Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Times: Beginnings

Three workshop performances of These Are The Times this weekend closed out this season's eight-week BIG BOX series at Cleveland Public Theatre. Perhaps the most important thing I discovered is that yes, in spite of all my worst fears, this play is compelling, interesting, people were fascinated by it, it intrigued them, it was a mystery, a puzzle, a surprise, and that all the loose ends, more or less, come together in a satisfying way.

Having said that, I have been fielding comments from everyone willing to provide them about what works, what does not, what they saw, what remains unclear, what remains unanswered, what is redundant or simply uncompelling.

The fact is, each act runs about an hour-ten. If each were one hour, that would be ideal. That may be possible. I was surprised the second act (The Times) was that long, but then I had not taken into account all the laughter. The improv comedy bits are supposed to be funny, and holla! They are. But so is a lot of the rest of the piece. Until then end, when it gets serious. Because, you know, that happens in my plays.

Attendance was good. We did not have any sell-outs, though Friday night was close. While all three audiences responded generously (certain revelations in the second act received an audible "Oh!" from more than one audience member each night) that Friday night audience was meshuggeneh. I never told the company this, but Hamlet by Jack Kerouac is an old piece, I wrote it for Guerrilla Theater Company in 1992. But The Times performed it better than we ever did and Friday night it fucking brought the house down.

The person closest to the work, the one who is most familiar with it and has lived with it (and me) longest, would be my wife. However, even she has never seen it, not like this. And she believes that each act serves the other as one complete play, which was one of the things I was most curious about.

This workshop has been a long time in coming, and now that it is behind us, the real work begins. My only dream is that the work continues to be supported by all of the incredible and generous artists who got it to where it was this weekend.

One comment which has stuck with me was Brian P.'s observation Friday night that this entire play, the entire two and one-half hour saga, is the story of my life.  I hadn't thought of that. But he's absolutely right.

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