Writing by its nature is a solitary activity. Me and a notebook. Me thinking. Me solving problems. Having said that, theatre by its nature is a community activity. It takes a community to bring theatre to life from onstage to offstage personnel. You can’t do it alone. And further, even though I say the writing process is solitary, the playwriting process will not succeed without outside influence. Without feedback. Without seeing the play on its feet. Without bringing the words to life. For the most part, I prefer the solitary side because I’m a solitary person. But there’s nothing like the joy in hearing your dialogue spoken for the first time. When you see that the play in your head matches what’s happening on stage. I have been known to dance in a workshop because the experience is so gleeful.
Over the past two months I’ve been working with three different schools on my latest play neeT Teen (which should be available right now! As we speak!). And the process of seeing these students put the play on its feet has been invaluable. Each school has brought something different to the experience. Different opinions on the various scenes. Different takes. And it’s all in a completely honest forthright fashion. They can’t react any other way. That’s the best (and of course, the worst) part about working with students. They illuminate whatever they’re working on with honest reactions void of subtext. If they like something you know right away because they’re engaged, they’re trying, they’re having fun. It’s the best moment when I look at a room full of students and everyone is participating to the fullest. It means I’m on the right track.
I can’t do it without you. I’m grateful for you, the students with your honesty because it makes my work better. I’m grateful for you, the teachers who let me into their classrooms and throw weird words at your students. Thank you.