Imaginary Cats and Triscuit Boxes

Rachel’s report on the Fresh Pages 2018 reading series

I had a new play reading scheduled for February 28th with the Playwright Cabal, and as of February 1st, I had about 25% of a play.
Whoops.

I had started writing this piece years ago for a contest that called for plays with polyamorous characters. And, as is my process, I didn’t write the piece on time, sat on it for a few years, and picked it back up for something else. Specifically, I lost a notebook in which I had written a song for the skeletal sock puppet heads to sing, and I didn’t want to rewrite it. I had submitted the fragments for a few development opportunities, but hadn’t bit the bullet and really written it. Then, when the Cabal presented the opportunity to read a new play, I decided to recommit to my little polyamorous Orpheus riff, and put the show description on the website.

I’ll have tons of time when I go home for Christmas, Rachel thought. I’ll definitely get it finished then.

Fast forward to February 1st, and low and behold, there was still the same fragments I’d submitted years ago. But now, I had a whole Cabal and talented director Daisuke Kawachi breathing down my neck.

rehearsal photo
The littlest dramaturg takes helpful notes

So, I wrote a draft in a week, read it in my house with a bunch of super smart actors, and got very helpful feedback. I even got an assist from my toddler, who jumped right up and took her own scribbly notes (in my notebook). I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I had a play, or at least, the start of a play. And, luckily, I had a few more weeks to make it better.
I am consistently delighted by the wealth of talent we have here in the Twin Cities. Daisuke has a great rolodex of actors with new work experience, and we were able to get Stephanie Bertumen, Victoria Pyan, Pedro Juan Fonseca, Megan Burns, Hope Nordquist, and Gabriel Murphy to sit down with us and try to make a play come to life. If you can get these good-looking smart people to act at you, please do.

Cast photo
The “Figment” cast in front of the director’s accent wall with LaCroix

The play follows a throuple – David, Meredith, and Robin – who travel into the underworld when
one of the partners is lured down by an imaginary cat. It deals with mental health issues, the difficulty of being in a relationship with someone who’s struggling, and my antipathy toward Bruce Springsteen. It grew by leaps and bounds between rehearsals and I know there’s lots more room to grow, too.

Finally, it was time for the reading. The Cabal has been working with the White Page Gallery to host our Fresh Pages reading series. For Heather Meyer’s reading last month, there was a large and elaborate abstract sculpture installation in place, which made the reading feel extra art-y. My reading fell between exhibits, so we had a blank space in which to make our underworld.

Triscuit box photo
Ingenuity

For the previous reading, a golden Feedback Feedbox was carefully crafted, so that audience members could submit written feedback and we could avoid awkward talkbacks. That carefully crafted Feedbox was, of course, completely forgotten this month, so we used this Triscuit box instead.

All in all, it was moving and exciting and it made me want to keep this piece alive. Not too bad for a play that didn’t exist four weeks ago.