(Why am I naming days?)
5/11/15, Day 14,250 (Mercena Day 270): To Find the End, Find the Love
Yesterday I had the pleasure of hearing the second draft of my play The Sea Concerto read at a Lark Play Development Center Roundtable. It’s always wonderful to return to the Lark, and with my schedule the way it is, I don’t seem to be able to complete rewrites on my latest batch of plays unless they’re under threat of some deadline.
It was a productive read-through and discussion, thanks to my actors Phillip Callen, Ken Glickfeld, Melanie Nichols-King, Alisha Spielmann, Chinaza Uche and Kathleen Wise, and my Lark support team, Krista Williams and Andrea Montesdeoca.
Our conversation focused on two main questions:
- Is there a law of diminishing returns in so many scenes focused primarily on Eric’s decisions? The feedback here landed on the scenes working well, partially because of how Eric’s rhythms were so different than the rest of the family’s, and partially because we’re less interested in what Eric decides than in why. I agreed, and I was particularly pleased with rewrites I had made to the Chappy/Eric scene, which made that scene feel less duplicative, and instead essential to both Eric and Lynnie’s journeys.
- Is the balance of Lynnie’s journey as narrator versus her immersion as a character in the story tuned right? This was the question that was most vexing me, and the conversation that led to the solution was an example of why I love the collaborative art of theatre. In our discussion, I heard the actors respond powerfully to the final scene between Janet and Lynnie, and less so to Lynnie’s poem that reclaims her creative voice that ends the play. This makes sense: while we have been engaged with Lynnie’s creative block throughout the play, most of our energies have been navigating her relationships with her broken family. Of course that’s what we’d care about most at the end of the play! Hence the name for yesterday, To Find the End, Find the Love.
I’m now imagining a simpler, quieter end that imagines the whole play taking place in the moment between Janet leaving Lynnie alone on the dock and returning with food in hopes she’ll stay. This accomplishes several cool things: it makes our narrator, who has wanted so badly to belong in the world, to step away from her narration at the very end and simply belong; it makes the emphasis of the ending land on the salvaging of some part of her family, rather than on her creative block, which is more emotionally satisfying; and it moves the play away from the triumphalism of the current poem to a more emotionally mixed charge, which feels truer to the spirit of the play.
It’s discoveries like this, emerging from a collaborative process with trusted artists, that make theatre so addicting and rewarding. Now to complete the third draft!
The non-writing related part of my day was surprisingly positive. I had thought I’d be crushed by TCG work after taking Friday and the weekend off, but instead I checked off some major to-dos and we heard great news on two key speakers (more on that anon). I also made it home in time for Mercena’s bedtime ritual, which had the happy addition of Sandra “Mommom” Morgan. After all three of them were in bed, I sat on the terrace and knocked out some TCG, NET and Flux work. It’s easier to work late with a view and a cool breeze!