'First Kisses' that last a lifetime

Playwright sought honest story spanning 'youth through forever'
2013-02-07T00:00:00Z 'First Kisses' that last a lifetimeKathleen Allen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

You might call Jay D. Hanagan an accidental playwright.

Hanagan, who penned Invisible Theatre's next offering, "First Kisses," had written sketches since high school, but it hadn't occurred to him to do plays.

Then, in the late 1990s, he was asked to help pick scripts for the Geneva (N.Y.) Theatre Guild's Playwrights Play Readings.

"As I was looking through the plays, I thought, 'I can do better than this,' " Hanagan recalled in a phone interview from his Geneva home.

But making the claim and doing it were two different things. So he set fingers to keyboard and wrote a one-act and submitted it to the play readings the next year. And they liked it - they really liked it.

Since then, Hanagan has written about eight full-length plays and 50 one-acts. He still has his day job in a jar factory, but he now gets to call himself a playwright.

"First Kisses" was his first full play.

"I don't know how 'First Kisses' popped into my head," he said of the 2003 piece.

"But I thought, 'Wouldn't it be fun to follow two people from youth through forever?' "

"First Kisses" does just that. John and Mary meet as children, and the play traces their friendship over 61 years.

Though he swears by the adage "write what you know," and he and his wife were high school sweethearts, the story and John and Mary are totally fictional, Hanagan said.

He selected the names because they are common ones, and Hanagan wanted the characters to be Everyman figures.

And though he's a bit of a romantic, Hanagan was determined not to write a sentimental tale.

"The situations they get in could go either way, but I didn't want to make it sappy. But there's nothing wrong with a nice story."

In the end, Hanagan mostly wanted to make sure the story was an honest one.

"I hope it is honest in that people can recognize themselves or people they know in John and Mary."

He also has a hope for the audience.

"Even though all the moments aren't funny, I hope they walk out with a smile."

If you go

• What: Invisible Theatre's production of "First Kisses."

• Playwright: Jay D. Hanagan.

• Director: Gail Fitzhugh.

• When: Preview is 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Regular performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 3 p.m. Sundays, through March 3.

• Where: Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.

• Cost: Preview is $18; regular performances are $28. There's a special Valentine's Day price of two tickets for $50. Half-price rush tickets are available one-half hour before curtain, when available.

• Reservations, information: 882-9721.

• Cast: Harold and Maedell Dixon.

• Running time: 2 hours, with one intermission.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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