Blather from an Informed Consent cohort – Rehearsal Day 1 by David and Anna Marie Barclay
On Tuesday I attended the first day of rehearsals for Informed Consent, a play by Deborah Zoe Laufer and directed by Sean Daniels that will have its world premier at GEVA in 4 weeks. First, Sean cleverly had us all – cast, crew, and cohorts – introduce ourselves by each talking about our heritage, our story, thereby mirroring one of the themes of this play. Then the cast got down to the task of the day which was to read the play through with the objective of “just getting to the end”. Although other readings of this play have been held this was, I assume, the first time this cast had read it together and the first time that the playwright would hear the cast that was to bring her creation to life.
I myself am a craftsman, a woodworker, and I design and create all of my pieces myself. I think that the process of designing and building an original piece of furniture must be similar in some respects to creating a play. The most exciting, and sometimes terrifying, moment in creation in my medium is when I wipe on the first coat of finish. The wood grain comes alive! The piece suddenly has depth and color and its character is revealed. Also revealed are the flaws: finish brings out the scratches, the unevenly carved details, or, worst of all, that the piece is poorly proportioned. The first coat brings on an intense rush of pride and joy followed immediately by getting to work planning how to fix the flaws.
Watching Ms Laufer’s face at this first read through I recognized the same emotions and reactions that I experience at this stage in my creative process. She saw the first coat of finish washed on to her work of art. You could see the thrill on her face as she laughed and cried along with the rest of us (note – this is an extremely moving play). Sometimes she would mouth the words along with the actor. Sometimes she seemed overwhelmed with satisfaction, nodding approval and even tearing up, as one of her characters came to life in front of her. Sometimes she took on a studied look and made notes of a change to be made in the script. It was moving to me to watch this artist see her creation begin to come to life.
So, watching this first read through I began to understand a wee bit of the art of the playwright and I am very thankful for the opportunity to participate in this way in the development of this play. In the coming weeks I hope to understand how the characters are developed. The playwright is not working with a material as easy to understand as wood or metal. She is working with five actors and a director who are all artists in their own right. As a long time theatre-goer who understands little about how this art is created I have always wondered who is most responsible for creating the actual character that the audience sees and understands on stage.
David and Anna Marie Barclay