In The Year of Magical Thinking, novelist and journalist Joan Didion wrote of the year following the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, a significant writer in his own right as well as his wife's screenwriting partner. Didion's memoir of mourning won the 2005 National Book Award for nonfiction, and she later adapted it as a one-woman play for Broadway, where Vanessa Redgrave starred. The play also deals with the death of Didion and Dunne's daughter, Quintana Roo, who died less than two years after her father. (Didion wrote a second book, Blue Nights, in response to her daughter's death.)
Now Roxanne Fay is performing Didion's play as part of a collaboration between the Salvador Dalí Museum and the Studio@620 in St. Petersburg. Fay, who was the philosophical Fraulein Schneider in Freefall Theatre's acclaimed Cabaret, is being directed in the production by Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of the studio.
"I wanted to do this piece because the language is so rich and the truth at the heart of Didion's story is so universal," Fay said in an email. "There are moments in each life when we must surrender — 'Just let it go,' Ms. Didion repeats often — and allow ourselves to feel the very depths of our emotion and need."
The actor also finds that "the show speaks to the surrealism of the Dalí, as Didion describes the movement of one's life through shock and grief as a madness; one that allows the individual to deal with reality's insistence that life continue after devastating loss even though it seems impossible (I think of the people of Sandy Hook as I write this)," she continued. "To a degree, Dalí existed in this kind of magical thinking, as the ordinary world was so difficult for him to navigate."
Fay's performance of The Year of Magical Thinking is being staged at both the Dalí Museum and the Studio@620. There are performances at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the museum, where tickets are $25, $20 seniors and students, $15 Dalí members; (727) 823-3767; thedali.org. Performances at the studio are at 7 p.m. Jan. 10-12 and 3 p.m. Jan. 13; $25, $20 seniors and students, $15 Dalí members; (727) 895-6620; studio620.org.
John Fleming, Times performing arts critic