I woke up this morning to finds news and posts all over facebook of the tragic death of this awesome young playwright — Daniel Mcclung — who died yesterday AM of smoke inhalation when a fire broke out in his midtown building. I’m not going to pretend for a SECOND that I knew Daniel though it’s clear from all the facebook sadness and love that he was a incredibly talented and sweet guy. But I must say, when I read the news, I was shaken.
Being a young playwright in New York is kind of like living inside of a warped video game / fairy tale comprised completely of deadlines and cocktails and rehearsals and moleskin journals and rewrites and day jobs and hoodies and playbill.com. When you make your life inside of said video game, you absolutely forget that life or death is not, say, whether or not you get into Juilliard or whether or not Rattlestick wants to do a reading of your play, but rather – actual life. Or actual Death.
All of this to say, I think that there might be a silver lining here. I remember when I was wee and writing my first plays, I would think: I feel like this is great. Maybe this is great? It’s probably not great. Maybe no one will read this. Or do this. Or maybe I will die in some beautiful and ironic way and then they’ll all be sorry I didn’t live to write more of them, and there will be statues of me, and evenings of me, and books of me. Daniel was probably NOT such a fragile narcissist, but I have a feeling that the theater community is going to rally around his work, and he’s going to see more love and appreciation for and productions of his play than he ever would have, had he lived a full life. Of course, given the choice, I’m still Daniel would have picked Life, but still: I can’t help but try and focus on that slightly positive element: every play he’s ever written just because 900 times more meaningful and significant, and if leaving a profound mark on the theater community and / or perhaps the world with your plays is not Having Lived, I just don’t know what is.