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"To Life"

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Whitley, Christy (American playwright, shop carpenter, welder, electrician, 1979-____), “To Life,”

a 50-minute comic drama in English, set in a home and a doctor’s office, 2001,


; • © 2001 by Christy Whitley; • in Christy Whitley’s To Life (Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.,: The Author, 2001); • script/rights available from Christy Whitley; 1015 West Nickerson #117, Seattle, Washington 98119, U.S.A., e-mail cwhitley@spu.edu, telephone (home) 206-285-2644. • Cited by Christy Whitley via ftp April 3, 2002; Whitley says,

§ Dramatis Personae Jeff (Grace’s husband)/Dad (m); Grace (f), 28, Mother-to-be; Mom/Julie (Grace’s best friend)/Head Housekeeper, Dr. Kruder (f), all in Grace’s past except Dr. Kruder.

§ Synopsis “[Scene i, monologue] Grace invites the audience to this play about her life. She has spent a lot of her life waiting for another part to come along. Significantly, she reveals being pregnant. • [Scene ii, at home] When her husband comes home from work, she reveals the news of her pregnancy and asks him to accompany her back to the doctor’s office later that week. She can’t wait for her baby to be born. • [Scene iii, monologue] She reflects on how often she has said the words ‘I can’t wait.’ • [Scene iv, flashback] She and Julie, her best friend, both thirteen, can’t wait to date boys. • [Scene v, flashback to Grace’s first job] Grace teaches mentally handicapped kids the basics of living. She and Arnold, a young mentally handicapped boy, work on tying their shoes. • [Scene vi, home] She and her husband playfully banter about who is going to clean the bathroom. Life is really good for Grace. • [Scene vii, flashback to Grace’s childhood] • [Scene viii, Dr. Kruder’s office] Jeff and Grace enter in high spirits. Dr. Kruder reveals that Grace has breast cancer and that more tests must be taken to determine the seriousness. • [Scene ix, flashback to Grace’s childhood] Grace and her mom discuss what Grace wants to be when she grows up. • [Scene x, flashback to Grace’s childhood, Third Grade] She writes an essay about wanting to be president when she grows up. • [Scene xi, flashback to Grace’s high school years] She runs for student body president but loses to a much less competent boy. She regrets not having the chance to prove to herself and others that she could do a good job. • [Scene xii, Dr. Kruder’s office] She and her husband learn that the cancer is malignant. Dr. Kruder poses their best option is abortion and surgery to remove the cancer. Grace firmly resists this because she wants the chance to prove that she could be a good mom. Jeff declares support for her no matter what her decision may be but suggests her considering an abortion because her own life is at stake. She is angry at him for thinking of abortion, and he is angry at her for not thinking of the others who will be affected. Grace admits being scared and unsure what to do. • [Scene xiii] She confides in Julie, her best friend. Julie hears that Grace had been physically abused by a neighbor but out of fear didn’t tell anyone. Grace forgave her offender, which was very hard to do. • [Scene xiv, under the stars] Grace and Jeff, reclining, discuss pros and cons of marriage. Grace wishes they could be married right now, but Jeff reminds her that dating is fun, too, and that they should enjoy the moment they’re in instead of rushing ahead to something else. He quotes a fortune cookie: ‘How can you enjoy the flavor in your mouth when already you’re dreaming of the taste of the next bite?’ • [Scene xv, monologue] Grace reflects on how she should have been learning from all that has happened because these experiences prepare her for what comes later. • [Scene xvi, Dr. Kruder’s office] Grace and Jeff tell Dr. Kruder that they have decided to keep the baby and will leave room for a miracle. Jeff offers a toast to life. • [Scene xvii, monologue] Grace realizes that life is in the present moment, not in the past or the future. About what may come in her future, she feels uncertain and scared, but today she is happy and in love. She determines to get the most out of this very moment.

§ Comment “Grace, the main character; to tell her story uses flashbacks into her birth, her childhood, and her teens. The other actress plays three characters: Mom, Julie (Grace’s best friend), Head Housekeeper, Dr. Kruder. All from Grace’s past except Dr. Kruder, these characters fill Grace’s memories (who she was with, what happened, etc.). The actor plays both male roles: Jeff (Grace’s husband) and Dad. Jeff appears in the present (except for one scene from his and Grace’s dating years). • Premiered February 16, 2002, at Seattle Pacific University. Even though the time and scene changes sound complex, they are really very simple. Because the first time jump happens within the opening minute, the audience easily follows the actors when they change from thirteen years old to four to twenty-eight. A simple costume piece can help the actors set a character (such as, a lab coat for the doctor). Our production used a simple light plot to notate scene changes. Generally, the lights dimmed and came back up when Grace went from one age to another; sometimes even that was unnecessary. We used only a table, two chairs, and a few hand props to outline the home and doctor’s office. Because Grace steps in and out of scenes so often, the audience does not expect a realistic set. The content of the play is pretty heavy, but the lovable and funny characters make bearable watching this difficult situation. The play ends on a note of uncertainty about the future, which best emphasizes the lesson Grace has learned: enjoy the flavor that is in your mouth now, live and savor the present. The play is moving and thought provoking. It addresses the issue of abortion. Although Grace chooses not to abort her baby, she does not proclaim abortion wrong. That issue, like others, remains open for the audience to ponder. We had a wonderful time—great fun—putting this play together. It is simple yet complex, hilarious yet saddening. The audience had only good things to say as they left.”

§ Themes abortion, enjoying life, living in the moment, preparation.

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Page mounted April 26, 2002, and updated May 10, 2004, by the Webmaster.

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