A biographical play about a man who abandons his family
A highly acclaimed and successful man divorces his wife and goes away, leaving behind two young kids constantly bewildered by a spate of unanswered questions. The children grow up nurturing fantasies about their father and eagerly hoping for his return. When Salt Lake writer and journalist, Elaine Jarvik, was faced with a similar situation, she got together with her children and wrote a play. The play “A Man Enters” premieres this November with the Salt Lake Acting Company.
“When we amiably ended our marriage about twenty years ago,” recalls Elaine talking about her divorce with Dr. Robert Jarvik, “he went away to New York and lost all contact with his children,” also mentioning that her children (now in their thirties) haven’t reconnected with their father since the divorce. The children, according to Elaine, have always thought about their dad, fantasized about him and wondered if he would ever show up to see them.
Inspired by their own story, Elaine and daughter Kate Jarvik Birch have scripted the play “A Man Enters,” in which Rosie, a woman in her thirties, is trying to create the perfect birthday party for her grandmother in hopes that her father, Peter, will show up. Peter M. Curtis, a Nobel laureate for his work in artificial intelligence remains a mystery to his own children. Peter is remarried and he has not seen Rosie or her brother Milo in 20 years.
The script comically explores the family’s relationship with the idea of Peter, as they each fill his void with their own fantasies.
Directed by Alexandra Harbold, the play promises to be an absorbing journey into the lives of its characters – each one of them coming to terms with their own interpretations of marriage, relationships and the accompanying choices. Though the original idea comes from a big chapter in the lives of its playwrights, the characters in the play, according to Elaine, are all fictional. “After a while we had to let go of our own longings and eccentricities, and instead write the play that the characters needed. Real life was a perfect jumping off point, but once we let go of reality, the play came to life,” she says adding that “the family project” was smoother than all other collaborations she had undertaken in the past.