What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Last Night

Last night was the opening of the Mary Lou Burkett Texas Playwrights Festival. (It's hard to have a playwright's festival of any kind without a long title. I mean look at that thing. ^ It's huge. And there are many more just like it.)

My play The Sofa was performed and I have no idea how it went. If you saw the play last night or you have seen it or you are in it, don't take offense to this. I really enjoyed it. It is a bit of a high to see the word you wrote down becoming life. John Eubanks and Clay Ratcliff, both good friends of mine, were excellent together and each brought something extraordinary to the parts that had not pictured when I wrote the play. Someone asked me last night if it was hard to allow them to take "my baby" and do what they would. The answer is no. I know that some people have a problem with it, but it was exciting for me. I have come to realize as a director and an actor and now a playwright and simply as a human being that nothing will ever turn out the way you plan it to. In fact it is usually better. That is why theatre is collaborative. So that many heads can come together and add to the pot of creativity. I believe that art is better when egos are out the door and people can just add to the creativity without worrying if your idea wasn't as good as someone elses, and if it's not then saying, "Yeah, I like you're idea better." Last night Clay ad-libbed a line, completely changing the script and it totally affected the moment. Instead of a high tension, suspenseful moment the line (and to Clay's credit, the way it was delivered) became a hilarious, high tension, etc. moment. It was everything that I had written into the play, and more. I was really disappointed that I wasn't a part of the process earlier on so that I could pick up on more of that kind of stuff.

The reason that I say that I have no idea how it went was because, while I enjoyed it, I'm a little biased. I know what's going on. If it's completely confusing, I wouldn't know it because I get it, and that's all that matters. I would like to read an honest critique on this play from an outsider. Someone I don't know. People who I know are going to be too polite to me I'm afraid and this doesn't help me. I'm not saying that the people who said they liked it were lying, but they probably don't feel it's their place to give me a full critique as soon as the play's over. And they are right, I'm sure I would have been quite annoyed if someone would have approached me after it was all over and told me everything that was wrong with the play. I need to sit down with my dad who I know will give me some good, honest feedback if I ask him. He's not exactly an outside party, but if I ask I know he'll be honest. Amanda was disappointed that no one gushed after me lauding me as the next Arthur Miller and telling me I was a genious. This didn't bother me, as I understand that even geniouses may not get it exactly right the first time. What is a genious anyway, aside from the I.Q. score. I think they are someone who takes other people's advise and don't buy into thinking that they are the ultimate and foremost authority on a play just because they wrote it. That's arrogance.


tine said...

hi kyle...this is christine (tyndall) pinson...don't know if you remember me...we went to gamma sig grub once long ago! i was only a little sophomore when we were in secret garden together! i have since graduated from ACU (FINALLY!), gotten married, and have a nine month old-Jack...i came upon your blog through someone else's and have really enjoyed reading it...it's too bad we live in fort worth, because i always love watching original plays...you and ryan both have such a God-given, natural ability to know what true comedy is, and i am sure your play was wonderful...though that's not really what you were looking for, i know...my husband also really enjoyed your post about mitch hedberg...we both love him, and it was fun to read over those one-liners on your post...those often make their way into our conversations and no one else knows what we are talking about! well, this is way too long for a comment! sorry! just thought i would say hi...i look forward to reading more of your blogs and hearing more about your experiences, especially at school as i will begin teaching next year also(i just wish i could shrink donna and take her with me in my pocket, so i could ask her advice anytime i wanted to!)
take care...maybe we will see you at ryan and amy's wedding.

Nathan Bruhn said...

(I kind of got carried away on the keyboard, Kyle, so bear with me. It was a good subject.)

I don't know about the rest of the cast, but did you see how the police officer was portrayed? He looked like he stepped of the set of NYPD Blue. I mean, wow. The guy's some kind of genius!

(Just kidding.)

Once again, probably not one of the most un-biased reflections you will hear about your play, becaause 1. your my bud and 2. I'm IN IT. but here it goes:

That being said, I have a very small role in it and it allows me plenty of time to reflect on the dialogue exchanged while backstage waiting for a cue.

Here's my take on adlibbing someonelse's script. I think it sucks. Really, I do. I try not to do it, and I wouldn't want someone instantaneously re-writing me on the spot for a quick thrill. To me it just seems bad form. I am not saying I am always 100% book form when I relay my lines for shows, but the variance is not out of my own creativity to create "something new", rather, usually I forgot exactly how the line went. Oops.

