Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lesllie Powell: No rest for the weary

Port playwright Leslie Powell.
If you see Leslie Powell and she seems somewhat, um, unresponsive, don’t jump to the conclusion that she’s suffering from, you know, that well-known affliction of playwrights. Chances are that she’s not even lightly toasted, whatever a comfort that might be, no matter how loud a martini might be calling her name. No, she’s probably just taking a nap, whether her body agrees or not. The Port playwright hasn’t been sleeping well, hasn’t been sleeping through the night. She keeps waking up to deal with crises involving the new production of “The Way Life Should Be.” Whether they have actually happened or not. Stress. Everything that could go wrong, plus everything that has gone wrong. Like having two actors from the original production, people who know the work, pull out at the last minute. When she was 2,500 miles away, in Tucson, her winter hide-away. And the dreams — sleep-shattering nightmares about everything that could possibly go wrong. All these things banging around her brains. She’s thinking about hypnosis to help calm her down. She's not joking.  Stress: It’s a monster. You’d think the she would be used to it by now. After all, the Merrimac Street resident isn't exactly a rookie. She’s the one of the founders of North Shore Readers Theater Collaborative and Readers and Writers, INK. She’s a playwright who always seems to have something going on. Later this year, for example, she going to be attending a production of her play “Backfire,” about a young woman who seeks revenge on a man who bullied her in high school, at the Inspiration Festival in Toronto. Then she and her hubby, Ron Pullins, also a playwright — and owner of Focus Publishing in Newburyport — will be checking out “Ice Dancing” at the Last Frontier Conference’s New Play Lab in Valdez, Alaska.  But that’s different. Sitting in the audience, watching a play you wrote, the only real worry in the world is not being too deep in the wine line for intermission. That’s not exactly true, says Powell. She recalls Port playwright Gregory S. Moss fielding a question during a talkback session, someone asking what it’s like sitting in the audience watching someone do one of  your own plays. His response? “It’s like having your skin flayed off ... while you’re alive.”