LONGFELLOW resident Alvin Meckler took the oft-repeated advice to write about what you know when he penned a play about a man facing his own mortality.
The result, titled "Gibberish," will get a first reading at 2 p.m. June 28 in Theatre Outback at Howard Community College.
It is part of the Rep Stage Works in Progress Play Development Series.
Meckler said the play is about the reactions of a husband and wife when the man develops prostate cancer, a condition for which Meckler was successfully treated.
"The best thing about the play," said director Susan Kramer, "is how he has captured the relationship between the husband and wife. It's so real."
Despite the gravity of the topic, Meckler said, the play is not a tragedy. He described the husband as a person who mocks himself and the world, often using puns and other plays on words.
The play reading will be a first for Meckler, who retired from his job as a physics teacher at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 1989.
In the past, he has been on the other side of the footlights -- acting in university and community productions.
About 10 years ago, Meckler decided to try his hand at writing, starting with adaptations of novels. When his early efforts did not sell, he turned to his own experiences to produce an original script.
Kramer, who lives in Bryant Woods, has been the resident director of student productions at Howard Community College for the past year.
She made her debut as a director in high school. She directed a play for a church youth group in Arbutus.
In 1982, she directed the first play for the Baltimore Playwrights Festival, a script by Columbia writer Chris Dickerson.
Over the years, Kramer has directed other plays for the Baltimore festival and numerous student productions at Howard Community College.
Also involved in the play is Clary's Forest resident Jerry Brenner, who will read the part of Bill McAlister, a man the couple meets at a party.
A retired financial analyst, Brenner has been taking theater courses at the college for three years.
"I tried it and got hooked," Brenner said. He has since appeared in several productions at the college.
Meckler's play is one of three being presented next weekend in the Rep Stage series.
Actors will read from the script, without costumes or scenery. After the reading, the audience will offer feedback.
The series is co-sponsored by Rep Stage and the Columbia Festival of the Arts.
All readings are free and open to the public. Information: 410-772-4900.
Athletes win medals
Several west Columbia residents were among 49 Howard County athletes who competed in the Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games recently at the University of Maryland, College Park.
In aquatics, Wilde Lake resident Nick Stewart won a gold medal in the 100-meter medley relay, silver medals in the 50-meter freestyle and the 25-meter butterfly and a bronze in the 25-meter freestyle.
Clary's Forest resident Kyle Archard beat Stewart twice, winning a gold medal in the 25-meter butterfly, and a silver medal in the 25-meter freestyle.
He also won a bronze medal in the 50-meter freestyle.
Rosie Gallo of Hickory Ridge, who is new to the aquatics team this year, won a gold medal in the 15-meter assisted race, in which swimmers use flotation devices.
Harper's Choice resident Aaron Thornton, who uses a wheelchair, won gold medals in singles and doubles bowling.
Silver medals for doubles bowling went to a team consisting of Wilde Lake resident David Gold and Hobbits Glen resident Mia Luoma, and to another team that included Hickory Ridge resident Bill Young.
Silver medals for singles bowling went to Luoma and Young, while Alex Barnes of Clary's Forest won a bronze.
Serving as head coach for bowling is Jon Barnes, assisted by Gena Luoma and Hannibal Grove resident Jon Cohen.
The Howard County softball team won the silver medal in its division.
Team members include Hickory Ridge residents Bucky Buchanan, Marybeth Schenk and John Riedy; River Hill resident Jimmy Miller, and Harper's Choice resident David Engler.
L Serving as head coach is Engler's father, also David Engler.
The Howard County track and field athletes won 16 gold medals in their events.
Track and field coaches include Lynn Richardson of Hickory Ridge and Kathy Lindner of Dorsey's Search.
Hot line for parks
A new hot line set up by the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks will give residents a way to report problems at county parks such as vandalism, graffiti, loose dogs and dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets.
The number is 410-313-DIRT.
For crimes in progress, residents should call 911.
County-maintained areas in west Columbia include Cedar Lane, Martin Road and Hawthorn Parks.
It costs the county more than $175,000 a year in labor and materials to clean up trash and repair damage.