Week 3 with NYSAF
Week 3 started off with a pre-reading reading of Emma’s play A Knee That Can Bend in the lovely air conditioned lounge of the New England building. When I walked into the reading, I found out I was cast (much to my surprise) as the female chorus which meant I’d be playing a handful of characters. I had a blast just diving into those characters with reckless abandon. It felt good “acting” again.
In addition to all the activity happening this week, the Lark was up here on a retreat as well. I was super excited about this because that meant my fellow playwrights/buds A. Rey Patmatmat and Carla Ching would be up here. Friends to hang out with! As an added bonus, I got to meet the rest of Lark writers and performers. All good people. And they know how to have fun. We’ll get to that later.
Have to finish my play. Early in the week, I sent the cast a rough draft, and boy oh boy was it rough. There were scenes that made no sense. Missing transitions and beats. By the end of the week, I got to type in the three most beautiful words in the English language: End of play. At our first rehearsal on Friday, I was able to get the play into much better shape. My previous director Tamara was able to come up to direct this incarnation. It’s an exciting time for this play because it’s brand spanking new and it’s the fastest I’ve ever written a play. From start to finish, it was roughly a month. I secretly hope I’ve developed super writing muscles that will allow me to do that for every new play I start #wishfulthinking.
One thing that became abundantly clear after our first rehearsal was my Pomalinks (cheerleading greek chorus) are freaking adorable. Funny stuff is going on with them. The girls were so enthused to work on the cheers.
Friday night Tamara and I saw my friend’s play The Power of Duff which was playing at the Powerhouse Theater and starring Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Westfeldt. Afterward, there was a party/reception in the lobby of the Martel for all the artists up there that weekend. It was like a veritable who’s who of NY theater. It was great because it felt like all my NYC peeps were transplanted to Poughkeepsie. After three weeks of unstructured solitary writing, it was great to see some friendly faces.
Saturday was day 2 of rehearsal. I brought in some new pages, and figured out a way to theatricalize the climax which I think helps the play and the audience immensely. Later that night Tamara and I went to Beech Tree for a drink and met up with the Lark people and the Duff cast and others. It’s interesting that Beech Tree is the official NYSAF hangout when Babycakes next door is bigger and I think has comparable food/drinks. I guess we New Yorkers like to squish up against each other, subway style.
Remember those Lark people? I followed them over to Billy Bob’s for karaoke. I even had a song drunkenly dedicated to me. It was all kinds of amazing. But what was even more amazing was continuing the karaoke party back at the Cushing house where there’s a grand piano in one of the parlors and one of the Lark people happens to be a musical composer who can play any request! This naturally meant I would stay up till 4am with them. And as quickly as they came, the Lark people quickly vanished.
Sunday. It’s the day of the reading y’all! My friend Sherri came up all the way from Baltimore to see my reading. I think for a first draft, it went really well. The Pomalinks were adorable, and the audience ate them up. What really struck me was how sweet the final scene played out. I can definitely tell I’m getting better at writing, or at least structuring my plays. My only fear is that I end up writing plays that are too well made. Because if they are, then why is it theater? Why would it not be a movie or something else? Anyway, my cast was great and I know exactly what I want to work on during my rewrites.
So what happens during my final week of my residency, now that I’ve finished my play? Stay tuned for Week 4.
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