by Padraic Lillis · February 1, 2015
I am glad that Lindsay was able to be in residence at Centre College for three days of rehearsal. According to everyone it was very productive. As she shared in her blog post the immediacy of being in front of the cast created a demand for showing up with new pages. And pages worth their time and talent. The other exciting part is that it got everyone in the same room and they were able to fully benefit from the collaboration.
Lindsay went down with a rewritten first act that successfully addressed some unanswered questions from the last draft. Things like, how and when did Freddy's sister get his laptop? Did Pete's dad retire or leave for an illness? These answers grounded the play in a stronger reality. It may have been real for the cast before but addressing these questions will allow the audience to remain fully engaged. The exciting thing about answering each question a play asks is that it prompts another. And another. Facing the larger questions of a play head on is what makes a play go from good to possibly great.
Jordan, Centre College's Assistant Stage Manager, shared that "Seeing her and Patrick (the director) hash out ideas that have been giving both of them trouble was helpful for everyone and provided an experience most people don't get to have."
I like that Jordan points out that the writer and director were hashing things out. Also, that it was valuable for the students to witness that. Most students don't get to see a playwright and director collaborate on a new script, which is one of the goals of this program. However, another goal is for the actors to recognize that they are an incredibly valuable part of the 'hashing out'. As Lindsay mentioned in her post, she was struggling with the character of Brianna and was happy to borrow from the actress, Emily, playing the role. The back story Emily created helped answer a lot of questions about Brianna prior to the play as well as her stakes in being at the event of the play. Each question, answer, artistic choice, and quiet observation helps to shape the work.
While hearing about the process of those three days I was struck by the sense of ownership that the students have over their particular roles. And the play. I remember when we were leaving Ashland that cast all spoke about how much they loved their characters. They were protective of them. They wanted to see what the next actor would do with them, hoping that they took great care of them. I know from what I have seen and read about the rehearsals that the cast at Centre is taking wonderful care and approaching these characters with great love, appreciation, and intelligence.
I am glad for all of their input, care, and ownership. I am also grateful for their appreciation that the play is changing and evolving as Lindsay is learning more about the play. It is hard to let go of choices already made. It is also hard to let go of a desire an actor might have for their character's journey. Patrick, the director, sent me an email about the work with Lindsay in the room, and at the end of it he shared an astute observation from a 17 year old who was a guest at a run thru. Patrick recognized its potential value and ended our email with "...is a thought not offered into the conversation by anyone at this point, and I don't know if Lindsay would want someone to air it. I will ask her this week."
Everyone's input is valuable. All ideas are important. And ultimately, the script is the responsibility of the writer. I love this collaboration.
Talk with you soon.