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One in a Million

In a dramatic turn, playwright’s dreams come true

A million may or may not be an exaggeration. Strictly speaking, Andrea Fleck Clardy was chosen Colonial Players’ Promising Playwright from a talent pool of 230 applicants in the theater company’s biennial competition.
    But when you consider all the twists and turns of chance that led to this singular moment, the odds rise.
    Clardy, a writer in life’s eighth decade, took up playwriting only after three or four careers.
    “I’ve written many other kinds of things, worked in publishing and was always interested in theater,” she told me. “It’s odd it took so long to put the two together, but I didn’t start writing plays until I retired from professional life.”
    By then, she said, “I was good at learning and went after all the ways of learning I could think of. I read books, took courses and found a coach.”
    Primed, she began writing 10-minute plays.
    “There are many, many contents and festivals for 10-minute plays,” she said, “so that’s where I started. The commitment of days and weeks behind each would be less substantial. And I’d have a better shot of getting good at the craft.”
    By the time Clardy stepped up to full-length plays and wrote Job Loss Figures, she’d had “lots of short plays and one or two middle-sized ones produced.”
    Not Job Loss Figures, however, until she tried Colonial Players’ Promising Playwright Contest, open to writers in all the original 13 colonies.
    Now Clardy, of the Boston suburb of Jamaica Plains, stands in the spotlight of Colonial Players’ full attention.
    “Skilled readers, directors, set and lighting designers and some technical gurus will give her feedback and advise her with an eye toward future production,” said Colonial’s Darice Clewell.
    “There’s something bizarre about anything 73 years old being chosen as promising,” Clardy said. “But I like to believe there still is room, and that is exciting.”
    The Contest Workshop runs Friday, June 23, through Sunday, June 25, with readings of the script and forums leading to a free public reading with audience reaction to, Clewell said, “give voice to the characters.”
    Central among the characters, said Colonial’s Sarah Wade, “is a man named Frank who has lost his job as an electronics salesman and is dealing with the aftermath in uncertain times and relationships.”
    Wade reads the role of “a New Age hippie who is a catalyst in the play.” Other characters include a wife who must take up the slack and a mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
    “It’s thought-provoking but not a downer. I think there is some redemption and the satisfaction that you can find new ways to be yourself,” Wade said.