Monday, April 05, 2010

The Writing Week (Vol. 3) part 118 - Had a Play Reading and A Script Meeting

This past week held a lot of firsts for me. For one, I had my first ever play reading, which was both nerve-wracking and exciting. I have a day job in the Off and Off Broadway theatre industry, and one of my coworkers is an actor/director who wants to start his own theatre company some day. One day, we were heading to a work event and got to talking about his plans – which at that point consisted of little more than wanting to do a reading of a play – and I mentioned that I had a play sitting in my drawer from a couple years back. He asked to read it and quickly decided to get a reading of it going. I spent some time tweaking it in December and then again in February, and he managed to nail down a cast about two weeks ago. Of course, we probably shouldn’t have planned a reading for Good Friday, but it still went off pretty well.

Having worked in New York theatre for over two and a half years now – and been around it during school for four years before that – I wasn’t new to readings. I was new, however, to having my own material read. We had a rehearsal on Wednesday, which was the first time that I’ve ever had a full length piece (or actually anything longer than a one act) read aloud since high school. I didn’t quite know what to expect going in; I knew that the play read alright on paper, but that was about it. The beginning was a bit shaky, but the seven actors involved (one of them a 9 year old kid) got into their roles pretty quickly, and I calmed down in no time. On Friday, we did the play for a small audience – about 15 people – which was exciting. I remembered how much I dislike hearing my material read before an audience (something I’ll have to get over) and how difficult it is for me to sit still during it. Afterward, though, we had a Q&A that lasted longer than we’d expected and wound up being really successful. People were into the play and debating amongst themselves certain points I had intentionally left open to interpretation. None of the comments indicated a lack of clarity about the story or poor writing, which was great.

The next morning (Saturday), I had brunch with the executive from the production company we’re working with on my post-Apocalyptic spec. It was actually pretty weird timing that she wound up coming to the City last week. I had just emailed my manager to let him know that I have a bunch of vacation days to use up before the end of June and to see if he wanted me to reserve any for LA. While it’d be great for me to get out there, he said that the best time to take meetings would be after I finished the script. The next day, I found out that the executive was boarding a plane for NYC for a number of meetings and that she would be in touch to try and meet. We had sent her an outline for a proposed new draft of the script, and we were also eagerly awaiting her feedback on that.

So Saturday morning the executive and I grabbed a cup of coffee at Dean & Deluca in midtown. In case you’re wondering what to wear to something like that – I actually did some reading beforehand on proper meeting attire for these situations – I wore a polo shirt, Converse sneakers, and jeans. Pretty casual. It was also nice out, so I didn’t have to worry about a jacket or anything. Granted, this was an informal meeting with someone that I’ve been on phone and email with a lot in the past few months, but still – a first impression. Coffee lasted about an hour, the first fifteen minutes of which was us talking about a show she’d seen in town, my play reading (which I had invited her to), and my background as a writer. Then, we dug into her notes on the outline I had submitted, which she had responded to via email a couple days before. I was in agreement with her on almost all of what she said, but I did have questions on where she was coming from on three points, so we discussed those.

All in all, I’d say it was a pretty successful meeting. Of course, there were a few things I wish I had done a bit differently. I hadn’t anticipated talking about my other projects (for some absurd reason), so when she asked what else I had, I informally pitched a few that I would probably not have mentioned had I prepared a bit more for that. Not to say that they’re bad projects – I want to get back to them both – but I’d have gone with other ideas over one of them in particular. At one point she asked me if I had questions about the production company, and I kicked myself for not having asked first. Luckily, I’d done my research, so I could ask about different projects they have in the works (one of them I wish I’d known had fallen apart). Still, it was an hour very well spent, and I think we’re in a good place with the script. She’s excited about it, so are my producer and manager. Now it’s just up to me to write the thing (again).