[Author's Note: This is a portion of a speech I gave to the Southeast Theatre Conference in 2000.]
In Robert Aulett’s play, Alberta Radiance, Alberta speaks the opening like, “I have this human life to live, and I don’t know what to do with it.” The operative word is human, as in “the human condition,” “the human predicament” or “the human comedy.” When we utter such expressions, we assume the listener knows what we mean, but in my 78 years of living, I have never heard anyone explain what that “human” condition, predicament, comedy or life is.
It’s spring, and an old man’s fancy turns to thoughts of golf. My thoughts concentrate on three conditions that no longer seem to exist, neither in golf nor in the society. Golf, as the game was designed and expected to be played, is out of sync, out of joint, with the society determined to paralyze the game.
At the end of the nineteenth century, in a graduation speech to Barnard College graduates, William James made the following statement:
In a conversation with Robert Chapman many years ago, he who was the co-author of the play, Billy Budd, and the director of the Loeb Theatre at Harvard University, I mentioned a playwright whose work seemed limited to me.
On September 11 we commemorate the loss of thousands of people to an unnatural disaster. Every year the human race suffers the loss of thousands of people to natural disasters — floods, earthquakes, blizzards, mudslides, tornadoes, hurricanes — disasters that we have very little chance of avoiding and no one to blame; only Nature.
My brother, Frank, will be ninety in December. He was a math teacher in high school for ten years and a teacher of rhetoric, speech, and theatre in college for thirty years. He lives in a nursing facility in Florida, where with the help of nurses, nurses’ aids, doctors, and the kindness of strangers his mind is active despite a frail body.
I, his baby brother age seventy-six, am his power-of-attorney and speak to him as often as I possibly can.
Yesterday I spoke to him early in the day, and he was completely dispirited.
“Babe,” he said, “I can’t bare it any more. That horrible incident in Oregon crushes me. Would you do me a favor? Would you write something that I have been preaching for decades now?”
“I’ll do anything I can for you,” I answered.
“Maybe you could send it to the Op-Ed page of The New York Times or The Saturday Review?,” he said.
“The Saturday Review is not likely, Frank,” I said without explaining. “But I will send whatever you say to The Times.”
Dreams are okay
as long as they pay.