One of the most pervasive trends in independent theater is the “one and done” aspect of production. Rare indeed, is the production that garners enough fanfare or support to warrant either another production by the same company or the affection of a different producer. Yet it is this second production where, in this inexperienced playwright’s opinion, is where the real education begins.
Let me clarify. The age old aphorism is true. The education comes in painful steps beginning the first time an actor says your words out loud. Then when you hear your first draft. Oh the pain. Then, if you’re lucky, someone puts in on feet, and then, if you’re really lucky, it’s produced. All are traumatic wonderful learning experiences and are unlike any other in the theater.
InViolet Rep was created to give its members just this type of painful education. And it’s working. After the succeessful run of 40 WEEKS in New York, I came away equal parts proud and determined. Determined that my next play to be produced would be much better. The pride came mainly from being an instigator. I knew that I had given four out of our five actors damn good roles to play. Roles that their agents could and watch and see their clients in new light. Roles that parents could come and watch their children shine in. That thong wasn’t in the script, Mr. David.
I also gave them a damn good story.
But that fifth actor, Deanna Sidoti? She kind of got the shaft. Her character was bland, her story line uninteresting. It’s to her credit that she made her character the real breathing human being that she did. It certainly wasn’t on the page.
Luckily, I didn’t have to live with that tragic ending. Through the generosity of our supporters, and a wonderful co-producer OnStage Atlanta, I received that elusive second production. I rewrote Kelly’s arc, adding a much needed scene between her and Mark and reworking a scene that desperately needed to be reworked. I also went through the script making small but effective cuts and line changes throughout. There’s nothing worse than sitting in your own production and hating a line – that you wrote. From a purely written document standpoint, 40 WEEKS in Atlanta was so much a better play. It was an amazing production too. Because of all the hard work that EVERYONE in NYC went through (particularly Angela, Danton, and our cast), the process was so smooth, so enjoyable, so like it should be but rarely is because we’re creating NEW work. And it’s messy. And it’s damn fun. And I am so much the better writer for it.
It is our goal to do this with all of our productions – for a number of reasons. If it helps the rest of our playwrights as much as it has helped me, watch out. Some good times are ahead.