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'Kurt Vonnegut's Make Up Your Mind' opens in Boston. But whose play is it, anyway?

October 30, 2013

When the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library presented a reading of Kurt Vonnegut's "Happy Birthday, Wanda June," it was described as the author's "only play." And that's been the party line on the work that premiered off-Broadway in 1970.

Since then, Vonnegut works have been adapted for the stage (see last August's "Welcome to the Monkey House" at IndyFringe and the upcoming "Who Am I This Time?" at the IRT). But having your work adapted isn't the same as writing a play.

So what should we make of "Kurt Vonnegut's Make Up Your Mind," opening Oct. 30 at Boston's SpeakEasy Stage Company?

According to the theater, there was a reading of the play in East Hampton in 1989 and a workshop of it in New York in 1993. After that, the script sat in a drawer. Nicky Silver, who wrote the hit play "The Lyons" (seen last season at the Phoenix Theatre) gets "assembled by" credit, having pieced it together from 11 different Vonnegut drafts. One conceit: He added Vonnegut himself as a character, using Vonnegut's own essays to create his dialogue.

Whoever's play it is, I'm fascinated. And look forward to reading the reviews.

As to the show's future, program notes from the theater quote Silver as saying "My conversations with the producing team have indicated that they're excited about the potential for a commercial run on Broadway. We'd love to see the show have a life after SpeakEasy."

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