A SONG FOR MY FATHER

A SONG FOR MY FATHER

a new play

by

David Budbill

SYNOPSIS OF THE PLAY

A SONG FOR MY FATHER is a memory play inside the mind and heart of Randy Wolf, Frank Wolf’s son. It takes place in Cleveland, Ohio, from 1915 to 1998.

Act I begins shortly after Frank has entered a nursing home. Then through a series of scenes and conversations which are flashbacks to before Randy’s mother, Ruth, died, to when Randy was in college, to Randy’s early childhood, and including an actual knockdown, drag-out fight at the end of Act I, Frank and Randy confront the past, how irritable and angry they are with each other and how much they love each other.

Act II begins with Randy’s visit to meet his father’s new bride, Ivy. The remainder of Act II takes place in a nursing home.

A SONG FOR MY FATHER is about growing old and dying, Frank’s loneliness and Randy’s guilt. It’s about men and women, the meaning of marriage, class-consciousness in America and memory.

A SONG FOR MY FATHER is about a father and son and about the attachments and conflicts between them and how time and education separate them.

Running time for A SONG FOR MY FATHER is about 50 minutes for Act I and about 45 minutes for Act II.

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Excerpts from Reviews

David Budbill’s new play A Song for My Father is a stunner, a powerful work that’s both a painful analysis of and a loving elegy for a flawed patriarch. . . It’s also such a strong play because it never takes a cheap shot at honesty even as the father and son are taking cheap shots at each other. . . A Song for My Father is a heavy play broken by tremendous touches of humor. . . Budbill has created a work that aspires to classic heights while staying true to his own life and, in many ways, the lives of everyone.

Brent Hallenbeck
The Burlington (VT) Free Press
April 24, 2010

 

Budbill’s somewhat autobiographical story of his relationship with his father during the latter’s final years is powerful not only for its authenticity but for its universality. . . . Although there are tough moments in this intense drama, there’s plenty of humor. Particularly funny – and realistic – are Frank’s sexual overtures to the buxom nurse in his nursing home. There is also plenty of humor as we see ourselves in this psychologically accurate drama. . . . David Budbill’s A Song for My Father is dramatic theater at its best.

Jim Lowe
The Sunday Barre (VT) Times Argus/Rutland (VT) Herald
April 25, 2010

 

Budbill weaves humor into the convincing dialogue, so the net effect of this drama is far from depressing but curiously hopeful . . . . A Song for My Father is a preview of what we all will experience sooner or later, if we haven’t already, and it well embodies one of the primary functions of theatre in particular and art in general, which is to create a mirror in which we can see ourselves more clearly.

David K.Rodgers
The Hardwick (VT) Gazette
April 28, 2010

 

David Budbill’s new play is brilliant and powerful and explores areas within difficult relationships that people often don’t want to explore. The play is a tribute in a way, but it’s not a comfortable thing to watch. . . . Don’t go to see A Song for My Fatherif you are looking for an evening of light or mindless entertainment. You will leave the theatre emotionally drained and yet weirdly hopeful and wanting to talk to your father or your son, or anyone else in your life remotely resembling a family member.

 Bethany Dunbar
The Chronicle (Barton, VT)
April 28, 2010

 

Budbill has far too much class and appreciation for reality to sugarcoat an ending, but he also avoids gratuitous grief. It was clear just by listening to those around me that the play had achieved precisely what the playwright wanted, “to release powerful feelings of sadness, foreboding and grief and in the process, like the blues, make you feel better, refreshed, lighter, even happier.” The standing ovation and demand for a second curtain call is testimony to the play, the players, and the production team who have given central Vermont a show, which falls into the rare category of “must see” theater.

 Charlie McMeekin
The Herald of Randolph (VT)
April 29, 2010

 

If you’re interested in powerful, thoughtful acting, and a heart-rending story that tackles life’s biggest questions head-on, go. . . . David Budbill’s new play isn’t light, happy fare. It’s serious theater. It will prompt big thoughts. . . . Budbill masterfully succeeds in connecting his characters’ lives with the big questions of our time: Jobs and the environment, unemployment and the rage of the increasingly alienated American worker. . . . The play is clearly Budbill’s paean to his father, but it’s also a gift of self-contemplation from the playwright-poet-philosopher to the rest of us.

 Biddle Duke
Stowe (VT) Reporter
May 6, 2010

Lost Nation Theater’s presentation of David Budbill’s play, A Song for My Father, is not about pleasure or entertainment. It’s a work of art whose primary concern is with truth–the truth unflinchingly told about the reality of a son’s painfully unfulfilled relationship with his father . . . a powerful play about a son’s struggle to come to terms with himself and his father.

