“Featherstone”: Who Do You Love?

Adrienne Gunn, Vincent Truman, Steve Ruppel

Adrienne Gunn, Vincent Truman, Steve Ruppel

A play is a hypothesis of thought surrounding a philosophy – the good, the bad, advantages, disadvantages, gains and losses – so by the time I am finished writing one, it feels as if I’ve written several. This is certainly the case with my 2014 play, “Featherstone”, slated to make its debut on 11/07/2014.

“Featherstone” is about a rather bitter psychologist and his receptionist son and their interactions with a married couple who have become disenchanted with each other. Dr. Featherstone himself is disenchanted, but mainly with people who have allowed themselves to become disenchanted. The play is an examination of choice, both the choices we own and the ones rather foisted upon us by society, including but not limited to social media, friends, family, in-laws, colleagues and acquaintances. The key question in the piece is: do we choose who we love?

Of course, the material is very personal to me, as I went through a dreadful divorce which still has a distant but present deadening echo in my life. However, my perspective was only one in the labyrinth of perspectives possessed by the aforementioned friends, family, in-laws, colleagues and acquaintances, to say nothing of the woman I chose to marry once upon a time. Thus, “Featherstone” is a deep dive into the motives, rationales and reactions of all parties concerned. It would be too easy to do a “look at this bad thing that happened to me” piece of work, but I detest work of that type. Despite protestations or innocent shrugs, no person is merely a protagonist in their life; no person is merely an antagonist. It takes two to strangle.

So what about it: do we choose who we love? Although I personally lean towards the affirmative, there are compelling reasons for both responses. A compelling reason FOR: feelings are the one thing we can control or manage in our lives. Who hasn’t been advised that we might feel anything based on a situation, but it is up to us how we ultimately react? This, to me, suggests we are ultimately in control of these things called feelings. A compelling reason AGAINST: feelings are strongly associated with experiences, especially of a younger age. Who hasn’t been told that we learn the vast majority of emotional responses to situations by the time we are five years old? Thus, it could be arguable that what we experience at 30 is directly tied to these hidden or forgotten events, which may lead us, quite rightly, to conclude “I cannot help how I feel.”

The reason I lean towards the affirmative is not a gut feeling but an intellectual approach. By actively choosing who and what I love, I can manage the predictable variations in those gut feelings. In my own marriage, even when I was fully aware there was trouble, I harnessed my faculties to choose, daily, the person I was with. That person I was married to actively went with her gut, which, near the end of our marriage, led to the brilliant line, “If I leave, I betray you; if I stay, I betray me.” As poetic as that comment was, it was simply hurtful. At the end of the day, even if I am slightly detached on the emotional front, I prefer it to the damage that might be wrought at the hands of emotions with its largely unseen and unexamined roots.

“Featherstone” and its four primary characters run the gamut of our engagement with love, from choice to gut, to desperation to disgust, to fear to expectation and allows breathing room for all.

It is my hope that my latest hypothesis for the stage will inspire some good food for thought, perhaps even more than my previous works “Venus Envy” and “The Observatory,” which were almost as well known for their talkback sessions as they were for themselves.

 

“Featherstone” runs Fridays-Saturdays-Sundays from November 7 – 23, 2014.
The Charnel House, 3421 W Fullerton Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647
Tickets: $15
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/868348

 

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The Keys To Happiness

Vincent Truman

Vincent Truman

One morning not too long ago (ie, this morning), I was waiting for the bus to take me to my office for another eight hours of having my very soul sucked out of me, when I saw a car pull from an alley, followed by a sound that sounded like keys hitting the pavement.  I looked in the car’s wake, only to find that keys had in fact hit the pavement.  The keys must have been sitting on top of the car, or perhaps on the trunk, and had been whisked off when the driver turned out of the alley.  Even though my bus was nearly upon me, I ran to get the keys and pocketed them.

As I made my way to work, my soul begging me to find another vocation, I examined the keys.  There were at least 18, strewn across two sets of interlinked key holders, along with a bevy of little cards I see people scan at various places to get discounts: Planet Workout, Workout Palace, Workout-a-GoGo, Mr. Workout, Workoutapalooza Inc. and, of course, Binny’s Liquors.  As if that wasn’t enough, there was also a beepy thing that people use to get into cars (I am sure there are proper terms for these things, but as I have neither need for discounts or cars, I don’t know them).

