My mother's favorite play; she had us read it together as a family once over Christmas. Odd given the subject matter. But that's who she was... The coolest mom ever.
Cicisbeo came about after having read about the theater critic Kenneth Tynan of "Rouse tempers, goad and lacerate, raise whirlwinds" fame. It was said of Tynan he "...seemed to know all world literature and used words such as esurient, cateran, cicisbeism and eretheism". Three of those four words are currently underlined in red by spellcheck as misspelled. I love finding those types of words and was admittedly jealous that someone might actually be remembered for having a stellar vocabulary.
Anyhow, I had been writing for a year and was still very high on living in New York. I'd written five plays by that time I'll probably never read again, but found myself gravitating towards period pieces with heightened language. Just that one word - cicisbeo - was enough to write an entire play around. My sixth play, but in many ways my first.
A great friend I'd recently made, Neil Totton, told me to stop bullshitting and pick a play to have read. I'd just finished Cicisbeo so he took it and ran. He locked down and space and introduced me to a brilliant director. He raised a whirlwind. Actors, rehearsals, wine, rehearsals, wine, rehearsals, wine...
What resulted was still one of the best nights of my life. We had a cast of some of the finest actors I've had
the fortune of working with, a small space at New World Stages on 49th, just a block from our first apartment in the city, my parents made the trip, the heating went out that night forcing everyone to cuddle together during the reading... It was a blast, and solidified my intent to write as often as possible forever after.
Cicisbeo will likely be lost to time as I've pilfered some of the best moments for other projects and have a grand plan for the premise up my sleeve as well. But that cold night watching from the back of the room gave me my first true sense of what theater can be. Theater for theater's sake.
Forever dedicated to my mother.
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