A big part of the philosophy behind InViolet Rep is that we are an actor based company of artists who want to expand our skills and experiences to other aspects of the theatrical process.
Our first play was directed by a first time director. Our second play was written by a first time playwright. 40 Weeks, our current production, just completed its third week of rehearsal, and it was written by me – and it’s my first play.
I’ve heard that the only real way to learn about playwrighting is to do it, and since plays are meant to be performed, the only real way to learn about playwrighting is to write the play and then be lucky enough to have it produced, or do like us, and produce it yourselves. I’ve also heard that the learning about playwrighting comes in stages. The first time you hear it aloud with actors, the first time it’s on its feet, and then of course, that first production. Each teaches the playwright something about the play, and speaking in regard to the first two, each is a little mind-blowing and scary. But fun.
Three weeks into the production process of 40 Weeks I can do nothing but agree – and it’s a hard but thrilling education. Certain moments are nothing like I expected; others are practically photographs of my imagination.
I expect I am going to learn much more about the play and myself in the next few weeks. What I think I have already learned, however, is that it is the process itself that is the most rewarding. Being in the room, seeing talented actors experiment, find their character, be led by a skilled and sensitive director, these are the parts of the process that are the most enjoyable. It’s the same when I act. The rehearsals are where the most of fun is for me.
The least enjoyable parts of this process so far are seeing that certain moments that you loved and thought would create magic, don’t really work when applied. But that’s the education. And the opportunity, to try something else, and hopefully find the correct words that will create the world of the play, convey both story and character, and do so in an interesting, entertaining fashion.
I’m definitely learning. The entire company is. And I have faith and confidence that we will have learned enough about this play and the story we are telling to create a dynamic experience for the audience in the coming weeks.
And we’re going to learn from that as well.
MIchael Henry Harris
(Co-Artistic Director and
soon to be produced playwright.)