Monday, April 5, 2010

Sausage Gets Made, continued [All's Fair (Six Western)]

Part of COItc's pipeline for 2010-2011 includes development of the new play All's Fair (Six Western), the recipient of a performance residency at Centrum (Port Townsend WA). Throughout the year, we hope to post the thoughts of various members of the development team and track its progress.

Below, the playwright continues to recall some of the thought process behind the work. (Part Three is

Our first group meeting was in a dim coffee bar just south of Union Square -- Kina had been there, of course, long before us, and tucked in the corner I think we all would have waited patiently for hours not noticing that we were all met. We're a bunch of rather meek tragedians.

On top of that, COItc is a very small circle of meek folk; Leah had recommended Kina to me for Timor Mortis, but this was the first time they had collaborated on a piece. I'm always nervous bringing together people who I work with well -- my working relationship is not a guarantee of smooth sailing for everyone involved.

Leah and I had been chatting informally about the play and how we could stage it off and on for weeks. One idea that had evolved was having three playing spaces isolated from each other; in her napkin sketches, Leah had drawn three squares in a row, rotated 45 degrees. It had solidified over time, and it was one of the first items that made me nervous about our meeting.

Kina has an incredibly flexible mind -- she's designed shows for us with fully built frames and shows on poster board -- but what designer wants to have a playwright and director say this is how we think you should approach your job? [I'll pause as all designers say in unison, "That's exactly what happens."]

We launched into our discussion; eventually, Leah got to her ideas on spacing, on staging. She flipped to a blank page in the script and drew the squares. Here was the test. I shot a look over to Kina, who I find rather hard to read sometimes. She looked blankly at Leah's sketch, opened her script ... and revealed her own sketch depicting pretty much the same thing. This was going to be a lot of fun.

Our next meeting was in a hole-in-the-wall wine bar which is fun for atmosphere but not so much when it comes to working meetings with over-achievers. Leah and I expected maybe some sketches ... Kina arrived with a HUGE white box which contained a fully realized model of the set. With sand.

It's incredibly breathtaking when you've written a script and bit by bit other people start fleshing out your vision. With well over a year to go before any of this would be realized, it was jaw dropping (not least to the other bar patrons who suddenly had an art exhibit on their hands).
The world of the play was coming together. Now we needed to hear it, and figure out if the script would make any sense at all.

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