This week I am in Sacramento with the play DEATH OF A SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFIT. I was given a director, dramaturge, stage manager, equity actors, plenty of rehearsal space, and an apartment. My job is to refine the play for the B Street Theater Comedy Festival that starts June 30 and ends July 2. If you are in Sacramento this week, see my play either Friday at 9pm, or Saturday at 5pm.
My main task was to redo the ending. It had been problematic for me for some time. The lucky thing is I was given three days before the festival to experiment with endings.
The important thing in a process like this is to listen. The director would say “I need … “ The dramaturge would say “The play Is missing….” Even the stage-manager would have some insight.
After a couple of director-dramaturge-playwright meetings, I would make adjustments. I worried I might not have enough time to make the perfect ending. After the last meeting, I went for a hamburger.
This morning I woke up at 5am to work on the ending of the play. I scrapped the last ten pages and started again. I reflected on questions the team had and by 9am I sent the pages to the staged manager to copy for the 12:15 pm rehearsal.
At rehearsal I was anxious. The director worked with the actors on their characters and on the final staging for the show. The director added lighting and sound cues and the crew diligently wrote it down to make it happen. Finally, at 3pm, the actors read the new pages I wrote.
I was at the tip of my seat biting my nails until the staged direction reader said, “End of play.” Instantly all the people in the room looked at me with a big smile and the director shouted, “It works!” I did a happy dance around the table and literally jumped several times with joy.
I feel very fortunate that B Street Theater picked my play to be in the festival. Supposedly, one of the four featured plays will be produced in 2023. There is a subliminal competition with the four directors as to which would be the winner for a production. For me, just having this opportunity to refine my play and hear a director say the play works, is good enough for me.
Silvia Gonzalez S. playwright