Unfullfilled dreams... do they necessarily need to remain unfullfilled? While talking to an older friend recently about his life’s dreams, I asked him if he had any dreams he would still like to pursue. His answer shocked me. “I don’t know. I don’t think I have any dreams, per se,” he said with a shrug. It was a devastating thing to hear.
If you are over 50, there is one thing that’s become obvious in recent years: we are living longer and chances are that there is still plenty of time for dreams, for love, even for new careers. Our dreams may change with age, but they shouldn’t disappear. This brings us to Marylou DiPietro, and her new play, Bone On Bone. “Bone On Bone” is the story of a married couple at a crossroads. The wife, Linda, aged 59, and her husband, Jonathan, in his 60’s, have a relatively happy marriage until Linda has to decide if she wants to pursue her dream, which requires her (or them) to move out of New York. The Actor’s Equity showcase, playing at The Broadway Bound Theatre Festival, features Mark Coffin as Johnathan, and Geraldine Leer as Linda (see photo), and is directed by Misti B. Wills. We talked to playwright Marylou Dipietro about her new play below.
Q~ How did you come up with the story of Bone on Bone?
Marylou DiPietro: I was thinking about a reunion I had had with an old friend and mentor when the line: “It was as if the glue in our relationship was missing” popped into my head. Without realizing it, I expected to “pick up where I left off” with this important, influential person from my past. Instead, what I discovered – like Linda, in Bone on Bone – is that there’s a fine line between “reaping the benefits” of what we already have, and has kept up us afloat – and perhaps even thriving, and “cutting our losses” and moving forward.
Bone on Bone opens with Linda, a 59 year old artist, at once, trying to talk to her husband about, and to make sense of, the intense and conflicted feelings she has after seeing, for the first time in 25 years, “the first and only person who took her work seriously”.
Like Linda, we all “betray” or “abandon” a part of our “true selves” for reasons we may not fully understand or even acknowledge or which we may feel are out of our control. Through Linda’s reconnection with her old mentor, and the memory of the person and artist she wanted to become, combined with her sometimes hilarious “disconnection”, sometimes painful “bone on bone” relationship with her husband, Linda starts to wonder if she might be able to “glue” her own life back together.
Q~ The story has evolved over the last year or so. Tell us about those changes and how they came to be. How is this newest version different from the original story?
Marylou DiPietro: The play has evolved from my challenging myself to write a ten minute play into a full-length, soup-to-nuts dramatic comedy. At first I thought the entire play was about Linda’s seminal lunch “date” with Ernesto, who she admired, respected, and had unresolved, romantic feelings for back when she was as an undergrad the Rhode Island School of Design.
But old dreams (sleeping and waking) and new dreams (also sleeping and waking) and one or two or three you-can’t-talk-it-back Freudian slips change the playing field for the once seemingly happily married couple. Linda’s reunion with Ernest forces her to take responsibility for letting for her life, and her marriage, run on auto pilot. Bone on Bone is not a play about the proverbial “bucket list”, it’s about the bucket itself. It’s what happens when we finally decide – that moving forward – for better or worse -- is the only option. As Linda says to Johnathan in scene 4: “It’s about making a decision; not about having choices.”
Q~ What would you describe is the central question in your play? Is it about aging, or about marriage? Or something else? Please share.
Marylou DiPietro: How do we reclaim the lives we once dreamed we’d have or once dreamed of having? I am at an age in my own life where many of own friends – mostly women – think about “starting over”, doing the things they always wanted to do, “re-creating themselves”, trading in being a “care giver” for “taking care” of one’s self and our often long ignored and perhaps even forgotten, dreams and aspirations.
So many women of, say, my own mother’s generation, never, for one reason or another, found their way back to the person they were, the things they loved and loved doing, the things that made them feel happy, and whole and hopeful. In Bone on Bone we learn it is never too late to reclaim the artist, the musician, the world traveler, the writer, the teacher, the politician, the lover, that we dreamed of becoming. Yes, Bone on Bone addresses the “battle of the sexes” … but haven’t we come incredibly far? Is it really still a battle? Or, now that we – and I am referring here especially to women here – can “pick our battles”, isn’t the ball always in our own court? Linda and Johnathan aren’t fighting a battle as much as they are on a journey. Weather they continue to take the journey together will depend on where they both want to end up as two separate and whole individuals, rather as one incomplete, albeit functional unit.
Q~ Who do you think is your audience? And why?
Marylou DiPietro: I think my audience is first and foremost women. Young women who have their lives ahead of them with their dreams and hope still intact, who may have witnessed the tragedy of the unfulfilled and bitter life of their own mothers, aunts, ancestors; and women age 50 years and older who are faced with the question, not what they are going to do when they grow up, but what are they going to do as they continue to grow and create and imagine. My audience is also men who, like women have evolved, into more fully integrated human beings who must, like us all, continue to learn from our collective past and celebrate our collective future.
Q~ Do you see the play evolving further? If so, how?
Marylou DiPietro: What I have discovered in the development of Bone on Bone, and other plays I’ve written, is that the story, like life itself, never stops evolving. Every time I so much as glance at the places I have convinced myself are finally set in stone, Linda and Johnathan decide to respond in a way they hadn’t before, they say something else, something different, the conversation, and their actions and reactions send them somewhere else, some place I, the person writing down their every word, would have never dreamed of. In life we never have the same conversation or the same reaction twice. Why it would be any different in a play? Sooner or later someone has to write the words, “The End” at the bottom of the page. Maybe that only happens when the playwright is ready to move on to the next story. But even then, we are pulled back into the lives, the story which has become so much a part of us. During the time between writing “The End” at the end of the page and pulling the “script” back up on the computer screen one, the goal, the “dream” is to share the story that was “gifted” to us in the form of a theatrical work of art.
Q~ Where do see the play going after this run? What's your vision for it?
Marylou DiPietro: My hope is that Bone on Bone will resonate with all women – and men – who, after age fifty, are determined and empowered – perhaps even for the first time -- to the make their lives as vibrant, as fruitful, as fulfilling, as satisfying, and as wonder-full, as it was before age fifty…if not more.
Bone on Bone opens Tuesday, August 8th at 12:30PM, and runs Friday, August 11th at 4PM, and Saturday, August 12th 12PM. All performances are at The Theatre at The 14th Street Y, 344 East 14th Street near 1st Avenue.
To purchase tickets, please click here: https://14streety.secure.force.com/ticket#details_a0S36000004PFplEAG