Monday, March 20, 2023
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Author Peter Filichia explains how his play God Shows Up came into being

“Every year, I emcee a ceremony called The Theatre World Awards, which gives prizes to six men and six women making their New York stage debuts. In my opening monologue and in each of my introductions of the presenters, I try to be funny – and luckily enough, Eric thought I was.

“He contacted me the next day and said ‘I’ve had an idea for a play for a long time, and I think you just might have the right sense of humor to write it.’ “That sounded good to me, so I showed up at his office the next day. And Eric told me his idea for a one-man show where God comes down to earth and tells everyone ‘I am so disgusted with all of you! I gave you this terrific world, and look how you ruined it!’ “Well, I don’t think that would want to be lectured. ‘Eric,’ I said, ‘you say you want me for my sense of humor, but there’s nothing funny about that approach. That’d be like when parents tell their kids ‘Why can’t you be like Johnny next door?! Johnny gets all A’s! Johnny looks like a fashion plate! Johnny’s so polite to his elders!’ Has that ever made any kid say ‘Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, Mom and Dad! I really appreciate your showing me the error of my ways! Bless you for pointing out my shortcomings! From now on, I’m going to be Just. Like. Johnny!’? No – the kid just winds up hating Johnny AND his parents.’ “Now at this point, the average producer would have said ‘Thanks for coming in,’ but Eric said, ‘Well, try it and see what happens’ – to which I said, ‘Eric, this sounds like a commission to me, so I think you should write me a check. 'Now at THIS point, the average producer would have said ‘Well, work on it for a while and we’ll see,’ but, no – Eric sat right down and wrote me a four-figure check.

Frankly, before Eric had approached me, I’d been working on a play called THE WHOLE WORLD. In it, a fervent religious recruiter meets an agnostic at a bus stop and tries converting her. Both are there every day; which of them will conquer the other? I was brought up as a Catholic, but abandoned it at 16 when I already had numerous questions about the Bible and other religious teachings. In the ‘80s I smiled when there was that problem with Dr. Ruth’s book. She stated that ‘The safe times for sex are the week before and the week of ovulation.’ Well, the publisher had to do a recall because Dr. Ruth had accidentally omitted two little letters: ‘U’ and ‘N.’ It was supposed to be ‘The UNsafe times for sex are the week before and the week of ovulation.’ Now if a book written in the late 20th century had a big mistake in it, what about ‘holy books’ that were written on clay, stone, and animal hides? Don’t you think that they might contain a teensy, lit-tle mistake -- or two – or hundreds? Even today, writers make many, many mistakes. Take a look at a newspaper and see on page two the list of corrections from the day before – well, if you can still find a newspaper anywhere.

Part 2 is tomorrow