Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
We start rehearsals for my third premiere play of the year, Crying on Television, in two weeks and I'm very excited and also very tired. I'm trying to get myself ready to go back into another rehearsal process. Which right now just means buying a new water bottle and planning my snacks regimen (I'm having some health problems so I can't go with my usual snack menu of coffee, literally baked good for sale in any coffee shop, and 6-8 hours of intense anxiety. [Nothing serious is wrong! I am just a flesh sack of slowly malfunctioning outdated software! Worry not!])
For others on the creative team, however, this prep time is crucial. Contracts get signed, sets get finalized, the props master starts to put together the very extensive and ridiculous prop list. As a result, sometimes I get random emails about the play from people I haven't yet met.
That's what happened the other day when I received an email with the subject line "Crying on Television" from a name I didn't know. The email read "Hello Mr Thomas. FedEx sent your film to me. What do you think I should do with it?"
Babe, what did this mean? I read on my phone while in an IKEA and I turned to the nearest quarreling couple, interrupted them, and asked for their opinion. They shrugged and went back to debating whether the couch was "too much" for their living room. (I don't know what their living room looks like, but I agree it was too much.)
I wrote back to the person "Thanks for letting me know. I'm not quite sure what that means, but I'm happy to pick it up from you." This seemed appropriately cagey. Crying on Television is not a film and I can't imagine why anyone would be FedExing me a film version of it. That said, there's pretty much no way to defraud me simply with the knowledge that I wrote something called Crying on Television. (Cue all the scammers reading this trying to figure out a way of proving me wrong.)
Now, I didn't want to go to this person's house. I like my liver and would like it to stay in my body. And I didn't want to give this person my address because that seemed like another great way to be relieved of the burden of a vital organ. The obvious solution seemed to be for this person to just return the thing to FedEx but it was clear we'd skipped that step.
We went back and forth cagily for a couple of emails, me still not having any idea what this package was, him giving very strange, slightly sinister answers like "Your name is on the cover."
Then I started thinking that he'd been sent a promotional postcard from Everyman Theater and was being rude about live theater marketing. I wanted to be like "If you don't want to see the show, just throw it away my good man!"
I’m a big fan of the HBO series The Flight Attendant, in which Kaley Cuoco plays a flight attendant who keeps stumbling into international espionage plots. It may not seem like someone randomly emailing me with a bunch of serial killer cryptic clues about a play I wrote is not the same as The Flight Attendant, but that’s what the flight attendant thought and now look what’s happened!
I kept trying to figure out what it was he was emailing about but he seemed unwilling or unable to answer the question “what are you talking about?” So finally I said “I’ll come pick it up; what’s your address?”
He wrote back “are you offering a reward for this?” FOR WHAT? No shade to me but... no I am not offering a reward. How much do you think this play is worth? It’s priceless but also if you use the code Thomas2 it’s $25 and comes with a free drink. So make of that what you you will.
Homeboy was trying to turn this into an annual gala. He was like “I have an idea: FUND THE ARTS. Starting with my newly formed theater company.”
I wrote back that there was not a reward but he sent his address anyway, I presume with the assumption that taking ownership of my liver is reward enough. But the address was in San Diego! I was like “I’m not getting on a cross country flight for a serial killer! Who am I, The Flight Attendant?!”
I wrote back “oh, yeah I’m not coming. Can you take a picture of the box? I’ll reach out to the sender.”
He did and y’all, it wasn’t even addressed to me. And it wasn’t a film! It was a fedexed copy of the script in a package addressed to the lead actress. I can only assume that he reached out to me because my name and email address is on the front page. But that means he had to open a package that was not addressed to him, root around inside, make the decision of whether he could get ransom more likely from me or from my agents, whose contact is also on the script, and then finally make the wrong choice. Like President Harrison Ford in Air Force One, I do not negotiate.
I wrote back “oh, we’ll just resend it. No reward, unfortch! Thank you!”
A day later he wrote back “I took it to FedEx.” Like, thanks friend but also why didn’t we do this in the first place? And more importantly, did you read it? Do you have any notes???
See the play that ransomers don't want you to see!
Crying on Television, my new farcical play about making friends as adults, streams from June 26 to July 10 (live performances May 31 through June 25). Tickets to both are on sale now!
Random Thing on the Internet
are you offering a reward for this?,