THE SINGULARITY sees the light of day (in a dark theater)

pre-reading – I was entirely too distracted to take a decent shot, but you get the idea

THE SINGULARITY. My first full-length play experienced its first public reading last Saturday. This was in Dallas at Kitchen Dog Theater during their new play fest. They read six new plays over two weekends. And it was fanfuckingtastic.

THE THEATER. I didn’t know what to expect. The communications from the artistic directors (Tina and Chris) had been friendly and laid back. My director and I had exchanged a few emails, and she was responsive and nice. Once I saw the cast list, I googled the actors (because I’m a stalker), and they all looked talented and experienced. But you never know until you see people in action. Let me say this: Dallas has some talented mofos. In addition to my reading, I also watched the reading that followed, and the actors and directors in both casts were top notch. I totally plan to steal a couple of their actors the next time we do a show here. The Kitchen Dog people were great, and I’m not just saying that because they plied me (and everyone else) with bloody marys and gourmet popcorn. Though it did kind of make me feel like we were soul mates.

THE READING. There’s nothing like getting your work in front of an audience for the first time. You hope it goes well, there’s a chance it won’t, and you have to relinquish control and just ride the wave right along with the audience. You imagine this world, populated with these people who are trying to reach some sort of destination. And you try to get the audience invested enough in the story that they’ll give a shit about what they’re watching. And if you’re on your game, the people in the audience begin to see the world that you saw in your head when you wrote the script. And if the actors are on their game, and the director has given them the roadmap they need, the audience sees these characters coming to life before them. And the whole lot of you, in that dark, cold theater, go on a journey together. If everyone–playwright, director, actors, crew and audience–has done their job, everyone feels good about the journey once it’s over. If not, they leave the theater saying, “Well that was a piece of shit. Want to grab a drink?” It’s a terrifying and magical situation to be in.

THE DIRECTOR. Rhonda Boutté, the director of my script, did things with the reading that I’ve never seen done before. I already told her that I plan on ripping off her style (as best I can) the next time I’m involved in a reading. She had the actors doing sound effects that were so good, you couldn’t believe they were coming from the people sitting right in front of you. And the effects made the performance feel like so much more than a reading. My script was lucky to have been teamed up with her.

THE TALK BACK. Discussions with the audience after a reading can be terrific or terrible or some nether region between the two. For this reading, I asked my director if I could not talk so much, letting her and the cast address questions from the audience. Glad I made that request because the answers they gave provided me with insight into my play. I already know what I think, so if I’d done all the talking I wouldn’t have learned anything. I’m in the midst of tweaking the script now (does that make me a tweaker?) based on the reading and discussion that followed. Plan on finishing that up today while the performance is still fresh in my mind. Plus, it’s 100 degrees out, James and the dogs are taking a nap and the house is quiet, and I’m waiting to see if TS Debby out in the Gulf is going to grace us with her presence (and rain). The perfect ingredients for playing with my play. Hope you’re having an equally nice Sunday.

[One final thing – if you haven’t taken my past suggestion to read The Trailer Park Cyclist’s blog, I really recommend you at least read yesterday’s post. Where my blog is generally a step or two above a fart joke, the TPC is fucking WRITING. And it’s beautiful and heartbreaking and tapping into both good and bad things that are oh so familiar.]

2 Replies to “THE SINGULARITY sees the light of day (in a dark theater)”

  1. Why Crystal, you make me blush. I am rained in by Debby (really, Tropical Storm Debby? Why not “Little Debbie”? When I was at school we would get these “T” storm warnings and we used to joke about falling tea bags but then, like a threat from Heaven not to be so jocular about heavy weather, the local grocery (the Big T Market) lost their sign in a storm. The next day there it was on the front page, a giant “T” on its side in the parking lot with the headline “T-Storm Strikes Market.” I wish I could make up stuff like this.) So, where was I? Oh yes, rained in which means beer guzzling, tequila shots and loud music and intertardation.

    I finally got around to clicking the video on your Matt post and then spent the next twenty minutes trying to copy his dance precisely in case I meet him someday. After the dogs calmed down and stopped barking I read your “Singularity” post and saw your too kind words. Thank you so much.

    Are you familiar with a story called “Act One” by Moss Hart? If not, you should be. I am envious of your theatrical endeavors and sorely miss the smell of the crowd and I wish you all the success you deserve.

    tj

    1. Yesterday we were getting hyped up that Debby (what a ridiculous spelling) was headed toward our part of the Gulf Coast. It might have meant a day off work, some rain, a little meteorological excitement. But it looks like Florida is going to have all the fun. Hope you at least are getting a break from the heat, and I hope the rain is gone by the time you set off on your journey tomorrow. Good luck.

      Man, dogs really love/hate it when people dance. If I ever want to enliven things with a cacophony of dog sounds, I just have to do a little bit of the cabbage patch and both dogs go ape shit.

      Haven’t read “Act One.” Added it to my ever growing list of books to read. Thanks for the recommendation. There’s little fame and no fortune in writing plays, but there’s also nothing like that interaction with your audience in real time. I highly recommend it.

      Keep an eye on the sky. Watch out for falling tea bags. And let us know how things go.

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