There’s a new group in town, and we call ourselves SJ REAL (San Jose Repertory Emerging Artists Lab). I like to pronounce it the Spanish way, S.J. Reh-Ahl, as if it’s a fútbol club (think F.C. Real Madrid). We’re theatre people, we are excited, we are local artists emerging onto a slightly dusty local scene.
In March, I attended one of the first meetings of this group, where Rick Lombardo, the Artistic Director of The San Jose Rep, said: “If I were to say that we can have a performance of something you are working on, something good, in our Patron’s Lounge, in May, would any of you have something ready to present?” I tensed up with excitement like Jaune Tom from Gay Purr-ee in front of a mouse. It was too tempting to pass up. I was going to find something.
I remembered that a couple of years back, local playwright Scott Munson had given me to read his short script An Intermission Play, a shameless knockoff (author’s words) of Harold Pinter’s The Lover. I decided to go with it. I cast two fantastic local actors whom I had worked with before, Heidi Kobara and Michael Wayne Rice; they started memorizing the script; we were ready to go.
And then one day in early May my husband asked a simple question:
“Is it going to be performed at intermission?”
“No!” I said, annoyed “It’s being performed after the Rep’s main stage show, which doesn’t have an intermission.”
“Oh.”… “Is the main stage show by Harold Pinter?”
I had to answer “No” again, and at this point I was frustrated with him for… not getting it.
Of course, he was right. My choice of play was not relevant. Why would you want to see a piece that is a spoof of a show you’ve never seen? It’s hard for me to accept when my husband is right, but this time, I had to. The problem was that it was already May 1st, our show was scheduled to perform on May 18th, and the first rehearsal was the next day.
I contacted Scott, the playwright, and discussed the issue. Scott was absolutely magnificent! Of course he wanted his play to be a success, too, so he decided to re-write it. The two of us read The Rep’s main stage play, The Understudy by Theresa Rebeck, we sat in on a rehearsal of it that same day, after which Scott wrote a whole new short play, relevantly titled An Understudy Play. And he did this in 2 days! Heidi and Michael refocused their memorizing on the new script, and after only 3 hard-working and productive rehearsals (which is very little)… our performance is tonight!
In the meantime I read another short play, this time by Heather Noelle Robinson, a member of SJ REAL, loved it, and decided to direct it too. A Star Gazing Story is 7 minutes long and it is about one of my favorite subjects: young love. Heather’s play performs tonight also, after only 2 rehearsals, with Jessica Salans (another SJ REAL member) and Manuel Rodriguez-Ruiz.
So many questions still remain about tonight. Will SJ Rep patrons actually stay for our post-show (other than my strongest supporters – my husband and parents-in-law)? If anybody comes in from the street without having seen The Understudy, will they still enjoy the performance without getting all the references? Was this type of project a good idea? Is there an audience for it?
Check back for tomorrow’s post One Night Show Part II – The Morning After, to read how it all went!
A Star Gazing Story and An Understudy Play perform on Friday, May 18th, at 10:00pm, in the San Jose Repertory Theater’s Patron Lounge. See The Understudy and stay for SJREAL.