I saw “Nightingale” last night.
I was waiting with Miyuki under a tree for some mutual friends who’d been visiting you, and you walked alone with your dog to your car, looked straight at me, and passed on. Well, I guess that means you don’t want to be friends, and it’s your choice, and it means I have to give you two notes this way.
Oh, you know that I also saw it at the “tryout” last February, and it is certainly much improved, and your acting was excellent, the scenery and your outfit work very well.
You noticed that people did not stand at the end, and I believe you’ve had some walkouts. I don’t think they were bored, but that they weren’t “with you”. And I think that this is because they felt a little bit “alienated” from you and your play’s character. Here’s what I think you can do about it. And remember, I’m fresh eyes for you and your director. Try to incorporate these before you close on Sunday, it might be your last chance.
1. The audience feels a little uncomfortable throughout, because they don’t know who they are supposed to be. I mean, when somebody is talking at you, essentially unasked, it’s a bit off-putting. But they do want to know. Especially if they’re not an English audience who may not need this encouragement.
At the top when you first go into your grandmother’s character, sit upstage in the restaurant, and imagine your close friend is sitting opposite you (in the same eyeline as the audience) while you have tea together. Aim your first lines at her, and when you have established it is her you are talking to, ever so gradually, bit by bit, shift your attention to the audience. In other words, the audience will become that friend, and will then settle back for the rest of the show. Remember, as I’ve always said, the very start of a show is perhaps the most important part, because if you don’t get ’em then, you may not get another chance.
So you see, a small note, but a very important one.
2. My other note is a writing adjustment. I think it is foolish to say that you are making the entire story up, about your grandmother. We don’t really want to hear that, because then we think “well, she existed, didn’t she, you met her when you were a child, can’t you tell us anything that you know is a fact?”
This is a fact-based society today if you’re dealing in facts not fiction. You are detailing a real person whom you knew. There are facts in there, and while it’s true that you are speculating about her marriage and her character, you shouldn’t say you just made it up. You don’t need to say it really happened either. Just don’t refer to it, and the question won’t even get asked. Just launch into your piece, believing every word, and we will too.
Do these things, and I think the audience will stand at the end.
Say hi to your director Joe for me, and can he get me another job on his ABC daytime soap? I really need it this time.
June 1, 2007
I see you have opened at Hartford, Connecticut in an improved version of your play, and I read an interesting review by Frank Rizzo in Variety. Critics should not compromise objectivity about their subject actors as Rizzo has by interviewing you in a cozy pre-production paid chat for the Hartford Courant. They should, by definition, remain alienated from actors if they are to retain any credible integrity, but maybe it paid off for you. Anyway, in the absence of seeing the new version for myself, here’s what I read: Variety review
Seems you have re-written and personalized it more and are still working on it. Meanwhile, what is next? I think you may be circling around waiting to pounce on me for your next play, and you know what? I hope so. I want to find out why you did what you did to me.
Meanwhile, say hello to my old employees, Rui Rita, your lighting person who took over from dear departed Tom Skelton on our SFMF play, and also to Carol (no relation) Clark, our stage manager. And as you should know, I wish only the best for you in your professional career, even though I no longer have a piece of it.
June 10, 2007 The NY Times came out with their NY Times review this morning.