Theatre, arts, culture, politics, and snark from a practicing playwright and recovering journalist.
Friday, January 25, 2008
One week out from Dead of Winter, and that weird, rising feeling of anticipation keeps crawling up my neck and taking me by surprise. I’ll be having a conversation with an ordinary (non-theatre) human being, and suddenly I’ll be in a darkened theatre, watching light cues to be. Or I’ll be taken by a sudden panic: whose bio do I still need? Did I forget any props? What about…?
What about everything, pretty much. Tomorrow we move into the space, build a set, hang lights and sound tech, and pretty much enact all the planning, e-mails, telephone calls, notes scribbled on Post-Its, intentions, visions, and compromises production entails. The funny part is just about the time you’re feeling the most tired, the production begins to feed you back. You give to it, it gives to you. The thrill of realization, of an idea in your head becoming reality (or at least theatrical reality).
It’s a strange moment, speaking as a writer. Because, once upon a time, you sat by yourself (or, often in my case writing in coffeehouses, in the company of strangers), and this dream, these series of images, these voices, came to you, and you wrote them down. You experienced them along with the characters. And then time passes for the fever to subside, and you look at the script again with a little distance. You can still feel the place it came from, but you can also be a bit more objective, and you begin to fix mistakes, clarify, shape. Then you begin the long process of sharing it with others, taking in their impressions, and adjusting further.
Finally, you give it to a director, actors, and techs, and the process sort of reverses. From text on a page, distilled from the mind’s images, images begin to take shape in real time. It’s like watching your own dream come to life and immerse you. It can let you down, but it can also sweep you away, your eye and mind synching up into a hyperreality that leaves you high.
We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting there. We are indeed getting there.
One week to launch.
P.S.: Check out the Dead of Winter video teaser at The Bluestockings and, if you like what you see (and/or it unnerves you), please pass on the link. You can, of course, buy tickets there too.
Steve Patterson has written over 50 plays, with works staged in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Tampa, and other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and New Zealand. His works include: Waiting on Sean Flynn, Next of Kin, Farmhouse, Malaria, Shelter, Altered States of America, The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Grandamnus, Bluer Than Midnight, Bombardment, Dead of Winter, and Delusion of Darkness. In 2006, his bittersweet Lost Wavelengths was a mainstage selection at Portland Center Stage's JAW/West festival, and, in 2008, won the Oregon Book Award (he also was an OBA finalist in 1992 and 2002). In 1997, he won the inaugural Portland Civic Theatre Guild Fellowship for his play Turquoise and Obsidian.