A dear friend emailed me the other day, “What’s going on? No blog post since March 5th?” I replied, “No time to write a blog post – using the time to write script!” Not just a clever excuse but the truth! The schedule I set up in January was to have a first draft of the script completed by the end of May. I managed to get it done by June 4th. Not bad at all! Obviously so much has happened since March 5th. We continued with improv/rehearsals to shape the story and develop the relationships. The original James and Jamal relationship “issue” was scrapped as the actors playing these parts (TJ and Ali) did not feel like it was authentic. True. It was my idea, not theirs. However, they understood what we needed there and they filled it all in with “the real shit” that they can connect to. It’s amazing how detailed and the relationships become. “Oh, I wouldn’t talk to him about that,” is something you’ll hear in these sessions. Or, “I wouldn’t respond to that.” The process we use gets the actors to know their character so well that they are thinking like them in every way.
By April many scenes were written and others not yet conceived. We increased improv/rehearsals to two per week for April and May and each time I recorded the audio. We would begin with the basic set up of the scene: Joseph, you are coming to look at a room for rent…you really love the place, but it is way too expensive for you. Diane, you really want to rent the room to Joseph but you can’t lower the price of the room. Ok, let’s improv that. Start with Joseph knocking on the door. I would record the dialog and after each run, give them suggestions for expressing what they want, their emotional states, reactions, etc. Each time, a more interesting, dramatic, and funny the scene would become.
I would then go home, listen to the recordings and write the scene, keeping much of what they actually said and also adding dialogue where it felt needed. Then I would send the scene back to the actors and we would run it at the next rehearsal and work it, change it, etc. And then go home and make the changes to the script.
The challenge is dealing with the volume of information regarding the characters and their relationships with each other, including the backstory and constructing a focused story. That’s the work!