EC: My father got sick. I hate that my answer is so simple and universal, but there you have it. My father became ill, and suddenly we had to deal with all of the messy, unresolved, painful aspects of our relationship. He died halfway through writing the play. I wasn’t sure if I could finish the piece. For months I couldn’t look at it. Eventually I tip-toed back into the story, because I had to find my own peace.
KT: How has the inspiration for this piece evolved over time?
EC:There is a stark contrast between attempting to heal a relationship with a loved one while they are still alive, and attempting to resolve those broken places after they have passed. Riding Bicycles in the Rain moved from being a play about a difficult Father/Daughter dynamic to becoming a study in larger, faith-based, unanswered questions. Can you live without resolution? How does it affect your worldview? How does it affect your understanding of yourself?
KT: How did you begin constructing Brady and George’s relationship?
EC: I desperately needed a way to view my relationship with my father from a sympathetic, comedic lens; it was survival based. Brady and George love each other so very much, but neither have the communication skills to really keep a healthy dialogue going. They circle each other. They do what’s expected. They love each other in small ways, with cookies and coffee and one-liners.
KT: It isn’t always popular to critique religious groups onstage; what experience do you have writing about religion or religious groups, and what draws you to these stories?
EC: I don’t consider Riding Bicycles in the Rain to be a critique of religion. It’s more of a coming of age story, and those stories can be complicated by family dynamics that include very strict, unforgiving dogma. I come from a dyed in the wool Catholic upbringing, with confession and communion and confirmation. There is a point as a young adult if you are a very independent, wild, original thinker where rules and regulations need to be questioned. Boundaries need to be explored. “Faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted.” There are years in your life when you are seeking meaning and guidance. If you come from a warped or painful family background, then all of those questions become exacerbated. In the end, I think most of us are seeking something: solace, acceptance, community. It can be a challenging road finding our way to what we define as Faith. Riding Bicycles in the Rain is simply the exploration of two people on that path.
KT: God and Family seem to be large themes of Riding Bicycles in the Rain. To what extent are these elements of rural America that you have experienced? What is their purpose in the play?
EC: Rural America has very deep, Christian roots. Obviously, there has been a long standing tradition of the Church being the meeting place, the town hall, the school. In my experience of both Catholicism and Mormonism it is the longer-reaching, socio-cultural boundaries that become either happy, healthy structures or suffocating regulations. Most of how that is approached or interpreted depends on family and how the religion is passed down. There are so many beautiful, positive aspects to both of these doctrines. Brady is searching for a Faith that allows for all of her mistakes and all of the grief she has suffered. I think those are universal experiences and questions. James is fighting to define himself without the expectations that his religion, and more importantly his Mother, have placed upon his life. That doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t believe in God or Mormonism as a whole. He simply wants the opportunity to discover who he is without those restrictions. Again, Brady and James are clawing against limitations, not God. They are looking to define themselves, their worldview, and their Faith as individuals. That can be scary, confusing, and complex. They are brave characters at the beginning of their journeys.
KT: What discussions do you hope are sparked by audiences after they watch Riding Bicycles in the Rain?
EC: I hope audience members are galvanized to have difficult, healing conversations with their own families. I hope that they are able to forgive themselves, and forgive loved ones who have passed away. I hope that anyone who stumbles into this script finds a reminder of all of the small things that they love about a thorny relationship, and are able to make those tiny sparks of positive memory more lasting than the negative ones. I wrote Riding Bicycles in the Rain to wrestle with my questions about Faith and family and my own choices; my greatest wish would be for anyone watching to begin finding those answers for themselves.