Desperately Lost In My New Play


Susan RubinOf all the pleasures Life has to offer, none of them matches the Pleasure of Creating Something.

No food, drink, drug, shopping spree or sexual encounter comes close to the incredible high of making art. Yes, I can hear the sneering out there “well obviously she (meaning me) hasn’t tried the right drink, drug, or sex or she wouldn’t say what she said”. Wrong.

I’ve enjoyed the whole list very thoroughly. Made a study of pleasure itself in fact. But for an enduring high, without the misery of a hangover, a broken heart or weight gain from too much chocolate, nothing beats making art.

And now, I am back in the lovely position of writing a new play.

It took a lot of gazing inside myself, talking to my collaborator/director, and thought. But here I am, writing a Faustian play about a woman who makes a Deal with the Devil to stay young and beautiful forever.

It starts in the French Revolution. A beautiful young woman is deeply involved in Changing the World, when the Devil himself sees her and falls for her. Hard. He is so smitten with this woman – he will do anything to woo her. But she is not interested in him, she is making the world a better place.

So the Devil offers her a Deal he knows she won’t refuse. But he doesn’t tell her the whole truth: this deal has a time limit of 220 years. When that time is up, she will have to go to work for him enticing other innocent people into making deals to sell their souls to the Devil.

And here we are as the play opens, 220 years later, and he is calling in the Debt.

The woman is enraged to find out that her youth and beauty were only guaranteed for this limited time span. She challenges the Devil: she demands an impartial trial.

After all, the Devil’s job, at least in her mind, and in mine, was supposedly to deter evil –  stop people from being hideous and cruel to each other. But clearly, according to our heroine, the Devil has failed dismally to stop people from behaving evilly. So she wants the Deal nullified by a court of judges who will include: Freud, Jung, Giovanni Belzoni (look him up, it’s work a read thru Wiki!!) and the founder of the Ballet Russe!

I have not written more than the opening scene, and I am itching to sit at the keyboard and just blurt out dialogue – but using history as my backdrop requires that I do research first. The more I read about the eras I have chosen to highlight, the more it is clear to me who my protagonist is, what she wants and how similar she is to all us mortal beings. The choice we face is damnably simple, those of us who do not die young, will live to grow old.

Let’s see if I can capture this human dilemma in an engaging and funny piece.