“That’s how we win the universe” – Lauren Gunderson

Lauren“The Wedding of Veronika and Sean

 a la Lauren Gunderson, their biggest fan

 

Prologue!

 As we begin the exuberance of this day celebrating two joyful, kind-hearted, creative, resilient, smart,

and very attractive theatre artists…

I would feel remiss I didn’t say….

Please turn off your cellphones and unwrap any hard candies, note the exits (which are basically anywhere), lean back and enjoy the…

Fact that we are gathered here today

because of two incredible people…

and the fundamental forces of the universe.

Atoms from the centers of far off and long gone stars have crashed through chemical reactions large and small to land us in the wonder of consciousness and community right here and right now. Out of those ancient relationships of space, time, and energy comes

not just life, but the truly mysterious, confounding overwhelm of love.

Because Love? Is totally unnecessary.

Atoms don’t need it, photosynthesis doesn’t need it, even human reproduction doesn’t actually need it.

A truly rare thing in the universe, rarer than life itself,

is love. Which is pretty great for us.

Well done, humans! What a win, right? What a get!

But what do we do with it, this strange and beautiful accident of chemistry and biology?

Well. We should probably use it. A lot.

We should love each other, we should make peace,

and make jokes, and make a bunch of art.

That’s how we win the universe.

And that’s exactly why we’re here today.

To celebrate the – I’m gonna go ahead and say – cosmic love of Veronika and Sean.

This love is shared with each other, with all us gathered here, and with all of those people we so very much wish were here. And it’s even shared with those wild little atoms that have journeyed so long and won’t ever realize the wonder of which they are a part.

But we do.
Now let’s get these two married. ” – Lauren Gunderson

LAUREN GUNDERSON

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“For Veronika and Sean On Their Best-Dressed Day” by Topher Payne

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“With love and admiration from your pal Topher

My parents met at age nineteen, eloped after six weeks, and have been married for forty-three years. Imagine, just for a moment, the horrible example this set for their children. I grew up thinking their experience was normal, which led to a series of romantic pairings that could charitably be described as “overly-optimistic.”

We are artists. We want to experience the world, to challenge it and test its resistance. We want to be our most authentic selves and speak unfiltered truth. And who the hell would want to live with that?

So sometimes it takes us longer to become marriage material.

In life, it’s tempting to look back and say, If I could do it over again, I would’ve said this, or done that, or not set that fire, but ultimately, every step you’ve taken- everyone you’ve loved, everyone you’ve lost, every choice- has brought you here. Which makes it a journey worth celebrating, because look where we are.

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You managed to find someone in each other who sees you for everything you are, everything you want to say and do, and amazingly, they really wanna live with that.

Sean, Veronika. Marriage, if you nurture it, is awesome. Someone is always on your side. This is particularly handy when you are completely in the wrong, because that’s when having someone on your side really matters.

This is not the most important day of your life together. This is the best-dressed day of your life together. On the most important day, you’re going to have a bad moment. It’ll be your worst moment. You’ll still love each other, but you won’t like each other much. You will be afraid, and you will say things borne out of fear, because we are achingly human. It is what we do.

You will ask, maybe just in your head, maybe out loud, if you’re capable of keeping the promise you made today. And on that most important day, exhausted and wounded, you will decide the answer is yes. You are better together than you could ever be apart. On the most important day, you will truly feel the full weight of committing your life to another person, and you will decide it is totally worth it.

Love is not the solution to all of life’s problems. Love is the reason you look for solutions. Some days will be filled with joy. Other days, less so. The constant is not happiness, the constant is the partnership. Face the challenges of life as a team, without blame. And when you feel fear or uncertainty, admit it.

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All of us have gathered here for your best-dressed day- some of us using an iron for the first time in recent memory- for a simple reason: In a world filled with uncertainty, we believe in this union. It fortifies us, it brings us joy. We know without question that with the two of you joining forces, working as a team, doing what you do best- making art, telling stories, nurturing communities- the world we live in will be a better place. And we are grateful.

You have frustratingly little control over the length of time you’ll have together, but you have absolute control over the quality of it. So, whenever and however you can, save the best of yourselves for each other.

It takes a lifetime to really learn to love someone properly. We’re so glad you’ve decided to learn together.” – Topher Payne

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Tonight’s game, my Dad and the Washington Redskins.

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My family is a Washington Redskins family. We always have been.

