It Takes a Village

Deb Hiett, playwright of Miss Keller Has No Second Book, was one of the five playwrights selected for the Fourth Annual New Works Festival.

I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the process of sharing a play I’ve created.


Deb Hiett

Imagine sitting alone somewhere – maybe eating a roast beef sandwich, or perhaps stuck in traffic, or planning a graceful exit from a tedious cocktail party — when you realize you are suddenly, inexplicably pregnant with a potentially great idea. There’s a tiny, helpless, barely-formed life in the center of your head, and you are 100% responsible for its survival. Wow.

Maybe it’s a really inconvenient time for a new, undeveloped project, or maybe you thought you were too old for that kind of undertaking, or perhaps you haven’t even courted a decent idea in over three years. But it doesn’t matter now. Now you are responsible for creating another whole creature. And you have to make a lot of choices to ensure the good health and happiness of this creature, good heavens, so many choices! This teeny thing is fragile! One wrong move and it could all be over.

And you don’t want it to be over, in fact, you want this creature to live forever, bathed in happiness and health. You dare to dream of the greatness growing inside your head BUT you can’t get ahead of yourself. Too much to do first.

So you focus and research and read aloud and meditate. You build rooms for your creature, you imagine its friends and foes, and you basically spend all your time in a “what-if” state of mind. It starts to show. You start to show. Friends ask what’s going on with you, so you let a few of them in on what you’re working so hard to create. Some friends are very supportive and share your excitement. Some friends – and these tend to be creature-builders themselves – will breathe deeply and look a little bit sorry for you and nod sagely. It’s not that they don’t believe in the world-changing brilliance of your little zygote, but their own cranky teenager is driving them to self-medicate and at the moment they can’t recall why on earth they ever wanted the beast in the first place.

Finally the day arrives, and after some tricky false labor pains, you print out your little scalawag and send it out into the world. You pray it’s ready, that it’s strong enough for what’s next. There isn’t a part of this brat that isn’t still a part of you, so it stings when a few people ignore it. Or others like it, but don’t love it. The crazy part is that unlike a human child, your creature must have the input and encouragement of others besides you in order to survive. No matter how much you love it, you need other creative spirits to help give your beast a life outside of your cramped, curly headball.

Then – miracle of miracles – you find a community who loves it like you do. These wonderful folks (and so wise, too!) see all the potential you see, and they happily nurture and feed and bathe and encourage your baby. They give so freely of themselves that your munchkin grows in leaps and bounds, even in one week! And there’s a profound sense of relief and joy in being able to see what was just a little inkling in your headball grow to be accepted, be embraced, and most importantly, become even better than what it was before. Your little rugrat now has a future.

That this miracle can occur in the gorgeous, luxurious beach community of Naples, Florida is just a really big extra bonus.

Thank you so much, Gulfshore Playhouse, for taking in my little play during its most precious, formative years! It takes a village, indeed.


-Deb Hiett

3 thoughts on “It Takes a Village

  1. Dear Deb……how beautifully you describe the process of giving birth to a play. Unfortunately, I was in California when your play was read, but I heard from many friends who attended and raved about your play, and I realize that I missed hearing a wonderful play. With good fortune, I shall see it performed somewhere someday! Thanks for so eloquently describing the process.

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