The story unfolds

It began in Fresno, CA in the summer of 2007. I signed up for a Solo Performance Workshop at the California State University. This is the first of my Fresno blogs. The abridged version is: wonderful experience, terrible cafeteria food, great people and a lot of exercises that had nothing to do with writing that I thought were completely pointless. Until we started writing.

I knew I wanted to develop something around my father’s death but I had no idea that I’d start writing other characters, of different ages and backgrounds. I’d never before had the sensation of listening to my characters talk to me and just writing what I heard. It sounds woolly but it happened. It was exciting to start each morning sitting outside with coffee and cigarette and wonder whose voice I might tap into. Three of the 8 characters emerged in Fresno – Maggie, Jane and Catherine (aka Jack) – in a 10 minute graduation piece called ‘Interruptions. 

After Fresno I started working on a longer (25 minute) version for the FronteraFest short fringe in January 2008. I expanded the stories but didn’t add any new characters. I was working on it alongside a second short fringe piece and in retrospect I didn’t put nearly enough work into the rehearsal phase. Not unusual for me. Not surprisingly I hated my performance in ‘That Diana Look’ and documented it here.

The next phase was to develop it into an hour long show and take it to some fringe festivals over the summer, specifically the Winnipeg fringe last July. Through the excellent Austin Script Works, I was able to work with a dramaturg, Rebecca Beegle, and over the course of a few months, I developed another 3 characters – Pauline, Claire and Meena. Rebecca also suggested the title Our Angle in Heaven (a line from the play).

It became obvious I wouldn’t be ready for Winnipeg so I cancelled and focused on FronteraFest 2009. This is my first time at the Long Fringe. My first time having an audience just for my show. My first time being alone onstage for an hour. But I’m ready. That’s largely thanks to also having a director for the first time. I met Lou Rigler in September through a friend of a friend, sent him my script, crossed my fingers and left for England for 2 weeks. 

Working with Lou has been empowering and inspiring. We first worked for a while on my script and that’s where the final characters of Dee and Barry and emerged and others got sanded down and more finely tuned. Since then we’ve met every week in my rehearsal garage, with me struggling with my lines, my blocking, set changes and the small business of acting. When I got all frustrated and felt that I wasn’t making any progress whatsoever, he calmly and patiently explained that it was all part of the process. I will miss him.

After the 4 Long Fringe performances there’s no immediate plans for the show. But I hope to perform it again, I’ve grown very attached to these 8 individuals. The lessons I’ve learned from developing a piece over 18 months will stay with me and I hope I remember them in whatever I take on next.

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