In the trued clichéd but beautiful dynamic of sports, I remember many awkward conversations with my grandmother – where we couldn’t really find anything to talk about, so we made small talk until we finally landed on the current QB crisis of the Redskins (Jay Schroeder?). Then with amazing ease we were two friends chatting and laughing, sighing, shaking our heads and hoping THIS was the year they turned it around.

Years later, when my father and I went to games at RFK, we would always stop on every level as we walked to our seats – when my father and his dad went, they also had paused on each level. My grandfather had a bad heart, so he had to stop frequently to catch his breath. That’s what my Dad remembers from the games. A stop on every level with his Dad on the way to their seats. So when we went, we did the same. We’d stand there quietly for about 30-45 second. My Dad would hold my hand, stare at the field, breath deeply – then we’d walk up another level.   Luckily we had cheap enough seats that this ritual got to be repeated several times before we arrived at our destination.

The first time we did this, I remember my father sitting down, me in his seat, him in his Dad’s, and then bursting into tears.

I had flown up from college, and we spent the day at the game – arriving in time for warm ups, and then watching the Redskins kick a field goal, as time expired, to beat the Houston Oilers (remember them?). Doug Williams was phenomenal, scrambling like we’d never seen a quarterback scramble before. We laughed and cheered all the way out with our fellow Skins fans . My dad bought me a pennant; it still hangs in my kitchen today.

Years later, as he was fighting Parkinsons, and it was clear that his time of being mobile was coming to a close, we tried to attend one more game. I flew down to my parent’s place in South Florida, and we got tickets to the Skins/Bucs. The night before we drove into Tampa, stayed at a hotel by the stadium, so he could rest, and got to the stadium real early the next morning.

At the time I don’t think I realized how nervous my father was about the game. He hadn’t had to be in a public, loud, crowded place in a few years. We got there hours early, so we could find our seats, eat, and get settled before people arrived.

While waiting, we played cards in the shade, talking about the Redskins – actually, since my father had been sick for several years, he hadn’t really followed the Redskins of the current day, so we talked about the older Redskin teams. We talked about how George Allen had put together a team of veterans, and former Rams players, in hopes of making one last run for a championship. Everyone really thought that was gonna be the year they turned it around.

We didn’t make it to kick-off.

It was sunny, and that’s not good when you have Parkinson’s. It was crowded, and hot. But mostly, his health was failing him – a few hours of card games was all he had in him. As the game was about to begin, my Dad leaned over and urgently said “I have to go”, so we did, no questions asked. He was asleep in the car before we pulled out of the parking lot. We were home a few hours later and he slept the rest of the day. Only then did I realize what a physical crucible it must have been to just go to the stadium and play cards. It must have taken everything he had.

I knew at that point that he would never travel again, at least to a large public place like this. And, for the most part, I was right.

One of the last phone calls we had was about the Redskins. I don’t know how we got on it – but we did, as we always did, and even though it was hard to understand my Dad on the phone, he was working really hard to get the message across. He was talking about his Dad and him going to a game, and how it really was an exciting development when Vince Lombardi came to coach. Man, they really thought that was gonna be the year they turned it around. He had a complicated relationship with his father, who didn’t talk much, but my Grandfather had always loved to talk about the Redskins – so that was how they connected.

I watch Redskins games alone now. Feels private, feels personal. Also, I pace too much and get too nervous for other people to be a part of it.

My dad would be thrilled with RG3. He’d remind him of Doug Williams, the way he could scramble and turn a dead play into plus yardage. They way he spreads hope. He’d make my Dad hopeful.

And honestly, really, with RG3, and now with Jay Gruden, I think this is the year we turn it around.

 

Back in the (former) USSR

Hey friends,

Day One is wrapping up of the Baltic-American Playwrights Conference trip.

After three flights we are in Tallinn, Estonia. Huzzah!

Jessie Wortham, one of my all time favorite people, brunnettes and actors got in at the same time as me so we walked around in an attempt to beat the jet-lag. Hydrate, coffee and walk was the plan….after taking the red-eye here last night I think we’re champs for making it thru the day.

So, The team is finally all together (playwright got in from Finland, other actors arrived) – in the morning we take a bus, a two hour boat and another bus to make it to Hiiumaa Island where the workshop is. Then we’ll meet the other artistic teams, and start getting to work on making our show….Double Huzzah!

Here’s some pics from arriving and today’s jet-lag fueled walk-about.

More tomorrow as we dive in.

Sean

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