THIS is what I've been craving.
On May 13th, director Mikaela Kafka and actors Jason Faust, Jack Flatley, Osborn Focht, Catherine Gasta, Kendra Holloway, and Joelle Zazz met me and Takeo Hori, who documented our work for the day, at TheaterLab at 10 a.m. We started with a (very animated) table read. Then we spent the rest of the day (minus lunch) running Viewpoints exercises, throwing props around, and blocking the crazed nonsense that is the penultimate scene of The Bigsley Project. We tried stuff. We tried other stuff. We experimented. We attempted. We took a shot. And we had FUN.
THIS is what I want out of new play development! Oh my god it was FUN! Everyone was on their feet, thinking, playing, working. It was joyful and creative and when something didn't pan out, we just went on to the next thing. I learned so much watching these actors engage with the text, throw down the script to plunge into the scrum, grab a page, fumble through, shout, whisper, rage, scoot, carry, dance, and emote with operatic intensity through my script. NO amount of table reading and text tweaking and fine-tooth-combing and honing could possibly have shown me what I learned watching actors do their thing, full bore.
The Bigsley Project has had its fair share of table reads and public readings behind music stands. I have had my fair share of support developing the text. But I've never had THIS, and I've been trying to get THIS, and I've accepted that no one--no theater company or development organization--was going to give me THIS, so I created it for myself.
What. Took me. So long.
(Hint: money. Let us pause here and reflect on the upside of the Day Job.)
I'm so grateful to the creative team that showed up on May 13th to play. They were all of them impressively game. I have to say: I paid everyone (except Takeo--hazard of being married to me, among so many hazards). Fair compensation is important to me. I asked people to show up and run around and throw themselves on the floor and toss around office supplies and that should be compensated by more than a post-workshop beer (we had those, too). I want to work in a theater community where artistic work is compensated by more than good feelings, and new play development is about doing what a particular play really needs to get on its feet. For some plays, perhaps that's another table read, another round behind the music stands. For The Bigsley Project, I knew in my gut it was anything but. Soon I'll be raising money to do a longer workshop, because one day was not enough. I want so much more of THIS.