by Lindsay Joy · January 21, 2015
I'm terrible on planes. Terrible. I arrived at my gate at LGA on Friday night and promptly threw back a glass of sparkling wine to calm my nerves. As we were escorted to the plane via bus, the wind howled on the tarmac. Tears instantly froze on my face as I took in the horrible sight before me- a small plane. Like- really old and really small. A wash of regret hit me as I realized I should have had that tequila shot that the creepy businessman offered me at the bar. The plane had already been delayed due to high winds...the tiny, tiny, plane. Take-off was surprisingly smooth and for a moment I thought I was overreacting. Then, the wind hit. Hard. The guy across the aisle started crossing himself...I kept my eye on the wing that seemed to be jumping with every gust. Dread filled my heart- my only thought? I can't die, I haven't fixed the second act yet.
We landed safely...clearly. I was driven to my on-campus digs- a lovely little stone cottage that looks over the main quad of the idyllic Centre College. Our first day, I was greeted by our dramaturg, Mariele and we trotted over to the Arts building. I met my cast- so different from the kids in Ashland. By the time I finally met my kids at Ashland when they were in production mode- they were embodying their characters with full emotional gusto. My Centre Ensemble is cerebral...questioning, still figuring out what these characters are all about. They are the perfect ensemble to help me end this fucker. They were already off-book (which filled me with guilt, as I knew I'd be handing them so many new pages).
We read through- we chatted. I asked them questions that I could tell were perplexing. You see, I look at the big picture as I'm writing, and actors (those beautiful creatures) zero in on their individual character's wants and needs. I steal from them- I do it often and without remorse. The character of Brianna has been hard to nail down- why would a person pretend to be someone's girlfriend post-mortem? Maybe she was queer, too? Maybe they had an understanding? That was the delightful backstory that Miss Emily cooked up- I liked it and stole the shit out of it.
The Centre ensemble had never worked on a new play before- and certainly not a play in process. The second day of rehearsal was met with genuine gasps of shock as they read through all of the changes. A new play is a living and breathing thing- and it shifted based on what my Ashland beauties brought to the production and what new seeds were sprouting in the rehearsal room in Kentucky. I know a lot of writers don't love to be in a rehearsal room, but it is my very favorite thing about the process. Rewriting can be so hard- and to feel inspired and on a deadline fuels me in a big way. I almost have to trick my pride into it...so stupid. In college you could have given me a hundred days to write a paper (a thing I LIKED doing) and I would still wait until that last week to do it. When I know I'm entering a room of actors expected new stuff it ignites that same feeling- get it done, Lindsay. Don't disappoint.
I left Kentucky today- I'm on my flight home in a big plane with far less turbulence. I felt sad to say good-bye to my Kentucky darlings, though I know I will be back in less than a month. I have a re-write I feel good about- still revisions to make and things to shift, but I feel good.
This project has saved me a little bit. I spent the better part of the fall surrounded by those in failing health and some losing that battle. Death has a way of putting things in sharp focus. I observed people really supporting one another- really moving past painful events to see the love between them. I felt proud to stand next to my favorite person in the world when the shit hit the fan...to hold his hand, to make him lasagne, to bring him clothes for the funeral. I was feeling blocked...run down, blocked, and sad. I needed a place to put all of those feelings, and they fit in act two, as it turns out.
More to come- the Centre Production is in full swing and I couldn't be more excited.
Peace, Love, and Playwriting.