We are happy to welcome guest celebrity blogger playwright Theresa Rebeck, a Pulitzer Prize finalist whose plays include Broadway's Mauritius and Off-Broadway's Omnium Gatherum (co-written with Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros), Bad Dates, Spike Heels, The Understudy, Loose Knit, The Butterfly Collection, The Water's Edge, The Scene, Our House and more. Rebeck, whose play The Novelist will be presented at the Dorset Theatre Festival in August, will blog for Playbill.com all week; her fourth entry follows.
All things Novelist are heating up. The theatrical publishers Smith and Kraus have a new program called Plays In Production, and they publish beautiful little one-off paperbacks of a play script, which you can buy in the lobby. (It's just like what they do in London, with new plays.) So they're going to do one for The Novelist and the Dorset Theater Festival. This means I have to finish rewrites and write a preface and come up with a decent photograph for the front cover and clever copy for the back. And then I go back to New York for rehearsals next week, and then we move the whole production up here.
The play has had a weird history. It's a new play built on an old play, a play of mine which had a misfired production ten years ago. The less said about that the better; it just happens sometimes to a play that really should have a life. After I tried for years to figure out how to give the play its much-deserved second chance, my friend Chris Weigle pointed out that Tennessee Williams rewrote Eccentricities of a Nightingale and turned it into Summer and Smoke. "If it's good enough for Tennessee, it should be good enough for you," he observed.
Harley Granville Barker rewrote Waste. Chekhov rewrote Platonov, and then Michael Frayn rewrote it again. Comedy of Errors was clearly a practice run for Twelfth Night and Taming of the Shrew, and Winter's Tale is definitely built out of Othello. If it's good enough for Shakespeare, it's good enough for me.
So I went back to work on my play, restructured it, rewrote, found a director, did a reading, rewrote some more, gave it a new title, rewrote some more and now here we are, going into production. I'm still writing. It's been a strange and invigorating process—like rewriting somebody else's play, which trust me, is something that playwrights always want to do. A new play truly is emerging out of that old play. Plus, I've had ten years of practice at being a playwright since then. I'm still impressed with what I did ten years ago. But it's great to be given the chance to make it, well, better.