Monday, March 14, 2016

Hair Like the Sun - Working with Claire Mix

When I first began writing the script, I was all on my own. I created the first draft in a three-week span of intense and inspired writing. I'm proud of that first draft, because if nothing else it sold Claire on the idea that her mother's story could indeed be produced as a stage play. It also demonstrated that this play would treat her mother's story with the care and respect it deserved, all while ensuring that it was a quality play that audiences would enjoy.

Of course, I feel I should point out that Claire had no idea I was writing this play when I set out to do it. Writing the play had been her goal, but she'd never been able to crack it. She, by all accounts, hit the roof when she found out about it. I can't blame her. Not only was someone writing the play she's intended to write, he'd already produced a completed draft. It was stunning news, to be certain.

After Claire read the play, however, she realized that this was what she was waiting for. Not only was there now a play, the playwright clearly had passion for this story and wanted to do it right. Claire contacted me and we had a long, productive conversation about my vision for the play. We then spent the next couple months emailing back and forth about the project. She shared a lot of wonderful, personal details about the story that helped add authenticity to my writing. I found her to be a warm, caring, passionate, and funny person.

What I remember most about our collaboration was the last thing she said to me. I had just finished up a draft for a new ending. It was pretty good, as far as I was concerned, but I wanted to get her stamp of approval. I sent it to her, and the reply was almost immediate. "Nailed it, dude." Those were the last words she ever said to me.

Sadly, we lost Claire to cancer in 2013. She didn't get to see the next three years' worth of revisions to the play. However, I feel blessed knowing that she knew this project would continue. I was beyond moved when I attended that first cast read-through and I saw her dream take shape. Claire was there in spirit, I am certain, and her legacy lives on.

When I watch the play now, her words still echo in my head. It's the words I passed on to the cast when they finished that first table read. They nailed it. Dude.

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