I write stuff down. I hear it in my head. Sometimes I even read it aloud. If I keep it in the script, it means it sounds good. To me. Because I know where I’m coming from.
The actors and director who don’t live inside my brain don’t have the benefit–or curse–of knowing where I’m coming from. And, thus, they expose the cracks in the wall, the chinks in the armor, and the out-and-out holes.
And that’s a good thing.
Because if it ain’t honest, they can’t do it. Not well. And these are professionals. And they insist on doing it well. Thank God.
Today, we worked on scenes and, in the process, character (here’s a drawing of Jillian in SHINE, KITTY, SHINE; the red neon glow is imaginary at this stage). Kitty, Toni-O and Edward showed me the delightful nuances of their getting to know each other. They made me look good, because they took the lines on the page that were just words trying to be funny or advance a story, and they gave them a soul (which reminded me again why I write plays and not fiction–because I love that moment when it’s a collaboration to make a person whole). Some things I realized when I was writing the scene; others the director, with the actors under his watchful eye, SHOWED me. Goosebumps? Yes, please.
Added into the mix were Adinah Alexander (who made this completely surreal drawing of a cat-person while working the subway scene) and Tim Warmen, as mother/homeless woman and father/homeless man respectively.
The homeless couple took on layers today that I never anticipated–in addition to us deciding that Kitty is the only one who hears them, Tim also suggested (and so it was played with in the scene work) that the three of them become this distorted but oddly close family unit.
The script was quite fluid during that work. A lot of little edits happened today, either out of improvisation in the moment, or out of discussion. It was easy to rewrite, because it was honest. And motivated. And rich, rich stuff.
And to avoid getting too touchy-feely or overly precious and self-congratulatory, I thought I’d mention that at the end of the day, the ensemble, when told during SMELLS LIKE ART to be dangerous and pull focus, improvised a crack-filled orgy that also involved hair-braiding, and it’s forever seared into my retinas.
Director, Chad, had a response something like this: “Uh. I’m not too sure about the hair-braiding.”