by Guest Blogger Amy Tofte
My play—originally called The Rules of Affection—started with a vague idea of a relationship involving an addict. I did a lot of research about addiction, including talking to any kind of addict willing to speak to me. I eventually finished a draft but didn’t feel it was complete enough to do anything with it. So off it went to the back burner as other projects took priority.
A year or two later I went to graduate school at CalArts for playwriting. I was writing even more new projects, exploring different forms of story-telling and meeting new artists, including dozens of wonderful actors. In my final year of school I connected with two actors—we decided we wanted to work on something together. I pulled out my addiction script.
I had been through a major break-up, dated (mostly unsuccessfully) for a couple years, and tackled a few personal dilemmas. I had more perspective and more life under my belt. I also had a new, more appropriate, title for my play about addiction: FleshEatingTiger. I wasn’t just a different human being, I was now a better writer.
The actors and I met regularly. We read at the table, worked on our feet, tried some staging with bare bones props. I re-wrote and re-arranged scenes. I wrote new scenes. We eventually shared the work as a workshop performance for our fellow students. People talked to us about the play. More re-writes, more rehearsals and we took a revised version of the show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Then another revision which we performed at the Hollywood Fringe in 2012. Professional reviews, audiences, more feedback from fellow artists.
Early this year we were invited to perform the most recent (and final version) of FleshEatingTiger at Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica. The script has had even more re-writes, including a new scene or two. We have a terrific new director and an outstanding team of designers. Each member of the team brings more insight and growth to our final script.
It’s been about two and a half years since the very first table read of the first draft. In so many ways, it’s still the same exact story. But it has also changed so much. What we will present June 21st and 22nd is the culmination of months of work combined with time away to process and germinate ideas. We are all very proud of the show and I am happy with where the script has ended up.
It takes collaboration. It takes revision. It takes time.