Writer/director Rod Lathim first premiered his new play as a one-act in 2012 as part of Dramatic Women’s evening of shorts. But, like the title suggests, “Unfinished Business” wasn’t done, not for the author.
“It was the first peek into that world, and I thought the last,” Mr. Lathim says with a laugh. “I thought it would see the light of day briefly and then move on. But this play really caught me off guard and continues to a year later.”
The play deals with a writer, played by Brian Harwell, and his final days with his dying mother in hospice. During these moments, he is visited by spirits as they ready his mother for the transition into death and beyond. It’s an experience Mr. Lathim himself went through, and one that changed the way he looks at life.
“The writing process has been unlike anything I’ve written before,” he says. “Nothing comes close.”
For one thing, this is Mr. Lathim’s first autobiographical piece, a subgenre he previously stayed away from. As Mr. Lathim tells it, the play wrote itself, urged on by fellow writer and longtime friend Ellen Anderson. She made him stick to his word to continue writing, although he admits to being scared about writing such a personal piece.
“It was like pouring water out of a pitcher,” he says. “There were times during writing when I’d have to get up and walk around because the experience was so blissful that I felt I needed a break to fully enjoy the process. I literally felt high. There’s a lot I don’t remember writing. In rehearsal I’ll hear something and think, ‘Where did that come from?'”
Mr. Lathim’s fears of vulnerability were unfounded. Those who knew him personally weren’t surprised, and those who didn’t responded positively. Many had gone through similar events with loved ones, had experienced something “from beyond” and some were too intimidated to mention it. These were doctors, lawyers, bankers, “people who were solid, professional people,” Mr. Lathim says. “The piece seems to have enabled other people to tell similar stories. As a writer and having worked in theater all my adult life, that’s my goal. Getting people out of the theater thinking, talking, pondering, debating, then in my opinion I set out what I planned to do.”
When: 2 and 8 p.m. Today-Sat., 2 and 7 p.m. Sun.
Where: Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido
Information: 963-0761 or www.lobero.com