Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Shadowing the Process

Writer Matthew Freeman and director Isaac Butler* have started a very interesting project. They're collaborating on a future production of an adaptation of Hans Christen Andersen's story, "The Shadow," to be staged at a time and place to be determined.

But that's not necessarily the interesting part.

What's interesting is that Matt will be writing the play in installments, and posting said installments on his blog.

The story behind this project can be found here, here and here.

Matt's first entry of the play is here.

Matt's explains that he's working on the project in the open because it not only has the potential to be a new and exciting challenge, but it could aide in promoting the future production (since nothing works better in promoting a show than audience awareness and word of mouth).

He writes:

"...I've never done anything remotely like [this] and I think, because of the nature of the technology we're using, it's not something that could be done in this way before, well, now. So there's an appeal to 'new ground' I think ... there is something that appeals about getting people interested and knowledgeable about a project from its inception. As I've said in the past, audience building is what I feel is a key component to most of our concerns about the health of theatre. I'd love to see increased interest in a project simply because the project has been opened up to the scrutiny of its intended audience."

Isaac explains that keeping the process open for public scrutiny is mainly Matt's idea (since Matt, not Isaac, is the one writing the damn thing, I can't imagine Isaac would feel any need to put any sort of kibosh on Matt's methods).

Isaac writes:

"I have wanted to adapt 'The Shadow' for the stage for some time. There's just one problem. Outside of Rapid Response Team work, I'm no writer. So I approached Matt, after having read a few of his plays, thinking he had the right sensibility to adapt the work. He really loved the material, and agreed to adapt it. ... Matt and I met and he's starting to churn out pages, and we were e-mailing back and forth about them, just kinda riffing and he suggested that we start to document our collaboration on our blogs, really open the whole thing up. I thought this was a great idea."

I'm very curious to see how this unfolds.

This is not something I would be ready, willing or able to do. Although I have been known to show members of Nosedive Productions and other friends copies of works that have yet to be completed, it's usually when the story and play itself at least exists in skeletal form. That is to say, outside comments won't ruin my train of thought and change the way I'm shaping the work (because, even though it's incomplete, it's at least shaped). In general, however, I rarely show people incomplete works and I never show them to the general public (i.e., more than just a select number of my close friends). I wish I could. It's a talent and ability I just don't have. This is probably why I could never write a serial novel. Or a TV series, unless the series was an anthology, like The Twilight Zone, or I had at least written and/or mapped out the first season before the pilot was aired.

However, since the play is based on an already-written story, that skeletal frame is, in a way, already in place. Matt won't have to worry about fending off comments telling him what to write. He now only has to worry about fending off comments telling him how to write it.

But then again, Matt writes:

"What frees me of [worrying about public scrutiny] is that I feel involved with and passionate about the piece, but it's not a play that I feel is so precious and personal to me that I don't think it can't take on this little experiment. Also, I'm getting stubborn as I get older... so I figure I'll write it the way I write it and everyone will get a chance to see two young artists hashing their shit out. Will blogging the process change it? Undoubtedly. But hey, that's part of the ride."

So I guess when push comes to shove this won't be too much of a problem.

Anyway, good luck, guys. I'm looking forward to seeing this unfold.

Keeping to himself,

James "Shadowy Figure" Comtois

*Or should I write, "Director Isaac Butler and writer Matthew Freeman?" I don't want Isaac to feel like even more like an inert servant. (Ah, I'm just joshin' ya, Isaac. Ya big lug.)


Blogger Freeman said...

Thanks for the thoughts and encouragement. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the pages, to promote the conversation.

I hope this proves useful to the observer and the observed.

11:42 AM  

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