I met my collaboration partner for a work session yesterday in NYC. Times Square and the Theater district was awash with pedestrians as many people who work in the city had taken vacation and then decided to return post-strike in order to shop or visit the theater, etc. with friends and family.
Phil and I started off in Starbucks on 42nd where he was able to plug his laptop into the electricity (he was also able to get internet service, even though it's not a 'hotspot' for that) and we worked for five solid hours in between sipping coffees. Thereafter, we scarpered to a Chinese deli for lunch and worked for another two hours before calling it quits. All in all, we felt really pleased with the amount of work achieved.
Now that the first draft is written, we were able to prepare a comprehensive 'cast of characters' and decide who was in and who was out of the play. (For those of you who've read the book, Fergal, Uncle Tommy and Auntie Bernie are eliminated.) Through a process of rigid cutting and deciding which characters can double and triple up (actors love that as it keeps them busy), we've been able to prune the character list to 13 actors who will play 37 roles. Some of you might wonder why we had to reduce the cast list. The answer is that many theaters state the maximum number of cast members and, in going through the book which lists theaters seeking submissions, we've found that a lot have eight or ten as the magic number. Larger theaters often do not stipulate, but it's wise to keep the list smaller rather than larger. So with a cast list of 13 and a tightly written play, we should be able to get the script read by some important theaters.
In order to remain faithful to the novel's content, message and resolution, we found that the absolute minimum of characters required was 13. We've also decided to write a second version of the play some time in the future with a cast of eight, but that will require us to take great liberties and diverge quite a bit from the published novel.
As I was on my way back to the Port Authority to catch my bus, I saw a sight that made me laugh. I guess you could say it was the oddest case of multi-tasking I've ever seen, and the expression 'only in New York' is probably apt. While waiting for a pedestrian light to change, a sleek, white Land Rover drove slowly by driven by a forty-something man. In the front passenger seat was a pretty blonde woman dressed in a caramel sheepskin coat who was reading a book while simultaneously feeding her baby (lying in a portable crib on the back seat). I wouldn't have thought it possible unless I'd seen it for myself. There she sat totally absorbed in her reading with her left arm bent backwards as she held the bottle of milk in the baby's mouth. And the baby was sucking away contently, its eyes gazing up at the ceiling of the vehicle, which told me this wasn't the first time the method had been utilized. Instantly, I thought this is an attorney, investment banker or something, with an elegant Fifth Ave apartment, and a nanny who'd had the temerity to ask for some vacation over Christmas.
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