Local playwright shines a light on Alzheimer’s disease
By Paul Collins
There are many people who harbor the secret dream of writing a play, for when a theater darkens, at once there is that collective hush that falls over the audience. Suddenly, the lights go up on the stage, and for a short period of time, the here and now slips away and there is magic in the air as the actors bring characters and stories to life. We’re taken away as the actors open doors to our hearts and minds. We are transported to another place and time that is far from the realities of our own lives.
However, sometimes a play can also heighten and intensify our own realities in ways that are both poignant and all too sobering. Such is the case with Bottom of the 9th, a one-act play about Alzheimer’s disease, brought to life from the creative mind of Worcester playwright, director and actor, Kevin Baldwin. The play, performed by the New Players Theater Guild of Fitchburg, opened in May, and in response to having shared the script with him, Baldwin even managed to garner a letter of praise from none other than former President Bill Clinton.
Baldwin is the author of many diverse plays that are rooted in love, human failings and triumphs, and even in hauntings. Asked about what has inspired him to write his various plays, he said, “My plays are mostly about the human condition and interpersonal relationships.” He added, “One common thread through most of my plays is that readers will find that I actually like my characters. I don’t approach my works trying to make all my characters one inch away from suicide. My two-act play, Haunting Lusitania, is more about love reaching across time, but we learn a lot about more heroic and flawed people aboard the ship as it is torpedoed.”
In thinking about what it is that people look for in a play, Baldwin said, “No matter what the format, principal characters must go through an experience that somehow causes them a significant personal change by the end. I don’t mean a physical change like they wind up two inches shorter than they were at the start. I’m talking about a change such as in how they may view life.”
As to what his own creative process involves, he mused, “I’m always writing stories in my mind. Starting is always the hardest part. Once I do begin writing and am unfettered by extraneous outside factors or distractions (you know, like life), then I become like a runaway train and I do not, cannot, stop until I complete the task.”
Asked about where he sees his work taking him in the future, the Worcester playwright said, “Maybe to Aaron Sorkin’s (creator of the TV series The West Wing) house to jam with Stephen King? That would be awesome.”
Baldwin would like to travel more as a result of his work being presented in various parts of the world. “One of my plays, Murder at the Fishnet, was premiered in New Zealand. I would have enjoyed attending, but sadly, extraneous outside factors and distractions (you know, life) made it impossible.”
When all is said and done, Kevin Baldwin is one those rare people one comes across every once in a while who is talented, interesting and fortunate enough to be engaged in doing work that, clearly, is a labor of love for him. We should all be so lucky.
Paul Collins is a freelance writer from Southborough.