I now know what that word “dumbfounded” feels like. Just the other week I was told a one-act play of mine was about to go on in a one-act play show minus its last four pages. The play, Dreams of Justine, had been acquired by the director who assumed that the perusal version was the final version of the play – and that’s the version he’d been rehearsing with his actors.*
With little time to waste I decided to distill those last four pages of script down to half a dozen lines and a few actions so as to better tie off what I thought was a comedy, because as we all know, comedies end with the guy and the girl together at the end after a lot of tooing and froing, ups and downs and roundabouts. (Or so the traditional form tells us.)
Luckily, the director and the cast were able to rehearse my concluding snippet during the first half of the program and put on my version for the audience. When I saw how things had turned out, it seemed as if the play was meant to finish where and when it did, and the audience, I think, was satisfied. (Thanks to all concerned for their efforts.)
So what have I learned?
1. Theatre is always about risk – or should be (otherwise, why do it, right?) – but please remember, your script will usually conclude with the words Fadeout or Snapoff;
2. While the response of some was that it wasn’t my problem, being in any group – theatre or otherwise – is always about finding solutions and working together;
3. I have a new idea for a one-act play about a writer who learns that their one-act play is about to go on minus the last four pages…
You can get your hands on the perusal copy of Dreams of Justine here – and if you’d like to get your hands on the shortened version I’ve just written let me know!
* (If nothing else, a great pat on the back to my writing: even truncated, my script still made sense to the director and the actors!)