I am going to tell you the truth, I am glad that you took the adlib bit as well as you did, because I personally was blown away in surprise. I nearly dropped character because of the change while I was onstage.

Now, I am definitely not the master of the theatre or anything like that, but as a fellow writer I happen to be more of a dramaturgical purist. I'm of the thinking opening night is not the night to, as aggies would say "pull out" priveledges of doing something outside of the box.

As a writer, you are very gifted. I am specifically impressed on your gift of allegory in telling a story about something beyond the story. And you are very priveledged to have a top-notch cast (present company included - just checkin' to see if my ego is still in the room) bring your show to life.

On the accolades subject, I get a bit weird about that as well. I mean, really, everyone wants to know that the are appreciated, but it's hard to draw the line sometimes as to when that search becomes a bit petty, when all you are looking for is some honest feedback. Trust me. I know.

I have found as I have grown up and taken on new goals and new projects I never really ever get the type of reaction and/or attention that I think I should really get.

Then I have to check myself because conversely, I have also learned that whenever I do recieve the attention I am seeking - I don't know how to handle it and I come off as either aloof or ungracious, when really the truth of the matter is that I am a social retard.

I end up yearning more to exceed the internal motivations that I have for myself than whatever attention there is to recieve by anyone else.

It's like a really weird selfish way to feel exhalted without anyone knowing you're such a hopeless narcissist that the only one who could adequately feed your ego is yourself.

So then as a result, you pretend to not really care about what other people think about your work but really what is going on is you are silently jumping up and down in your head saying, "Guys, hey. Remember me over here? Yeah. It's me. Over here. Guys? Where did they go?"

So the internal front that no attention is needed is challenged by the external drive of the ego and ultimately, you're right back where you started from.

Ergo......You act as if all of this stuff is just silly and inconsiquential to save face.

Boy, aren't you glad you don't feel like that Kyle?

As you can see, my experience may or not mirror your experience, I have no idea, it's just fun to write all that stuff down anyways! I might be wierd but I try to share it honestly. :)

I think as a playwright it is almost crucial to know that what the finished product turns out to be generally does not play out as it once did in your head. But the act of giving it up to be recreated is a gift in itself.

There always has to be a certain degree of seperation between the illicited response and the recieved response. That goes for anything in life. I think the more we are experienced in it the easier it becomes.

That's where I'm at right now with my creative work and something tells me maybe you are there too.

The self reflection part is honest to come by. Perhaps my first instinct to not expect too much shields me from further disappointment - but perhaps maybe the same response hinders my appreciation of the process itself.

Hopefully you are favorable of appreciating the latter.

Good Jaaayyyeeeeeoooorrrrrrrrbb Hamstray,


Kyle said...

First off, Nathan, you did a great job in my play, however you just about stole the whole festival with your performance in Clocking Out. My humble opinion, but I thought you were hilarious.

As for Clay ad libbing that line, I completely understand why he did, and though he did it deliberately without running it past me first, which I would have preferred, how could I be upset when the result worked so well? Perhaps he felt that if he asked me I would say no and that it was better to ask forgiveness than permission. I am the same way with regard to being bold about something. Sometimes things like those individual lines need to be changed because of one reason or another and only the actor saying it can recognize it. It would have been better if I had been there earlier on and we could have workshoped it, changing things like that along the way. But the truth is that I was way too busy, which is why I decided not to direct.

Jason said...

Hey man,

I'm really proud of you for the play. I've really liked reading some of the stuff you've written (other stuff has been complete crap, but you probably already knew that). I really wish we could have seen it. I would have given you an honest critique if you wanted (and I know you want it eventually).

On the topic of ad-libbing, I think it is a bad idea to deliberately ad-lib in a performance without checking with the playwright and/or director first. Rehearsals happen for a reason. Anything like that should happen there first.

Having said that, I agree that you can't be too upset if it worked. It sounds like the actor acted impetuously, and many playwrights would not like it. If it didn't work, he would have been the goat. But it did work, so all I'd say would be "Good job, but run it by someone first next time."

Anyway, congratulations. I'm sure I'll have an opportunity to see your work after we move back to Texas. Hopefully, I'll have the chance to get back on/backstage soon too.

Kyle said...

Yeah, I wished he would have asked me first, but they all know that I will tell them if I didn't like something that changed my intent. I went to a rehearsal early on and kind of insisted on one change. They made it and they said that it worked better my way, which I said, "of course it did."