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.]