A couple of weeks ago I was very privileged to be able to participate in a local playwriting event known as the "Ant Farm".
The Ant Farm is a local production put on by the Planet Ant theater where they select scripts from local play writers and have community actors act and read them out with the help of a seasoned director.
I was very fortunate to have been put in this incubator with two amazing local Michigan writers. Victor Jones (Recreation) and Emilio Rodriguez (Angels of the people mover).
I arrived a bit earlier than everyone else. Since the incubator starts at 3pm on Sunday I wasn't expecting many people. To my surprise the audience was anything but sparse. This created a feeling of nervous tension in me which caused my stomach to twist in ways I don't think I'd felt before.
My play (Notification) was first. It's a short radio science fiction drama (part of a series of 10 now) that was adapted for the stage.
The entire time I tried to specifically not focus on the audiences reactions, telling myself that they would have their chance to critique later and that I shouldn't judge them by their laughs or disgust right now anyway.
As the play went on, and I continued to ignore my own instinct to listen around the room, including to friends who were kind enough to come. I really had a chance to notice ways I could help the actors through my scripts. How to be more clear about things like emotions that a character should be feeling, how to direct better through the page. As I grow as a writer I think I will be able to hone this much more.
After all of our plays were finished Victor, Emilio and I were asked to come on stage for a Q/A. At first I was very nervous, but our director Dave Davies a local talent who has a real passion for theater, started me off first. I thought I was going to be asked technical questions, but a lot of them were not at all.
There was one question that really threw me. They compared my play to a transhumanist idea, and looking at it now, I guess it sort of is, but I never looked at it that way while writing. The connection didn't come until someone far outside my circle saw it (it had been edited previously by a couple of other people).
It was a great experience all around and it has motivated me to really dig into writing more and learning more about play writing and performing in general.
It felt really good to have something I wrote be acknowledged too, even if I never want to admit that.