The first play is by William Saroyan, who is a lovely playwright who writes whimsical plays with big ideas lurking in them. This one is called Coming through the Rye. This is a charming little play that for it's brevity and light tone has some pretty heavy things to say. The play begins in a formless void, a nether world for those about to be born. A rather sardonic, patronizing, disembodied voice sets the stage for us addressing a group of soon to be born souls and explains to them where they are going and where they are coming from. The speech is that sort of New Age stuff about separating from a universal consciousness to enter the "World", but it has a very snarky attitude. That group souls depart and the next group assembles.
The first to arrive are an old man, Carroll and a nine year old boy, Butch.They are carrying papers describing their professions to come and their general life outlines. They appear in the form that they will eventually take when they die and return to this sphere of existence. Thus Carroll will live a long life on Earth and the boy will die young. Butch is very inquisitive and worried. The Carroll does his best to calm Butch and convince that even though his life will be short it will be worth it. Butch has been talking to another soon to arrive soul, Steve, who is not so enamored of his upcoming trip to this reality. Steve has been filling butch with doubts about the merits of the trip they are about to take. Steve knows,, for instance, that on Earth he will murder another person. He wonders why he is even going, if that is what "fate" has in store for him.
Others arrive and more funny paradoxes present themselves. Eventually everyone is sent off to "reality" whether they want to go or not. This is a good short play. It has so much to say and, more importantly, raises questions about what our existence even means and offers no easy answers. I also love that it skewers and satirizes some of the wishful thinking that people try to dress death up in to make it more palatable.
See you tomorrow.