There’s a point in most new play festivals, like our Simian Showcase, where you have to close the door on script revisions and say okay, from this day onward, the actors have the final version of what they’re going to learn and perform on stage. We’ve just recently passed that point, and it’s been an interesting experience to go through it from two directions, as a playwright on “Two of Everything,” and as a director on “Gunpowder, Arizona.”
When you go to a rehearsal as a playwright, you’re generally there to be a fly on the wall – you want to go unnoticed, frantically scribbling while the actors read, hoping they don’t notice that you’ve written, “What the hell was I THINKING?” over all of their favourite lines. As a director guiding the initial read-throughs of someone else’s play, though (and I don’t recommend directing your own unless it’s been really, really well revised and polished already), you need to be at the center of things. You need to kick the tires on the play, look under the hood, ask the actors how they feel about their characters and what they have to do and to speak. In both cases, you’re looking for the strong points as well as the weak ones; you’re looking for what works and what might not be doing what you’d hoped and creating a more coherent whole.
It’s an exciting process, and I’m pleased to have been involved in the collaboration on both of these plays. Sometimes, I feel a little bit of a tug to step in where it’s not really appropriate – to make directing notes when I’m watching a rehearsal of my play, or to sit down and put my own touches on Nick Philpott’s script in a place or two – but I resist, and I let things take their natural course. I think we’ve got a really strong quartet of fun, geeky, well-polished plays coming for you this April 13th-21st; I hope you’ll come out and see what we’ve wrought.