Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Huntington Workshop of Flight was a big success

The past two weeks really flew by as I workshopped my play, Flight, with the Huntington Theatre Company.  Talk about intense.  I was in rehearsal pretty much every other day from 10-6, and then on my off days, I was either writing or at the farm all day.  To find the time to make changes in the script, I'd typically get up at 5 a.m. and work until 9 (with a break for getting Noah ready for camp) and e-mail the pages to the producer and stage manager, so they could distribute them to the actors at 10.  I'd typically bring in 20-30 pages with changes every day of rehearsal (many changes were small).

Patrick Curran, Philana Mia, Cassie Back, David Anzuelo
Our cast of Patrick Curran, Philana Mia, Cassie Beck, and David Anzuelo, were immensely talented and hard working.  Led by director Jessica Bauman, we picked our way through the play, scene-by-scene, beat-by-beat.  I wanted them to ask me hard questions about their characters and they did, with the result being a constantly improving script.

Jessica Bauman, Rachel Carpman, Bethany Ford
I'm very grateful to my director, Jessica Bauman, for all her insights and guidance, and to dramaturg Rachel Carpman, for always being ready for a new question (often it was just: "does that make sense to you?"), and to stage manager Bethany Ford for keeping the whole process running smoothly.

We had a final public reading of the script on Saturday afternoon, for an audience of about 50 people.  (Kudos to them, by the way, for being so responsive and attentive.)  I felt like the reading really kicked ass.  The actors were sharp and the audience seemed to really follow the play and the emotional roller coaster of it.  Most of all, it was gratifying to pack the script back up, after we had so thoroughly unpacked and disassembled it, and find out that not only did it still work, it actually worked a lot better than it did before.

I'm grateful to the entire staff of the Huntington for putting this Summer Workshop series together and giving four playwrights the chance to really get elbow deep into their plays, to try to find out how they work and how to improve them.  Thanks to Lisa Timmel, Charles Haugland, and Bevin O'Gara for getting the funding and making it happen, and to line producer Rebecca Bradshaw for running the workshop.

Now I need to keep making a few more changes to the script and find a way land a full production of it.  Some questions about a script can only be answered with a full production.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Huntington Summer Workshop, Day 1

Photo: Director Jessica Bauman and HPF Patrick Gabridge (FLIGHT)
me and my director, Jessica Bauman at the Meet and Greet
Today was the first day of the Huntington Summer Workshop.  I got to meet with my director, Jessica Bauman, who has already given me some great ideas, and also with my dramaturg, Rachel Carpman, who is very smart and a good listener.  My brain was really buzzing by the end of the day.  Which was helped out by stimulating first readings of new plays by Martha Jane Kaufman and John Oluwole ADEkoje.
Tomorrow, we work from 10-6, with my play, Flight, getting its first read through at 10 am.  Sadly, I'll miss getting to see the first read through of Melinda Lopez's play, Becoming Cuba (though I was lucky enough to see a reading of it in March), because we'll be working.  We've got a terrific cast lined up--David Anzuelo, Cassie Beck, Patrick Curran, and Philana Mia--I'm excited to see them in action with the piece.
Also, at one of our planning meetings, I'd asked if the writers could have a quiet space somewhere in the building to write on breaks. So now it turns out that we each get our own dressing room.  With our names on the door and everything!  Very cool.  I spent some time in there today, as a quiet place to read my script again (without the many distractions that I've got just about everywhere else right now).
My dressing room / office. Big enough for a pick up hockey game, perhaps?

name on door
Yep, that's my name on the door. (Just need a star.)
Mr. Gabridge's key. Gotta love it.

Thanks again to the Huntington, especially Bevin, Lisa, Charles, Rebecca, and the development staff, and all the other staff, who are working to make this all happen.  It's a special thrill to get this sort of time with this high level of talent to work on my play.

Monday, July 2, 2012

update (is June already over?)

cast of Fire on Earth reading
Wow.  Okay, June was a bit of a whirlwind.

I had a blast writing for the T Plays, which just wrapped up this weekend.  My play, will/did/is ended up being a short little two-hander (plus extras) about a time traveler who misses the time traveler's convention and the woman who's been riding the T waiting for him for the past seven years.  Dakota Shepard and Brett Milanowski were brilliant in it.

Just as the T plays were getting underway, I attended the TCG National Theatre Conference. I couldn't afford to buy a ticket (they were something like $250-400 for individual artists), so I volunteered to help out (which got me a free pass).  Seth Godin gave a kick-ass plenary speech, which was followed by a stimulating panel on residencies for playwrights in large theatrical institutions. It got me thinking a lot about what I need as a playwright, versus how the business seems to be working right now.  Yes, I need money and benefits, but I also really, really need help from theatres in developing an audience for my work in my own community. And this doesn't happen without productions.  (More on all this when I have a spare minute to breathe and think and write.)

Speaking of local productions of my work, on the 26th I had a reading of my play, Fire on Earth, from Fresh Ink Theatre, in preparation for a workshop and production of the play.  The cast, of Omar Robinson, Bob Mussett, Chris Larson, Kevin LaVelle, and Kevin Fennessy, totally blew me away.  I hadn't seen the play since its last reading at the Huntington about a year and a half ago.  I'd made some changes since then, and these guys just completely devoured this script with intense energy and humor, all for a receptive (capacity) crowd at the Factory Theatre.  My excitement level for this workshop and production is a bit nuts, but it feels matched by my director, Rebecca Bradshaw.  Very cool.

During all this, I've been farming at our Pen and Pepper Farm in Dracut, and selling our produce to the World PEAS collective CSA and at a Thursday farmer's market in Jamaica Plain.  My capacity to do work, both physical and mental, has been stretched pretty hard this month.

I have a lot to think about and write about from all of it, but not quite yet.  Because July promises to be equally intense, with more farming, a production of my short play Organic Seed from Boston Actors Theatre (July 20-28), and a two-week workshop of my full-length play, Flight, at the Huntington Theatre (talk about excited!).  We'll have a reading of Flight at 5 pm on July 21.

Here we go!