Friday was a good day for experiencing the powerful play-in-process — two of ’em, in fact — only this time it wasn’t the scripts that were in development, but our company’s voicing of each. At 11:30 am, our creative team — designers and their assistants, production staff, director Natsu Onoda Power and stage management — took in a designer run of David Henry Hwang’s Yellow Face — a full 12 days before we begin sharing the production with our preview audience. We’re catching everything mid-process, and it’s fascinating to behold the potential, and nerve wracking too! Such a close-to-the-bone exposé of a writer’s interior world wrapped up with the mixed fortunes of his professional and political endeavors! You might say that it’s a play about a famous Asian American writer who stumbles and then gets upended by his own contradictions and in the end, with racial and nationalist politics crashing about him, finds his footing and his face. It should be an incredibly revealing thrilling feat — if we can pull it off, and if the audience is in on the fun — galvanized by the embattled idealism and fitful efforts of a man making his way through a politically correct thicket.
At 2 pm, just after the design run, we walked across the hall to take in a reading of Courtney Barron’s Eat Your Heart Out, a play that premiered last season at Actor’s Theatre of Louisville.Totally compelling, challenging, moving, innovative in its structure. What was it about? I’ll let the 6 student subscriber from U of Michigan who saw the reading fill in the plot, the conversation around the play, the characters, the challenges of the story telling, and the lingering impressions and questions we were left to ponder.
The Tea @ 2 provided a first time for some to take in the experience of a reading, as opposed to a full production. It’s always remarkable to see what a group of actors can do with only 3 hours of rehearsal. A testament to their ingenuity, to the strong insights from director Shirley Serotsky, and to a text that leaps off the page. And what of all that blue language? Too much? I wondered and worried about that for a bit — the last person in the world to cut the “F-bomb” from a script, but would it keep part of our audience away from an initial embrace of the characters? In the immortal words of playwright John Patrick Shanley when asked for a response to audience members who were concerned about too many “F’s” in his play Danny In The Deep Blue Sea: ‘”F” ’em!” he told me. Playwrights stick to their guns. God love ’em. And hail to Courtney Barron for her wonderfully innovative, uncompromising play! Let’s read what it was all about!