August 3, 2009

In Media Res: Random Thoughts on Theatre and New Writing

From Director of New Work Lisa Timmel:

Inherent in making theatre is a tension between process and product, journey and destination. Many theatre practitioners invoke the journey as the most important aspect of creating art. Broadway producers, notoriously, are all about the end product, one that will sell tickets regardless of quality. The truth?

Well let's turn to that old standard, Ecclesiastes: "...God shall judge the righteous and the wicked..." No wait, wrong verse. Here's the one I mean: "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: ...a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak..." (If you've never read Ecclesiastes, you should. Now.)

Our Breaking Ground Reading Series is our time for process: a time for casting away wonky scenes and superfluous characters, a time for layering ambiguities, and a time for sewing up loose ends. It is a time for us to re-examine a play by listening instead of reading or seeing. It is just one of many processes a play and its creators go through on the road to production. By hearing it out loud read by other theatre artists, working in collaboration with a director, and feeling how it works with outsiders in the room, the playwrights can learn a lot about how and if this text will function as a production. The reading, which might seem like a "product," is in fact pure process. It informs the next step in the journey.

But for now, for the next three nights, we've invited you to join us in the middle of the journey. You're picking up the story of these plays in media res. And by doing that, by joining us in listening to a new piece of writing, you are becoming a part of the work itself. And good work, as you will learn from reading Ecclesiastes, is a key component of a good life.

Tonight we'll be hearing Deported / a dream play by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Joyce Van Dyke. More on that tomorrow.

For those of you who are joining us this week, please post your thoughts and ideas.

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