Here’s a picture of me surrounded by the six talented women that made up the cast of the “Handled” workshop. From left to right: Whitney Masters, Sophie Kelly, Stephanie Reedy, Me, Cameron Wise, Mandy Walsh, and Nicole Michelle Haskins. Amy Szerlong (director) and Allegra Larson (AD) are not pictured. This photo was taken after the final reading, after the post-show, and after a large percentage of the audience moved into the playing space and stood around, continuing to talk about the show, and ask us questions. The most moving moment for me, personally, happened in this sea of people. I was making my way across the area to greet a friend and I noticed a mom give her young daughter (about 12, I’d guess) a look—it was that look that said, “She’s right there. Say something,” but the girl didn’t. After I greeted my pal, I moved to sort of put myself in this kid’s way, sort of making sure she had the chance to say something to me, if she wanted to, and she did.
“Hi. Are you the writer?” I am. “Well, I’ve been in a hospital like that.” Wow. Really? “Yeah. You should put in something about coping skills.” What do you mean? “Like while you’re there they always talk about how to handle stuff when you get out and they call it ‘coping skills.’” Her mom chimed in. “That was a phrase we both got sick of hearing. Coping skills. You got a lot right.” I thanked them both and walked away a bit stunned. This little one had been in the hospital? And she had the wherewithal to offer feedback on how I represented her experience on stage? I was grateful, and proud, honestly, to have given this kid a chance to see someone like her in a play, and triumphing.