by Stephen Belber
Director's Notes, May 2013
• [as adj. ] appearing or manifesting but not actually existing • a faint trace of something : she gave the ghost of a smile.
• a faint secondary image produced by a fault in an optical system or on a cathode-ray screen, e.g., by faulty television reception or internal reflection in a mirror or camera.
I’ve always been fascinated by ghosts. Not the ones in a white sheet that go bump in the night, but the ones that follow us around step by step, breath by breath, so silently you rarely sense they’re there. But they are there. Always. Inevitably. Tugging at the present with the ferocity of a rabid dog. And it’s a funny thing with these ghosts because unlike the ones in a white sheet they have no intention of scaring you; they simply want to be remembered for every day of the rest of your life and never ever forgotten.
Dusk Rings a Bell is full of ghosts and with every line of every page I had only one thought in mind; it’s hard to be a human being and almost impossible to be a good one. I think that’s why after four readings I threw it under the bed and tried to find something else to direct. I wanted a comedy, something less honest, something less demanding, and something that wouldn’t bring me to tears. Of course, I never found it because I didn’t really want to find it, which didn’t make sense, couldn’t make sense, until I finally realized that this was a play about the miraculous strangeness of being alive. Once I got that, I got everything.