Saturday, April 24, 2021

I Hate This: Westfield Rehearsal Period

James Alexander Rankin
Rehearsals for I Hate This have continued, in my absence. It’s good not to be there, so Chennelle and James can play and collaborate and make big choices and fail and achieve without concern for what the person this play is about might be thinking.

Adapting the script into a screenplay I actually returned a few lines that I had previously cut. There’s a joke about the things I didn’t say to an offending nurse. Only I couldn’t sell it as a joke, and it made the moment angry. But James can, and now it works the way it was supposed to.

There are things that I can write that I cannot perform. How interesting is that?

Then there are those moments that no longer work, or perhaps they never did, or they just won’t work here. “Don’t just play angry,” I say. Well, what about those moments which just seem angry, and without purpose? They teach nothing, they show nothing, they mean something to me, but to no one else. Can I let those go?

Yes. Yes, I can let those go. Now, I can let those go.

Attending a run-through on Friday night I was delighted by James’ elastic presence. He is very playful and passionate, with a fluidity and a dramatic flair that I do not have. He’s using his talents to tell our story, it is performative (and my goodness, that word has been receiving some abuse lately) and dramatic, and he has permission to do this and an audience can receive it in a way they could not if it were me.

I recently discovered that a young man in Minnesota is representing his high school at the state speech and debate tournament using a piece from this play in the “Serious Interpretation” category. Others have requested it, this is the first time I have been aware of anyone actually doing it. I wish I knew what piece he had chosen to perform!

The director and I shared notes after at Parnell’s, sitting out in the cool night air of Playhouse Square, watching drunken CSU students making their way in packs, up and down Euclid Avenue. I am vaccinated, so is she. The world has opened up a crack, and I hope we do not regret it.

Playhouse Square will premiere "I Hate This (a play without the baby)" in Summer 2021. Details to come.

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