About 15 years ago, I sat down to write a letter to my three daughters, Carrie, Jody and Erin. I wanted to tell them my story. It wasn’t the story of my life in show business, but the tale of a little girl growing up with her grandmother, part-time mother, and often absent father. We lived one block north of Hollywood Boulevard, yet a million miles away from “Hollywood.” I wanted my girls to know me at ages 7-21. . . how I reacted to the environment I was being raised in, and how and why I wound up making some unheard of (in those days) decisions that altered out lives forever. But most of all, I wanted them to know my grandmother, my mother and my daddy. The letter turned into a book, published by Random House, ONE MORE TIME. (I hated the title.)
Since then, a few people in the industry have approached me with the ideas of making the book into a screenplay. I read the various treatments and one completed screenplay and decided to wait until something came along that would pique my interest.
That “something” turned out to be my daughter, Carrie. An accomplished actress, singer and writer, she proposed that we turn the book into a play. . .and that we, together, write it!
As a result, we have grown even closer (and we’ve always been close). She has gotten to know my family as well as I do, by digging into their psyches and writing dialogue that I swear came out of their mouths, through Carrie, and spilled onto the page.
We’ve faxed each other with our ideas, scenes, and changes for several months now, and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to hear it read aloud at table readings in the protective environment of Sundance. We don’t know how this project will evolve, but no matter what, it has been a joyous occasion for me to work on something so very personal with my daughter.
When I read ONE MORE TIME, I was immediately struck by the notion that the book would make one helluva play. Although I am more of a “Film Person” than a “Play Person,” I knew that the essence of the piece would best be conveyed on stage. That feeling grew over the years into an obsession. When Mom and I finally began work on the play, I found that the real gift in writing it for me has been in getting to know my grandparents, great-grandmother, and to have an even deeper understanding of my mother. This whole process has led me into a vital, breathing relationship with three dead relatives. I feel like I’m living with three generations of my family, and no matter how much I’d like to get away from them at times, they stick around!
“Everybody thinks their Granny is interesting…” Yes, and everybody’s Grannies usually are. The piece has evolved (quite on its own volition) into a fable about imagination, heart, and triumph – not despite but because of hardship. It is a tale of three generations of women, struggling to survive, sometimes winning, sometimes losing. And there is a man, Jody, my grandfather, who seems to be the voice of hope in a hopeless world, even though he himself was desperately addicted to alcohol. His weaknesses were outshined by this kindness and optimism in the face of tuberculosis and poverty.
I am proud of my family. I hope that in writing this I have done justice to them and to their story, as they have given me so much during the last several months of writing about them.
—Carrie Templin Hamilton
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