I’m on page 25 of my show and it’s really taking shape. I have decided to have a slightly unusual writing class right on stage. Hey, that’s a pun, Write on Stage. Might be a good title too. The Posse is going to be my class but they are there (in the show) to learn some life lessons. In order to connect with the lessons they are going to be writing-on-the-fly. I had wanted to give audience members small pads of paper and have them jot a few things down throughout the show. Two weeks ago when I last met with my director, John, he had all these issues about having the audience interaction really work. John showed me that there was much less likelihood of the audience participation than I cared to think. He gave me several good reasons why I needed to re-consider this.
This is the value of a director in this writing stage of the game–they’re discerning. They don’t say yes when they are not sure; and, they say basic things over and over like: What is it you want to show the audience that you’ve learned? (Jeez he’s said that to me about 20 times at this point. That’s almost once for every page of script.)
When you’re creating something it’s embarrassing. I should say it’s humbling. But the truth is that you feel lost, blind, awkward–pick your word–and to stay in that place requires a certain amount of stamina and hope. You are exposed and you are also capable of failing. You have a life that requires your attention and other projects come swooping in and derail your efforts. So when you show people the work you need them to be straight with you but in a real basic way. Plus you require kindness. Lots and lots of kindness. When you’re creating something kindness is like rocket fuel. (I worry on my death bed that this single thing will haunt me. That I will shudder at the sobering recognition that I have not been nearly kind enough.) It’s only when a collaborater can be detached and yet still care, that you have any hope of hearing them.