a play by Damian Wampler, directed by Angela Astle

Best friends, separated by choice, reunited by fate.

Starts Friday, June 12 for 6 shows at the Robert Moss Theater, 440 Lafayette.

Showtimes: Friday, June 12, 5:30pm,
Sunday, June 14, 9:00pm
Wednesday, June 17, 4:00pm
Thursday, June 18, 4:00pm
Friday, June 19, 7:30pm
Sunday, June 28, 1:00pm

Tickets are $18 at http://www.planetconnectionsfestivity.com/

Monday, July 28, 2008

The First Reading

On Saturday, 4 strangers met to read my play out loud in the basement of a bar in the West Village. I am fortunate to live in a city where people are so enthusiastic about theater that they would do a cold reading for a stranger on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Thank you all for helping me and for your honest feedback at the end.

A reading is critical. I was able to see who had too many lines, which characters vanished for too long, and what lines provokes laughs and smiles. It got my wheels turning, and I am thinking about how what changes to make. How did it read? Well, my first impression is that the bold second act obscures the mundane first act, making the whole piece feel stronger than it really is. What does this mean? With a little tinkering, I can make a good script into a great one. I don't have any overwhelming structural changes to make, just a few tweaks here and there. One of the readers said that it had a finished feel to it. I hope so, I've been working on it for a year! But it still needs more work to find a balance between the two main characters from the title, and to focus the emphasis on the transformation that is taking place within Jamal.

The most important question to come out of the reading was, "Why hip-hop?" And indeed, why an all black or mostly black cast? The play is about war, about pregnancy out of wedlock, about guns and gangs and displaced families. Our soldiers in Iraq aren't pulled from the white middle class suburbs, they come from the streets of the poorest neighborhoods. Our pop music and our dance also comes from the streets. Out problems and our richness come from these streets. In "Gangs of New York" they say America was born in the streets. I say it still is. I was thinking of Romeo and Juliet when I decided to place the play in the Bronx. Verona for the English was a mythical, bawdy, violent and lusty place. The Bronx, for us, conjures many of the same images, from "The Bronx is Burning" to "A Bronx Tale" to "Rumble in the Bronx", it is a place in our mind that stirs up heat, blood and asphalt. Quite simply, this play couldn't happen anywhere else.

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