Calamities and Godsends: Conceived out of wedlock, father was years younger than mother, both of them cursed with jealousy and prone to flagrant infidelities; I grew up to the sound of screaming and fucking. I was also born with an inoperable spinal tumor which became operable when my mother, the woman with four degrees who could never hold a job, found a doctor doing spinal fusions: seven spinal fusions, two brain surgeries, 6 full body casts and one Frida Kahlo-inspired back brace later, I am able to walk upright and pass in the world as human.
Growing up in my white neighborhood I was so often called the “N” word I quizzed my mother relentlessly to see if I was adopted. As the Mater aged into her bi-polarity she took out her hostility toward my seafaring father with midnight beatings, starting around age 7 and ending when I threatened to kill her with a large butcher knife at age 15. She claimed never to remember these events and said I must be confused. I was not.
I took the GED and left school and home at 16. I had a D+ average and only did that well due to high marks in Drama and Art. My first job was Tarot Card reader at an Armenian restaurant in Hollywood. I slept on the floor of a friend’s house in Laurel Canyon where I met lots of famous musicians, but did not have sex with any of them.
Self-conscious of that scar on my back, which resembles the Olduvai Gorge, coupled with my Christian mysticism, I have to say I was monkish. Still am. When I was thirty my grandmother died and left me enough money to stop working and finish my degree. By that time I’d had 50 jobs, lived in twenty-five different places, and went on 100 dates, some of which lasted a few years.
The next decade was transformative: I got married, worked at the LATC, went to Padua and reconnected with my first playwriting teacher Murray Mednick and studied with John Steppling. I also took screenwriting at USC with the great Jim Boyle. Murray and Steppling helped me refine my work and Jim Boyle taught me how to make a living. I wrote Etta Jenks based on what I’d learned in Jim’s class and friends I’d made in Hollywood. Then came The Geography Of Luck and Kingfish. These plays took me out of one life and into the life I’d dreamed of. The plays did well enough for a few years, after the divorce and the move to New York City; I lived on commissions and taught playwriting at the Yale School of Drama. But then one unlucky December I had two flops with Kingfish at the Public Theater and The Geography Of Luck at Steppenwolf, that was essentially the end of my early promise. But so what? I’ve kept writing plays and while I haven’t had great success, I had two great supporters, Julia Miles and Tim Sanford, that kept my work alive. I’ve also had the kind of fun that can only come from doing what you were intended for. And I’ve been lucky that it paid off in ways that were not only healing but lucrative.
So, I may be childless, friendless, and reckless, but at least I’m not broke-ass. Woof woof! Produced plays include Etta Jenks, Kingfish, The Geography of Luck, Why Things Burn, Moe’s Lucky Seven, The Chemistry of Change, The Mystery of Attraction, and The Patron Saint of Sea Monsters.
NEW PLAYS BY
GEORGE BAILEY DIES IN EGYPT
(one act play)
NAKED WITH STRANGERS
MY DOG TALKS
(one act play)