It’s a bit disorienting to sit down to write this blog post. I was on staff at Playwrights Foundation for several years and produced the Rough Reading Series as part of my job. At the time I wasn’t writing plays, and didn’t have any particular plans to start. So it’s very strange to now be asked to write one of the blog entries about the reading of my play, like I’ve stepped through the looking glass. Which is all to say that I’m in a position to uniquely appreciate that amount of work that other people are doing to give me this opportunity – the grant writing and fundraising and marketing and aggravatingly complicated scheduling phone calls that all go into creating a space for the playwright to work on his or her play. I am humbled to have been offered that opportunity.
I actually feel that twice over, as it’s being supported by collaboration between two different organizations. Amy had spoken to me last fall about doing it as a Rough Reading, but we hadn’t zeroed in on a date. In the intervening time, the Aurora Theater in Berkeley selected it as part of their Global Age Project, which comes with a reading in February. It then turned out the February was also the best time for the PF reading. Since the readings would be only a week apart, Amy, Tom (Aurora’s Artistic Director) and I all agreed that the only way this would make sense would be if we treated it essentially as one long workshop, with the same director and cast.
So I now have the opportunity not just to have the play read three times over eight days, but to hear it with three very different audiences – the Aurora’s subscriber base in Berkeley, PF’s audience in San Francisco and David Goldman’s group in Stanford. The structure is actually very similar to the Bay Area Playwrights Festival, where there is a week between readings for rewrites. I’ve only ever had one-off readings before, so the opportunity to make changes and then hear them a few days later with an audience is very enticing.
Am I also supposed to talk about the play?
It’s a story I’ve been sitting with for a long time, inspired by a revelation that a person I’d encountered a few times was actually this very famous (or from the point of view of the Soviets, infamous) spy. He’d been living in under an assumed identity for many years but then “came out” in the early 2000s once the Cold War was finally well over. It’s basically a play about what means to sacrifice everything for something you believe in and then have the world move on and the thing that you sacrificed everything for not mean much anymore. Which in a much smaller way is kind of the same thing that happens to everyone as you move from adolescence into adulthood, so it’s also sort of about.
Click here to learn more about Jonathan Spector's Rough Readings of In From the Cold. Though our Readings are free, there's also information about making a small donation to reserve a seat and a glass of wine.