“I feel like a kid with a whole bunch of new toys,” Varon said. “I can start in 2012 and wind up 70 years earlier. What you can do with a comma!”
Varon can’t get away from performing though. Saying that the literary form only works for him if he says the words aloud, Varon is returning to his home base, the Marsh Theater on Valencia Street, with five of his stories in The Listener. The show plays Jan. 5 through Jan. 27.
Varon says he loves the characters in these stories, seniors in a Jewish retirement home in San Francisco.
“They’re fascinating, smart, well-informed, funny, and they’ve lived amazing lives,” Varon said. “They have rich inner lives, and they’re mischievous. Just because you’re over 80 doesn’t mean you stop getting into trouble.”
The inspiration for these stories came when a rabbi friend of Varon’s asked him to do a performance for a series he was doing. Varon planned to dust off an old monologue but instead found himself writing a story about a 91-year-old man with no cell phone in a San Francisco retirement home.
“Now I’m living with bunch of incredible old people inside my head, trying to write as fast as I can what they’re saying to me and shape it into a story,” Varon said.
Varon says he looks forward to sharing these characters with the Marsh audience, like the title character 84-year-old Selma Cohen, who is such a good listener that everyone tells her their stories.
“She hasn’t lost her desire,” Varon says. “She meets a good looking Stanford student and immediately imagines herself naked in bed with him. She’s calculating when he’s 40, she’ll be 104, but she doesn’t think that should be a deal breaker.”
With these stories, he’s doing what a playwright does, Varon says – putting a people in the same place at the same time and seeing what happens. Along with the five stories he’s finished, Varon says he has another half dozen gestating.
“This whole cycle of stories is really my love letter to my parents and their generation,” he said.