Back in July of 2014, I started working on a new piece I was calling HOLDEN. At that point it was going to be about three major assassinations of the 1980’s that were linked to the novel The Catcher in the Rye. As I was gathering together a group of collaborators and co-conspirators to join me in the workshop, my father – a theater artist himself – started getting curious. Curious in the way where it was obvious he wanted in. He loves Catcher more than most people I know. He told me once that there was a time in his twenties when he was pretty set on killing himself, and that Catcher was one of the novels that kept him from the brink. One day he even said, “You know what I think your play needs? An older Holden.” And of course, my first reaction, was “No. No. No. Absolutely not.”
My dad is one of the founding members of Touchstone Theatre, an ensemble theater company based in Bethlehem, PA, and both my brother and I spent the majority of our childhood watching him work or working with him. The thought of us working together always propels me back to some dark touring days and an awkward adolescence I never wish to relive. But somehow the thought of “an older Holden” took root in me. Maybe this older Holden was the original creator of Holden himself – the hermetic, and inimitable J.D. Salinger.
That first July we worked on the project, I invited my dad to come down for one rehearsal, and right away there felt like there was something important in the space – a kind of dramatic backbone we could build the piece around. By the time we had reached the second workshop in March, 2015 I had written a draft and it looked like some kind of incarnation of an older Holden was going to play a pretty integral part.
Today, in regards to the question, “How’s HOLDEN going?”, or “How’s HOLDEN different?”, or even “How are you?” – the answer “I’M DIRECTING MY DAD!” has been right there ready to leap out at anybody who asked. At some point it occurred to me that, before this show was done, it would be good to corral us both into an audio booth and squeeze a good hour long confession out of both of us. But if that was the case, I was probably going to have to hogtie the dialogue myself. And so I did. Here it goes – 75 minutes between my dad and I in a South Philly closet (it was the quietest place we could find).