Playwriting

The Journey of a Play: See the Play in Production

Lindsay is in development with a new script – Somewhere, Nowhere. Today she talks about adjustments and reflections on seeing the play in production for the first time.

Transcript

Hello, welcome to the next installment of: The Journey of A Play. Next up: See The Play in Production. I think this is probably the most important step, because plays are not finished until they are living and breathing on the stage; and, more to that, you also add in the piece of the puzzle that’s missing in all the other aspects, and that’s the audience. You get to see the action of the play, on stage with the actors, moving, breathing, speaking, and you also get the reaction of the audience: what do they like? What don’t they like? Time and time again, I’ve written something and I went, “Oh, you know, this is like, the moment that’s going to like, really really resonate with an audience.” And sometimes I’m right, and sometimes I’m wrong. That’s why you need to see that in action before the play moves any further. And I’m going to be really lucky; I get to see Somewhere, Nowhere, which is the play that we’re talking about, I get to see it in three different productions over the next three months.

So, Somewhere, Nowhere is the latest play that I’m working on. It’s a full length play which is compartmentalized into four one-acts. So, the great thing about that is that a school can do the four one-acts as a full-length, or someone can take one of them out and do them independently. So what I get to see first is I get to see a school do the whole thing, and see what that looks like. So, there’s a couple of things I’m looking for. I’m looking to see, as a whole, if this play works from beginning to end, because there are characters who weave their way through the four one-acts, and I need to be able to see the journey of that play from beginning to end. That’s what I’m gonna be basically looking at: What the play looks like in action, what’s the reaction of the audience, I’m going to be listening for my dialogue and seeing how that sounds coming out of actors’ mouths. Words sound so different in action than sometimes they look on the page, and I make changes all the time, like, “Oh, I’m gonna shorten that up,” or, “Oh, you know what, I’m missing something there, there’s a beat missing there, there’s a rhythm missing there, I need to fill that in.” So, as I said, this is really the most important step, this is the step that says if the play will work or not, and whether or not it will move forward in the production process. Now, I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I’ve seen a reading of the play so I’m pretty confident in what I’m going to see, but it’s never a done deal until I see that production. So: First Production, Lakewood Range High School, I’m going to go off and see it right now. Alright!

I think I just ran away from home. But it’s freezing. And I can’t feel my feel.

My goodness, come in.

And I itch, and I hope you don’t mind; the door was open, and if I knock, my hand might shatter, and I’d rather not go through life with one hand and one stump.

Take your boots off and get over by the fire.

Thank you, thank you! I didn’t plan. I should have prepared. It was an impulse. A moment. Just a thing. It came rushing at me. Had it. Leave. Now. And I did. And maybe I would have gotten further with my “Had it. Leave. Now.” in the summer, or the spring, or even late fall. Impulses in the winter time do not carry the same value.

Okay, so I saw the show last night. I’m an official member of troupe 6020. I got this very awesome of this signed poster for Somewhere, Nowhere. And it was a really, really great night. I had the opportunity to be here at the school for three days, so I saw the dress rehearsal, I saw them rehearse some more before I saw the opening night. This cast has had some trouble with lines, which is a bit problematic for me because one of the things I’m really looking for, as I said before, is the rhythm of the lines and do they sound right, and when students are struggling with lines, it really affects. You’re not quite sure if it’s the script which isn’t right, or if it’s actors grasping. So it was awesome that, by the time we got to the opening night, they were able to pull it all together and present the script in a really nice fashion.

And this is the script right here, what I do is I spend half the time watching and have the other half of the time listening. I measure, I see how long the acts are. There’s a very specific time, because they’re also individual one acts as well, and they need to be competition-like, so they can’t be any longer than thirty-five minutes, so I’m very happy that they all come in very nicely under that. And, a lot of times about when I’m looking at how students say lines, and there’s a couple of characters who repeat things too much. One of the things I’m also looking for is because it’s a full length and its also individual one-acts, when it’s a full length, is there too much repetition in the story? Because there has to be enough repetition so that we know what the stories are and who the characters are, but if there’s too much and when it’s all presented together, it’s going to feel overdone, and I’m so happy that that’s not the case at all.

So I’ve got about– Oh, I don’t know– I’ve got about a couple of hours of very minute line massaging that I’m gonna do. And I get to see this show, Somewhere, Nowhere, next month I get to see it with different schools taking on the different one acts, which is fantastic because I get to see another take at it, another run, another interpretation. And then, another production is going to happen in February, and they’re going to get the brand new script, with all the new line changes I’m going to make, and that is going to be excellent. Okay, that’s it for A Journey of A Play.

About the author

Lindsay Price