Monday, July 13, 2015

A Playwright's Out of Body Experience

There is magic in the process of taking a play from the page to the stage; for a playwright, this process can feel like an out of body experience.

Timothy Scholl directs actors Cecilia Burkhart and John Burkhart in my ten-minute play Kitchen Garden. 

Back in 2011, my play Kitchen Garden began as a vague idea in my head, which became a conversation with my husband Bob during a long evening walk, and then morphed into a hastily scribbled first draft over a cappuccino in the Mill in College View. It went through various lengths and versions and then lay dormant for four years as nothing more than a computer file. I took a playwriting class, wrote more plays and saw them performed, but always wondered if there was a future for that first play. Then came Angels Playwriting Collective and the First Flight Festival, so I dusted off Kitchen Garden, tightened it into a ten-minute play with the astute feedback from my fellow Collective playwrights, and now am experiencing the magic of watching it make that leap from page to stage.

Cecilia Burkhart and John Burkhart rehearse my ten-minute play Kitchen Garden.

The out of body experience hits me during rehearsals as I watch my amazing director Timothy Scholl find subtext, character traits, motivations, and conflict that enrich the play so much beyond the written word. In succinct direction to the actors, he can communicate ideas that for me are so internalized that I can only get at them indirectly through dialogue. The actors, Cecilia and John Burkhart, inhabit my characters with a stunning familiarity, as if they were inside the characters’ heads, which translates to inside my head, a bit unnerving when you think about it. So watching a rehearsal of my own play is like watching the contents of my head take shape outside myself. Hopefully, I’ll get used to this strange phenomenon by opening night and be able to enjoy seeing my play on stage just like any other audience member, though I seriously doubt it. If you suspect that someone in the audience is having an out of body experience, that would be me.

More information about the Angels Theatre Company First Flight Festival at
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