The Play’s The Thing

Shakespeare knew best that a stage play can provoke powerful emotions. A great performance can make you laugh, make you cry, make you question (and in Hamlet’s case, expose a guilty conscience). With that in mind, I started writing a play shortly before the end of the year. Now, nine weeks later, I’m finished.

Worm Food is a dark comedy about a group of family and friends who gather at a funeral and are forced to come to terms with their insecurities, jealousies and unsettled scores. At 96 pages, it is one of the longest things I’ve ever written and my very first full-length stage play.

Last week, I rounded up some friends for an unconventional table reading. Using a Google Hangout video chat, nine actors from all over the country — Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts (and one person in Guatemala who lost her Internet connection) — read the script out loud. I nearly didn’t make it, having accidentally double-booked my afternoon, hitting traffic and failing to get the script to print. Together we laughed, stumbled over typos and generally had a great time. I am deeply grateful to each of them for staying up late to bring the characters alive. And they even seemed to like it.

Now, that it’s finished and safely registered with the Writer’s Guild of American West, the show must go on. It isn’t enough to have a completed script. It needs a stage on which to be unleashed. That’s my next challenge. Over the next few months, I’ll be shopping the play around, starting with my hometown community theatre and hopefully, my story will stride out under the bright lights to make audiences laugh, cry and question death, family and friendship.

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Jonny Eberle is an aspiring playwright, novelist and short story writer living in Tacoma, WA, where he does most of his writing in coffee shops, trains and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

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