Journal, 9/5: Denny and Lila read-through

“…and for a second I see what a fool I’ve been to ever miss anyone or regret a thing, held up as we are by this dirt and desire, walking as we do on ashes and love.”

Last night I heard Denny and Lila read-through for the first time. It may seem odd to those who know my work and its relationship to Flux Theatre Ensemble that any new play of mine would go unread, but it all depends on when the play is written. Denny and Lila was not complete by last retreat, but was finished too soon afterwards to be workshopped at this most recent retreat. So while scenes were workshopped at Flux Sunday, and one was staged at Have Another, I’d not heard the whole play through at one gallop.

Until last night, when MTWorks read through the play as part of their Living Room Series. This cold read-through by their company members serves as both a means of determining which plays will move on to their Newborn festival, and as a development opportunity for the playwright.

It was a very useful read-through for me, and I’m clear on the next steps for the play. I need to work on all of the Nettie/Denny scenes, building the love of that relationship more gracefully; and I need to escalate the pressures that relationship puts on the con-team, so that Jabber’s final decision, however shocking, feels inevitable. I have a clear sense of how to do it, and now just need to carve out the time.

I was pleased, however, that in spite of the work that still needs doing, the play’s over all power seemed to land; and grateful that I had some readers who were able to slalom through the heightened language of the play with ease. Cold reads can actually obscure what needs work in a new play if they are read badly; it’s one reason Flux Sundays tries to avoid them. In this case, however, I think I was able to see things clearly.

I also finished 5 new pages of Jane the Plain yesterday, and was happy to hear them read at Flux Sunday. These are the pages where Jane rescues the ambiguous glowing girl, and is given the gift that transforms her life. The section draws on some of the things I learned from writing Presents, and I was pleased with how it sounded, but will still need an on-the-feet staging to see if it’s too much narration, or how a clever staging might keep that active.

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