Review Fix chats with “Tell Me” director Bree Connor, who tells us why the performance is a special one.
About the Production:
Playful Substance, presents another production from the company’s Writer’s Group. “Tell Me” by Lauren Lindsey White; directed by Bree O’Connor with Marie Donna Davis and Dan Renkin as Movement and Fight Directors – respectively, tells the story of Elle.
Forced to deal with the aftermath of a traumatic event, Elle begins to question everything about her life that has led to this moment. Past, present, and future worlds collide in this memory play that explores identity, beauty, and loss.
Premiering at The Gallery of the Access Theatre, 380 Broadway, fourth floor, the projects will run March 19 – 22 and 26 – 29; all 8:00 p.m. shows. Tickets will be available at http://www.playfulsubstance.com/.
Review Fix: What was your inspiration behind this project?
Bree O’Connor: When Playful Substance’s Writers’ Group started in October 2017 we had four writers meeting each week to have snacks and just talk about the work. Lauren Lindsey White was one of those four writers. Lauren brought in a one woman show that she had been performing with an idea of how to expand it into a larger work. I have had the distinct pleasure of watching (listening) to Lauren’s Fellini-esque vision of an experience with trauma unfold. I was thrilled when Lauren agreed to allow “Tell Me” to be a project for our second season. Her text and intention is so in tune with that of Playful Substance; to explore deeper, emotionally complex topics with a sense of playfulness, curiosity, and honesty. While “Tell Me” does approach the impact of trauma, it never exploits trauma. There’s no titillation, (but there is a sword fight… you’ll just have to see it…) just the unexpected, foreign yet familiar landscape of “WTF??”. It’s the humor and the visceral depiction of the headspace that accompanies healing that excites me, personally.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
O’Connor: My personal creative process is slightly different for every project and Playful Substance is much the same. We start with offering a creative community for writers to work, share and learn from one another. While different writers cycle in and out of the group, there are some constants in how we talk about the work that have grown organically from the writers themselves. Through sharing, observations, feedback and questions, writers begin to see where their story is landing, what needs clarification, and what parts of the story are a surprise even to THEM! Each project dictates its own needs; developmental readings, individualized feedback and support, Pithy Party (our annual staged reading party featuring excerpts of works in progress from our Writers’ Groups), access to our creative community for one on one support, consultation and practical support for writers/directors who want to self-produce, and if we get to a full Playful Substance production… well, as with anything in the theatre, it all starts with building the creative team and understanding what colors those team members bring with them. Then we paint a picture together.
Review Fix: What did you learn/are learning about yourself through
O’Connor: This particular project is a stretch for the company. It’s a larger creative team and there will be technical demands that will present some challenges in terms of our time and resources. Since we will be tackling some emotionally difficult material, this will be an exercise in mindfulness, kindness to ourselves and others as we explore the text together and grow as an ensemble. And movement will play a key role in this production, adding a whole other element of collaboration that we haven’t really explored yet as a company. But problem solving is actually the fun part. One of the best parts of the process is choosing a piece that is juuuuuuust a little out of your reach and then finding yourself on the other side so you can say, “Look what we did!”
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this for the future?
O’Connor: My goal is to celebrate the writer’s work, the ensemble’s work. I hope that Lauren’s piece is seen, appreciated, understood, maybe picked up by some angel investor out there who wants to help us bring the DREAM version of this show into the world. I hope it brings Lauren some visibility for her work and allows her some flexibility to take it wherever she wants it to go.
Review Fix: What’s next?
O’Connor: What’s next? Our Writers Group will start thinking about Pithy Party in June. We have developmental readings coming up for two pieces we hope to have ready for next season; Jackie Reason’s “Under the Bridge” and Tori Barron’s “Passing and Failing in Paradise”. I hope to find a moment for a Good Works Series Project this season (that is a project that allows us to partner with a local charity organization doing good work in our community), and also starting up some new opportunities for creatives to explore other aspects of craft. Currently, I am developing Scene Study for Writers (and Directors) to allow these creatives an opportunity to explore the craft of acting in an environment that provides insight into their collaborators needs and methods without the pressure of having to be “ah-mazing.”