I channeled Sherlock Holmes long enough to instinctively sniff the keys.  They were neither covered with lint, nor did smell like someone’s pants, so I figured they belonged to a lady (assuming the keys were kept in something relatively clean, like a purse).

At work, I put out as many notices as I could think of: on Craigslist, on Chicago’s EveryBlock forums, on Facebook (both my own page and others dedicated to my neighborhood).  “Found a set of keys; contact me to identify” was the broadest clue I thought to leave.  I received a couple of inquiries but I – or rather they – came up snake eyes.

Once at home, I sat and looked at the keys.  What could I do?  Put up signs around the neighborhood?  Since I am to be on the move during most of the weekend, I hated the idea of the keys languishing in my home while someone, somewhere cultivated a horrible sense of panic.  Looking at the keys again, my eyes fell on the beepy thing.  The beepy thing!  I reasoned that, if the driver pulled out of an alley, they probably lived in that alley (or, you know, at least had their garage there).

With keys in hand, I walked up and down the alley in question, hitting the beepy thing at intervals.  Oddly enough, the perfectly times responses had nothing to do with a car.  I pressed the beepy thing, a child screamed.  I pressed the beepy thing, a dog barked.  Finally, I hit the beepy thing, and a car started to honk inside a garage.  I hit it again; the honking stopped.  Again, it started.  Again, it stopped.

Counting the houses from the end of the street, I made my way to the front of the house where I was met with a locked gate.  Knowing I was close to my prize – or rather, someone else’s prize – I waved down a neighbor or two who had come to the window to watch this strange fellow pace in front of the house in question.  They all spoke Spanish.  Like a scene out of “Lost In Translation“, I did my best to communicate, through simple words and simpler mime (pointing at me, the keys, and the house, mainly), I had someone’s keys.  Eventually, the point got across and one older lady started yelling at the house.  “Clara!  Clara!”  Clara emerged, speaking Spanish rapidly with the older lady.  And then Clara’s daughter emerged, ran down the stairs, shook my hand, and took the keys.

There is an odd perception out there that atheists are non-caring, non-compassiate people who are cold and unfeeling.  I’m afraid I did nothing for the cause, as Clara, her daughter, and all of the assembled friends repeated how blessed they were.

But that’s fine.  At least the woman has her keys again.

 

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An Introduction to “Featherstone”

"Featherstone" by Vincent Truman

“Featherstone” by Vincent Truman

Location: Dr. Featherstone’s office.  

A doctorate certificate hangs on the wall, as does a series of drawings depicting violent acts of nature.

Dr. Featherstone, an Englishman, sits behind a large desk, surveying the couple sitting before him.  He looks dapper but unkempt.  Grey stubble outlines his chin.  A mop of grey hair appears to have had several run-ins with a brush, but remains victorious against design or part.

Thomas and Jayne Philpott, both American, sit attentively, although they are literally the picture of unhappiness: arms crossed, legs crossed and pointed away from each other, no eye contact.

 

FEATHERSTONE
So you two are married then?

JAYNE
Yes, that’s right.  Five years.

FEATHERSTONE
My condolences.
There are basically two kinds of people who come to marriage counseling:
those that want to repair their relationship and those that use counseling as a
justification to end it. Unfortunately, there’s usually one of each
in every couple, which takes up a considerable amount of my time.
Anyway, congratulations on taking that first step in realizing you probably
married the wrong fucking person to begin with. Good morning.

JAYNE
(irritated)
Excuse me…

FEATHERSTONE
Yes, Wife?

JAYNE
Jayne. It’s Jayne.
(pause)
Don’t you have our names? I’m Jayne Krazen.
This is my husband, Thomas Philpott.

Featherstone doesn’t answer. Or blink. Or move. 

JAYNE
This is my husband’s and my first time doing something like this and
I’m a little, you know, trepidatious. So could you not use language
like that?

 FEATHERSTONE
Like what?

 JAYNE
The profanity. It’s not really necessary.

 FEATHERSTONE
So you’re saying the words I choose impact your marriage?

 JAYNE
No, of course not.

 THOMAS
She’s not saying that.

 JAYNE
(curtly, to Thomas)
I can speak for myself.

FEATHERSTONE
(nods agreeably)
Ah. So you’re simply trying to control how I talk, are ya?

