What I’ve Learned From Falling In Time’s Rehearsal Process

We are just six days away from opening night of Falling In Time, and during the last two and a half weeks of rehearsal I feel as though I’ve acquired a lifetime’s worth of playwriting wisdom. I’ve been a professional dramatist for the better part of fifteen years, so I thought I knew a lot; as it turns out, I knew very little. More accurately: truths have hit home for me more deeply while rehearsing this play than while rehearsing previous plays.

The biggest of these truths: that what may work on paper as literature doesn’t necessarily work on stage as theatre. For example, there was a sequence in the play where one of the actors, in previous drafts of the script, was required to morph from her primary character into several other characters within a space of two minutes. While it seemed joyously theatrical on the page, when we put it on its feet in rehearsal, it revealed itself as merely theatrical; that is, it resulted only in creating logistical confusion and interfering with the integrity of the primary character’s story. So we’ve ditched it, and the play is (I think) stronger as a result.

Because I come to playwriting from a literary background as opposed to a theatrical one, thinking about stage logistics doesn’t come naturally to me, so I always welcome the necessary tug-of-war that happens during rehearsal between what is called for in the script and what makes sense theatrically. That said, there’s value in not restricting oneself to write only what is in conventional terms “theatrically possible.” As an admirer of the late British playwright Sarah Kane, I’ve always held fast to her credo that if it is possible to imagine something, it is possible to represent it. This can often result in theatre that is innovative, startling and sensual–all good things, in my opinion.

Speaking of tugs-of war, there have been several in the last two and a half weeks. But they have all been for the sake of advancing the show rather than advancing egos, and always with the knowledge that with thesis and antithesis come synthesis.

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