Ain’t Nothing Like the First Time

To be honest, I never really saw myself as much of a play person.

It’s not a long held prejudice, or a complicated one. I’ve just never been very interested in reading them on paper, and although I enjoy the productions that I get a chance to see, it’s just not something I find myself actively searching for.

It’s amazing, though, how plays come to life. It’s wild and it’s arduous; it takes a lot of time and contribution from a lot of people; after a few days, though you begin to see a spark, like something starts to click between the actors and director and writer. In the week leading up to the play writing show, this is what I experienced:

Monday, DAY 1: The barest bones are set. At this point in time, we didn’t even have the stage to start rehearsals. We roamed around the hallways and libraries, looking for places to practice lines in peace. One by one, plays were read from crisp white scripts, and that was it: everyone is still learning at this point. Words lead to characters; characters lead to interactions; interaction leads to tension and drama. But, at this point, all anyone has is words and characters they need to learn.

Tuesday, DAY 2: We get to  the theater to rehearse, and on the stage the actors get a sense of how they have to move in front of the audience of people. A few people are off-book, but most cling to their scripts. Actors and directors slowly become more comfortable with their scripts and characters, and really begin working together to make the play as natural feeling as possible.

Wednesday, DAY 3: The plays are finally coming to life. Having workshopped the plays in previous drafts, I can see the intention in the writer’s words finally coming out in the action and tension of the play. Actors become more familiar with their scripts and their characters; they understand who they are to become to carry out the author’s words.

Thursday, DAY 4: I sit in the audience every chance I get as the plays are rehearsed, since I won’t have a chance to see them during the performance. The plays are coming together, and Waffles for Dinner (by Avi Hoen, the musical about estranged sisters reconnecting and overcoming waffle phobias) makes me laugh so hard I collapse on the ground crying. Everything runs smoothly, and though some are more comfortable holding their scripts on stage, it doesn’t take away from their ability to inhabit their characters.

Friday, PERFORMANCE DAY: Everything is beautiful. Tech makes everything bright and pretty, and the lights and sound cues are all set. Isaiah is a beautiful raccoon and dragon.

The performance itself is smooth running and extraordinarily. There isn’t anything like the first time seeing plays become realities on stage. It was not the most intricate production I had ever seen, but this is the first time I had seen plays transform from words written in twelve-point Courier font to a real stage production.  It was magical, the evolution from words to developed characters to stage. Maybe, next year, with the right luck, I will get to see my written play turn into a reality unto itself on stage.

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