This summer I was invited to the Great Plains Theater Conference to develop my play Helping People. It is an incredible honor, some of my favorite writers have gone there, and I was thrilled to get my first “you got in” letter as a writer. I called my Mom and texted my friend before going back to folding the laundry of the family I work for. However. The Great Plains Conference overlapped with the dates IRT offered when inviting us to join their terrific 3B Series. Damn.
After a long walk, thinking, a rapid phone calls to friends (you know who you are) it seemed like taking a risk was the only solution. Yes I would have a team of supporters and developers at the GPTC. Yes it would give more time with the play. Yes I would have to wait to perform the play.
Because of the play’s private development through Rattlestick and a reading in their recent Good Play Series, it felt like maybe it was time to perform. I wrote an email to the incredible folks at GPTC exclaiming the 3B opportunity and they encouraged, congratulated, and wished me a great run. They’re great. You should give them twenty dollars right now. I sincerely hope I’m lucky enough to be invited back some day.
The focus became on performing this play, which we did last weekend. As for the letter? It has been firmly tattooed on the top of my left hand.
Director Pirronne Yousefzadeh did wonders helping me clarify where the script needed to go for rehearsal, and three weeks ago Rebecca Hart*, Lydian Blossom, Dan Abeles*, Micah Stock* and myself jumped in as actors to develop the play visceral-y. We had two weeks before moving into IRT and two days before performing in front of an audience. The entire team took on the challenge with stealth and bravery.
(*actors appeared courtesy of AEA. Helping People was an AEA showcase.)
Designers Valerie T. Bart, Matt Sherwin, and Grant Wilcoxen stepped up to build the world of this play. Their work taught me more about this story. Not to mention our stage manager Harry Poster stayed fresh amidst all the re-writes, new drafts, light cues, building days, party preparation and strike. Our assistant director Lily Riopelle offered a keen and sharp eye and savvy fight director Aaron McDaniel brought to life some of the most terrifying moments of the play.
Last weekend a few of you were able to make down to IRT to see this little play. And your reaction and words of support have inspired me to keep going with this little experiment.
For now I am grateful to this entire cast, crew and this play’s developers. You built the opportunity to explore this play and for this I am eternally grateful. And learned a great lesson is doing a play. Plays need time to developed, they also need to be put up (fully-ish) in front of an audience and IRT does a banging job at that.
Jack Doulin told me this great story after the Friday night performance. I use his name not to impress you but to recall, once more, that he is a mighty nexus of American Theatre and if he ever starts to tell you a story listen-to-him. This one’s about Stanislavski.
He said that when Stanislavski was first invited to New York to direct a play he asked for one year of rehearsal. When the NYC producers refused he asked for ten days. Why? He said with theatre its best to take your time or to just make a choice and go.
These last three weeks have gone by too quickly, no one felt rested, everyone was trying new things and you came out to listen.
Keep telling your friends if you saw this play or if you did not. Last week we held a great experiment and I’m touched and honored by the support we received. We’re looking towards the next step.
Much love and deepest gratitude,
d and the gang