Second debut

On Tuesday, October 4, the official publication date of A More Perfect Heaven, "And the Sun Stood Still" enjoyed its second debut in the town where I live. It felt good to launch the new book with a staged reading of the play inside it, right here at home, among family and friends -- and under my son's professional direction. His sister, Zoë, and I were both very proud.

I think it's fair to call this event a "second debut" because the play changed a great deal from the first reading of the first draft, held here on May 22, 2007. Most of the same actors returned to resume their roles, I'm happy to say. Thanks to Hugh King, Trevor Vaughn, Peter Fitzgerald, Josh Gladstone, Kate Mueth, and Max Tabet for their fine performances.

Neither of these evenings would have been possible without the support -- without the existence -- of The Naked Stage and its home at Guild Hall in East Hampton, New York. As the name suggests, The Naked Stage offers straightforward readings of plays, without scenery or lighting effects, almost every Tuesday evening in fall, winter and spring, free and open to the public. Founder Josh Perl engages the community in choosing the plays to be read, volunteering as actors, and attending with enthusiasm. Four years ago, when he learned that I -- one of his Tuesday night regulars -- was writing a play, he scheduled me for the season finale and played the part of the printer who published Copernicus's book.

I'm glad Josh is still speaking to me after I eliminated his role in the course of rewriting. With typical grace and good humor, he agreed to read stage directions this time.

Thanks, too, to our local book store, BookHampton, for setting up temporary shop in the Guild Hall lobby to sell copies of A More Perfect Heaven.

In the audience of familiar faces, I was particularly gratified to find my editor and publisher, George Gibson of Bloomsbury - Walker & Co., who drove out from Manhattan for the occasion. An even longer-distance visitor was Will Andrewes, organizer of the 1993 Longitude Symposium that cemented our friendship and changed both our lives. Will arrived just before show-time from Concord, Massachusetts with his daughter, Elizabeth, and returned there immediately afterward.

Bertram Kalisher, publisher of Chronos Magazine, brought his wife Marcie, of course, and also a tellurium clock that enlivened the intermission with its mechanical representation of Copernicus's cosmic conception.