Writing a play is a bit like preparing a recipe. You’re essentially writing a set of guidelines and instructions for others to follow. It’s incomplete–useless, really–until the recipe becomes a big bowl of stew on the dinner table.
Writing a play is, in truth, more like writing an orchestral score, but I like the recipe metaphor better.
Earlier this week I visited a rehearsal for Bolloxed. Yes, they’re in somebody’s basement. It’s the Fringe, after all, and you’d be shocked at the cost of ‘official’ rehearsal space.
At this point the playwright is kind of a fifth wheel–he has nothing to do but occasionally clarify some point of language or pronounciation.
In truth, it’s up to the director how much feedback you get as a playwright. Some (most?) never want to see you again once you deliver the script. Others want you by their side during the rehearsal process.
It’s my theatre school training (as opposed to the creative writing training), but I want to be very hands-off and respectful during the rehearsal process. For example, after attending a rehearsal, I pretty much only talk to the director–I don’t give any feedback to the actors. It’s not my place, and actors in rehearsal are delicate creatures. I don’t say that pejoratively–I think it’s more or less a fact of their craft.
Watching a rehearsal is like watching, well, a half-baked loaf of bread. You can see where it’s going, but it’s not all there yet. I’m happy with their progress, and think the show will be in good shape when it opens two weeks from today.
I’ve said it before, but the show isn’t exactly rocket science. It’s a kind of situation comedy, I suppose, and as such doesn’t require lengthy discussions about, say, why the actors are up to their necks in garbage. The actors and director can, for the most part, just get on with it.
I did offer some very specific feedback on line readings to Michael, the director, and clarify a few points of Dublin geography. I’ll probably attend another rehearsal next week, after the actors are ‘off book’ and have memorized their lines. Then we’ll have a much clearer picture of where we’re at.