Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sharp Turns in Life-THE WAITRESS by Ainslie Caswell

By Gini Chang
Gini Chang
Recently, I went to visit my old high school. It had been a few years and I wanted to reconnect with the teachers who inspired me.  I was confiding in one particular teacher, who I'd known for all four years of my high school career and was extremely close to, about how uncertain I was feeling about my future. We were chatting about college life and I shared with her the anxieties about my major, the plans that I’ve made, and the ever-looming possibilities of failure that all artists worry about. I was assuming that she had experienced something similar in her own college days and might have had some words of wisdom to impart upon me, to reassure me. Instead, the teacher I’d known since freshman year leaned closer and confessed to me in a conspiratorial whisper that she was considering quitting her job-if not next year, then the year after. 

This news surprised me because I’m the kind of person who sees high school as a constant. In my mind, I could go back in 10 years and still expect my old teachers to be teaching in the same classrooms where I once sat. It never occurred to me that they would ever leave. She admitted that it wasn’t to retire; she’d only been teaching for a little over 20 years and was nowhere near retirement. No, what she had decided was that her career as a teacher was over and that she was ready, at this point of her life, to start something new. And she laughed and smiled at me before saying, “I’m also like you, a rising college junior, still figuring out where I’m going.”

Ainslie Caswell’s play, The Waitressis about the simple and mundane everyday life in a very special cafĂ© that will serve its customers whatever they want. Whatever drink, whatever dish, anything you want will be served and will always satisfy. This unique setting, however, isn’t even the most interesting part of the play. Watching the characters realize that they have more power than they ever expected to have and observing their struggle when making decisions is what makes this play potent. 

Waitress: You have the power. What you do with that power is up to you.
Caswell uses seemingly ordinary places and people, but creates extraordinary moments that remind us that anything can happen. Sometimes we suffer tunnel vision and forget that our position in life is our very own creation, that we can recreate a new position just as easily. This feeling of uncertainty while on your path in life is actually shared by everyone else around you, even if it may seem like someone is rooted and stable. Caswell understands that everyone’s path in life is constantly shifting and uncertain. The Waitress is an inspiration, reminding the audience that we have the power to choose whatever we want in our lives. 

Have your own anxieties about the future? Thinking about a career change? What sorts of new things do you feel empowered to try? Comment below or tweet us @RiantTheatre and don’t forget to come experience Ainslie Caswell’s The Waitress for yourself at the Strawberry One Act Festival on Sunday, July 17th at 9pm; Tuesday, July 19th at at 9pm; and Wednesday, July 20th at 9pm at St. Clements Theatre: 423 West 46th St, NYC between 9th and 10th Ave.

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