Sunday, May 28, 2006

Leftover Stories To Tell

Spalding Gray's widow--Kathie Russo--along with a performance artist named Lucy Sexton, have put together a new play from unpublished works, diaries, and poems written by Gray. It is being performed by groups of actors who read--Vagina Monologues style--different parts of the play, and it has attracted people like Eric Bogosian, Steve Buscemi, and Rosie O'Donnell. It sounds great!

"It feels like the first time we're opening the book again and going, 'It's O.K. to talk about Spalding,' " Ms. Sexton explained. "It was such a harsh end. But all those beautiful, graceful moments that he recognized in his work, they still stand. They don't get negated by that last moment."

That last moment is also a crucial part of the performance. The excerpts from his diaries chronicling his mounting agony — sadness steadily runs throughout his work but never as starkly as in his last months — are the most emotional parts of the piece.

Immersing herself in her husband's words, including notes he kept toward the end of his life throughout his depression after a car accident left him seriously injured and disfigured in 2001, also allowed Ms. Russo to shape her own perspective.

"Doing this kind of work has given me time to reflect on who he was to me, to the children, to his audience," said Ms. Russo, who hopes to one day open a center for family survivors of suicide victims. "He was a very important artist to the world, and I don't want him to be forgotten."


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