When I wrote a play about loneliness I was writing it for women my age. Or women who had ever been my age, or women who would be. I don't know why I was gendering it in my head but the entire process I was surrounded by women and I talked primarily to women about my own loneliness so why would I consider the play to be for anyone else? I was 20 and a woman and had felt lonely and so that was who the play was for. A dedication, if you like.
But at almost every single performance there was at least one man in the audience who was over the age of 50 and who, after the play had ended, came up to me with genuine gratitude in his eyes and said "well done and thank you so much for articulating something that I couldn't". I didn't know these men, but this genuinely happened several times. I had inadvertently reached out to people I didn't realise I had much in common with at all.
One of the reviews started off by stating their fears that this would be a self-indulgent little play by a self-indulgent little girl who barely knew what life even had to offer. Harsh, but maybe somewhat fair. But it went on to say that the play was nothing of the sort, that it did feel universal, and that the loneliness expressed was human and wide-reaching. That the audience felt included.
Perhaps I did initially try to aim my play at women my age because I don't know what life has to offer yet, because I was scared of making assumptions. I haven't even turned 21, what do I know? And yet my fears feel older than that, they always have done. I know my loneliness is sometimes bigger than me, that it is felt by everyone at one point or another. There are different ways to feel lonely, but somehow I touched on a big one, and some people said thank you for it. And I am so grateful that they responded so kindly, because it all goes in one big circle, all this reaching out, all this universality, all this togetherness.