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Two Plays in Conversation: How Classics Inspire Us

by SYA Artistic/Educational Director Hallie Gordon

The Steppenwolf for Young Adults 2011/12 Season is an exploration of the process by which a piece of literature evolves through adaptation and reinterpretation. Last fall, we presented Rebecca Gilman’s adaptation of Carson McCullers’ novel The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. This spring, we proudly present Sarah Gubbins’ new play, fml: how Carson McCullers saved my life. In this world premiere production, Gubbins gives her creative response to McCullers’ novel, taking what moves her about this classic and forming it into something new. fml gives us the unique opportunity to share with a new generation of artists the way in which original work is born from the ideas and themes of a classic text—how the compelling work of one artist can prompt a bold response and fresh story from another. Says Gubbins of fml, “I wrote fml not as an adaptation of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter but more as an homage to it. The title captures the maddening duality of the human condition and the question that plagues us all—how is it possible to feel so alone, so utterly lonely while still hunting, desiring to love? I think this duality is an ageless phenomenon, yet often fully felt for the first time at a young age. That’s where I began in my writing of fml. Sometimes we can read something, go to the theater, plug in our iPods, watch an episode of television and understand something happening in our own lives in a new way. That’s what happens to the central character in fml when she reads Carson McCullers’ novel. In The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, all the characters are outsiders in some way. This feeling of being a “freak” or an “outsider”—someone without a community—is what draws the characters together. That is a dynamic I wanted to bring to fml.” We are thrilled to have fml on our stage and Sarah Gubbins as part of this exciting conversation. We hope you enjoy the show!