JAYNE
No, but –

 FEATHERSTONE
No, but ‘don’t use certain words.’
‘Don’t use certain words but 
I’m not trying to control how you talk.’
Sounds funny, that. Still, all relationships are
based on compromise, so all right.
I’ll tell you what, love. I won’t use ‘language like that’
if you don’t use any… let’s see now… verbs. Not that I’m trying to control how
you talk or anything. But, you know, no verbs.
Ix-nay on the erb-vays.
Now we’re working on a level playing field.

 JAYNE
You’re twisting what I said.

 FEATHERSTONE
Oh!
(makes buzzing noise like on a gameshow)
‘Twist’ is a verb. Negotiations break down.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

JAYNE
Are you finished?

FEATHERSTONE
Fuck.

“Featherstone (An Appointment In One Act)”
(c) 2014 Vincent Truman

http://www.lulu.com/shop/vincent-truman/featherstone-an-appointment-in-one-act/paperback/product-21693191.html

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TED Talks… Loudly

TED Talks... Loudly

TED Talks… Loudly

Watching the famous TED TALKS series on youtube and related media, I have come to learn a great deal about the world around me.  From topics as diverse as mental illness to  nerdcore comedy, I have gained a profound understanding of the world around me in twenty-minute increments.

Nothing is so impactful, of course, as experiencing a TED TALK in person, which is why I am glad there is a fellow named TED in my neighborhood who, often without a clear audience, gives lectures on a regular basis.  This is one such lecture, entitled, possibly, “Slow Down.”

 

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What Divorciverssary 2.0 Means To Me

Divorciverssary 2.0

Divorciverssary 2.0

If marriage was the biggest step I ever took, getting divorced was the greatest amount of little steps I had to take.

On May 24, 2012, I appeared in court by myself to dissolve my marriage.  It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but since there was no saving the thing, I took full responsibility in putting the thing to rest.  At that point, despite having friends I never knew I had (ie, people who stepped up and were especially king), I felt largely alone.  There was no contact with the person who was my wife in the morning and ex-wife in the evening.  I presumed if she wanted to know the divorce was final, she’d contact me.  I think she presumed I would report in like a good dog.  Neither happened.

A year later, I rather forced myself (and friend Melissa, whose divorce was finalized within hours of mine) to have a Divorciverssary.  It was largely an excuse to gather friends who had been so nice to the two of us on our respective splits and thank them.  It was also an attempt to further own the mourning process, which seemed to drag on and on well beyond what it should (in fact, there is no timetable for mourning the loss of a loved one, even if it is at the hand of the clerk of the court).

In 2014, Melissa and I celebrated Divorciverssary 2.0, with many of the same friends and many more.  The differences could not have been more stark.  First and foremost, there was no talk about our respective exes.  Different factions of friends blended together and drifted apart like some human jazz combo.  Perhaps most importantly, both Melissa and I had new VERY significant others on the scene.

So what did the second anniversary of my divorce mean?  It meant living instead of surviving.  It meant, instead of focusing on the end of a chapter, celebrating the continuation of the story.  It meant divorcing oneself from any unhealthy element in one’s past and moving forward.  As such, it was a party for everyone, not two people who lost their marriages.  Everyone in attendance had lost something – sometimes multiple somethings – but they were all standing and happy.

And, by the end of the night, fairly drunk.

Not bad.

VT & SB

VT & SB

 

Video: “Happy Little Me”
From the CD “Roulette”: http://www.amazon.com/Roulette-Vincent-Truman/dp/B00JMT3IWM

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That’s Motivation!: Encouragement For The 21st Century

 

whatgood

lifeisshort

 

box

 

makemistakes

 

advice

alone

fun

takerisks

blame

beyou

 

lifeisgood

 

firstday

 

 

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Vine Compilation 1

Vincent Truman's Vines

Vincent Truman’s Vines

Per Wikipedia: “Vine is an online app that enables its users to create and post short looping video clips. Video clips created with Vine have a maximum clip length of seven seconds and can be shared on Vine’s social network, or to other services such as Twitter – which acquired the app in October 2012 – and Facebook (and other) social networking services.”

This is a compilation of my favorite Vines from late 2013 and early 2014.  This compilation includes “How Food Works”, “Let’s Ride The Christmas Train”, “Say My Name” (from “Breaking Bad”), “Truth or Dare with Jack Nicholson”, “911 Knock Knock Joke”, “Old Jew Advice”, “Taking Up Cutting”,  “I Miss The Ex-In-Laws” and “DIY Cybersex.”

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