Of all the readings and workshops that In the Company of Jane Doe has had over the years, this – my first NY production – is the first one I haven’t been able to help rehearse. On one hand, it’s kind of exciting because it will be a completely new experience for me to walk into a space and see the play done based solely on someone else’s interpretation of what’s on the page (and a few email clarifications between myself and the producer). On the other hand, it’s kind of terrifying to think that I will walk into a space and see the play done based solely on someone else’s interpretation of what’s on the page (and only a few email clarifications between myself and the producer).
It’s been a healthy challenge in learning to “let go”…
It’s been a healthy challenge in learning to respond to notes and questions coming from people meeting the play for the first time as well.
I don’t even remember sending the play to CAKE productions two (or was it three now?) years ago. Apparently they had posted a call for female-focus plays and I had sent them Jane Doe. They received so many submissions from that call that they simply read till they found something they liked, produced it, and then went back to the pile of unread scripts for year two. When they called me to ask if they could do a reading of the play, I was surprised (as I confessed, I didn’t remember sending them the script) and I was also over the moon excited. When, after the reading, they said they’d like to produce it, I was over the moon again.
But when they asked me if I would take some script notes, I crash-landed at my desk and began to sweat like a mother-f***er.
My neurotic Playwright Brain began to torture me with panic: What if I don’t agree with their notes? Will they not do it? What if I can’t fix the hiccups they’ve identified? Will they not do it? What if I make all the changes and it makes the play worse? Will they not do it? And even worse- Do I even know how to write plays??? What if all this panic leaches into my brain and erases everything I’ve learned and I just sit here at my desk like a cucumber, staring blankly at the screen and thinking horribly blank vegetable-like thoughts…
Every email they sent, I sweated over, so dreadfully afraid was I that they were going to change their mind at any second and this super-cool-awesome-can’t believe-I’m-going-up-in-NY reality would dissolve into “Too bad, so sad, and bye bye Tiff!”
But only a few of those emails had notes – really good notes – notes that challenged me to look at this thing I’d written at the start of my playwriting career and tighten it up with tools from my “7 years later” tool box.
So I wrangled the notes – I didn’t turn into a cucumber – and CAKE took the play into rehearsal.
They sent me a few more “Can we cut this, Can you write a bit more of that” emails that I listened to and worried over – it was really hard not being in the room and hearing these beats skip in the way they said – but all in all, I had to trust them and trust myself, and negotiate my own view of the play with what they were hammering out in rehearsals in regards to which changes needed to be made and which did not.
It was a crazy new experience… and one I hope I managed well. I guess I’ll know when I see the play on Thursday!
But all in all, this new step of “playwriting from the opposite coast” brought with it a lot by way of learning to let go, and just trusting in the play – quite a feat for an self-admitted control freak.