This week on Spread the Love, Lindsay talks about The Bright Blue Mailbox Suicide Note, as well as her experience with a production of the play at the Arizona State Thespian Festival.
Welcome to this week’s Spread the Love. This week I am at the Arizona State Thespian Festival, I’m just about to teach a workshop – there’s all my materials. And we’re going to talk about, or I’m going to talk about The Bright Blue Mailbox Suicide Note. This play is one of my oldest. It’s the one I’ve seen the most in production. It’s one of the most often controversial, people don’t like to talk about suicide, particularly with teenagers. There was a production in Woodstock many years ago, where the parents tried to stop the play they said their kids were getting too depressed. And I remember the teacher telling me that the kids stood up and said ‘No, no, no, no. It’s not making us depressed, it’s making us talk about depression.’
So, the play is very self explanatory in the title. The main character, Jake, he finds a suicide note in his mailbox on blue paper. He gets very obsessed with trying to find out who wrote it, what was going on, where did it come from. And what he actually ends up finding out is a secret about one of his best friends that he didn’t want to know and he doesn’t know how to deal with.
There was a production here at the Arizona State Festival of Bright Blue which I got to see last night. It was really thrilling. It was really thrilling to see them handle the tough emotional moments. At the adjudication, the adjudicator asked them, ‘How many of you have exposure to suicide, either with friends or family or school mates?’ More than half of the students raised their hands. And I really got the impression that this experience was more than a play to them. It’s not therapy by any means. But it was the right time and I had four kids come up to me, sorry four students, teenagers not kids, and say thank you for writing this play. It’s not a cure for cancer, it’s a play. And I got to be a part, with my play, of their experience. And that is something really special.
The most important thing about this play is that while it is an issue play and the issue is at the core, it’s a piece of theatre. Issue plays must be theatrical and this one has lots and lots of theatre in it. There are also a variety of emotions. This is not a sob fest which is also very important in issue plays. There are laughs. Some people laugh in the face of tragedy and that is so important to show. It’s so important to have variety. I love this play and I encourage you to go and check it out.
That’s it for Spread the Love!