Playwright With Beautiful Use

This woman is lovely! I wondered if she had Alexander Technique lessons. Her loose limbs and expressive face go together with the absence of excess tension.

It’s hard to do any decent writing when you have a teaching job as this story notes:

“Teaching — for Ms. Edson at least — is a full-time occupation. She needs the summers, she said, to do nothing, because that makes you a more interesting person in the classroom, and writing on the side is too distracting. “The presence of fictional characters in your head, especially ones who talk, is extremely preoccupying,” she said. “And the nonfictional characters in my life are abundant.””

The New York Times reports:

MARGARET EDSON is the Harper Lee of playwrights. She has had just one play produced — “Wit,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1999 and has been revived on Broadway in a Manhattan Theater Club production starring Cynthia Nixon — and having said what she had to say, she doesn’t feel any need to try playwriting again. She occupies herself these days with projects like learning the piano and setting the multiplication table to opera choruses. She reads Dante in Italian, a canto or so every day, and once made a scale model of Paradise with the Sun-Maid raisin lady holding a basket of souls.

But Ms. Edson hasn’t entirely abandoned the theater. Her current stage — where she is the dramatist, cast, stage manager, lighting director, prop master, usher and supply clerk — is a second-floor classroom at the Inman Middle School in the Virginia Highland neighborhood here, where she teaches sixth-grade social studies.

Except for the eyes in the back of her head, which miss nothing — not even secret fiddling with a broken zipper — Ms. Edson is the kind of teacher who makes you wish you could go back and repeat middle school. In a commencement address she gave at Smith College in 2008 she called teaching a “physical, breath-based event, eye to eye,” which is another way of saying it’s a performance. She is a very tall, slender, loose-limbed woman with a wide expressive mouth, and she works the classroom like a tummler. She mugs, does voices, makes big arm gestures and frequently pauses for dramatic effect.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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