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January 31, 1986 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-01-31

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Friday, January 31, 1986 15



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now to a thought which kept popping up in
her mind. "I'm great,' I would think. `I have
really discovered something, and things are
going to be wonderful."
Fade to reality.
After several unsuccessful attempts to
secure an agent in New York, Dubin, dis-
couraged, bewildered, and a little embarras-
sed that she'd even entertained such thoughts
in the first place, came to the conclusion that
she had been wholly unrealistic in seeing
herself as a successful playwright. Reunion
was never produced.
What followed was an "intermission" of
almost 11 years, during which, Dubin says,
she never wrote a play, a fragment of a play,
or even a single line of dialogue.
She did, however, go back to teaching,
gave.birth,tol son Nicolas, left teaching, went
ack to scho ), and eventually became a prac-
ticing psychologist. (She still has a small
practice out of offices in Birmingham.)
There was, however, always the nagging
voice inside her head, always asking the nag-
ging question: "Why don't you try it again?"
Two things came to pass, she says, which
helped her to decide that she was going to try
In 1981, she wrote a short, humorous ar-
ticle entitled, "Mothers Are People Too." The
article, based on her own and other young
mothers' attempts to establish their identity
apart from motherhood, sold — the first time
out — to Family Circle magazine. Two others,
written shortly afterwards — one about
women's difficulty in communicating with
men, and another, entitled, "Is There i Inti-
macy After Parenthood?" — also sold to na-
tional magazines quickly.
"That was really encouraging to me," she
But, as encouraging as the acceptances
were and as satisfying as seeing her by-line
national magazines proved to be, Dubin's
motivation for returning to playwriting also
came from another direction.
"I was heading towards 40," she says. "I
kept thinking, `Are you going.tn do this? Or
are you just going to sit around for the rest of
your life and be afraid?' So, I decided, "I'll do
it.' "
In an upstairs home office, after Nicholas
had left for school each day, Dubin began,
tentatively at first, to put together a play
about people in therapy titled, Time's Up.
After several stops, starts, a lot of what she
calls "unqualified" advice, and seven major
rewrites, Dubin finally acquired a staged
reading of it at Detroit's Fourth Street
Playhouse in 1983.
Afterwards, however, no one came for-
ward to express an interest in making the
play into a full production.
Enter Danny Simon, a highly-respected
teacher of comedy writing (and brother of
Neil Simon), who happened to be teaching a
series of classes in Ann Arbor shortly after
Dubin had completed Time's Up. Dubin; who
had not taken any playwriting classes since
her days at Wayne State, signed up for the
two week-end seminars with Simon. She
found them, she says, "enormously helpful."
"I had been checking out every book I
couldfind on playwriting," she says. "But
they weren't really helpful to me. Reading
them just made me more aware of all the pit-
falls and more worried about doing the wrong
things — until I couldn't do anything.
"On the other hand, the class with Simon
helped in that it confirnied to me what I was

doing right. Simon was a very good lecturer.
We'd analyze different movies and plays, like
The Odd Couple, Romantic Comedy. He'd
encourage me to follow my characters, to let
them take over, and, in a sense, do the writ-
ing, speak for themselves. He also helped me
a lot with structure, which had always been
one of my biggest problems; he helped me to
organize (what I wrote)."
Two days after the classes ended, she
began work on Mirrors.
For five months she worked to get a first
draft of the play, which focussed on two
women — one, a disillusioned housewife and
mother, the other, an out-of-work talk-show
host — who have come to a kind of crossroads
in their lives. 4ipproaching mid-life, they
meet at the symbolic crossroads (a Holiday
Inn, as it happens) and offer each other a
new, different, and sometimes comical look at
"When I wrote Cookies, I really didn't
give it much thought," Dubin says. "I know
that sounds unbelievable, but I really didn't.
Mirrors, on the other hand, got: a lot more
thought ahead of time. Images would come
into mind. I'd write notes to myself. On the
top of a page, I'd write the name of a char-
acter, then I'd just write things down about
that character — what she'd say, what she
might hear. At the end of a week, I'd have
built up a character — although both of my
(main) characters changed a lot from, when I
started out.
"The play changed, too. But that was all •
right. I let it evolve.
"Basically, I'd write a draft, then show
my work to a few key people," she says.
One of the "key people" reading the
play-in-progressiiwas Walter Mark Hill, assis-
tant to the director of the Center for Arts at
Oakland University, who had earlier directed
the reading of Time's Up at the Fourth Street
Playhouse. Shortly after Dubin finished the
play, Hill arranged a staged reading at /Oak-
land University. -
"I feel, in order to see how a play is, it
must be read," says Dubin. "You have to find
out if the funny parts are funny, if the poig-
nant parts are poignant, if the play works.
"We sent out announcements of the read-
ing. There was no publicity in the newspap-
ers or anything like that. We wanted about
100-150 people — to see how an audience
would react. That was one purpose of the
The other purpose?
"I was hoping one of the area theatre di-
rectors would see it and say, 'This is a good
play — I'd consider including it in my sea-
son.' "
at the
Kent Martin, artistic • otre
lterest in
State Fair Theatre, expressed A
doing exactly that. Now, several months later
— after sitting in on auditions, attending
several rehearsals, and cpnferring with direc-
tor Hill now and then when problems arose
— Dubin finds herself excitedly awaiti g
opening night.
She's trying, she says, not to get overly-
excited and, in an effort to keep her nerves in
check, she startedwork on a new play.
And she reads a lot.
"I absolutely hate reading plays," she
says. "But I like biographies. I like reading
about people who have developed and created
themselvps. I like to read about someone who
keeps growing and changing — somebody
who's taking risks." 0


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