Every second Sunday of the month, four women meet at Marge’s Santa Cruz Mountain cabin for a hike and lunch. Today is different, very different. Marge has asked to paint her friends’ portraits. Marge paints using only fugitive pigments, colors that fade in time. Katherine and Alicia are intent on talking Marge into moving to assisted living. Marge tells them she has made her own plans. Kimberly, a young friend of Katherine’s daughter, has joined the group. She is making her own difficult decisions. Kimberly works in Silicon Valley, and if she didn’t know these three women, she wouldn’t know anyone older than herself. The women have history with each other and have formed a family of sorts. As with all families, they love each other despite their differences and disagreements.
Fugitive Colors is an exploration of the choices women face: love, marriage, careers, beauty, aging, family, children, and most important, the beginning and end of life. The way one views these choices depends on the template for behavior from one’s youth. Marge (83) grew up with limited choices and made the best of them. Katherine and Alicia (both in their 60s) grew up with the “Leave it to Beaver” family model. They complied with the template, rebelled against the template or tried to have it all. Kimberly (33) has so many new options and possibilities that there is not a tested template for her to follow, and often the advice of her older friends doesn’t line up with her reality. Despite their differences in life choices and circumstances, they remain friends and it is this friendship that is at the heart of Fugitive Colors.
Although this play tackles several controversial topics, there is not a final “should” of behavior. The only “should” is that everyone own their choices. They should know they are making a choice, why they are making it, and that they must be responsible for the choices they make.
We live in a time of social upheaval, and yet the questions we must answer are age-old: What are my life goals? What do I want from romance, love and marriage? Do I even want those? Do I need a career? Do I want children and when? How to care for those who are aging? How to live? How to die?
I am a 60-ish woman, living in Silicon Valley, widowed. I was one of the “first” women in technology. I was and am a feminist. I am neither Katherine nor Alicia. I am both Katherine and Alicia. I value my multi-generational friendships, though lately I find myself at the upper end of the spectrum with fewer and fewer older friends. My “Marge” died several years ago, though I keep her Adirondack chair on my patio to remind me of her practical wisdom. I question whether I have any of the same wisdom to pass on.
Younger friends helped me understand and in fact provided many of the words spoken by Kimberly. I did interviews and held readings for only 33-year-old women, where I learned more about their challenges. The boomer hippie phase pales next to the sexual freedom, polyamory, and ambiguity in the Valley. But these women still must ask and answer the same age-old questions and listen, often with rolling eyes, to the advice of us older women.
|Stage directions||Ira Brady Rubin|
Marge’s Santa Cruz Mountain bungalow.
In 2012, I retired to write, draw, walk and sing. My short stories were published in several national journals. As a solo performer, I presented “Googling for God” and “Swimming Under Water” at the Marsh Theater in San Francisco. My newest book, Letters from the Way, about my two 600-mile walks across southern France, was published. My short plays have been presented by several theater companies on the West Coast. My drawings were shown in art shows in Florence, Italy and San Rafael, California. When not walking, I sing, and often when I am walking. I recently joined the Stanford Symphonic Chorus.
Music and art greatly influence the ideas in Fugitive Colors. To quote Marge, “Picasso said, ‘Art is the lie that reveals the truth.’” I will paint my friends but the paints will fade until nothing remains but smudges on white paper. Both the lie and the truth disappear in time. But lies and truth require witnesses, like the tree in the forest or the sound of one hand. Perhaps when a lie is witnessed it becomes truth. You will be my witnesses.