re-writing during rehearsal process

I’ve been busy and excited (!!!) for my first full length play production opening at the Drilling Company this Thursday, July 21st.

To give the director space I haven’t attended all of the rehearsals, but for the rehearsals I’ve attended, the actors will often ask me about particular lines or sections of dialogue and we’ll re-write together.

Since I’m working with extremely intelligent and thoughtful actors and my favorite, most trusted director, this works great.  But of course, there are moments when I feel I’m getting too much input and it worries me and that little writer ego pops up.

I’ve often wondered how common it is to adjust lines and the script during  the rehearsal process. And I found an article I was reading this weekend to be particularly enlightening. It was in the NY Times Magazine and it was about one of the best TV shows EVER, Breaking Bad. Bryan Cranston who plays the lead was talking about dealing with writing he finds untruthful to his character, saying:

“Cranston reads each episode about a week in advance so that these bumps can be smoothed over before it’s time to start shooting. When he can’t resolve the issue with the writer on the set that week, a call is placed to Gilligan, who is usually in the writer’s room in Burbank. “It’s up to them, but I won’t bend unless I’m convinced it’s the right thing to do,” Cranston says. “Convince me and I’ll do it. I have a theory — our job isn’t to lie to the audience, our job is to find the truth in the character. If we lie, we’re giving the audience a little pinch of poison. They won’t even know they ingested it. But if you lie again and again and again, all of a sudden, your audience is going, ‘This isn’t working for me.’ They just feel sick, and they turn you off.”

-David Segal quoting Bryan Cranston in the article “The Dark Art of ‘Breaking Bad’

I love this idea that creating untruthful characters is like feeding an audience poison. It also ties into my personal philosophy that we have to be careful what we ingest culturally. I think watching crap does something to your head, your subconscious. Maybe I’m just particularly fearful of being brainwashed and not knowing until it’s too late, but still…

Reading Bryan Cranston’s thoughts on re-writing really reminded me of the value of collaboration during the rehearsal process.



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