Thursday, August 09, 2007

Writers On-the-air Day 7

The closer we get to reading day, the more aware I am of how difficult it is to capture the experience of the workshop sessions through a few notes in a blog. It just speaks to the value of working with a communty of writers.

WOW Day 7 really just served as a chance to check in with one another and provide advice and support to eachother as we emerged for the final push to complete our first drafts, and in some cases wrestled with getting those drafts done. We talked about the challenge of giving ourselves permission to let a first draft be a first draft, in all its messy imperfection, especially knowing we would be sharing it with others - not just the safe community of the WOW writers but also the eyes and ears and minds of the actors joining us on reading day. We celebrated completing something, something with a beginning, middle and end, something longer and imperfect. "Celebrate your imperfection!" I say. It's incredibly liberating.

We talked about anguishing over "killing the babies" - cutting characters that no longer worked, eliminating dialogue or scenes we have come to love, and so one. Not to mention the way such big changes can affect the shape of the whole, and then you think you need to rewrite, and it can feel unending. Once again, we have to accept that a first draft is just that. The beauty of a reading with actors and other people hearing it is that, rather than being your judges, they can be your allies in the struggle to fix what's broken and solve those nagging script problems. If there's a battle your fighting with your piece and you don't feel you're solving the problem, let it be your burning question, put it to your audience or readers and enlist their aid in your struggle.

We wrestled over endings - does it work? Is it too abrupt? We worried about length - too short? Too long? What did everybody else do? We celebrated - plugging problem plot holes, finishing a full-length piece, rediscovering an old idea and finding it has new life in it. We gave and received support - both live and online - to tackle that last push.

We listened to some audio clips from previous WOW Reading Days to geta flavor. We also compared a clip from reading day with a finished production of the same piece and noted the way the energy of a live audience feeds the actors, how the actual presence of a soundbed can radically alter the tone and mood in the final production, how ambiguity in writing invites a wide range of interpretations by actors that can influence the final impact of a piece.

From the business end, I asked writers to be sure every character is accounted for in their cast list, so that every character is assigned to an actor, and to note any that could be doubled.

Tomorrow - last minute check-ins and notes before the BIG DAY of readings on Saturday.

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