Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Real Thing- Aaron Levy

I had breakfast the other day with a former student of mine named Aaron Levy.

Remember that name.

Aaron was in town from New York visiting his parents and he rang up his old teacher.

After getting his B.A. Aaron hung around Chicago. He logged film for a reality sports TV show, I hired him as a p.a. a few times- he was lousy as a p.a. it was just not his cup of tea (not mine either)- and he did a variety of add jobs like work in a lawyers' office. In all his spare time he would write. Of all my students in these near 13 years of teaching college Aaron is the one who sticks out as a writer. As a college student he was a mediocre filmmaker, but an excellent writer. More importantly he loves the act of writing perhaps more than anyone I know.

A few years after he graduated I prodded him into applying to graduate schools and he was accepted at NYU. Two years later he received a M.F.A. in playwriting. In the years since NYU he has been a struggling artist. He has had some opportunities and readings, took some more classes, got hired at an off-Broadway theater as a manager. In June had a one act play produced in Washington D.C. He's on the rise.

When Aaron walked into the restaurant early the other day he was a new man. Gone was the round, soft, relaxed former student. In walked a lean, 32 year old playwright- an artist, a person on a mission. I was taken not only by his physical transformation- he also quit smoking and began exercising- but his emotional transformation. Sitting before me was a creative person to be reckoned with. As we ate, Aaron told me about his new play. It's about race and youth and when he pitched it I got goose bumps. He asked if I want to read it. I said, "No, I'll wait to see it."

So you don't think I romanticize all of my former students, I left the restaurant and went to my second meeting of the morning (I get a lot done before 9am). This was with two former students- who I have previously hired- who have really good editing jobs, making nice money and doing really fine work. I like them a lot, respect them even more, but they are not artists of the same caliber.

If there is a consistent theme to this blog it is work hard, then work harder. It takes ten years to be an overnight success, just keep at it if it is something you want to do. So with apologies to Tom Stoppard keep your eye out for playwright Aaron Levy- the real thing.