Celebrating 10 Years of Writers on a New England Stage: Memorable Moments

What strikes me most working with authors, however, is not the challenges we face as as producers, but the daunting challenge each author faces when he/she takes the stage:  the bravery of turning long-lived-with private thoughts, fictional characters, research, beliefs and fanciful plot, into first, a book; and then a presentation fit for an audience of 900 readers. 

An author gets to Writers on a New England Stage by way of very hard work. I feel, I know, that each author has a treasure trove of insight, wisdom, and convictions to share. When I am with an author backstage or working in advance with his/her publisher, I’m always listening and asking questions. I’m hoping for entertainment, education, and inspiration—and, over 10 years, I’ve rarely been disappointed. I hear from WNES audience members that they feel the same way. There is so much to learn from these authors and their nights with us, so much to delight in and to take away for yourself…and for others.

John Irving said that in each of his novels he works through a major American social and political issue. Backstage he confided that his works mostly resolve these issues for him as they’ve been resolved for our country, but he remains deeply worried still about the issue of abortion in our country. As portrayed in The Cider House Rules. Now, I’m worried too. Tracy Kidder’s remarkable book about the mission of Dr. Paul Farmer has forever changed the way I view medicine in developing countries. Journalist Anna Quindlen has inspired me and so many other women. And who will ever look at the stock market the same after hearing from Michael Lewis?  Through WNES I have relearned history with writers Bill Bryson, Erik Larson, David McCullough, and Doris Kearns Goodwin. They have also set me off on conversations with older generations and, as well, helped me plan for my next family vacation.  My popularity among the 20-somethings shot forward when I got a goodbye kiss on the cheek from screenwriter-TV actor BJ Novak.

It’s hard to count ten years of such fun and such wisdom gained. What we do here, in this series, is beyond just enrichment. By celebrating these brave authors, their brilliantly created and sometimes very personal works, we give voice to American culture today; and through listening to them, learning and acting too, we as producers and audience members find our place in that culture.