Posted by: michellemuldoon | August 6, 2013

BirthdayBlues: Cold Reading Series Recap

It’s been one week since Birthday Blues finished its turn at Vancouver’s Cold Reading Series. Act three included some very talented cast members; some were friends, and some I didn’t know. It’s a pleasure to have friends treat my words with so much care, and for the actors that read for the first time, it was great to see a new twist on the script. One actor in particular nailed one of the parts.  My character “Alex” hadn’t quite found her stride through the first two acts. It wasn’t that the part was badly played. On the contrary, the actors were great, but their version just didn’t seem quite right with the version in my head. Then came Aliyah O’Brien, and “Alex” lived. The other actor I have to mention is Shauna Johannesen. Some may know her from the series premiere of Motive, and others from the short-lived program, Cult. She’s the only person who had read the full script before I submitted it, so it was only fitting that she embodied “Grace” during the final reading.

Act 3 of Birthday Blues at The Cold Reading Series.The full cast reading of Act 3 of Birthday Blues at the Cold Reading Series, Vancouver, BC.

The question I was most asked at last night’s edition of the Cold Reading Series was, where am I going from here?

It’s a good question. So, I’ve decided to list the lessons of the experience, and what this all means for Birthday Blues, and its journey.

  • The structure of the “whodunnit” is mostly sound. There’s a couple of minor adjustments to make, but it all works.
  • Some of the characters need a little more nuance, and that can best be achieved by tinkering with the dialogue.
  • Act 1 has a scene where the information is obviously for the audience. It needs to change so that the information is clearly for a character.
  • Act 2 might need some tinkering with the pacing.
  • Act 3 could use a small insert scene to clarify the one that follows it.
  • The teen relationship needs some massaging to clear up some questions regarding power dynamics.
  • I need to revisit my choices in descriptive scene direction.
  • Two characters will undergo name changes. I have two “A” names and two “G” names. I knew while writing the script, that it would have to change but the beginning was a struggle, and the characters only fleshed out once the original names came to me. Now that I “know” these people, I can make the change I couldn’t make earlier in the process.
  • The ending might be better served with a more powerful button.

This is the plan for draft two. Once I’ve completed the draft, I’ll want another reading to make sure that everything flows, and the script makes sense. I’m hoping the promise of food, wine, and the chance to influence the next stage of the script will be enough to lure the actors back for another round.

It’s a time-tested process, and there’s no jumping stages. Writing and rewriting are all part of the game, but it’s much easier when you have the support of talented people around you, and there’s no shortage of that in this town!

Aliyah O'Brien and Shauna Johannesen read Birthday Blues.





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