizing do not work. The dance between the pursuer and the pusher-backer clearly figures in.
Josh on the page is like Josh over coffee or on the phone when we trade stories about writing, workshops, speaking, editors, and wanting to get our work read. I love his gentle reminders in every chapter about our common humanity and how we are not alone. Who among us isn’t torn and flawed, he points out compellingly? Who doesn’t want to be heard and understood?
An informative and illuminating read. I’m grateful that this book and Josh are my friends. Link