So I decided I was going to run this reading the way that I wanted to run the reading. Seventeen years of being a playwright and a lawyer have led me to conclude that law as a profession really rewards fundamental mistrust of every person, but being an artist requires finding true connections with people and being a playwright requires being very self-aware. So all this stuff has to go down about love and trust. Ack! A playwright has to be self-aware about her unconscious motivations and constantly seeking to remedy her own blindnesses. That process of bearing knowledge of your own weakness requires love and support, of yourself and of others. So you must give love and support. Francesca Reid, who was my beloved Joan, Lady of Wales in the reading said it last night over enchiladas: I am a professional human being.
So one thing I have noticed is that my core brain doesn't really distinguish between religions, sovereigns and corporations. I went to church the same way I went to court the same way I go to the theatre now. Looking for truth. Now I write plays and I look for the truth of human relationships and it's good, actually, I think, that I have a lot of models for getting at the truth - the Christian years, the lawyer years, the corporate years, the expat experience. The model I have now involves me staying calm. This requires alcohol and good Mexican food. I don't trust people to make good Mexican food in the Uk so I have to make it myself.
My experiences with Bill Clinton Hercules, Kerching and Wedding at Cana taught me that a reading with actors pushes a play forward in clear ways. But it's dangerous to expose an early draft. It's not really dangerous beyond the dangerous and frightening feelings of vulnerability that accompany honesty. But that shit stings, so I opened the evening with guacamole and Prosecco and sincere thanks that the actors I had were good people, were kind people, and were shit-hot actors. The French accent that Nora Silk created for Isabella was mesmerizing, and the contrast between Rachel's Oxbridge enunciation and the troubled brogue of Joan's Welsh accent was heartbreaking (that was Francesca again). Robert Fitzwalter, the baron, was played by Sam Donnelly. This guy is gorgeous and bearded and a synthesis of all that is good in Jude Law and Tom Hardy. I fear he will be a film star before this play gets a big production. And Guy Masterson was a revelation as Stephen Langton. You have to hand it to Masterson. He can really deliver an authoritative presence, even on an orange folding chair in my kitchen after chicken mole enchiladas.
My rules for the reading were that I had to have fun, I had to let myself have fun, I had to be the real me, and so we had it at my house so I could see my kids, and I invited my new friend Pippin who also is a Dartmouth medievalist and I invited this wonderful young director Richard McNally and he read the stage directions. My house was full of love and respect last night.
I basically ran the reading like a dinner party at my house with a reading tacked on to the end. The reading was a gift to me, the chance to hear the words and to know --in the several moments that my heart was singing --that I had written a line we could keep.
I used Dona Maria Mole base but it still took me forever to make the Mole sauce. But Mole is the best. It is good for establishing those true connections. True also for a decent guacamole and some quesadillas with loads of fresh jalapeno studding the melted cheddar. Enchilada Readings are definitely a new working model.
The flag below is the flag of St. Edmund. It was on St. Edmund's Day that the secret meeting to create the Magna Carta was held. Hidden in plain sight in the middle of a festival. A meeting attended at risk of execution for treason. A risk that was much, much higher for women. Anyway, spoiler alert, in the play the UK has already broken apart and Ireland has united and Scotland has left and so there's only Wales left, and England has decided to shower a little attention on her. In need of a new flag, a group arises who says St. George's flag is associated with violent racism, and so St. Edmund's flag should be adopted. Especially as the dragon is a nod to the Welsh.