On Saturday morning, we a had read-through of The Hampton Years at the home of Theatre Ariel's Artistic Director, Deborah Baer Mozes. My wonderfully brilliant and talented cast included Taysha Canales, Akeem Davis, Khris Davis, Stephen Hatzai, Robert Hargraves, Ian Lithgow, Ashley B. Spearman, and Miriam White. Oh, I learned that Seth Rozen, Artistic Director of Interact Theatre, assisted Deborah in bringing our cast together and I couldn’t be more appreciative of his efforts and generosity.
You should know that this was their second rehearsal. They met on Thursday evening, only I wasn’t able to join them. However, I did send along a dramaturgy packet and video links to songs that appeared in the play, which I’m told was helpful in their preparation.
As we sat around Deborah’s dining room table, she guided us through an intensive, thoughtful and incredibly productive 4 1/2 hour rehearsal. In addition to their passion, energy, and talent, what I needed most from our time together was their inquiry, insight and immediate response. Working with a cast and director who was new to this play was really quite useful. It really allowed me to hear the script anew. No question was to too small, no observation was slight.
This current draft came as a result of the new play development workshop and Tea at Two reading in October at Theatre J, and the subsequent script meeting in December with director Shirley Serotsky, dramaturg Otis Cortez Ramsey-Zoe and artistic director Ari Roth. I did rewrites in January that focused on the following:
Hearing this new material for the first time was really exciting, informative and inspiring. I was able to see where I need to dig deeper and where I could pull back. What helped is that Deborah and the cast created a space where we were all in service of the script. There were no egos in the room. It was really beautiful. When we finished rehearsal, I felt really good about the work we were presenting and was excited to hear it in front of the audience.
Of course, I’ll share more on how those two readings and the post show discussion went in my next two posts. For now, please enjoy these pictures from my time with director Deborah Baer Mozes and my cast Taysha Canales, Akeem Davis, Khris Davis, Stephen Hatzai, Robert Hargraves, Ian Lithgow, Ashley B. Spearman, and Miriam White.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!