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  • cogswellmatt77

Floating on Hope Ave

Two years ago I was experiencing artistic bliss. Two of my plays were being workshopped by The Forge Theater Lab.

The Forge Theater Lab - Home

They were set to be showcased on February 14 and 15, 2020. I worked with a wonderful director who made my vision of the show's workshop come to life.

I love this photo. I love it because Kathleen had no idea what I was about to do when we were being photographed. She went with it, and I will always love her for that. She saw connections in the play that I had not even intended or noticed. Her staging was articulate and intriguing.

I had a brilliant cast.

The chemistry these two had was amazing. This wonderful photo by Samantha deManbey (who took all of the photos here) captures this moment so beautifully. I am still impressed with the physical activity that was pulled out of just a workshop. I'm also amused that this came from a former Instagram account because I cannot commit to shit.

Just like with all my actors, I could not have asked for a better pair to play this complicated relationship. In terms of "stage time," there's was the shortest, but boy did they make it interesting.

I worked as an actor for this fellow playwright's play Absolutely Dead in May 2019. I was so honored that he joined us for this production. I feel his character is the most complicated one, in terms of what he has gone through and how challenging it was for me to write him. Over the years' long work on the script, his character certainly had the most revision. He and the following actor told their character's stories through monologues.

This wonderful actor played George, whom I consider the pivotal character. He is a writer, and my intention in the play is that the other three stories told simultaneously in the play are his creations. He tells his own story, which is remarkably similar to my life journey. I had to warn my mother in advance that there's a mother character referenced and she dies, but it wasn't her. Out of all the things this show and One Angry Gay Man covered, that was what I was worried about. In the end of the play (spoiler alert) this character begins dating (again?). My mother and her best friend were there with one of my best friends, and during intermission, the friend turned to my friend and asked if I were dating someone. I guess it couldn't be hidden that the character was essentially me. The workshop was the last performance of mine that my mom attended before passing away last April.

At the workshop I dedicated Floating to "Brian, Daniel, Shua, and Tommy." These are four men in my life who are important to me, and traces of my memories of them come shining through in various characters. In various ways, these are the four great loves of my life, even if I only dated one of them for a few months. I'm still not sure if one of the characters being named Brian is coincidental. Brian has appeared in various works of mine. He was my childhood best friend. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2008 from a motorcycle accident. In an early draft of Floating, the character of Brian was going to die. There's only one suggested death [besides the mother's], but a theater company will have to produce it for you to know what that is.

I am thankful for the timing of the piece because THE PLAGUE hit the United States not long after. The show has not gone further yet, but it is available here:

Floating on Hope Ave | New Play Exchange

Some of my work has appeared in various forms since then, but nothing is quite like performing for a live audience. I know opportunities to do that have been open for a while now, but I'm in no rush to join a production unless it's of one of my works.

What I have been procrastinating doing in this post is talking about how this show STILL reflects my life. A brilliant designer created this image to reflect the play's themes.

He stated, "The idea is (to) express fear of commitment and hesitation in relationships through movement of light... Foreword movement that slows and stops. Lines have a clear direction but abruptly stop, despite a clear path or opening.... visually floating in a space of uncertainty."


I'm still single. I still hate this time of year. I'm still friends to men but nothing more. I'm either a sex object or a safe confidant. That bullshit has gotten old. Years ago a prominent New York City gay theater activist saw some of my writing and told me to go deeper and write about the pain of romantic relationships. Well, I write what I know. (Sadly enough, he died, too! Jesus, is it me?) I would love to write a new storyline. I would love to live a new storyline instead of floating on hope. I don't know how to change that. It is my greatest life challenge.

I can't think of any brilliant way to end this, so I'll just add this photo.

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