1. PHISHING (2008)

In December 2007/January 2008 I wrote a play with music entitled PHISHING for what the OC terms a “storefront theater” whose main requirement was that it be set on the same set as their A-show scheduled in the 8pm slot. It was selected for production, my third at this theater. However, two weeks before it opened, after the second rehearsal on the set, I recommended that it be pulled from production after witnessing and being a party to a perfect theatrical storm. It was.

Long story short, early in pre-production, with the infinite wisdom attainable only from years of labor as a kitchen cabinet refinisher, storefront theater actor, guitarist in a touring band, and so much more, the music director I had attached to the project, who I considered a friend and who was also an insider at the theater where the play was being produced, told me that I had written a “good” play, but that I needed to “go away”, so that he and the director could make it “great”. Our relationship never recovered.

My happy baggage includes a BA in Theater with an emphasis in Acting and an MLIS with an emphasis in Archival Studies. I have read some more than once of the great playwright autobiographies, including Moss Hart’s ACT ONE, which had an indelible impact on me. I’ve read a great many plays, acted in and witnessed many more.

I actually pursued a career in the entertainment industry working as a writer’s assistant with dramatic television writers, several of whom are female show runners. I worked in LA in this capacity for approximately ten years before leaving to reeducate myself, and finally achieved my position as a community college faculty librarian in the OC in the fall of 2006.

Thus I came to this theater specifically in early-2007 hoping not only to become involved with the community I had just moved into, but also with the naïve? understanding that in the professional theatre at least, the playwright is considered an important collaborator.

What I was told directly, and indirectly when I didn’t “go away” because I was attached to the production as Producer, was that storefront theater actors are intimidated by the presence of the playwright in rehearsal. In other words “actors get confused about who’s in charge”, and that their theater is a director’s medium.

While I am trained to understand this to be true in film, in my experience television is very much a writer’s medium, and I believed that the theatre was sacrosanct. I am a trained actor, yet conversely, I always longed for access to the playwright. So theirs were philosophies I didn’t understand, even as much as I agree that the prospect of meeting the playwright is daunting.

Ultimately, however, the result was that this theater and I had extreme difficulty reconciling my expectations and training with theirs, so I pulled my other new drama scheduled for production in the fall of 2008, and walked away.

More tomorrow…

Erica Bennett

2 Comments

  • By Wayne, June 7, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

    Erica I think you did the right thing. The play is your child you worked hard on to make it what it is.. You have to stay true to that. It was a brave thing you did.

  • By Erica, June 8, 2010 @ 1:28 am

    Thanks for your understanding, Wayne 🙂 I do invest that deeply in my work. Even though I believe I chose the correct path, at the time the loss of both 2008 productions was a devastating blow.

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