As far as playwright Jeffrey Hatcher is concerned, Titanic, the musical on Broadway, and Titanic, the movie, are jumping on his bandwagon. After all, his thriller-mystery Scotland Road, which was inspired by a 1992 tabloid headline about a Titanic survivor who'd been found bobbing on an iceberg in the Atlantic, was first produced at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park in 1993, years before those two other upstarts. Now, after enjoying its New York premiere last January at Primary Stages, it is the opening attraction for the 1998 season at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, playing there through the middle of March, 1998.
In Hatcher's drama the mute survivor (Katy Selverstone) becomes a blank slate onto which the other characters, played by Scotty Bloch, Daniel Gerroll and Leslie Lyles, write their own fantasies. "Once in a blue moon, people find themselves in an extreme situation by which they define themselves," says Hatcher. "But most of us just rumble through life, so something like the Titanic is an irresistible vessel for our obsessive concerns." Hatcher writes and lives in Minneapolis, and his plays, which include Three Viewings, have been done at such regional theatres as Yale Rep, Actors' Theatre of Louisville and the South Coast Rep. He says the popularity of Scotland Road has much to do with the continuing fascination that people have for the greatest maritime disaster of the century. (The title of the play is taken from the nickname that the crew of the Titanic gave for the central passageway that ran the length of the ship, linking first class to steerage.) He does not describe himself as a Titanic buff, but he says that his work on the play has sometimes caused him to dream about the ship of dreams.
"I dream that I'm on the Titanic, we've left port and we're on the open seas," he recalls. "I know that we are going to hit an iceberg, and I know I should alert the captain and the people that we are, but then I think, 'Wow, maybe it'd be more interesting to see what hitting an iceberg will feel like.'" Said like a true playwright.
-- By Patrick Pacheco