BWW Interviews: Jennifer Decker and Diana Amsterdam Talk CARNIVAL ROUND THE CENTRAL FIGURE

Continuing their 2013-14 season, Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre Company is producing Diana Amsterdam’s CARNIVAL ROUND THE CENTRAL FIGURE. In the play, Kate visits the deathbed of a close friend and through a series of theatrical dreams and nightmares must acknowledge that no matter how much denial, positive thinking or prayer people practice to avoid death, the existential fears that every human being holds about the end of life will result in the same end… death. In anticipation of the play’s opening, I chatted with Jennifer Decker, Mildred’s Umbrella’s Artistic Director and Director of the show, and playwright Diana Amsterdam about the piece.


Diana Amsterdam: A cousin-in-law of mine was deathly ill. I went to visit him in the hospital. His wife and family members sat around the bed, and chatted, and chatted. They never really looked at him or acknowledged him. I let my glance stray to his face, and I saw terror, loneliness, and a fixed, teeth-chattering grin. The disparity between the chirping, chattering family and the dying man in bed was just shocking.

A few days later, I arrived at the hospital a little after visiting hours, and somehow wasn’t stopped as I made my way to his room. He was alone, and I saw in his demeanor – his face, his body, everything – that he had gone some place I couldn’t go: like that look newborn babies get when they seem to focus on something far away. He sat up suddenly and made the most horrible sound of anguish. I really wanted to run away. But, I was there; I was the only one there. I stepped forward toward him, and told him that it was okay, that he was okay… and that it was okay to die. I held him in my arms.

This experience stayed with me and became the basis of the play.

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