"Shakespeare and the Heart's Desire" has gone through five versions now, and even the fifth version has been tweaked., tweaked even in ink on the pages of the actors who will be reading my play tomorrow night in the staged reading at the Darien Arts Center. They've been great about the last-minute changes. They have been great about everything else too. We have not had many rehearsals, but each one has counted enormously. The characters are growing with each reading, the relationships between and among the actors are becoming richer and fuller. It's a pleasure to watch.
It's also a pleasure to anticipate the actual performance. No matter how wonderful the actors are in rehearsal, they often seem to rise to new levels of understanding and vocal commitment when there is an audience there, counting on them to bring the story to full life.
Mark Graham and I have gotten so used to working together over the past six years, our disagreements, and there always are some, get resolved to good purpose, with good humor intact. As a playwright, I do from time to time over-commit to a phrase or an approach which is not in the best interest of the play as a whole. While I may (and do) protest, I often find that what Mark is suggesting is better than what I thought "perfect." Not always, though. Not always. Sometimes I can figure out a way to make my way be the chosen way, and the play is all the better for my clarification and amplification to get his stamp of approval.
Telling the story has been our focus. We have an exciting story. But, as with the other two plays, at the core is the heart of Shakespeare, as he grapples with the challenges all mortals face, even the greatest of writers. It is easy to slip into the myth of Shakespeare as an almostgodlike fellow, all seeing, all understanding. But the three plays of my trilogy try to show him as a man, and no less a man for being a great one.