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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Friends and fans

Melinda Lopez
Friends and fans. After a wonderful and satisfying twenty-five years in the theatre, I have decided it's time to spread my wings! The success of my last musical Dante in Abu Ghraib has allowed me the financial stability to finally pursue my lifelong dream of investment banking.

I know you are all thinking this is a crazy whim. But the truth is, I’ve been dabbling in finance my whole life. Sometimes, during rehearsals in the back of the theatre, when I knew I was supposed to be feeling the magic, instead, I’d fiddle with adjustable rate mortgage numbers, just for fun. And I found it (secretly) thrilling to read The Wall Street Journal. It started from loneliness -- I was in production in Berlin, and I found the familiarity of the numbers comforting. I thought, I’ll stop as soon as I'm home. I never wanted my kids to know. But lately, with a smart phone, and down time between acts…well you see where this is going.

At first I was embarrassed by my investment efforts. I fooled around with my portfolio, yeah, but I never really took it seriously. I have no training. I've never paid Capital Gains Tax. And there are people who have studied market trends for years. But then, last spring, I showed my figures to a friend at Morgan Stanley, and she said, “I think you’re on to something here.”

It was then I realized, that all my life, I’ve been in love with the stock market. As a kid, I made up ‘pretend’ bond certificates, and went around the neighborhood selling them at a depreciated price. And in high school, I was part of the Investment Club. But I dropped out in 10th grade because I didn’t want to get labeled a “money grubber.” Instead, I joined the Ibsen Society.

And yes, it’s been a fantastic ride.

But somehow, I’ve always felt there was a hole at the center of me -- a hole that no amount of developmental workshops or TCG funding could fill. Even getting my picture in The Dramatist just made me feel even more hollow. The truth is, I need to give back, and I feel from the bottom of my heart that money will reach more people than art. Call me old fashioned. I guess it’s just how I was raised.

I’m so grateful to the artists, teachers and University Programs who have helped me get where I am today; the staged readings; my agent, Tyrone, who signed me when Castro's Guitar was still in development. And of course to my parents and wife Bitsy.

It’s not too late to follow my heart, and with the time I have left, I’d like to make a contribution to this big, wonderful world. So I’ll be starting my Hedge Fund next month. I promise you the American Theatre will go on without me. In fact, the revival of The Darfur Follies will open at the Denver Center in time for the holidays. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to reach one child, touch one heart, and truly, finally, be the ME I’ve always wanted to be.

-- Melinda Lopez 

Don't, uh, read too much into the monologue above. Melinda's going to give this playwriting gig one more shot. In fact, she'd love it if you would join her for the first public reading of her new play, Becoming Cuba, part of the Huntington Theatre's Breaking Ground reading series.  

Deane Hall, Boston Center for the Arts 
127 Tremont Street, Boston
Tuesday, March 13 
7:30 p.m.

Directed by M. Bevin O'Gara

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