Wednesday, July 06, 2005
A conversation with . . .
Debut of new Lucinda McDermott play
takes circuitous route to production
|Conversations: Looking back|
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What’s the significance for you, personally and professionally, of having this play produced at the Barter Theatre? How does it stack up with your previous experiences?
Lucinda McDermott: I’ve had several plays that have been done around the country. Probably my most successful play was a one-woman show that I wrote and performed called "O’Keeffe!" about Georgia O’Keeffe. Other than having your show on Broadway or off-Broadway, to have your plays produced in a regional theater is a great boon. The Barter Theatre is one. "O’Keeffe" I had done in several regional theaters, including Mill Mountain Theatre. The Barter is great … although I lived in
If it stays out of the performance realm too long?
L.M.: Well you don’t know what you have. … I had reached the point with this where I thought, "That’s it, no more readings because I don’t know what I have." So it was just thrilling when I went to the first rehearsal, to have the play in the hands of actual actors, professional actors who were going to develop the characters over a period of time — that was great.
And you were writing it for a long time, right? It was workshopped in 1997?
L.M.: Yeah, it was workshopped in ’97, and it won a couple prizes. I won the Delaney Prize in play writing from UVa. In 2003 I think it was, at
It was being performed in readings but not in performance?
L.M.: That’s right. It’s being read by actors, and there might be some limited movement. You’re not gonna have props, you’re not gonna have sets — there’s really no budget. They might be on stools, they might get up and move around a little bit. At least you have an actor, one actor per role. So those are beneficial, but then you get to a point where you say, "OK, I’ve done as much as I can with it at this point." I’ve lost track of how many drafts I’ve done of this play. It’s constant tweaking. My dad is a sculptor, so I liken it to sculpting. You put a bunch of clay out on a form. And for me play writing is about taking a lot away. I love editing, I love cutting.
Right, that’s where a lot of the real artistry takes place.
L.M.: When I teach play writing and one of my student writers has brought something back to me and I can see they’ve done a lot of cutting, a lot of work, I can see that they’re a craftsperson. That’s where the work really comes in.
Right. I’ve read that Eliot and Ezra Pound cut more than a thousand lines out of "The Wasteland." A thousand lines of poetry — and considering the author, I’m fairly sure those weren’t bad lines either.
L.M.: I want to see what he cut! Yes, plays are like sculptures: you have 360 degrees, you have people on the stage, so if something can be done in action, there’s no sense it having it repeated.