A cohort reports on changes from first preview to opening

1“First of all, let me just say CONGRATULATIONS to Deb, Sean, Fajer, Gilbert, Tina, Larissa, Jessie and ALL the other numerous Geva contributors for a wonderful world premier and opening night. It was wonderful! I’m so glad I was able to come to this performance, and so glad I went to the first preview as well… so many differences in just a few short days!

The first stark difference was that the actors did not come out onto the stage 5 minutes before the play started to do their warm-ups and chat with the audience. I was never present in there rehearsals where I might have learned why that approach was taken in the first place, but on the night of the first preview I heard a lot of audience members around me wondering what was going on, so I think that way of starting was somewhat perplexing for people.

The entire beginning sequence was also cut, where each actor begins to tell a different story, settling finally on “the story of the genetic anthropologist.” While I loved the idea of that sequence, I think the cut was a wise decision. On paper, it works. The idea that we all have our own stories, that every one of our stories is important and interesting, and that we could tell any one of them… that theme ran throughout the play, in many ways, and so the beginning made sense, intellectually. But practically speaking, I think it was confusing for the audience. It was cleaner, and more concise and straightforward to start with just the one story. The play makes clear in other ways that we all write and tell our own stories.

That said, the cut portion was, of course, beautifully written… but only we Cohorts and Geva folks know what’s missing, I suppose! The friend I brought with me to the opening is a playwright herself, and when I told her afterwards about what had been cut, she empathized with Deb, knowing how hard it can be to complete a play and then have pieces cut out. She said, “I want to write her a note to make sure she’s ok and tell her she did a great job!”

Some costumes had been changed since I saw the preview on Tuesday, and I think they worked better – particularly Jillian’s top, which before was more casual and today was a button down shirt and a suit jacket. It matched her “all work” personality.

Another major difference was the audience tonight. Bigger, louder, more into the performance. You can just FEEL the difference in energy in the room when an audience is really engaged, and that energy always transfers back to the actors. The play got lots of laughs, as opposed to quiet chuckles, and I saw a LOT of people wiping there eyes dry when the house lights went up at the end of the play. The audience-member-submitted cards were great, again. Both funny and touching. My friend was THRILLED when hers was read on stage! I also liked that, this go around, Tina read off the “title” or “question” of each card, so the audience knew the context for the stories that followed.

I won’t get a chance to see the play a third time, since I am going out of town this week and won’t be back until after it closes, but I can’t stress enough how fun this has been for me. Even though I wasn’t able to get to as many rehearsals as I would have liked, I had a great time at the ones I was able to attend, and I’ve loved feeling like a part of the development process, if only because I was there to observe it. I’d like to thank Sean Daniels and Geva for thinking up & implementing the Cohort Club! It has been eye opening in so many ways, and I’m really excited to continue doing it for the next play.” – Tate DeCaro

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