Fascinating unfoldings on Monday and Tuesday of this most recent week of “Locally Grown” readings. Let’s hear from those who attended COLD NOVEMBER LIGHT by Stephen Spottswood.
We’ve received two interesting, contrasting readings of Stephen’s play from students in our “Theater of Politics/The Politics of Theater” course. COLD NOVEMBER LIGHT is a play that moves backwards in time and the simple question asked during the talk-back was, “what’s the function of such a reverse-action structure in a two-character play like this?” That question led to some insightful reflection as the night went on — a play that BEGINS with a bittersweet leave-taking between friends who’ve clearly had a positive impact on each other but are, nonetheless, saying goodbye to each other… (why must they part?, we wonder) and then we move forward in theater time while backwards in story-time to find out how difficult Harry, a largely autistic, genius painter, turns out to be and how uncivil so much of his interaction with his wheelchair-bound model, Gwen, turns out to be. But as the play unfolds, are we monitoring, or actively engaged in trying to deduce the answer to a Larger Dramatic Question hanging over the action? One student below is entirely captivated. Another less so, but still appreciative of much of the work. So what’s next for the playwright and the play? Stay tuned.
We look forward to more comments once others have caught up with the script.
The night after COLD NOVEMBER LIGHT reading, we shared the complete version of Jon Spelman’s THE PROSTATE DIALOGUES. The play, presented so auspiciously as a 50 minute excerpt on January 10 (see the wonderful comments here), allowed itself to become a much fuller experience clocking in at 120 minutes, not counting the 10 minute intermission. And so the evening, the 2nd of 4 presentations, became a very useful experiment where we found a kind of “law of diminishing returns” for a piece that needs to be more tightly focussed on the narrator’s journey in order to make its most effective point. Material that played brilliantly at the 30 minute mark on january 10, did less well at the 55 minute mark. Fascinating how a play will reveal its vulnerabilities — its true structure — through trial and error — through bold (and sometimes fool-hearty) experimentation, we find the truest shape of a play and intuit a journey, both for character, artist, and audience. We’re on that wonderful road of discovery now with Jon. Come back on Sunday February 12 or 19 at 5 pm for the more-perfect-length (which is to say 60-80 minute journey) version. As the work goes on…