Tell The Story

With Tom’s passing comes a renewed interest in producing The Lost Boy, a storytelling/one-man-play about Tom’s ancestors and how he discovered his role in his lineage. We made a hearty run several years ago at producing the piece. Prior to that I spent two years interviewing Tom, walking through family graveyards, unpacking old boxes, looking at photos and artifacts, visiting property that used to belong to his people. We spent many late night hours drinking wine and talking story.

We started work on the play because late one night Tom turned to me and said, “I need you to help me with something.” If you knew Tom you’d know how unusual it was for him to say something like, “I need help.” I sat down and for the next several hours listened as Tom told me an incredible story of lost-ness and found-ness driven by an obligation he felt to his great grandmother. “I have to tell this story,” he said, averting his eyes and adding, “I don’t know how to satisfy my obligation to Isabelle.”

The piece was originally to be performed by Tom. After several attempts I’d written a viable draft that he liked. A terrific band, Mom’s Chili Boys composed music for the piece. In the months before our first read through I felt something was wrong with Tom. He seemed sometimes lost, occasionally disoriented. For our first read/play through of the script we invited a few friends. We had dinner, laughed a lot, and moved into the living room where the Chili Boys had set up their instruments. The reading began well. Tom was a natural storyteller and he was present and vital in the first act. The music was heart-full. And then somewhere in the second act Tom got lost. Literally. For a moment he did not know where on the planet earth he was. I saw the panic in his eyes. His wife Marcia took his hand. After a moment he returned to us though I will never forget the look of fear in his eyes. He had no idea what had just happened to him. We stumbled through the rest of the script but I knew we were too late. Tom would never be able to personally fulfill his obligation to Isabelle. He called me the next night and asked that we stop all work.

As he slipped into dementia, The Chili Boys and I revised the piece so that I would tell the story. We attempted a few half-hearted workshop performances but a roadblock always emerged. The time wasn’t right so we left it alone.

Jim, chief Chili Boy, called the other night and we talked of Tom, his passing, and the play. Jim said, “It’s time.” I pulled out the script and read it aloud. He’s right. It’s time. I have an obligation to Tom and to a woman named Isabelle to tell this story. I have an obligation to myself and to the Chili Boys to tell this story. Ironically, for me anyway, it is a story of a man finally returning to his root and at long last coming home. After my call with Jim I realized that, after the year that I’ve just lived, finding a way to return to my root story, finding my family, I’m only now capable of telling this story.

For a humorous look at the wonderful world of innovation and new ventures, check out my new comic strip Fl!p and the gang at Fl!p Comics.

One Response

  1. What an unexpected and exciting surprise. Every time I hear you tell the history of the project I learn more. I didn’t know much about the first reading and why the project came to a stop. I just knew Tom stopped it.

    A while back we talked and you were going to send me the latest script but we all got busy and it didn’t happen. If you are comfortable doing so I would love to read it.

    Happy Fall.


    Sent from my iPad


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