ROBERT SCHENKKAN

PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING PLAYWRIGHT & SCREENWRITER

Opening Night of THE 12

I thought writing plays was hard. And then I wrote a musical.

Tonight, THE 12 opens at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. My collaborator (Neil Berg, Music and co-lyrics) and I have been working on this for seven years. THE 12 has been workshopped in Manhattan at the China Club (twice), BB King’s in Times Square, the Signature Theater, across the river at the Riverdale Performance Center, at St. Joe’s High School in New Jersey, and in Ft. Lauderdale at the Broward Center. We were scheduled to have our premiere at the San Jose Rep and hired designers and begun casting when SJR suddenly announced they were bankrupt. At that point I gave the script to Doug Langworthy, Lit Manager at DCPA, and he showed it Kent Thompson who was looking for “something unusual…” And here we are.

I have wrestled with my own ambivalence about this musical for many years mostly because it reflects my own profound spiritual ambivalence. Belief has always seemed to me to an intensely private issue, which is probably why I belong in the Groucho Marx category, “I don’t care to belong to any club that would have me as a member.” And yet here I’ve written a musical about it. If we have succeeded it’s because THE 12 focuses on something everyone has shared at one time or another,  the very human experience of a “Dark Night of the Soul” -  that moment when the idea, movement, cause, or relationship into which you have put everything, fails completely. How do you go forward after that? There are no Big Miracles here. Just the small daily miracle where we rise up – flawed, flailing, failing – and determine, once again, to try to be more compassionate, a little braver about speaking up against injustice, and above all, more loving. That, it seems to me, is worth singing about.

See you at the Opening.