Ask any of my friends, and they'll tell you this is true: although my primary writing medium is playwriting, although I've had staged readings of ten-minute and full-length plays I've written, although I have an MFA in Playwriting, for the last 8 years I've felt a teensy bit disingenuous calling myself a playwright, because there was that one final element of the identity that eluded me - the actual production. The full-on, off-book, blocked out, lights/set/sound/costumes whole shebang. Maybe I was a person who wrote plays, but until a play of mine was fully produced, I didn't feel I fully earned the moniker of playwright.
That changed as of last night, with the opening of ReVamp Collective's production of my play Jimmy Gorski is Dead. For the first time, I saw the complete journey of my work from the page to the stage, and thanks to the amazing director, actors, designers and other production team members, it's been an incredible journey from start to finish.
I knew I was in good hands with Carly Bodnar at the helm. As a person, I've known her for nearly two decades, and have watched her grow into a strong, smart, talented woman. As a director and collaborator, I've worked with her enough to trust her implicitly, and know that I was putting my baby in very capable hands.
From the first read-through, I knew that we had a fantastic cast who would bring these characters, who really do feel like my children, to life in a way that was honest, sympathetic and believable. Watching them work and play together, discovering who these characters are and building their relationships, was so much fun. Jimmy Gorski is Dead might not be the most light-hearted play, but there was lots of levity in the room, whether it was Richie (Jimmy) and Arlen (Phil) improvising on guitar or or Carly offering line notes on how to best say "Suck a bag of dicks, Phil." I'm pretty sure that no matter how many productions of Jimmy Gorski is Dead there are (fingers crossed there are more!) I will always see these actors as the characters.
Throughout tech rehearsal, as Raven Buck's set was coming together, and Amanda Jensen and Damien Figueras were adding their beautiful lights and sounds, it felt almost surreal that this whole world was being created because of words I wrote. As a writer, you always have a certain image in your mind of what the world of the play looks like, but trust me, the world that these brilliant designers created is way better than anything I could have imagined.
Of course, the most exciting (and nerve-wracking) part of the process is getting the finished product in front of audience. We've only had a few audiences so far, but I already feel like the hours and hours hunched over my computer, and the hundreds (thousands?) of trees I've killed in the process of re-writes were worth it (I do owe the world a fuck-ton of trees). While I know reactions will vary, my hope is that everyone leaves the theater having connected with something in the piece, and they felt it was 90 minutes well-spent. And if not, hopefully I'll get 'em with the next one. And there will be a next one. After all, I am a real playwright now.
-Kristen M. Scatton