“It’s a great leap of faith – and I don’t mean a religious leap of faith necessarily,” Mary Eberstadt says about her book The Loser Letters: A Comic Tale of Life, Death, and Atheism being turned into a play. “This is about trusting other people. But that riskiness is what makes theater so exciting in the first place.” She is finding out that the collaborative nature of the theater is unlike sitting at her desk writing – a difference she happily accepts. “At this point, it’s more fun than work.”
The Journey To the Stage
Mary Eberstadt hadn’t planned on her novel becoming a show. But at an event to launch the book, the author Michael Novak mentioned that it would make a great play. He could hear the young heroine A.F. Christian had a unique point of view. “He told me that the character’s voice is so powerful that it needs to be brought to life onstage.”
After that, while reading the Washington Post, she noticed a review for a production of C.S. Lewis’ book The Screwtape Letters that Jeffrey Fiske had adapted. Mary knew she had found the right person to translate her work. She met with Jeffrey at a New York event ready to talk about The Loser Letters getting The Screwtape Letters treatment. Jeffrey agreed and the book has found its way to Washington D.C for its debut this September.
Breaking the Mold of Contemporary Theater
In adapting the book, new characters have been created. This includes The Shadow – the main characters’s inner demon. “There was room in The Loser Letters for creating such a character and [Jeffrey] is the one who figured that out.” When she heard that he was looking to cast an Olympic gymnast to play the otherworldly character she “thought it was a brilliancy.”
In a few weeks The Loser Letters begins rehearsals. Now Mary is simply watching the creative process unfold. She is quick to champion the ground breaking elements of the upcoming production. “Everything about the play is out-of-the-box.” She cites the female-driven cast and creative team especially casting Silver medalist Chellsie Memmel as The Shadow and including Synetic theater’s Irina Tsikurishvili to choreograph. Even the play itself is a departure from contemporary theater. The script harkens back to George Bernard Shaw’s theater of ideas – a style that has largely gone dormant. “We’re all terrifically excited.”
Keep Up With Mary Eberstadt As She Promotes The Loser Letters