I had an amazing week workshopping Me You Us Them with director Jo Cattell, actors Angelina Fiordellisi, Martina Heimann, Alain Lauture, and Brian Quijada, and the support of the Puffin Foundation, TerraNova Collective and Cherry Lane Theatre. Jo and I met through TerraNova Collective when I was in their very productive Groundbreakers Writing Group. We presented an early reading of the play and have since workshopped it a few days here or there. The piece has always called for dance to be as integral a language as text. In an earlier workshop when we first worked with Brian Quijada, we also discovered that beatboxing was another integral language. Getting a grant from Puffin allowed us to put a week together in which we planned to work on the dance and beatboxing elements. Jo and I were both dancers and we were excited to focus on movement. Which we did with our amazing movers. And then something unexpected happened. The movement work immediately paid dividends on the text. We saw things we hadn't seen before. Most especially, some text became - as I had always imagined it would - unnecessary. By the end of the week we had done more text work than we had ever imagined and we got more movement created as well. It was an amazing brave team of actors who didn't say no to anything. And so for us the play kept opening up and opening up. We had a nice full house for the reading. It is a weird play. Jo keeps saying we are creating something completely new. The audience dug it overall, had questions. Some didn't understand it. But all seemed to like the experience regardless. I don't necessarily mind the not understanding. I know what I am saying in the piece, but I have also learned over time that it is one that results in many interpretations and i kind of like that. After the week, as Jo and I turned to some development opportunity proposals, we kept talking text. I sent her my notes and she sent me back hers. I was so happy to find that the text work was still feeling so alive, informed by the movement and beatbox, I was able to go in again and trim in some places and develop a relationship in other places. This piece is deeply deeply personal. Every time I work on it I am in the meat of my life experiences, revealing, pondering, questioning. Since the first draft there was a rant like quality so the quest has been to move the rant into dramatic action. That requires me to put myself - all my concerns and worries about the world and reflection on the shit that happened to me into action. The woman in the play does an extraordinary thing. I'm not sure it is something i could do. Though I think it is something I wish I could do. Maybe writing the play is practice for living. That is what makes this piece such a delicious challenge. I'm in my stuff and making my stuff dramatic. I like this newest draft finished yesterday. I'm willing to send it out into the world in hopes of finding folks who want to give us more time to work. I dream of a production. I think this piece needs to be out there and I look forward to the conversations it will generate when it is. Now let me see if I can jump through some hoops to load a video. Oh, look. I did it!
Next post: Paris II
Right now, Andrea is either writing, coaching or walking Lady.