We were finally able to see the play in its final form the other night and it was fantastic. When we started the Cohort Club process I thought that if I read the script and watched the rehearsals that it might be in some respect redundant to watch the finished play; I would already know the ending. Well, it was almost as if we were walking in to Wednesday’s performance cold. We laughed and cried with the rest of the audience. The story, acting, lighting, set, and sound were all as moving and powerful as if we had never seen any of the rehearsals and certainly up to the Geva standards we have come to appreciate. So why were we so moved by a story we were so familiar with? The answer is that the play, the finished performance, is so much more than the sum of the parts. We had already understood how thought provoking Debora Zoe Laufer’s script was. We had already seen each and every one of the actors transform themselves into powerful and interesting characters. We had already seen Sean Daniels shape and refine the details to meet his vision and incorporate the visions of all of the team. But, when all of it came together with lighting and sound and set and costume and an actual audience the finished product was, indeed, something we had not seen before. I actually gasped when Jessica Wortham delivered a line that I had heard many times before because the light and sound emphasis and her performance to us, the audience (no longer to a blank wall), came together to make that line a punch to the gut. The whole is more than the sum of the parts.
We were not able to attend any of the previews and see exactly how they contribute to the process but have heard about the many changes. I asked director Sean Daniels about the changes and he compared Previews to a focus group. “Do you ask for feedback from the audience?” I asked. “No, I just watch the audience. If they are looking at their programs and whispering to each other then something needs to be fixed”. Well, I think he fixed it — the opening gathering really did communicate that these were storytellers coming together to tell a story and, as clever as all of his other attempts were, this one was efficient and effective.
Our sincere thanks go out to the cast and crew for allowing us this opportunity (participation in Sean Daniels’ Cohort Club) to watch them work. When we took the opportunity to thank some of them personally we would hear “no, thank you for being here”. At first I thought that they were just being polite and friendly but thinking back to our own careers of developing and launching consumer products (David) and teaching middle school science (Anna Marie) we recall that we often wished that friendly outsiders could have been watching what we were doing; that someone could have been there to witness those exciting breakthroughs that we both achieved from time to time. I think the actors really did find our voyeurism valuable. We are certainly very appreciative of the opportunity.
P.S. Thanks for reading our audience card Tina. We really did meet in Kindergarten!