Sunday, April 18, 2010

In the Works: The Velvet Gentleman

On Tuesday we gathered again at Theatre Row Studios to read and discuss the latest draft of Jon Steinhagen's The Velvet Gentleman: Being the Unusual Life of Erik Satie.

A year ago when we had our first table reading, the script had a cast of eight. This latest version has come down to a more manageable group of five. Back with us were Ted Schneider, Molly Garber, Bob Leeds, and Jonathan Wiener. New to the mix was actress Dale Soules. Also on hand to provide her thoughts was Jess Hooks.

I cannot begin to articulate how excited I am to have this group of artists reading and discussing the show. When working on an independently produced show you have to be prepared for inevitable casting challenges. People get paying acting jobs or become unavailable for a variety of other reasons. It is a fact of life and there isn't much you can do about it. But for at least this evening I had assembled exactly the group of people I would want to take right on to the stage.

The script still has stripped away the interaction of the theater company performing the play. It had been my hope to build this troupe from the ground up with the cast. I saw that based on the discussion after the reading with the actors that I could spend a year fleshing out the Altoona Dada Society. I am afraid that I haven't the skill as a director to accomplish this, and am going to have to change my approach to the material.

Jon Steinhagen has become increasingly enthusiastic about creating the cast of characters that make up the small town Dada Society. The plan now is that he is going to spend the next couple weeks working on the group dynamic, creating scenarios that will play out around the edges of the performance of "The Velvet Gentleman." Jon had worked out a short introduction to the show where we meet the Dada Society's members and find out a little about the origin of the show. We didn't get to read the introduction out loud because of the animated conversation after the table reading.

We will be hearing from the New York Fringe Festival in the next couple weeks so the next time everyone gets together we should not only have a new script, but we should know if we will be asked back to participate at FringeNYC for a second year.

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