So I'm directing a ten-minute play that I've written (the wisdom of directing one's own play is a topic for another time) and the fact that these two characters and their situation comes wholly from my brain, might reasonably lead the actors to think I know all about these people.
One of the actors sent me very good questions about (among other things):
level of education
marriage or in a long-term relationship
other close family members
Some things I know and feel comfortable answering. I think there may be ways to play it otherwise, but I pretty much imagined the characters to be middle class. The character above lives alone in her own home and her nephew is in college. Lower class and certainly upper class people might have these circumstances, but the middle class angle is the one I will play.
But it's a ten-minute play. There's only so much in-text information that a playwright can put on the page. I think this is where the collaboration between actors and director becomes fun and the playwright has to get out of the way. Within this ten minute play, the actors can decide any number of things about these characters. As I told my actor asking these questions, I had been willing to cast this play across racial lines and I would have expected the cast to talk about what dynamics that would have created in their relationship. That I ended up with two white actors still leaves us with a lot to talk about, a lot of subtext to create.
I will direct with an eye toward creating as interesting a picture on the stage as i can, and I will guide my actors into as as truthful performances as possible.
But the truth of these characters? There's so much room for the actors to build that for themselves, for this particular production of the play, and I wouldn't want to take that away from them.
I wrote a few pages of words that are open to quite a bit of interpretation. I can't wait to see what they discover under the words.
I'm excited by what we might end up creating together.
February to August will be performed November 19, 2005, at the O'Kane Theater, University of Houston-Downtown as part of an evening of Student Directed One-Acts, 8:00pm. Free and open to the public.