A couple of weeks ago, the creative team of Same Boat Theatre sat down for a look at the first script for production by our new company at this summer’s Hamilton Fringe Festival. A fictionalized drama inspired by the Mike Duffy-Senate scandal, Finding Mr. Right is a one-act play that has been in the works for a good long while. It was supposed to be a one-man show about my passion for politics and growing up in Ottawa. But after a lot of exploration on my part as a playwright, it became a drama onstage featuring a pair of political advisers debating how to handle a scandal that threatens to topple the Prime Minister, himself.
Though inspired by real-life events, the play now occupies a fictional setting with fictional characters while tackling some familiar issues and current events. But this turn away from the script’s initial premise meant that more work needed to be done in the first draft process before a finished script would be ready for the company. And some of the most important work at this stage took place during a weekend playwriting residency at Artscape Gibraltar Point. Located on Toronto Island, this residency gave me a much-needed opportunity to listen to and explore the voices of the play’s two characters in a focused environment. It was in this setting that much of the play was completed and I give kudos to my fellow playwright and performer Phil Rickaby who organized the residency as well as playwrights Michael Ripley and Rosemary Doyle who gave valuable insights into how the piece could be developed.
When the first draft was finally done and sent off to my director Aaron and co-star Lauren, I want to say that I felt confident but, truthfully, I was nervous as hell. Perhaps the abrupt change in style had me on edge. Perhaps it was just feeling the jitters as I always feel after finishing the first draft. Fortunately, the company’s notes made it clear the script was headed in a good direction. Like every playwright, I went away with directions on potential rewrites. But, as Aaron said to me, “it’s good to have a draft”… and to enjoy that first draft over a nice cup of coffee. Which I did.
A week later, I had the team back together for a look at a rewrite. After cutting three pages off and doing some serious restructuring, we were ready for what is possibly the most nerve-wracking part of being a playwright: the first read. Considering how long this piece has been percolating, and the ups and downs of the script’s development, it felt pretty good. And, after years of writing plays for the Fringe, I was reminded that this draft would likely see more changes with even minor tweaks and cuts being made up to show’s opening.
And, even as I finish this blog post, I’ve revised the script a third time (you knew that was coming, right?). There will likely be a fourth and fifth and and and. I mean, let’s face it, no script ever survives rehearsals intact. So I’ll let you know how it goes.