Steamboat Springs CO: Perry Mansfield New Works Festival, June 5 - 12
Chicago, American Theatre Company (ARACA Productions) June 24-30
I had the honor to participate in the development of a terrific new play not once, but twice in the same month. Both were week-long workshops with fine actors overseen by professional directors. Through discussion and reading the work really evolved and grew. I came to love my character, Francesca, a transgender woman confronting her ex-wife for the first time in 17 years, as her already memorable scene became truly gripping and heart-breaking.
First Workshop, Steamboat Springs
Our play was presented by The Lark Theatre Company, New York City, NY, one of five theatres participating in the New Works Festival. Here I first met playwright Mary Elizabeth Hamilton, and five talented New York actors most of whom knew director John Eisner from past Lark projects. Readings were interspersed with intense discussions about the ideas at hand, and the progression of the main character. Our one public performance in the Julie Harris Theatre, attended by other work-shoppers and a few folks from the town, was well received. I was excited about the chance to act before accomplished theatre professionals from all across America, and feel I did justice to our week's work.
Below, a few photos from the fun week:
Second Workshop: Chicago
A few days after my return home I was contacted by American Theatre Company here to workshop this play again! The playwright put my name forward as a candidate for Francesca and so on June 24th I sat down with a whole new cast and director in our rehearsal room at About Face Theatre.
Director Sean Graney was keen to explore the more visceral and emotional aspects of the work, and to clarify some story points. The Chicago cast, all but one of them totally new to me, jumped in feet first and brought interesting ideas and interpretations to the table. I had the opportunity to visit and confer more with Mary about my character, and by week's end, the Francesca scene had undergone a major face-lift, with perhaps 75% of the wordage revised. Our public staged reading-on the ATC stage was warmly received by theatre professionals. The "Francesca" scene moved many audience members to tears.
Below is a photograph of the Chicago cast, taken just before the performance by Mary. Director Sean Graney is standing in the middle.