Tuesday, June 7, 2011

report from Idaho--days 3 and 4

Still working hard in Idaho.  Yesterday was a busy day--I had a three-hour meeting with Larry Leobell (a man with uncommon energy and storytelling skills, and I'm not just buttering up) about Flight, out in the sun by the Fogglifter Cafe.  Getting to talk in depth about the ins and outs, strengths and weaknesses, of the play is just what I needed and have been looking forward to.  I left with a head full of ideas (that I'm still trying to sort out).  I've got the full conference to work on them, but I'm trying to put in a major push to get some changes made before the end of Wednesday, when I need to turn in the first draft that will go to my cast.

After that meeting, I was on to a meeting with the high school student that I'm helping mentor.  She has a staged reading of her play on Thursday, so the director and I were meeting with her to give her some feedback and guidance on the play.  I'm sure we left her head spinning just as mine was spinning after my meeting with Larry.

Then it was off to a company meeting, which makes me continue to be so impressed by the group that runs Seven Devils.  They're completely dedicated to developing plays and playwrights.  They emphasize that this is a conference rather than a festival.  It's really about the process of creating the work, more than trying to focus on the presentational aspects. 

Especially interesting to me is how they've managed to be so fully embraced by the McCall community (it helps that the founders have strong local connections).  The people of this town donate an incredible amount of space, housing, money, food, and all other sorts of support.  Working with a company that so completely embraces the essential human and communal nature of theatre is completely exciting to me.

There are a lot of reasons not to write plays, but being part of Seven Devils seems like a good reason to be a playwright--the chance to work intensely with good people, in a beautiful place, on complex projects, in a nurturing community.

In the afternoon, while hiding out from a crazy hail storm in the Seven Devils office, I started making changes to the script.  Drawing first blood is an important first step in the revision process.

The day ended with a three-hour rehearsal of the student play, which featured some really terrific high school student actors from McCall (as well as our imported professional.)

Today, the morning was all about writing, struggling bit by bit through small changes that might make big results.  Then it was off to a field trip trying to drive to Bergdorf, but the road was closed due to snow, and the end of the Ponderosa Park (where the road was also closed).  So Larry Loebell and fellow intensive playwright Bob Bartlett and I basically hung out in the mist, watched birds and the swamp, and told stories.  Because what else do three playwrights do in the Idaho rocky mountains.  Pretty fantastic.

Here are some photos from Lily Marsh of Bob and Larry:

Next, more rehearsals and more readings and more writing.  Tomorrow will be about writing all day. 

 Here are Larry and me in the same spot.

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