Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Extreme Green had a staged reading last weekend by the Chicago Dramatists Theatre in Chicago.
It was an amazing experience and a great process for me to be involved with as a writer. Six plays were chosen from about one hundred submissions. Director Mike Menendian, the artistic director of The Raven Theatre, judged all the plays and made the final performance selections. Mine was one of the six.
The day of the play's presentation I was assigned two Equity actors and Mike directed the play. The read-through went well and the rehearsals were fun. Words on the page play so differently on stage and when coming out of an actor's mouth. The writing is crucial but so is the acting. It's interesting to see how actors break down a scene and how a director blocks out your character's action on stage.
What I love about playwriting is how quickly you get to see your work produced and performed. I wrote Extreme Green this summer. It was performed before an audience three months later. The feedback is immediate and helpful (and in your face). When you sit (and squirm) in that audience as the playwright, you know what works and what doesn't by the vibe of the audience. They laugh in spots you don't expect and miss moments you thought were gems, but land flat.
The audience was kind, supportive and gave their opinions about each play to the playwrights. Some advice was positive and some negative. As a writer, it's important to listen (not defend everything) but be open to how an audience reacts to what you wrote. Sometimes they want more details, or less information, or more of something else. Sometimes they're confused. Sometimes they love it. Sometimes they don't love everything about it.
Overall, going to Chicago was a tremendous experience for me. Chicago Dramatists are one terrific group. The hit play "A Steady Rain" starring Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig had a run there (without the big stars, of course). Now it's on Broadway and making millions.
So, time to do another rewrite on Extreme Green in case it gets another performance somewhere else down the road. That's what's so inspiring about get your writing into a workshop. If you write scripts or plays, ask some local actors or friends to come over and read your work aloud.
It will amaze you with what you'll hear and what you may not hear.