Back in July of 2011 I received an email from a young woman who was really excited about a reading of a new play in the Midtown International Theatre Festival. I was struck by the email because out of all of the requests for readings I had been invited to that summer, this email was charming, respectful, and directly to the point. I accepted and she was prompt in letting me know a seat was reserved and had mentioned that she was excited that I was coming. Her words:
"Great! I can't wait to see you there!"
I saw the reading and was really blown away. I was impressed how someone so young could write dialogue so engaging and thought provoking and craft such an amazing story and, as I have had a few times in my producing career, my gut told me that this was a writer I wanted to meet.
We met in August and I was again so impressed by how well she handled herself during the meeting and I made it a point to introduce her to as many other producers, agents, and resources as I could.
We stayed in touch via email and she kept me posted on her projects.
Then over the weekend, one of the producers I had introduced her to, sent me this article.
I felt like time stopped for a second. It seemed very surreal and then I read about what happened and felt an overwhelming sadness.
Marina Keegan was more than an amazing and talented writer.
She exemplified what an artist should truly be. Her compassion, her empathy, and her insight made those around her more thoughtful and if you read her commencement speech, you'll see that she had such clarity about what it is to be young and scared. The piece has a lesson for all of us regardless of age or background and is arguably the best work of art I have ever laid eyes on.
I had a writer friend who once used the term "bone-like honesty" and after seeing this essay, I really know what it means now.
This cheery, happy girl will stay in my memory every time I get an invite from a playwright to see a reading, she'll stay in my memory every time I see an artist do a selfless act, and she'll stay in my memory as someone who really has left a mark not on the surface, but all the way down to the bone.
I have this Awesome person Thursday column and the idea is that it's devoted to someone awesome as in cool, but honestly, this time I am devoting it to someone who truly inspires awe.
I'm in awe of how wise beyond her years she was
I'm in awe about how much her essay has made me reflect
I'm in awe of how selfless she was and how many people she helped.
I'm saddened I can't sit down for coffee with her one more time, but I am SO grateful I made the decision to sit down for coffee with her once.
That moment and that experience was a gift and every time I sit down with an aspiring playwright, I know that she'll be looking down on them and wishing them the best.
I'll miss you terribly Marina, but Thank You for all you've done.
and thank you for meeting me for coffee.