Friday, May 25, 2007

May Day Play Day: prologue

Tonight is the start of May Day Play Day. This is a24-hour play making festival run by the South City Theatre Company here in Boston. Tonight four playwrights (including me) will meet with four directors and a dozen actors at the Devanaughn Theatre. We'll pick from a hat to see who works with whom. After that, I'm supposed to spend all night writing a short play. In the morning, my director and actors will take over and rehearse like crazy. At 8pm the show will be fully blocked, memorized, and ready for an appreciative audience.

I did this five years ago, and it was a hoot. Especially interesting was that the rehearsal process felt like any other, but merely compressed: initial excitement, fumbling, semi-mastery, everything falls apart when it's time to go off book and do the blocking, nervousness starting to focus the minds, exhaustion gets people a little punchy, and suddenly the lights come up and the magic of theatre brings the whole thing together.

I try not to come in with any preconceived notions of what I'll write. I especially enjoy writing with specific actors in mind. In some ways, this feels like a more necessary kind of theatre, one that takes all of the artistic collaborators into account from the beginning. (I need to think and write more about this someday.)

When I meet the actors tonight, I will ask the following questions:

  • What talents (besides acting) do you possess? Can you juggle, sing, play guitar, do cartwheels?
  • Do you speak another language besides English?
  • Are you a fast memorizer?
  • What have you always wanted to do on stage?
  • Can I take your picture?
I think those will give me a good start, and something I can lean on at 2am. (I'm gonna need a big bag of dark chocolate.) I'll check in with more posts as the eveng progresses

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