I love unlikely success stories about writers, don’t you? They offer such hope! They underscore just how unpredictable and mysterious the writing life can be. So often writers seem to be bewitched, bothered, and bewildered when it comes to getting our work out in the world. And when we finally do step it out, the world can sometimes be less than welcoming. Critics, economics, logistics and timing can all combine to challenge our creativity and staying power. And yet, sometimes our creations do beat the odds and take on a life a life of their own.
That’s exactly what happened to Almost, Maine, a play by John Cariani, a successful actor. While it nosedived on Off Broadway, it’s gone on to be performed around the world, from Mexico and South Korea to Australia and even Dubai. And hundreds of theatre companies have showcased the play across America and Canada. Almost, Maine also won a unique rave review: It was the most produced play in high schools this year, knocking A Midsummer-Night’s Dream from the top spot.
A play tumbles in the Big Apple and thrives in Australia. Go figure! Sometimes a piece just needs to ripen and find its audience. Regional theatres took Almost, Maine and breathed new life into it. Actors and aspiring actors also embraced it, using some of its vignettes for auditions. It became the darling of amateur theatre groups, which adore likeable characters, upbeat stories, and lots of acting roles. Then there’s the wild-card factor: Audiences outside of New York have taken the play to their hearts, touched by its earnest, endearing stories.
No one is more surprised by Almost, Maine’s stealth success story than its author. “After it closed Off Broadway, I sort of put it behind me,” said John Cariani. “I had to make a living. I started auditioning again. But then it started to build like a snowball.” Bravo! Authors, amateurs, and audiences, unite!