That was 23 years ago. Now he’s a full professor and editor of the Endicott Review. His poetry has been published in a variety of publications. In 2001, he published “Hack Writer: Poems, Stories, Plays,” and in late 2008 followed up with ”Bicycles, Canoes, Drums,” a collection of his recent work. And, this weekend, “Sleeping with the Cat 1963,” his new short, will make its debut at the New Works Festival, a four-day event that focuses on original plays.
The name refers to a nightly, ritualistic bonding with a furry friend, which may be sweet and loving and therapeutic, but, when it’s all the emotional support you have, is a little sad. The story takes place on New Year’s Eve at the Saugus Iron Works, where two female spooks are nearing the end of their careers, which have lasted from the end of World War II to the Bay of Pigs. They meet for reasons that have not been fully explained to them. It’s all very mysterious. But the 10-minute play is not about espionage or intrigue or Cold War strategies. It’s about two people who have spent their entire adult lives lying about who they are and what they do. The end is nearing and, it appears, they’re crossing the finish line with nothing. They couldn’t have close friends because of their careers and now, save kitty, their lives are empty.
“It’s about relationships,” says Sklar, who will also make his Newburyport acting debut the same night, performing in “Knowing,” a comedy by Gregory Hischak. “It’s about choices. After they learn how to trust each other, no mean feat, coming from the world of cloak and dagger, they let down their defenses and spill their guts to each other.”
The production, which will be staged with six other shorts on Jan. 23, the second day of the festival, stars Maureen Daley and Mary Shapiro. Alan Huisman directs.