Welcome to the 4th show of our 26th Season, Caryl Churchill’s A Number.
A Number inspired me to create Aurora’s Global Age Project; our new play discovery program (2006-2015) that encouraged playwrights to write plays about life in the 21st Century and beyond. A Number is immensely theatrical, seemingly simple in construction, but deeply profound in its investigation of cloning, parenting, nature vs. nurture and other topics. If you had an exact duplicate of your child and could start raising her or him again, what if anything would you do differently? And what would the consequences of those changes be to both you and the child?
I had the pleasure of meeting Caryl Churchill when I was working for Joseph Papp at The Public Theater in NYC in the 1980s. While there, the theater produced the American premieres of three of her plays - Top Girls, Fen, and Serious Money. I found her to be very polite, rather quiet and a somewhat mysterious person. I wanted to understand where her art came from, but came up empty finding her pleasantly enigmatic.
In doing research for this production I discovered that she, now 79 years old, the writer of nearly 50 plays, and the person frequently described as our greatest living playwright, has not given an interview to a journalist since the 1990s.
James Macdonald, a theatre director and frequent collaborator of Churchill’s in a New Yorker interview from 2015, offered to explain why she has resisted interviews. “She’s not some kind of recluse. You sometimes feel, as a writer, that you destroy the thing by talking about it. It’s incredibly rare these days that Caryl will give anyone a script until she’s quite sure it’s what she wants it to be. She thinks in terms of images. The scripts are open-ended—they want you to enter into that world and play and find your own conclusions. She loves every aspect of the (rehearsal) process. But she doesn’t necessarily have answers.”
Thank you for joining us today.