The people who populate the fictional suburb of Rancho Viejo would probably never seek out, let alone read, a “Playwright’s Perspective” about a play called Rancho Viejo. Like most Americans, I’d guess, they’re only vaguely aware that playwrights still exist, and they’d only be moderately interested in hearing from one’s “perspective.” Not because they’re incurious, but because they prefer to watch television at home or read books or magazines and hang out with one another at the occasional get-together or barbecue.
But if for some strange reason they did find themselves at a theater reading a “Playwright’s Perspective” for a play called Rancho Viejo, they’d probably wonder why they needed to read something more from the writer at all. Shouldn’t the art speak for itself? Do we really need to spend more time hearing what this guy has to think?
And yet here I am, the author, writing a “Playwright’s Perspective” about a play featuring people who, were they real, couldn’t fathom why a play like this even exists. Honestly, it’s a question I’ve been asking myself ever since I began writing it. Why does this play exist? All I’ve come up with so far is that, well, this play does exist and it must exist and I hope there’s a pretty good reason for it. But really, seriously… Why?
These questions, I’ve come to realize, are very much like the questions the people of Rancho Viejo are asking themselves. Because they too — like many of us, I imagine, or at least me — are in a constant struggle with trying to understand the nature of their own existence. They may not care as much as some about seeing a play, or the value of art, or an artist’s perspective…but they care deeply about puzzling out their purpose and solving the mystery of their place in the universe. It is, for some of them more than others, an obsession. And so as the snacking and shuffling carry on, as their seemingly tiny dramas begin to bloom, the people of Rancho Viejo persist in asking themselves the same questions they might ask of this play…
Why do you exist? What are you doing here? Why do you matter? And if by some miracle we ever found out… Would any of us be satisfied with the answer?
This article is a reprint and was originally published on the Playwrights Horizons website during the world premiere of Rancho Viejo by Dan LeFranc.