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Life & Arts

Austin Playhouse Presents 'This Random World'

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"I was on my way to a writers' retreat...  and on the airplane there I made a list of some possible characters," says playwright Steven Dietz. "And then, probably because I've written too many plays, I made of list of 'this is all the scenes that would happen.' As the plane was landing, I realized that's what I always do in my plays... so I decided to make that the list of the scenes that could not happen."

That decosion to disrupt his natural writing process resulted in This Random World, Dietz's latest play and one that he feels is unlike any of the dozens of others he's written during his prolific career.

"This Random World is a comedy about missed connections," Dietz explains. "It also has a certain amount of ache in it, in the sense that the audience is privvy to someone -- some character -- just missing a moment or a scene or an interaction that you desperately wanted them to have."

That premise, which started as a sort of writing exercise, gives This Random World a bittersweet quality, as characters constantly just miss each other, depriving the audience of the scenes and connections they'd expect from a more traditional play.

Those near misses also caused director Don Toner to not quite get This Random World on his first reading. "My daughter Lara, who is our artistic director, had seen it and loved it," says Toner. "I read it immediately and said, 'what is going on here?'. And then I read it again. And figured out what was funny about it and what was tragic about it."

Actress Babs George didn't need any convincing -- she's been a fan of Dietz's for years and was eager to appear in This Random World. "I always want to do one of Steven Dietz's plays, so it sort of doesn't matter what the character is," she says with a laugh before quickly adding, "no, I'm kidding."

"I won't tell you the end of the play," says Dietz. "But it attempts to end on a note of real grace, and that was the last part of the puzzle to come together for me."

'This Random World' runs through October 1 at Austin Playhouse.

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