We all love Mustang Bobby. We’ve seen his cars and his flowers; we know that he’s a playwright, what a good guy he is, and that he has one of the greatest nyms of all time. But now we get to see one of his plays being performed, from the comfort of our own homes!
Mustang Bobby has a performance coming up this Sunday afternoon – a virtual reading of his one of his plays – so I asked if he would be willing to share a little more about himself, and about the play.
Before I forget: This Sunday’s Medium Cool with BGinCHI will be devoted to a discussion of the play!
The performance on Silver Tongued Stages starts at 3pm ET, and of course Medium Cool will start at 5pm ET, as always.
Click below to watch the play!
Take it away, Mustang Bobby!
Hi, I’m Philip Middleton Williams, and I’m a playwright.
It’s a bit ironic, but most playwrights don’t really like to talk about themselves at great depth. It’s not that we’re painfully shy; it’s because we would rather our works speak for what we want to say. If you want to get to know me, read my plays. Most of me is in them in some form or another, but here’s the short version. I was born in 1952. I grew up in an upper middle-class suburb of Toledo, and I went to college to get a degree in theatre. I came out as gay when I was twenty-three, I went on to grad school for more degrees, and spent most of my career as a mid-level administrator in a variety of businesses, including public schools. I had a partner named Allen for fifteen years. I’m also a recovering alcoholic, so naturally I became a playwright. It’s cheaper than therapy and doesn’t damage my liver.
I started writing stories in grade school, but I didn’t write my first full-length play until I was in grad school and getting an MFA in playwriting. My master’s thesis was a play a called “The Hunter,” which I hope will never be produced again. That’s when I learned that writing a play is different from a novel or a short story. Like a musical score, it’s a collaborative effort and requires other peoples’ participation – directors, designers, and actors – before it can be seen by an audience. But there’s also more instant gratification with a play. It usually doesn’t take as long to write one – I’ve batted out a ten-minute play in less than an hour – and if you want to hear it, you can gather some friends in your living room – or on Zoom – and get feedback. You can read a play, but it’s truly not done until you hear the words and see the characters come alive.
I’ve written over thirty plays ranging in length from one minute to two hours. I’ve taken them to theatre festivals and conferences all over the country, including the breathtaking shores of Prince William Sound in Alaska, and made friends and learned so much from them by listening to them and hanging out before and after readings that we often joke about hosting a theatre conference without reading a single play. I’ve also had plays produced around the country including one off-off-Broadway production, and even in Australia. I try to see them when I can – I did make the trip to New York – but more often than not I send them out on their own. I trust them to do right by themselves.
“A Tree Grows in Longmont” started out as a monologue which is now at the end of the play. It’s a remembrance of the life I had with Allen, my partner, my lover, and my husband in every way, from our first meeting in 1984 through our life together, our separation in 1999, and his death on June 8, 2018. It didn’t take very long to write it – it’s 33 pages – but it was both a joy and an agony as I wrote it. He gave me immeasurable love and deep pain, as any relationship will. He’s the main character in this play, and he also shows up in a number of my other works. He told me to move on, and I did, but I’m taking him with me. I even took a small urn of his ashes with me to Alaska last summer, knowing he’d want to go, and death being just a minor inconvenience.
Thank you, WaterGirl for giving me this space, and I hope you all enjoy “A Tree Grows in Longmont”.
We’ll both be there with you.
Note from WaterGirl:
Some love lasts forever. I can’t wait to watch the story unfold at the virtual reading.
This Sunday, May 3, at 3 pm ET, “A Tree Grows in Longmont” will be presented by Silver Tongues Stages of Miami.
This Sunday’s Medium Cool will be devoted to a discussion of the play.
Update on 5/4: the upload took longer than expected, so the play was late starting, and we missed the window for discussing the on Medium Cool yesterday. The play will be the topic for Medium Cool, just a week later, on 5/10.
Click below to watch the play on YouTube!