Almost Finished – Following Woody Allen’s Good Example

woodyI recently wrote Human Earrings, a 10-minute play, about the transgressive art of Rick Gibson.
I had very little time to beat a deadline and, knowing that it was at least 95% complete, I went ahead and sent it in. It made it into the festival. A director was found, and then she dropped out, for personal reasons. I was thrilled when the producer called me to find out who I thought would be a good fit to direct, and cast, the play. I took it on myself (which pleased me very much, as I dislike handing my work off to someone else). One of the many things I admire about Woody Allen is his ability to write, direct and perform in his own work. And one of the best things about directing your own work is that you have the right to change things at will. And you can’t be sure what needs changing until you give it to the actors. So what could be better than to be at every rehearsal, either on the stage or in the director’s chair?
In an interview in The Paris Review http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/1550/the-art-of-humor-no-1-woody-allen, Woody says, “ In a play, it’s far from the end product. The script serves as a vehicle for the actors and director to develop characters.”
And this script was a very fine vehicle. I prefer writing comedies, and this one is a comedy of character and circumstance, based on a slightly disturbing piece of art with found objects.
I was fortunate enough to be able to cast KC Weakley and Renee Erikson, and myself, in Human Earrings. We were all three perfectly suited to the roles, and had chops enough to be able to grab the play and run with it. As we read through the play the first time, I pared away the little bit of excess verbiage, and improved some of the rhythms of the speeches, fitting them to the actors I had cast. Over the next two rehearsals I dropped some redundancies, made a small edit or two. As I ran lines with KC, I noticed a couple of places where my character, Marian, could say more pithy things about the art work in her gallery, so we beefed up her character in that way. It was a very simple and organic process, and it was great to have KC to confirm and support my instincts.
We paired the best aspects of improvisation with the best aspects of having a set script, and the result was a play that provoked laughter and spirited dialogue about the subject.
We were booked for three performances, which were quite fulfilling. We shocked, delighted and titillated the audience. Kudos abounded, from both friends and strangers, and we got a good critical review as well.
I think I want to create a theatre series called Almost Finished. I’ll write scripts that are 95% done, and get actors to try them on, like a suit. A few alterations, and viola! It’s showtime.

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4 thoughts on “Almost Finished – Following Woody Allen’s Good Example

  1. I am so glad that the initial run was a fulfilling success. I am grateful that I am a part of your theater family. Enjoy constant creation and the prospect of a new series is an excellent idea!

  2. I had the pleasure of seeing Cheryl’s play and it rocks. Funny, original and slightly disturbing —in the most enjoyable kind of way. And yes, spot on performances by three great actors. Congrats.

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