So, my blogging schedule is a little off. 🙂 Is today already THURSDAY?! I can’t believe it! But I am looking forward to seeing my husband in a few days. 🙂
Well, today is officially day ten for me at The Playwrights’ Center, but let’s back up and take a look at the past two incredible days!
Tuesday I had the privilege of witnessing the reading of Dominic Orlando‘s All That is Solid Melts Into Air. What a unique, engaging experience! The reading was staged quite effectively, so much so that I can hardly imagine it being more effective with extensive sets or costumes. The cast was brilliant and the work itself was quite intriguing. And it’s only part one of Orlando’s complete play! I don’t know when part two might come to light, but the feeling I had leaving the reading was that this play could be truly epic.
Wednesday was a long, exciting day. I tried my hand a tiny bit of tech for Winter Miller’s The Arrival (“a tiny bit of tech” means I spend about an hour and a half NOT hitting the space bar on the computer until, at the proper moment, I un-mute the soundboard channel and hit the space bar, triggering a larger-than-life video to appear. It makes me so nervous that my hands are sweating just thinking about it) — but hey, this time at least, everything went well. 🙂
I’ll come back to The Arrival in a minute (since it’s the one I know the most about), but I’d also like to mention that I stayed after The Arrival to watch Mat Smart‘s Tinkers to Evers to Chance, a play about a mother, a daughter, and baseball, specifically, their love of the Chicago Cubs. Now, I know next to nothing about baseball (other than what I can glean from watching A League of Their Own), but this play had me from the opening pitch. It was a sensitive but hilarious look at relationships and the struggle to persevere in the face of adversity and great personal trial. I was completely entranced, supremely captivated, and totally in awe of the two excellent actors who performed this entire piece, not to mention the incredibly skillful staging of the reading and the deft hand that captured such variety of emotion in a play that, offhand, seems to be about baseball, but was really about life.
Now let’s return to The Arrival. 🙂
I am truly in awe of the people most intimate to the process of making a play like The Arrival happen. As The Playwright Center’s artistic director Jeremy Cohen likes to say before each show, what they are doing in these two weeks takes a TON of courage. The actors in The Arrival are so talented, not just as excellent, prepared actors would be, but as fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-I-just-got-this-new-script-today-and-just-received-these-new-pages-ten-minutes-ago impromptu performers who take everything we’ve discussed over the last five rehearsals and apply it, in the moment, to words they have never before read. And the do it IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE. It’s STUNNING! The brilliant cast includes Barbara Kingsley, Mikell Sapp, Terry Bellamy, Sonja Parks, Maggie Chestovich, and Adia Morris. The director, Josh Hecht, rolls with the punches, always there for his actors and his playwright, always looking for the best way to integrate the changes without disrupting what has been created, always flexible, and always, always, incredibly gracious. And then there’s Winter Miller. Talk about courage!! This woman spent all day Wednesday revising her script, right up until the last minute. Now, it takes guts to share your written work with anyone. But to whip out new pages, new dialogue, and make drastic changes in your script that you’re not even sure you like, to do that and then to hand it off to be performed THAT DAY in front of an audience — that’s true bravery. And that is exactly what she did. The reading went beautifully, in my opinion. I am sure that no one who hasn’t been in the rehearsals for the last week realized just how much had changed. And I think it culminated into a beautiful, heartfelt production about the brokenness of people and the way that brokenness can stretch across generations and could one day break our world if we don’t find a new and better path. There was a moment at the end in which three of the actors instinctively grasped each other’s hands. THIS was the most powerful moment for me because it was completely unrehearsed, completely unplanned. The power of what Miller created in The Arrival took such hold in these performers that they responded in that moment the way their characters would respond. And that is the beauty of live theatre. That is a moment that cannot be recreated nor experienced again in the same way. That is why I love what I do.
Tonight I am looking forward to seeing Sarah Gubbins‘ The Water Play and tomorrow — after a mad dash of changes by the playwrights — we start the readings all over again, adding in a special showcase of plays on Saturday for The Playwrights’ Center’s McKnight and Jerome Fellows. ALL performances are free and open to the public, so if you happen to live in the Minneapolis area (or maybe even a few hours away; it’s worth it!), come on over and check out some moving and fascinating new plays. But make reservations! The theatre is filling fast.
Stay tuned for next time on ADVENTUUUUUURES WIIIIIITH CHICKYYYYYY!!!!!