It started a number of years ago, roughly six to be exact. I had an idea for a play. I had an image in my mind of a young man, and I knew that I would name him Jeremy, after a dear college friend of mine of mine named Jeremy (Mimi) Bradley. (Yes, she's a girl). I always loved her name...
In any case, I went over to the Thompson Free Library with my laptop and pounded out a draft in two days or so. The aesthetic of the play was influenced by "The Incident at San Bajo" by Brad Korbesmeyer, and by one of my favorite novels, "As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner. I've had people since tell me that it reminds them of "The Laramie Project", but I am almost embarrassed to admit that I had not read nor seen that play at the time that I wrote "The ReProgramming of Jeremy".
I produced the play myself (which I was proud of myself for accomplishing, as I had never done such a thing before), and had two performances at Lakewood Theater, and a few at the Center Theatre in Dover-Foxcroft, all performances followed by a discussion. My little play made the cover of the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, above the fold, with a headline, "A Play For Our Times". The initial cast included myself, Alyson Saunders, Raelene Keniston, Michael Pullen, Hannah Louise (and later, Marisa Bradford in that part), Lucas Boffin, and Sue Burke McKay. The play, which is about a gay teen named Jeremy who has ended his life after being sent to a "straight camp" was written in reaction to terrible stories I kept reading in the news. After we had such good press, I received a bunch of emails, calling my play (which hadn't even been performed yet) a "gay puff piece", while others questioned the definition of bullying, and others still saying gay teen suicide wasn't an issue.
Shortly before we premiered at Lakewood Theater, a young man named Jamey Rodemeyer ended his life after being bullied constantly at his school. This really hit me and my cast in a big way.
So, anyhow, that was the beginning of my "Jeremy" journey, and Jeremy has not been out of my head much since. The play has been performed by a brave and wonderful high school theatre teacher named David Valdes in both New Hampshire and Florida. And there is a motion picture adaptation of the play coming from one of the scripts biggest fans, Gail Springer Wagner, who has worked hard and put a lot of love into the project, with a great group of people.
I decided, with the motion picture so close at hand, to at last lay down a definitive edition of the play. It has changed a great deal since the first production. There are two new characters who now seem to me as vital as the original characters always were. Even since writing the screenplay, I have gone back to the play and changed and tinkered, and, hopefully deepened the characters--- especially the teenage ones.
I probably shouldn't say this, but 7 publishers turned down this play. I tell you this in part to explain why I am releasing it myself, but also to share what is the weirdest thing that has happened to me in my publishing career. Everyone who turned down the play sent me a personal note. 5 of them told me that they loved the play, loved the writing, but didn't think it would sell because of the subject matter. One publisher (I won't say which one), told me that the play made them weep at the end. And one offered to publish it if I removed any talk of religion from the play and cut it down by fifty percent, and I simply couldn't do that.
So here it is--- the definitive, final draft of "The ReProgramming of Jeremy"... let's call it the movie tie-in edition. Now I can put the poor boy and his haunted family and friends to rest.
I don't know if this is my best work to date, but I do think it contains some of the best writing I have ever done. I appreciate anyone who wants to read it purchasing a copy, and anyone who might be interested in producing it to purchase a copy, read it, and contact me.
For every copy that is sold, I am donating $1 to The It Gets Better Project, a great project dedicating to helping LGBT youth and preventing teen suicide.
Thanks for listening to my rambling note. I hope you like the play.