Rabbit Hole History
The Playwright: David Lindsay-Abaire
David Lindsay-Abaire was born on November 30, 1969 in South Boston,Massachusetts to a family of five. Although he spent his earlier years attending various public schools, he ultimately received a scholarship to Milton Academy,a prominent New England boarding school, where he spent six years developingan interest in theatre. He went on to study theatre at Sarah Lawrence College andwas later accepted into Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at Juilliard where he worked under the tutelage of Christopher Durang. He is also amember of The Dramatists Guild, New Dramatists, and the Writers Guild of America.Lindsay-Abaire’s plays have been produced around the world, from the Manhattan Theatre Club to the Arts Theatre on London’s West End, among many others. His works include Fuddy Meers (winner of the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award, Kesselring Prize, and Garland Award), Kimberly Akimbo, A Devil Inside, Wonder of the World, and Rabbit Hole (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 2007). He currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son. Before Rabbit Hole, Abaire was primarily known for his off-the-wall comedies, filled with sprinkles of truth amongextreme absurdity. In a 2008 interview with New York Magazine, the playwright gives a bit of insight into the style shift between his works like Fuddy Meers and his Pulitzer Prize winning Rabbit Hole, “I felt I was being pigeonholed as a very specifi csort of writer—‘He writes those quirky little comedies.’ I thought I could do other things, and that thinking has served me well.” He has since branched out into even more unfamiliar territory—working on the musical adaptations of High Fidelity and Shrek.He was awarded the 2008 Ed Kleban Award as America’s most promising musical theatre lyricist.
Rabbit Hole was first commissioned by South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA, where it was shown at the Pacific Playwrights Festival in 2005. It received its debut by the Manhattan Theatre Club on Broadway at the Biltmore Theatre onFebruary 2, 2006. The characters Becca, Izzy, Howie, Nat, and Jason were played by Cynthia Nixon, Mary Catherine Garrison, John Slattery, Tyne Daly, and John Gallagher, Jr., respectively. Their production received four Tony nods, and Nixon won theTony for Best Actress in a Play. Soon after, David Lindsay-Abaire won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2007. Since its world premiere on Broadway, Rabbit Hole has been staged at a variety of theatres and festivals across the U.S. from the Cleveland Playhouse to the Nightblue Theatre in Chicago. Abroad, the National Institute of Dramatic Arts in Sydney, Australia, showed it as one of three graduate pieces in October of 2009. In 2007, film director John Cameron Mitchell announced his plans for a movie adaptation that was released in 2010. The film starred Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as Becca and Howie, with Sandra Oh and Dianne Wiest in supporting roles.
Winning the Pulitzer
In 2007, there were three plays nominated for the drama prize-- Orpheus X by Rinde Eckert; Bulrusher by Eisa Davis; and Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue by Quiara Alegria Hudes—however, the five person jury (made up of prominent members of the theatrical and educational community) was unable to agree upon a winner. Without a majority vote, all of the nominated plays were ruled out. The Board opted instead to consider a completely different play, which is valid as long as three-fourths of the members agree. Rabbit Hole had been mentioned favorably in an earlier meeting, and after receiving a majority vote was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. The jury included Ben Brantley (chief drama critic, The New York Times), Kimberly W. Benston (Francis B. Gummere Professor of English at Haverford College), Karen D’Souza (drama critic for the San Jose MercuryNews), Rohan Preston (theatre critic for the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, St. Paul) and Paula Vogel (playwright, Professor ofEnglish at Brown University). Playwright, David Lindsay-Abaire Production History Winning the Pulitzer
“Rabbit hole,” refers to a rabbit’s home or burrow. Burrows provide shelter from predators and a haven from the elements. The term rabbit hole adopted a new meaning in Lewis Carroll’s popular novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In this fantastical story, Carroll’s main character Alice, a bored young girl who follows a rabbit down its hole, unknowingly enters a world quite different from her own, a world full of bizarre and fanciful creatures. In this new world, impossible things suddenly become possible, and what was true in her old life no longer remains. For Alice, it’s like she’s fallen through a passageway into an alternate universe. The first chapter title “Down the Rabbit Hole” has become a metaphor for any trip to an extraordinary, unfamiliar place. The burrows of rabbits can be very complex, seemingly unending systems of tunnels, sometimes referred to as warrens. In Jason’s science fiction short story, the son enters a “warren” or network of portals into other galaxies to find a living version of his deceased father. The term has indeed been loosely applied in the world of Quantum Physics in relation to the space-time continuum. Any kind of “hole” in space implies a connection between two sides. Like a hole in the wall, it provides a way for what is outside to come inside and vice versa. And some scientists believe the same concept can be applied to space, making it possible to voyage to this universe’s “elsewheres and elsewhens.” Some physicists believe they have found startling new evidence showing the existence of universes other than our own. One possibility is that the universe is so vast that an exact replica of our solar system, our planet and ourselves exists many times over. These Doppelganger Universes exist within our own Universe; in
what scientists now call “The Multiverse.” David Lindsay-Abaire uses this idea to suggest that there are other versions of Howie and Becca out in the universe—an infinite number. There are Howie’s and Becca’s who still have their son, or perhaps have more children, or are grieving in different ways, or even worlds where Howie and Becca have never met. Becca finds comfort in this multiplicity… in knowing that the tragedy of this life is not the end all and be all of who they are. For her there is a hypothetical place where a happier version of her family might exist. She makes no effort or suggestion that she wants to find a way to this other world (as the son in Jason’s story does) because just the knowledge that a happier her exists, and thus it’s possible a living Danny exists… just that, is enough.