by Padraic Lillis · August 18, 2014
The three day workshop exceeded all expectations. Actually it met exactly what we set out to do. Which means to say it was ideal and rarely are there ideal experiences. There is usually a problem or two. Our problems were not process oriented. We had 8 incredibly talented and smart actors, two faculty members, engaged students, a director and dedicated playwright - all focused on the development of the play and the development of the artists. We couldn't be happier.
Okay, what happened today. Well, we did a reading of the script for about 15 invited guests. The reason for the reading at the end of the workshop was to hear the play through a new lens. Audiences alway heighten the awareness for what is and isn't in the story. It was a useful and final step to send Lindsay off on the next stage of rewrites. We are grateful for our audience. What we learned or confirmed is that the play is engaging and moving. It also confirmed where the play can, needs, and wants to go. So, thank you to all who attended the reading. We're glad you are along for this journey.
Before the reading we worked through the remainder of the play. We had more thorough discussions. Beat by beat. And through the discussion we discovered a deep understanding of each character. What their need is. It was an incredibly valuable archeological dig. Lindsay brought in about 12 new pages today. The end of the play was not worked on yet...only so much can be achieved in one night. And the depth of the work on the play was forcing the end of the play to change. If not to be theatrically different the meaning of the events would shift to a deeper place.
I'm interrupting this blog post to say that three days around the table to discuss the world of a new play with incredibly smart and talented artists is an incredible gift and one that I appreciate tremendously. I am grateful for everyone's input. I am also grateful for the discussion with collaborators, like Scott Hudson, afterward who encourage me to write about the specifics of the discovery so that the students who weren't in the room can be part of the conversation as they enter into the process through auditions this coming week.
Lindsay has each of the characters fully loaded emotionally for needing to be in this room with these people. Each of them is fueled with guilt, anger, and love. Along with many other emotions. The premise of the play, for anyone that doesn't know, is a high school friend (Freddie) has committed suicide. Friends are gathering after the funeral. The discussion today revealed a lot of important information about the world of the play. All of it is in there or we couldn't have discovered it. The talk was what needs to be brought out in the play and what can be left unsaid in order to increase the experience for the audience.
I'll give a couple of examples. It is casually mentioned that Trevor leaves Freddie's family's house earlier than expected. Why? There were a lot of clues mentioned in the script: He wants to get to the house where he can do drugs and escape. He wants to be in the comfort of his friends. He wants to get away from the girl that everyone thinks is Freddie's girlfriend. The reason isn't given. But when that last idea is spoken, the room can immediately picture the reality of Freddie's family consoling, comforting, welcoming the girl as if she were the love of Freddie's life and not Trevor who actually is. Now that is a reality of what is happening. But it isn't mentioned in the text. Our discussion becomes about how deep and wide does the play want to expose the details of the world - and what makes for a greater experience for the audience. We all leaned towards wanting the world to be exposed more and to make it a larger view for the audience to experience these people's stories because they are complex and loaded.
Another idea that was discussed is about what pushed Trevor to threaten to out Freddie to his friends and family. This video, captured by Hayley of Centre College, shows a great discussion of the realization of what motivated it and why it is justified behavior - even if it is not 'nice' behavior.
The video shows the discussion of why Trevor did what he did - and does the audience need to know this or is it enough for the character to know this. I love how inclusive the conversation is and how you see Lindsay taking it in, and balancing what has to be included into the story. I also like that the word 'explosive' is used. That indicates it would be nice to see in the play. It will upset the world, knock it on its side, so we can see it another way. It will give us, but also the other characters, a different perspective on the character. Of course the choice, if it is in the play, is when is it best to shift that perspective. That's the craft that Lindsay is balancing.
This truly was the topic of the day. How much of each story needs to be brought out into the script. Lindsay's play has rich characters which are confronting large ideas about today's world. The work of the last three days allowed us to know that the story can hold more. The world and the needs are greater. This is a goal of the college collaboration - to let the artist enlarge their canvas. If it needs to be bigger that's an option, but definitely to allow them to go deeper. Here is a video Hayley captured of me talking about this idea. It is also excellent product placement.
I am excited to watch the characters of the play be brought out and developed over the next seven months. Lindsay has three productions to sculpt the world she is creating.
The three days were wonderful. Scott Hudson and his students were very present in our discussions. Grateful that Gino, from Clark, was at the reading and part of the discussion and that Centre College was present for all three days. Just a privilege to have everyone engaged.
Next step in the process is auditions in Ashland. I know that Lindsay is going to keep writing and letting this work inform the next steps of the journey.
Talk with you soon.