Adrienne Kennedy / People Who Led to My Plays / 1987

Adrienne Kennedy

Adrienne Kennedy’s memoir People Who Led to My Plays is composed entirely of fragments of remembered people, places, things, etc. The fragments must have led to the person she is and the plays she writes. But how? It’s not always one-to-one, and that’s part of what makes the book so compelling.

For example:

“Zombies, mummies, the Cat Woman, ghouls, ghosts, vampires, monsters, werewolves: And Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney (the single most frightening movie monster), the Wolf Man. Because of the Wolf Man I asked my mother many questions about what would happen to “a person” while sleeping. And I asked her these questions for a long time. The Wolf Man held a power over me. Metamorphosis and that change of identity would, twenty years later, become a theme that would dominate my writing. The characters in my plays and stories would also change personae at an alarming rate.”

Followed by the next thing:

“The people in my mother’s red scrapbook: I yearned to know them.”

And speaking of mystery, sometimes her comments are as brief and evocative as that: one is simply the word, mystery. There’s an implicit question for every fragment: how will this thing, this experience, this impression, this obsession, show up in my work? In what way does it constitute – – me?

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