Three shows – each one’s the charm
The play at Centre College opened on Friday and closed on Saturday. Both performances were fantastic. Both post show discussions were thoughtful and rich. As I’ve written about many times – my favorite part of the process is the year long conversation that occurs throughout the development process.
As I returned from Centre I didn’t have time to fully appreciate the success of the show. The next day called for setting up conference calls with next year’s schools and playwright Jan Rosenber and to schedule the trip down to the first production of Morgan McGuire’s play at Carroll Community College at the end of the month – and to think about the public reading of Micheline’s play in NYC in June. It keeps moving. And all of those projects are enriching. And have a unique personality.
As I started having conversations about the casting of the reading in NYC of Micheline’s play it became clear that the success of the process of developing #Love95times is the unique personality of the each of the three school and their productions. They each succeeded on their own and consciously or not supported the success of each other. SUNY Brockport – the first production gave an honest thorough workshop production of the play that Micheline had written. It let her see the ‘hoodie’ chorus for the first time in how she intended it. Uniformed. Chorus. Group of by-standers that become empowered as the story evolves. They gave just the right amount of technology to let us see how the ‘Skype’ calls and scoring of the play worked. The performances were well connected and flushed out that served the text and relationship of the story. For the first time out of the gate it really highlighted all of the elements that were in the play.
UWF’s ensemble began as a classroom workshop of the play that evolved into the students fully claiming ownership of the topic of the play. This was put on display through the arena presentation that starts with feet stamping of the entire cast introducing the play to what feels like an Olympic wrestling match between the sexes. The students made a documentary on the topic. They took over the design elements. The students that worked at the counseling center took the charge of connecting counseling with the production. They presented the campus’ first 10:00pm presentation of a department production. It was student driven and student owned. They even created the image for social media invitations.
Centre College consciously or not built off of both models. Also a classroom project. Elements that were workshopped at the other schools were developed into fully realized design elements. The campus counseling center was engaged. The students owned the topic. The department was invested. It was a full scale production with individual choices. This production allowed each chorus member to have an individual personality. Something that made it feel like it was happening on their campus today.
The production could afford to break out of the uniform feeling of earlier productions because we knew that worked. We could use video in this production because SUNY Brockport had shown us the value of that – and when going to more of a story telling format – we knew the value of that because of UWF – Centre built off of that. Whether intentional or not on their part – the building and sharing of ideas became valuable for Micheline to see her play. She could try something new in each production because she had already seen what worked and there was security in which to try new ideas. Or security to say what needed to be reexamined.
The value of the multiple production isn’t just the idea of growth by building on what was done before. The value resides in the broader base of collaborators. The unique personalities brought into the room of each process. The questions, conversations, and solutions discovered by each add value to the whole. The whole being the life of the play. I’m grateful to each school.
And as I prepare to see Morgan’s play and begin the engagement process with Jan’s play. It is the unique process of each that make it valuable for the writer. Development is not a formula it is a process of discovery. I am grateful that each school and writer have their own process. That they fully share themselves for the development of one another.
Talk with you soon.