Nothing feels better than having an vivid idea about how a play is supposed to look and sound and then being right. Of course the opposite can also be true. I worked on a short play last year – we have a number of vignette plays which are plays based on a theme made up of short scenes and monologues. Really great for classes. The particular theme was driving and I had so much material I decided to split the work into two plays. (Skid Marks: A Play About Driving and Skid Marks II: Are We There Yet?)
So, I did a workshop of the first play and it went fabulously. Ok, that’s great, I think, and put together the second play exactly like the first one. I organized a reading, was very excited, everything’s moving and grooving and it sank like a stone. It was not funny, it didn’t flow and my partner and I are sitting listening to the play with growing horror. We were having a full day workshop and during lunch he and I went for this long walk where the conversation basically went over and over again – “Did you think that was funny?” “No, did you think that was funny?” Not good.
But in essence this is the reason that plays need to be seen and heard. They don’t exist on the page, they need life to them. Words that look right on the page don’t necessarily sound right. Now I’ve been doing this for awhile and I’m pretty good at hearing what’s on the page as I work on it. But you just can’t assume things are what you think they are. The good news is that because of that workshop I did pretty much a complete re-write to Skid Marks II which I love and I think is better than before.
So my Tick Talk workshop on Friday was one of the good ones where I had this image of the play and as the students were working on it everything fell into place. I basically did three or four dances of joy throughout the morning. These students were fabulous to work with – very theatrical and smart. They gave me exactly what I wanted so that I could really focus on the play and say that works, that doesn’t work, let’s try it this way or that way. So much fun! I really love this part of creating a play.