Love in the Time of Twitter

Kat Zukaitis
 | Mar 21, 2017
The Siegel Cast

Matthew Arkin, Amy Aquino, Ben Feldman​, Mamie Gummer and Dominique Worsley in The Siegel.

Michael MitnickMichael Mitnick wrote Sex Lives of Our Parents (Second Stage Uptown, The Kennedy Center), Fly by Night with Will Connolly and Kim Rosenstock (Drama Desk-nominated for Best Musical, Playwrights Horizons, Dallas Theater Center, TheatreWorks), Ed, Downloaded (Denver Center Theatre Company, Washington Ensemble Theatre) and Spacebar: A Broadway Play by Kyle Sugarman (City Lights Theater Company, The Wild Project). His songs have been sung at Lincoln Center, Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, The Cutting Room and The Guggenheim. He is currently writing commissions for the Geffen Playhouse and Roundabout Theatre Company. His film work includes screenplays for The Giver and the upcoming The Current War with Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon (December 2017). In television, he wrote for the HBO show “Vinyl.” He has a BA from Harvard University and an MFA in playwriting from the Yale School of Drama. Mitnick was born and raised in Pittsburgh.

Two roads diverged. Ethan Siegel took one of them—and then, realizing that he’d made the biggest mistake of his life, hurriedly backtracked and found his way to Alice’s door, ready to sweep her off her feet and proceed to their happily ever after.

There’s just one problem: Ethan Siegel’s change of heart comes two years too late. Two years after he and Alice broke up. Two years after she started dating someone else—someone she’s still in a relationship with. So when Ethan shows up out of the blue at Alice’s parents’ house to ask for her hand in marriage, they respond with a flat, “No.” But they’re a little divided on the value of Ethan’s Grand Romantic Gesture—and they are all too aware that living with the consequences of your decisions can be a tough pill to swallow.

Alice would love to turn back the clock for different reasons: she was a major player in a political campaign that just lost, badly and unexpectedly, and she doesn’t have time to indulge her ex-boyfriend’s sudden sprint down Memory Lane. So Ethan Siegel is the last thing on her mind—but, then again, there’s something strangely appealing about his persistence and stubborn refusal to lose hope. Something that reminds her about the not-too-distant past, when she, too, was sure that her passion, intelligence and commitment could change somebody’s mind.

As Ethan Siegel careens his way back into Alice’s life in SCR’s new play The Siegel, playwright Michael Mitnick reframes classic questions about love, choice and consequences, and how they play out in the age of Twitter and Tinder. “I wanted to write a Kaufman and Hart play about millennials,” Mitnick says, referring to the celebrated writing duo that won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for You Can’t Take It With You. Mitnick’s writing, brimming with sharp wit, eccentric characters and screwball humor, echoes Kaufman and Hart’s style; but his concerns are uncompromisingly contemporary.

We live in a world that presents us with an ever-growing smorgasbord of options in life and love. For well-educated millennials, in particular, old expectations about where to live, what a career looks like, and when to settle down are… well, flexible. More choice—we generally agree—is a good thing; but as choices multiply, so do consequences, and it’s hard to think long-term in a world that insists on immediacy. “Things move faster, and that includes our rate of forming and dissolving bonds with other people,” says Mitnick, a millennial himself, “and we live with the effects.” What if, his play asks, there’s one person in the entire world who is absolutely, completely perfect for you—and you end up with someone else? What if searching for your soulmate distracts you from appreciating what you have now? What if it doesn’t really matter, and who you pick is ultimately less important than commitment and hard work?

How do you make the hard choices, knowing that they might all be wrong—and how do you learn to live with the consequences regardless?

There are some questions that linger, whichever path you take.

Director Casey Stangl, fresh off the Theatre for Young Audiences world premiere of Flora & Ulysses, returns to SCR for this fun and fast-paced comedy that asks us to look again at how (and who) we love. Read more about Stangl’s recent work here.

Designers include Michael B. Raiford (scenic); David Kay Mickelson (costumes); Elizabeth Harper (lighting); and Cricket S. Myers (sound design), with Roxana Khan stage managing.

Mitnick, Stangl, and the team are joined by an all-star cast, including Amy Aquino, Matthew Arkin, Ben Feldman, Mamie Gummer, Devon Sorvari and Dominique Worsley. Catch their stories here.

We asked playwright Michael Mitnick to take our pyramid challenge—a short interview perfectly suited for the pace of modern life. Here’s what he has to say about himself and his play, in exactly 55 words:

In one word, what is your play about?

In two words, why do you write?
Bad judgment.

In three words, what is your perfect date?
Whatever she wants.

In four words, who is your favorite writer and why?
Mark Twain good dancer.

In five words, what do you find funny?
That which hurts the most.

In six words, what do you wish for the characters in your play?
You realize they aren’t real, right?

In seven words, what did the first version of this play look like?
Handwritten scroll written on toilet paper roll.

In eight words, what happened during your best day of rehearsal?
I found my retainer. I FOUND MY RETAINER.

In nine words, what is your play about?
My play is about 90 minutes RIP Edward Albee.

In ​10 words, what should we expect from you next?
Writing about what is weird, forgotten, ignored, misunderstood and arcane.

Learn more about The Siegel and buy tickets.