Nick Payne’s If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, directed by Michael Longhurst, is our first production of the 2012–13 season at the Laura Pels Theatre.
This production marks the American stage debut not only of the play, but of the playwright, director, and yes, of the Oscar-nominated actor Jake Gyllenhaal. I know it’s easy to focus on the excitement of such a high-profile performer coming to off-Broadway, but what I want to talk about is the play itself. It’s the play that made Jake want to spend his autumn in the Steinberg Center with us, and I think you’ll agree with his enthusiasm for this extraordinary piece.
First things first, I feel that I have to address the play’s title. It’s long, it’s wordy, and it admittedly took me a few months to start saying it correctly! But when you focus in, it becomes an incredibly apt title for the play that follows. Our director, Michael Longhurst, put it best, explaining that he sees the title as the answer to a question that both the audience and characters will be asking themselves throughout the play: Is there a right way to live? It’s a play about consequences, which is why this question resonates so loudly. If there is indeed a right way to live our lives today, what is it? And will the characters be able to do what’s right for the world and right for themselves at the same time?
This friction between the needs of the world and the opposing needs of the family is one that I find fascinating in the play. On one level, we are watching a domestic drama play out among mother, father, daughter, and uncle. But the play also takes on a much bigger global issue. The character of George is deeply concerned about the environment and the wastefulness that he sees every day. Where we might see a banana, George sees the carbon footprint of the truck that brought it to the local grocery store. There’s a huge amount of literal waste in the world, and it overwhelms George so much that he can’t see anything on a smaller scale. So while he is busy saving the world, no one is left to save his daughter from the school bullies. We all want to do the right thing for both the world at large and for the world of our own family, but maybe that’s impossible. Can you really dedicate yourself to one without sacrificing the other?
These questions are relevant in all of our lives, and they are what first excited me about this play. I think Nick Payne has quite brilliantly put our modern anxieties into dramatic form, allowing us to examine our daily choices in a smart, funny, moving way. I also can’t wait for you to see the physical elements of this production. These amazing designers have really outdone themselves in finding a visual language to express Nick’s ideas, and their work is absolutely mesmerizing.
Particularly when it comes to new plays like If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet, I am eager to get your feedback. For several seasons, I have been asking you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t express how important these emails have been to me, and I strongly encourage you to keep them coming.
I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!
Related Categories: 2012-2013 Season
, From Todd Haimes
, If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet