Ghost-Writer is an old-fashioned play about creativity and romance with a paranormal twist. Set in New York in 1919, the story centers on a love triangle between a recently deceased author, Franklin Woolsey; his widow, Vivian; and Myra Babbage, the typist Woolsey dictated his novels to in life, who transcribes Woolsey’s words in death.
The play is loosely based on author Henry James and his typist, Theodora Bosanquet. One of things that appealed most to director Terry Veal about taking on Ghost-Writer was the nonlinear narrative structure.
“The playwright slowly gives the audiences pieces of the puzzle, going from the present to the past and back again, until all the pieces come together and completes the picture at the end,” Veal said.
However, that structure proved to be difficult to execute on stage. Despite the complex way the story unfolds, Veal said that his approach to the material is straightforward.
“What are the relationships and the why? Why do the characters do the things they do? Why do they say the things they say? Motivation, motivation, motivation.”
When asked if directing a newer play was different from working on a show that might come with decades of expectations, Veal said that the goal is always the same.
“I believe you try to tell the story truthfully,” he said, “so that an audience leaves knowing what the author’s intent was when he wrote it.”
The cast of three includes Crystal Ecker as Woolsey’s typist and TooToo Cirlot as his vain and spectacularly jealous wife. Both have worked with Veal before. The role of the exacting, driven novelist is played by Thomas Ryan, who recently returned to the stage after a 12-year hiatus.
“I feel very fortunate to have these very talented and hardworking actors,” Veal said. “They are doing amazing work.”
Though Ghost-Writer features a small cast, Veal said that putting together any kind of production is a major collaborative effort for many people, onstage and behind the scenes.
“It takes each and every one of them to make it work, not to mention the hours and hours of rehearsal and practice. I think sometimes people don’t realize the commitment that is put into a show by the people who love it so much.”