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"Front Room" Audio on Play4Keeps Podcast
May 15, 2020
Enjoy listening to this audio podcast of Richard Kalinoski's new play, "Front Room". You can listen to a reading of the play with notes on Play4Keeps Podcast. Listen here.
Sandra, a middle-aged woman who is a professor of theater at a small college, attempts to safeguard her irascible mother, who is a desperate hoarder. While Sandra begins preparations to direct a production of The Glass Menagerie, a clever, non-traditional student who is a veteran of Iraq enters her life. Abby, Sandra’s mother, jealous and lonely, discovers surreptitious ways to obstruct her daughter’s opportunity for meaningful connection.
This play began some years ago. I was inspired by a friend who became increasingly responsible for an aging mother who was unpredictable and not mentally well.
My work on Front Room intensified when I discovered the relevance of the archetypal novel Jane Eyre to the circumstances of my main character Sandra. The tone of Charlotte Brontë’s novel—an atmosphere of quiet desperation—struck me as fundamental to Sandra’s life: her growing isolation as she fights to somehow gather patience and kindness in the face of her mother’s overwhelming hoarding…the symbol of which is her exhausting, unsightly front room.
The play asks: what are the limitations of duty and fealty to a parent? What does the adult child owe her mother? And regarding the twisted notions of “happiness” that most of us cling to in our lives…do we have a right, or maybe an obligation, to pursue them? These are questions that vex me. For me, plays are an attempt to wrestle rigorously with difficult things: in this case, self-sacrifice side-by-side with loneliness. Front Room also makes space for the absurdly comic, where the odd trip over an unlikely object might bring forth sad laughter.