The Baltimore Waltz
By Paula Vogel
Paula Vogel’s The Baltimore Waltz premiered in 1992 and won the Obie Award for Best Play. As her first play to gain national attention, Vogel’s work became a founding member of the “second generation of AIDS plays” along with Scott McPherson’s Marvin’s Room. While McPherson’s inspiration for the play centered on his childhood experiences, he later acknowledged that the play was deeply influenced by his experience as a caretaker for his friends and loved ones during the AIDS epidemic. Vogel’s The Baltimore Waltz directly addressing the crisis (the main character suffers from “Acquired Toilet Disease”) and was dedicated to her brother who succumbed to the AIDS virus in 1988.
Roz Chast’s memoir focuses on the last years of the lives of her aging parents and her role as their only child. Written as a graphic novel, Chast’s humor and talent as a cartoonist landed Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? on The New York Times list of “10 Best Books” and a 2014 National Book Award Finalist distinction. Like McPherson’s Marvin’s Room, Chast’s prodigious use of comedic relief is a necessity, allowing readers a moment of comfort in an otherwise heart wrenching story. Read an excerpt here.
Screenplay by Scott McPherson & Directed by Jerry Zaks
Shortly after the play’s critical success in New York City, Scott McPherson began penning the screenplay for the film adaptation of Marvin’s Room. With a stellar cast, including Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, and Leonardo DiCaprio, the film earned Diane Keaton an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Bessie. While the film does not stray far from the play, there are lovely and surprising moments to be found throughout the adaptation. If you enjoyed the play, watch the trailer for the 1996 film of Marvin’s Room here.
Good Life Project
By Jonathan Fields
If Marvin’s Room is “a play about living and dying...but mostly living”, then the Good Life Project is the podcast that will help you navigate and live your life to the fullest. Founded by Jonathan Fields, GLP manifested from an idea to seek out meaning, joy, and connection in our lives. Scott McPherson’s play examines the moments that make us most human and shows compassion in our lowest points. Good Life Project embraces those moments and interviews the leading minds on topics such as love, religion, self-care, and creativity. Listen here.