After the Storm: Looking Back on Artless Charlie – Part 1: The Playwright and Me

Obviously, my relationship with Adam was essential to the success of this production.  Had we not maintained such an easy and open relationship, I’m sure this project would not have worked out as well as it did.  We were lucky in that we had a very strong bond before entering into this project, and the stresses of putting up the show thankfully did not adversely affect our friendship.  The fact that we not only worked together so well in and out of rehearsals, but also trusted each other as artists, played a big part in the success of this show.

The specific nature of our working relationship within the rehearsal process is something that evolved naturally.  We never had to sit down and lay out guidelines as to how we would work with one another during rehearsal or how we would handle/discuss rewrites; that simply developed as we immersed ourselves in the play.  As it stands, most of the rewrite/textual adjustment process went as such: While working a particular scene, Adam would take notes on any particular lines or moments that he felt required a textual change.  I, in turn, would do the same and alert him to said moments either during or directly after the scene had finished.  We would then briefly discuss the nature of the proposed changes to see if it required a complete rewrite, rewording or cut.  After giving my directing notes to the cast on a particular scene, Adam would give his text notes to the actors, and as the aforementioned moments were brought up, the two of us would discuss what action, if any, needed to be taken in order to rectify the situation.  Often we would involve the input of the actors in these decisions.  If there was a line that we couldn’t quite figure out what to do with, we would ask the actors to try and reword the line in a manner more familiar to themselves or their respective character.  In a number of cases, this approach was all that was needed to fix the problem.

If there were any times that Adam and I completely disagreed on a cut, our best method of resolution was to have the scene played both ways before making a decision.  If this did not solve it, the decision would revert to the playwright for final say in the matter.  Though we both wore each other’s proverbial “hats” at given times throughout the process, it was always understood that Adam would have the final say in terms of the script, and I would have the final say in terms of all directorial matters.  I really enjoyed the fact that we were comfortable enough to let our jobs overlap in that sense.  But I was not always sure, in terms of the project itself, if we were allowed to do that.  Early in the process, as I noticed how free and openly we were working, I asked Royston if this was acceptable in terms of the Honors Thesis guidelines.  I wanted to make sure that I was allowed to step outside of my role as director and give more playwright-oriented notation. He assured me that this was not a problem and actually encouraged such actions.  He said that as long as I didn’t sit down at a computer and start typing, and Adam didn’t get on stage and start directing the actors, then we were doing it right.  We continued this open relationship throughout the process and never found a disagreement that we could not resolve.  Though we did differ on many textual points throughout the show, we were always open to hearing/trying out each others’ suggestions.

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