 Tom Mulholland
The Bridge (Montpelier, VT)
May 6, 2010

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THEATREGOERS COMMENTS ON 
A SONG FOR MY FATHER

That is a strong, funny, biting, very human play! Way up the ladder. Thomas Wolfe was wrong.

Peter Miller

 

Amazing . . . you speak the truth, right into my heart, deep down inside, places I have been, places I am, and some places I hope to never be!

Nick DeFriez

 

I was so moved by your play. At times, art transforms the very personal into a truth intensely personal to others. For me your play was a fearless work of art. . . . I’m grateful for your courage in writing it, and honored to have seen it.

Amy Rahn

 

Thank you for the gift of your writing and your capacity and generosity in putting such a difficult yet (often) common subject into honest words and acts.

Marion Stegner

 

I broke into tears with the last few words, but left with that honest purged feeling–not to be confused with the feeling of being a sucker to bathos. . . . I’ve recommended your play to all my friends. There is something in it for everyone.

Stephanie Herrick

The totally amazing thing about last night is that even though moments were so intense as to be physically daunting from a second-row vantage point; even though tears flowed not once but twice; even though the ending connected me to my own pain as one of my dearest friends who is being taken from me and her many loved ones through dementia; even with all of that power and challenge, today I am not sad. I found lightness and a sense of peace after an evening spent swimming through the muck of the blues. This is a monumental achievement. Thank you, David.

Caro Thompson

Thank you for A Song for My Father.  It touched me so much. . . .  I’m sure you hear this a lot, but having gone through this with my mother’s Alzheimer’s was a long journey and I recognized a fellow traveler last night. Thanks for not being sentimental about it.

Linda Radtke

While watching your play I thought a lot about the roots of drama and literature and how primal our need for them is.  This was especially poignant for me when Randy has his mother and father act out a scene within the play.  I loved how the mother was invited into the space of the play, to exist there with the son and enlisted in the project of reconstructing and interpreting the past.  And the complexities of the father and son relationship, their love and resentments were rendered beautifully and without the glaze of sentimentality . . . . And the actors were wonderful. Hats off to you on having written such a compelling work!

Zelda Alpern

I thought it was superb. . . .We were all very moved. Are there plans for a production in New York?

Robert Barasch

The play [is] a powerful encounter with life events that many of us have experienced. . . . In a fine and deftly calibrated way, and through exquisite acting, the play enables us to face such a sitz im leben without blinking. . . in facing that situation straight on. . . . Thank you for tending to the common ventures, in the life of common people.

Jack Bremer

The play successfully communicates something honest and moving about both pain and enduring love in even the most conflicted family relationships. . . this play speaks to something common in all our experience.

Keith Alan Deutsch

 

. . . I was also interested in the audience’s response, which was always varied and diverse. This came out strongest in the hospital scenes, where the audience was divided between those who had experienced such a scene in their own lives, . . . or had never been through it. Some found comedy . . . gasped or moaned in sad recognition (no comedy for them), others I think were bestilled by the closeness to home in their current . . .  situation.

The overall dynamic between child and parent, the baggage carried from childhood into adulthood, . . . was strongly written, and the actors carried it well. I loved the diversity within the characters — not black and white, but complex.

My dad wondered at how much of what we saw was autobiographical. I suggested that whether or not it was the writer’s autobiography, it is clearly a collective autobiography . . . .

Rob Faivre

 

. . . What has been most interesting [since seeing the play] is the number of conversations, thoughtful, serious and reflective, that I have had with several people. Thank you for the power of your words and emotions. All of us who experienced the play came away with more than we brought.

Ginny McGrath

 

I thought your play was very powerful. I was not alone. One lady I talked with the day after I saw the play said she got as far as her car and burst into tears. . . . the 2nd act was uncanny in its accuracy . . . [it] made me cringe as it should have.

Bill  Blachly

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The World Premier Production

Directed by Andrew Doe

Featuring:

John Alexander, Tara Lee Downs,

Robert Nuner & Ruth Wallman

 

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Production History

The Western Stage, Hartnell College, Salinas, California, November 2, 3, 8, 9, 16, 17, 22, 23, 2013

Old Castle Theatre Company, Bennington, VT, August 20-September 5, 2010

Lost Nation Theatre, Montpelier, VT, April 22-May 9, 2010