This is Ruben Delgado’s final day in New York City. He left home eight months earlier to seek his fame and fortune, convinced he could sell his 896-page novel, but all he found was rejection. As he retrieves his single box of possessions and his original manuscript, he sees his car being towed. In an attempt to stop from losing his means of escape from the city, he tosses his unbound manuscript out of his 23rd floor apartment window. As sheets of paper rain down on the city, we are transported into the novel one page at a time. There are now three interwoven plot lines: the novel, Ruben’s flashbacks over the past eight months, and his real time descent down 23 flights of stairs. In the end, Ruben’s novel does have relevance. Each person who reads a page is touched and their lives are changed. And, unbeknownst to Reuben, the last page lands in his car and is riding home with him.
PLAYWRIGHT JOEY A. CHAVEZ
TALKS ABOUT “23 FLIGHTS HOME”
Q: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS PLAY?
A: The play is based on a short story I wrote while living in New York in 1994. Many of the events actually happened to me such as meeting Punt the homeless man, Ruth the old lady with sage advice, and Ramona, the radical writer whose ethnic experience couldn’t be farther away than my own. And, of course, questioning who I was and what I was doing with my life.
Q: WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OR LINE IN THE PLAY? WHY?
A: When Ruben throws the novel out the window and it explodes apart only to rain down on the city he now hates. There were many times I wanted to throw my computer out of my apartment window, not because of failure, but because of computer errors. My wife talked me out of it several times. “Breathe deep, step away from the computer and I’ll fix it when I get home.” Besides, the computer may have really killed someone.
Q: WHERE DO THE CHARACTERS COME FROM? ARE THEY BASED ON PEOPLE YOU KNOW?
A: The characters in the novel are totally made up from composites of people I’ve meet and known here in Santa Fe. A lot of Ruben, the main character, is based on me and my experiences and, as mentioned before, Punt, Ruth, and Ramona are based on people I met in NYC. I did own a 1972 canary yellow Cutlass in my younger days but I didn’t take it to NYC.
Q: WHAT DID YOU TRY TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS PLAY?
A: First of all I wanted to adapt a short story to live performance with characters and dramatic structure intact and complete. As I worked on the play I found that I needed to expand the novel and then find ways for the pages to affect those who came in contact with them. In the end I was fascinated with trying to weave three stories together without being pedantic or worse yet, predictable.
Q: IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
A: I had no idea I would fall in love with the novel characters of Eddy and Edna.