New York City: Day 96

Nov 19, 2014 by

everything is wonderful

On Day 96, you have your brightest day since moving to New York.

You present the first public reading of your new play, your first Juilliard play, to the students and faculty of the Drama Division.  It is the best play you have ever written.  It is called “Everything is Wonderful.”  You are more nervous about this Play Lab than you have been about actual productions of your work.

Instead of the typical reading set-up, with chairs in straight lines and actors with binders at music stands, you create a thrust space.  You eliminate the music stands.  You take away the binders and set the actors free.  You have the best actors.  Simply the best.  And they can think on their feet, even with only an hour of rehearsal behind them.

The students enter for Play Lab and see the rearranged chairs.  This moment of disorientation becomes a spark of energy that ignites the play.  The actors are magnetic, dynamic, making choices on the fly, illuminating each other.  It is breathtaking to watch.  You have written down a formula, and they are creating a chemical reaction that’s explosive and exciting. Everyone holds their breath.  When the person reading stage directions says “blackout,” the room erupts.  The roof comes off the place.  It is one of the proudest moments of your life.

Afterward, you find out that in 21 years, no one has ever rearranged the chairs before.

Students swarm you, email you, stop you in the halls to talk about this thing you wrote that they made happen, by being there, by breathing and paying attention.  A small part of you worries that this play will never explode this way again, but you push that part aside.  This is the day that makes the self-doubt, the separation, the frustration, the anger, and the lost-ness feel worth it.  They were building to something.  They were setting you up for this.  And those days will return, but they aren’t real.  This is real.  This is why.

Marsha says, “Everyone knew walking out of that room that this play is on its way to very big things.”

Marsha says, “This is only the beginning.”

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3 Comments

  1. Peter Marcantel

    You see a wonderful post about your niece’s triumphant debut of her first Juilliard-born play. Are you surprised? Of course not. Are you incredibly proud? Yes. Yes, you are.

  2. Chelsea. I love this so much.

  3. Breanna McNabb

    How exciting to read! I look forward to hearing more. Congrats!

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