Author Archives: Natalie Wilson

Guest Star Selfie #1: Leta Tremblay

On Tuesday Feb 11th, Director/Producer Leta Tremblay joined us as a GUEST STAR for Tim Errickson’s play Warm Roses. LRR playwright Natalie Wilson sat down with her after — electronically-speaking — to learn more about her and share some of her fabulousness with y’all.

1) What is your role in this crazy world of theater, and what first inspired you to pursue that role?

I am a director and producer in the New York Indie Theater scene. I started down that path when I first moved to NYC in 2007 and founded my theater company, FullStop Collective, with a group of my peers from the Eugene O’Neill National Theater Institute. We began as a group of artists just trying to get our work produced and seen so we came together to support each other in that endeavor. I have a stage management background so I organically came into the role of Producing Director and have really found my way by doing. Producing the work, making mistakes and learning from them. Directing though is my true love. I love finding those magical moments with collaborators when something just fits. A line spoken with grace, a gesture that surprises, music that weaves into a lit stage scape. I love sitting in an empty theater before something is about to happen. The promise of those opportunities inspires me.

2) From your resume, you clearly love working on new plays.  What do you love about the new play development process?

I love the possibility that a new play holds and the excitement of actively working with a living playwright. I love to collaborate with other artists over this new living, breathing thing and helping it to grow into something that none of us ever expected when we started. For me, a new play comes to life when we put it on it’s feet. It might stumble in the beginning but hearing the words come out of actors mouths is the only way to see what you’ve really got. And who doesn’t love a world premier, am I right?

3) What is a favorite new play you’ve helped bring to life, and why?

Wow, that’s a tough one. There are so many! Most recently, Mariah MacCarthy’s MRS. MAYFIELD’S FIFTH GRADE CLASS OF ’93 20 YEAR REUNION (production June 2013) is a favorite and a totally unique process. We didn’t start with a script but rather an idea and a bunch of actors who we both wanted to work with. From inception to closing night the whole process was only about five months long and a whirlwind of improvisation, writing, rehearsing, and performing. It was so alive and invigorating! On the other side of the spectrum, I engaged in a nearly 7 year long collaboration with FullStop company member Megan Weaver on her play, CAUSE OF FAILURE, which we mounted at FringeNYC in 2012. Both projects are very near to my heart because if the characters that emerged and the tremendous artists that I had the pleasure to work with. Both are funny, heartbreaking, and epic in their own ways.

4) Let’s get serious for a moment. What is the hardest thing about getting new works developed currently in the US? Any brilliant ideas for how that could be fixed/changed?

Space and money. That’s really what it all boils down to. And that applies not only to actually producing new work but also for individual artists to be able to live. Playwrights can write, they can collaborate with directors, they can have informal readings with actors, and they can take classes and receive feedback from peers, but only if they have a space to work in and money to feed/cloth/house themselves. I am very much of the opinion that an artist doesn’t need to wait for opportunities to develop they work. Residencies and festivals are great but you can also self produce and create an environment where work can thrive as long as you are willing to raise the money to acquire the space to do so. Brilliant ideas? Affordable space for artists? More monetary support that’s not so difficult to access? A government that supports and appreciates artists and their importance in society. All big goals. I’m still working out the details.

5) Enough about you. How about us? How was your experience being a guest star with Lather Rinse Repeat? What did you enjoy? What do you think we could do better?

I loved spending an evening with the Lather Rinse Repeat crew! I could tell right away that you all are a close knit group and you were so welcoming that I felt at home right away. In our talk back session, after reading the great Tim Errickson’s delicious new play, I enjoyed the structured candor of the discussion and feedback. There was no ego which was a huge plus for me. Really, the only thing that could make it better would be if there were snacks. Although I did get some french fries out of the deal… 😉

 

The Wondrous Gift of a Great Writing Group

I got to meet my baby no. 3 last night. That is, my third full-length play. I got to sit in a room, surrounded by 8 other brilliant theater minds and listen to 6 gifted actors bring this fledgling script to life. I got to hear laughter, and gasps, and murmurs of recognition in response to words I wrote and a world I created. All in the back room of a little bar on the LES drinking $3 drinks.

An experience like this is a heady one, to be sure. The value of it is hard to overstate. As a playwright, you never truly know what you have until you hear it in other people’s mouths, and until there are people in the room to react to it. Especially that very first time — oh, it is so scary and so delicious! And so rare, as it isn’t like you can write a whole new full-length play every month. I have had this privilege three times now — a fact I feel pretty good about since I have only been writing plays for 5 years. I can guarantee you I would not have had the experience I had last night without my writing group.

I think most any playwright — or novelist or writer of any ilk, I would imagine — will tell you that the greatest obstacle is actually sitting down to write. With no looming deadline, no boss over your shoulder demanding that work be done or you won’t get paid, it is easy to let plays languish for months and years unfinished.

Classes can help, for sure. Though in classes you only get to hear little chunks — 10 pages, maybe 20 if you’re lucky — at a time, so it is really difficult to know if what you are writing is working. I was in a class this fall, and over 10 weeks I did eek out my pages every week, and I did kinda sorta get through half to two-thirds of a draft of this play. It definitely got me rolling, but it didn’t get me to the finish.

What got me to the finish was knowing that on February 4th, I was committed to bringing in a full work to my writing group. That this play would be in the mouths of actors and in the ears of writers — all of whom’s talent and opinions I respect enough to not want to make an ass out of myself in front of them. My priorities really had to shift the last 6 weeks to take this piece from a vague blob of ideas to a coherent, cohesive draft with a logical beginning, middle and end (and did I mention it is half in French? mon dieu!). I thought I would manage to get it done on my vacation — surely the 12 hours locked in place on a plane would get me at least an act, right? — but found myself the last week having to forsake sleep, exercise, laundry, grocery shopping, husband, friends and work in order to complete this new beast. It was exhausting, it was frustrating, it was exhilarating, it was deeply, deeply satisfying.

And it never would have happened without Lather Rinse Repeat.