The photo in my profile was taken by the great actress, Ann Hu, during a rehearsal of my play, The Edwin Forrest Project, for a stage reading at the Blank Theatre in Hollywood. The photo was taken when the actors were on break and I was jotting down ideas for a post-reading rewrite. I love how the pen glows like a lightning bolt.
I still write a lot of things longhand, and I’m wondering if anyone else does too. My preference is yellow legal pads and cheap ballpoint pens (blue and black). I can write on a computer screen, but I prefer the pen. It’s mightier than the sword. A computer is just mighty.
One of my happiest places to be is in a rehearsal room. I don’t like to direct because that involves talking, and there are directors who are better than I could ever be.
So what does the playwright do in a rehearsal room? I am actively watching. I have my eyes on the twelve thousand details that the play sits on. If we were on the Enterprise, the director would be Kirk, and I would be Spock—only we can’t shoot phasers or teleport. Darnit!
I love watching actors work. I have great respect for actors. It’s a strange line of work. First there is the mass entertainment perception of actors on red carpets and wearing fashion. Imagine being the top doctor or top construction worker and being under that much scrutiny. Second, there’s all the rejection. Sure, as a writer, I know rejection (oh man, do I know it), but it’s my plays. It’s not my physical self.
But in rehearsal, man, that’s where actors really work. They’re constantly making adjustments—trying to find the character and the performance. And actors are smart. They can take an abstraction, a thought, an idea, and turn it into something physical. I can barely put thoughts on paper sometimes, but actors gotta send ideas through themselves and out to the audience.
Every actor works differently. Some come in and thrive on lots and lots of direction. Some come in, step on the stage, and they’re in the play. They’re just present in the stage reality. It takes a lot of work to seem like you’re not acting.
To every actor I’ve ever worked with. You are never forgotten, and I hope you all make tons of money. You have great playwright love from me.