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Celebrating the creative life

Several years back, I had the pleasure of seeing a production featuring two grande dames of Denver theater: Billie McBride and Anne Oberbroeckling. Their mesmerizing chemistry made me think, “Note to self: You should probably write a play for these two.”

Cut to a few years later when I’m taking a week-long workshop with the celebrated playwright Sarah Ruhl. Through the first exercise she had us do, I discovered the characters of Bea and Althea and immediately realized that I had begun writing the play for Billie and Anne.

It is my love letter to the theatre and to the journeyman (or journeywoman) actors who beat the pavement year after year to earn roles that will make us feel something and enable us to leave the theatre in a vastly different state than when we entered it.

I think few civilians understand the sacrifices involved in such a life. It is not a life of celebrity or financial abundance—these folks are not household names. It is a life in service to an ancient craft. One which seeks to entertain, to enlighten, to enroll, to challenge, and ultimately invites us to emote together in the womb-like atmosphere of a darkened theater. And in the rare instance when all the puzzle pieces fit together just right, we enter a state of grace and rediscover our humanity.

I am incredibly fortunate that my parents supported my lifelong commitment to creativity. No person I know spent more time seeking avenues to our collective humanity than my father, Steve McCarl. For decades, he taught philosophy and political science to impressionable young minds at Denver University.

In his later years, he became legally blind while also navigating a pervasive form of cancer. Yet, he remained fully dedicated to appreciating the most sublime pleasures that life has to offer: an exquisite glass of merlot, a beautifully conducted symphony, an inspired piece of fiction.

I’m so grateful that he was able to hear the public reading of this play before he transitioned on Father’s Day of last year. I can still hear him guffawing at many of the lines (delivered with perfect comic timing by the ladies.)

For all of these reasons, I wish to dedicate this full production to him. He was a larger-than-life presence… consequently, I won’t be at all surprised if we hear him laughing and applauding from the great beyond.

Headshot Image for Melissa Lucero McCarl

Melissa Lucero McCarl

Playwright (2022)

Painted Bread, Melissa’s full-length play about the life of Frida Kahlo, was voted “Best New Play” by The Denver Post. She was commissioned by the Jewish Community Center to write…

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