The Parallel Nightmare

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by Gabriel Graetz, dramaturg

Nick Sulfaro, who plays George Spelvin in The Actor’s Nightmare, found this fascinating passage in the autobiographical introduction to Christopher Durang Explains It All For You. It parallels George’s story to an uncanny degree:

“I was taught by nuns until seventh grade, when I switched to an all-boys Catholic prep school taught by very  intelligent and nice Benedictine priests. I briefly attempted to be a juvenile delinquent and smoked Marlboros for about a month but stopped, as I was very short and looked silly.
“The school was on the grounds of a monastery, and my junior and senior years I spent a few weekends joining in the daily routine of the monastery. Prayers, then breakfast, then prayers, then lunch, then prayers, then dinner, then  prayers, then sleep. I found the predictability quite attractive. I was going to join the monastery right after high  school, but they said I should wait. And then I just stopped believing in all those things, and I never did join the  monastery. I became a depressed undergraduate.”

Compare this to George’s monologue (p. 21):

“Line. Nunnery. As a child, I was taught by nuns, and then in high school I was taught by Benedictine priests. I really rather liked the nuns, they were sort of warm, though they were fairly crazy too.”

“Line.”

“I liked the priests also. The school was on the grounds of the monastery, and my junior and senior years I spent a  few weekends joining in the daily routine of the monastery- prayers,then breakfast, then prayers, then lunch, then  prayers, then dinner, then prayers, then sleep. I found the predictability quite attractive. And the food was good.  And if there is a God, and an afterlife, and an inner life of the soul, then the monastery had everything in the proper order. And if there isn’t all those things, it’s still a very restful way to live.”

“I was going to join the monastery after high school, but they said I was too young and should wait. And then I just stopped believing in all those things, so I never did join the monastery.”

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The Actor’s Nightmare will be performed in the Greene Theater from November 4-7

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