"And the Sun Stood Still," the Copernicus play that I conceived 41 years ago but couldn't find the courage to start writing until 2006 -- the play I've rewritten and revised more times than I can count since then -- opened last weekend in Boulder, Colorado. I was sleepless with excitement for several nights beforehand. And perfectly delighted with the preview and premiere performances. The first review has just appeared.
So much of what I like best now in the script is the result of workshop and rehearsal collaboration with director Stephen Weitz of BETC, the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company. He helped me discover the weaknesses in the version that was published in 2011 as the heart of A More Perfect Heaven. For example, he eliminated one of my six characters. This was Franz, the sole fictional identity in a cast of otherwise real people. I had invented him for a reason, but Stephen deemed him a disturbing distraction. Absent Franz, the religious conflict and scientific content stood out more clearly. The interactions of the remaining characters became more dramatic. It was the sort of radical change I doubt I ever could have come to on my own.
Several of the BETC actors, most notably Jim Hunt as Copernicus, had participated in various staged readings of the play. Last year they read it twice at conventions in Denver -- once for the American Physical Society in April, and again in October for the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences. But the difference between a staged reading and a fully staged performance is a leap of multiple imaginations that envelop the dialogue in costumes, scenery, lights, and music. I never thought I'd see the day.