On the last day of August, the cast and crew of Two Plays for Lost Souls gather to bring voice to the works of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Deborah Pryor. We sit around the table, scripts laid out in front of us and pencils notating ideas as actors read and designers voice their visions of what Lost Souls will become. We have gathered in the conference room of the Historic Y with its mahogany floors and its 1920's southwest flavor as our theater is being renovated, our contractors racing the clock of our opening night in mid-October.
First reads are always fascinating to me, as they are always filled with awkwardness and anticipation. Like shoppers in a clothing store, we are not yet familiar with what we are trying on, excited by the newness but worried about the fit. Some of us actively stretch and play in our new garb, while others of us keep our exploration and opinions close, not interested in risking a lot quite yet. In taking our first steps as an ensemble, we still feel vulnerable.
Yet, what I love about our first read is that I can see that each and every one of us is truly happy to be here - the feeling of 'building something' together sizzles in the room. We are excited to be on the cusp of new creation.
As Director, my primary goal at first read is to make sure that for our artists the excitement of new creation is nurtured and channeled towards a common vision. At this early stage, the interplay of artistry is often less about making decisions about what the play is, and more about what the play is not. We ink in the edges of our world, but don't worry about the detail inside the lines. That comes later. Creativity works best in a "Yes...and" environment, and so our first read is filled with suggestions and encouragement. There will be time for our options to be narrowed in our weeks of rehearsal, and closing doors too quickly will prevent us from creating an experience greater than the sum of its parts.
At one stage in our evening, our music director, John Keeney, shares an idea to have some of the characters of The Love Talker sing some lines that are normally spoken. The world of The Love Talker is a magical world after all. "Not my decision," he qualifies after he shares his idea, "but - if I were King...". Personally I'm intrigued by the idea - not certain how we will execute it - but intrigued enough to say, "Let's explore that." And whether or not we end up choosing to go there in the end, I'm excited to be going on the journey of exploration. To try on these new ideas and shape our worlds.
In the next few weeks I, our actors, and our designers will offer their experiences and creative vision as we journey towards the realization of Two Plays for Lost Souls. We look forward to sharing our drawings, our stories, our music with all of you.
--Bryan Rafael Falcón
September 4, 2017