During the past week I was fortunate enough to get to watch the true transformation of a play. I observed the metamorphosis of Anne Hugh’s play The Younger, in its world premier staged reading. Serving as assistant to director Jeremy Cohen gave me the opportunity to sit behind the table, instead of the music stand, as he and dramaturg Edith Freni helped to further trim and shape the play in development. Although my duties were not always called upon, I was allowed to act as an observer on the whole process and that provides a plethora of learning opportunities on its own. For any aspiring theater artist, watching other, established artists is key to developing your own vision as an artist. Even if I did not always agree with a decision that was made by Jeremy, or by an actor, it was still significant that I was able to see the process of making that decision, to analyze why I would or would not have done the same thing, and to hear how such a choice might come to fruition.
However, I believe that the most astonishing and miraculous thing about this show and the process of bringing it to the Schwartz Theater Lab was the incredible amount of work that Anne achieved over the course of four days. Anne came into the rehearsals with an open mind and impressed us all with her poise. She truly demonstrated grace under pressure as she mercilessly “killed her darlings” and pared a 112-page script down to 85. New text came floating in and out of binders right up until the opening of the house, which signified Anne’s next step on her journey of highly refined storytelling.
The way that we tell stories and the reasons that we are telling them are amazingly important to the creation of a new piece of theater. Jeremy and Edith went all in to provide a truly unique opportunity for Anne to listen, watch, and create… and in my opinion that’s what developing new work is all about.