Collected Stories, (My Life or Yours?) shines at Playreaders
By Kate Rowland
Collected Stories, a brilliantly crafted play by Donald Margulies, is about the evolving relationship of a mentor and her protégée. It was first produced at South Coast Repertory in 1996, before moving onto New York to great critical success.
Tue, Wed and Thu, Jan 7-9, 7:30pm
St. Paul’s Church
Lola Smith stars as Ruth, a writer who burst onto the literary scene with a book of short stories that earned her instant fame in her early 20s. The fame faded, and Ruth has since become a respected but little-celebrated member of the establishment, teaching writing to the young and the ambitious in New York City.
Anne Campbell stars as Lisa, an aspiring young writer who is awestruck by her teacher, but bold enough to put herself forward as Ruth’s new assistant. Lisa’s talent intrigues Ruth, and as their relationship evolves Ruth also comes to see in her protégée a version of the unworldly aspirant to the citadel of art that she once was herself.
Unlike Ruth, who has excluded her most intimate experience from her fiction, Lisa has made unrestrained use of the most personal aspects of her past, so much so that she now feels she has run out of material. Having mined the vein of her own life, where will she dig next?
Collected Stories digs into its engaging tale of aesthetics and ethics with intelligence and sharp, literate humor. When Lisa’s writing begins to find success, the balance of power in their relationship slowly begins to shift, and by the end of the play the grateful ingénue has become a far more complicated figure, as Ruth’s interaction with Lisa exposes a new emotional susceptibility.
About Collected Stories Margulies says that, “its themes cross cultures. Mentors and protégés exist everywhere. Most people . . . have known what it’s like to be a student or a teacher, a child or a parent. . . . Most people have felt betrayed or committed betrayal, deliberately or unknowingly.”
Both characters in this two-character play are writers, yet Margulies insists that this is not a play only about writers. “It is primarily a play about how human beings try to engage one another, pass along traditions, fulfill the powerful need for family. I have always been interested in the ways that we create families out of our friends or acquaintances.”
Kate Rowland directs, and Don Nieglos provides lights and sound.