Last week was a busy week because I met up with Philip Hilden in NYC last week to discuss and begin our collaboration on the play of my novel A Son Called Gabriel, which may or may not remain the final title. We met at Starbucks in Times Square and, over a cup of coffee, discussed the fine points and then signed a collaboration agreement as set forth by The Dramatists Guild (of which Phil is a member) modified to suit our needs.
So I'd like to officially introduce Phil and say how really happy I am that we've hooked up to work on the play. Here's some background:
Philip grew up on Long Island and has been attending theater in NYC ever since his fifth birthday. A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, he has an extensive acting and directing resume in summer stock at Trotwood Circle Theater in Dayton, Ohio, at the Cape Playhouse on Cape Cod and in children's theater with The Paper Bag Players in NYC and at The Theater Workshop in Lynbrook, NY.
Phil has adapted Bram Stoker's Dracula with Robert Bethune which sold out during its run in Newburgh, NY. He has also adapted two of LaVyrle Spencer's best selling novels, That Camden Summer and Then Came Heaven. His most recent play is an original work, a fast-paced comedy called The Resurrection of Derrick Donnelly.
In addition, I've discovered Phil is also an extremely talented and successful photographer and his work can be viewed at Hilden Images
I must say Starbucks is a great place to do work because they didn't hassle us once about sitting at a table for hours and, in fact, even come around and gave everyone free samples of cookies and muffins and stuff, which I grabbed, of course. Well, I'm working out now, so it's okay to nibble, I figure
Phil had brought his laptop and the two of us went through a scene by scene breakdown of the novel we'd prepared. It astonished me that the novel had some 65 scenes. At this stage, I will say, Phil's been so enthusiastic about doing an adaptation that he'd already penned out the preliminary content of the two Acts and copied a great deal of the novel's dialogue into his computer. So, for over three hours, we scrupulously went through the book's scenes and decided what was in and what could be omitted. It's hard to distill a novel spanning twelve years into a two Act play, but it's absolutely doable.
Most interestingly, the exercise showed both of us that we can work together because there was a great deal of consensus between us. And, on the few occasions we disagreed, the party wanting inclusion of the scene argued the case and we made our decisions. (Some of you might wonder if I would have difficulty breaking up the novel I wrote, doubly so because it's semi-autobiographical, but I can honestly say I have no concerns with that. Our mission is to stay true to the book's plot with everything else being fair game. In any event, Phil thinks a great deal of my novel's dialogue can be carried over into the play because it's strong;it's what enabled him to see the book as a play in the first place. That definitely was good to hear.
Now the real work begins. This weekend, I worked on Act 1, modifying, creating or extending scenes to meet the needs of the theater, while Phil spent time whittling down Act 2. We plan to meet again soon and 'marry' the two and then do a rewrite. Aftre that will come a reading and then we'll get some actors he knows to do a live reading, etc. Heady stuff.
All in all, I believe it's going to be a fun experience and I'm looking forward to learning from Phil, especially since he's directed.
I'll keep you posted on progress.
So here's to A Son Called Gabriel playing one day in a NYC, London or Dublin theater. Oh, what the hell, I'm going to be greedy. Here's to it playing in all three cities.
[technorati: Philip Hilden, LaVyrle Spencer, Dramatists Guild, Bram Stoker's Dracula