Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Save the Last Dance for Me

Last season, I was fortunate enough to write three new plays while in the desert. The intent was to workshop all three back in Minnesota. COVID-19 put a stop to that great idea. Now I’m back in the desert with every intention of finally getting a ‘reading’ for one of those plays, ‘Widow’s Waltz.’ 

Sharon and I have been in the Valley, on and off, for over twenty years. During that time, we’ve made a lot of friends in the gay community. Most of our gay friends here we’ve always known as couples. However, it came to my attention a while back that there is another segment of that population that is seldom talked about. 

I always thought ‘Widow’s Waltz’ would be especially relevant to the Coachella Valley because of its large gay population and a subject matter that is seldom addressed here. That is the plight of single gay seniors in the Valley.

The idea for ‘Widow’s Waltz’ evolved after we took a cruise to Cuba several years ago. On the cruise were a number of single gay men instead of the usual couples we knew. I got to thinking about the lifestyle of those men who lived outside of a normal couple’s routine I was so familiar with here in the desert. More research on the subject brought up a number of articles talking about the plight of the single gay men entering their senior years all alone.

Riot at Sage Corner

Simply stated, they’re older, single gay men without a partner or significant other. Often times there’s no family to speak of. While on the surface, their challenges seem much like of straight singles, I’ve found from research that the challenges are far greater for gay individuals than straight ones.

A survey in the United States has found that most gay men over the age of 45 are single. The findings, released by AARP, surveyed almost 2000 LGBT people across all 50 states. It found that 57% of gay men over 45 were single as compared to 39% of lesbians and 48% of bisexual men and women.

I realized that this is a subject matter outside of my comfort gone and familiarity. Research alone would never help me get to the core of the issues or create a storyline true to their predicament. That is where our friends in the gay community can provide me with honest, heart-felt advice and suggestions to make the play honest and true to their ‘real world.’

It’ll probably be a challenge to present such a play written by a straight author to those appropriate venues here in the Valley. Nevertheless, I’m hoping the honesty of the storyline will grab their attention and an honest evaluation. I’m also looking for some fellow artists to help champion the script for me and open stage doors.

The Last Sentinel

The script has been written and rewritten several times over. Now the hard part begins. After workshopping the play, I’ll probably have to pound out a second or third draft until I have a product ready for theatrical evaluation. Overall, it will be an arduous and challenging task but I hope, one that results in an interesting story, engaging characters and something worthy of my audience’s time and attention.

In the end, isn’t that what every playwright is striving for; to tell a good story and entertain an audience?

I know I am.

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