It’s Hard To Sum Up Your Own Play

One of the hardest things a playwright has to do is sum up his/her own work in a couple of lines. Someone asks what it’s about and you start to spill out the overall theme, each individual character arc, the underlying structure, two other plays it’s kind of like, the thing that made you think of the play in the first place….

When I was first trying to announce the play, I spent about an hour slaving over a paragraph. Meanwhile, my wife slapped this up in about five minutes:

Zombie attacks are all fun and games — until they happen to you. Last year, the town of Harwood, Texas was forever changed when it was overrun by hordes of flesh-eating zombies. This documentary play tells the totally true story about this zombie attack in the words of the townspeople — at least the ones who survived. Braaaaaaains!

Sweet. Then my friend Josh tossed this off in an email, which I now want to put in every email I ever send about the play:

There’s only 45 seats, so if you want in, it’s probably best to buy your tix sooner rather than later. Remember, in a zombie apocalypse only those who act quickly and decisively survive.

And now today the SF Chronicle summed up the play in a really good way (in an article headlined “Don’t miss: ‘Zombie Town'” no less!):

And you thought your town had trouble; at least you’re not having undead issues. Not so lucky is Harwood, Texas, where a recent invasion by hordes of brain-sucking zombies has made normal small-town life a distant memory. Enter the intrepid Catharsis Theatre Collective to interview the survivors and present the resulting “documentary.”

I have occasionally traded summarization duties with other playwrights in various writing groups, on the assumption that either one of us could do a better job than trying to sum up our own work. I’m now thinking even friends and strangers can do a better job than the playwright his/herself!


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