What We're Doing: Mr. Howard Speaks About the Fall Play
We recently sat down with Mr. Howard to learn more about this fall's play, Plans, opening on October 31st. Here's what he had to say:
This fall, the Berkshire School Theater Department has embarked on something new: original work. The play is called Plans and it is based on an original play developed by theater students at my previous school. We took the script of that play and have broken it out for a full-scale reworking process. We are rewriting and restructuring the play because while it was very successful as it was, the material was ripe for redrafting. So we have completely taken it apart... and are now knee-deep in the process of putting it back together. To my delight and surprise, although the main concept is still very much intact, we have pretty much rewritten the entire play.
The play, a modern fable, centers on three neighbors who live like drones in a world of routine, repetition, and habit. Their lives have lost any sense of passion or joy, and they are just going through the motions day in and day out. The play focuses on what happens when, on their 40th birthday, they are paid a visit by their 16 year old selves. How do they answer for themselves? How did they get this way? What happened to the plan? And was the plan flawed to begin with? Plans
is a poignant, funny, and penetrating look at the difference between the life we plan and life, itself.
The unique thing about Plans is how it has been developed. Not only are we redrafting a play developed by other high school kids 8 years ago, but instead of sitting and writing the script, all of the material has been generated through structured improvisation. With a firm idea of character, motivation, and the direction of a scene, the actors are then asked to improvise the scene multiple times, through which moments of truth, great lines, and interesting staging ideas are observed and noted. Through this iterative process, each scene is honed into a "script" that is very polished, but is never completely written down. By the time the play opens, the actors will know the material even better than if they'd had started with a script because they created all of it themselves. It is a process that brings out their honest observations about life and their most natural performances.
Link to the student blog here
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