In about two months, I will be onstage preforming a one man show called Cast Away. The only problem is that I haven’t written it yet. It’s an amorphous shape in my brain and I have some set bits for it, but I still have to write the thing. I mean, if I was put on the spot and had to perform it today, I could probably improvise my way through it, but it wouldn’t be coherent or consistent.
Since I’ve been having trouble motivating myself to blog, I figured that I would chart my progress developing this piece. So, let me start at the beginning.
Two years ago, I wrote a play called Cast Party. When I got involved in acting in Community Theatre five years ago, I met lots of new people. Stories would be shared as we bonded over beer after rehearsals. Every show has antics or situations that actors and crew have to deal with, so I find it fun to listen to these stories. Ironically, I kept hearing stories from one particular production. It just so happened that in three different shows I did with a few different theatre groups, I ended up working with or meeting most of the people involved in that specific production.
I was getting ready to write my second play, which was tentatively called Mulling Kilt Attire, inspired by some of those after rehearsal bar sessions, when I saw a play called Scratch by Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman. It’s a play about a girl’s reaction to her mother’s terminal cancer. A few of the actors played multiple characters, seamlessly becoming someone different by a change in their physicality.
After seeing the play, I thought it would be cool to have a play where everyone played multiple characters. It would be fun for the actors to challenge themselves and fun for the audience to see the actors’ versatility. But I didn’t have a story to tell. And then I remembered the stories about that production (that I hadn’t seen by the way) that I kept hearing about. One of the things that struck me was that one of the actors died shortly after the production, but many people didn’t know he was sick.
So, I shelved Mulling Kilt Attire and decided to write Cast Party. I would have each actor play two roles. And I would try to incorporate the people that are involved in community theatre: cast, crew and hangers on.
I submitted the play to Black Box Fire’s Emerging Artist Series and it got accepted. Before I knew it, I was directing my play. Without a doubt, it was the worst theatrical experience I ever had. Actors didn’t show up to rehearsals, some quit, one I had to fire, another actor tried to start a mutiny. Hai carumba!
But the show must go on, right? It did go on. Amidst the pain and betrayal, there were glimmers of hope and wonderful people who helped out. Every time I was about to throw in the towel, someone or something positive would give me hope. Since a lot of the audience were involved in community theatre, it was well received.
People joked that I should write a sequel. I would always quip back that I was planning to. And I was going to call the show The Rehearsal.
This year, I had a subscription to Theatre Passe Muraille and I saw a couple of one person shows that I really enjoyed: The Cure for Everything by Maja Ardal and Oh, My Irma by Haley McGee. I thought that The Rehearsal could work as a one person show. I wrote a few pages, but it didn’t go any further.
I needed a deadline. Cue the divine music and the celestial sunshine poking through dark clouds. The Pearl Canadian Theatre Festival was looking for submissions. I submitted the synopsis for The Rehearsal, which I renamed Cast Away, and it was accepted. Like I said, now, I have to write the darn thing.