We did a live reading of Sonny yesterday. It was a small group, just four actors reading and a couple of listeners to give feedback. The feedback was consistent, person to person, and I agree with just about all of it.
Somewhere along the line, I learned a great way to handle feedback: Listen to everything each audience member has to say and nod your head politely. Keep a tally, and implement the advice that is consistently given. Discard the odd bit of advice that only comes up once or twice.
Sonny clocked in at forty-five minutes. With direction, tightening up the dialogue, the play would clock at thirty minutes. TOO SHORT! Fortunately, just about everybody in attendance yesterday agreed that the third act was far too easy, the middle needed a bit more fleshing out, and the stakes needed to be raised overall. The revisions and additions necessary to implement the advice could easily add another half-hour to the script. (I like my plays to run between and hour and an hour-and-a-half with no intermission. Intermissions make me nervious [more on that in a future post].)
It's important to get the words out of your head and into the mouths of actors. We spent a few nights on Torrid Affaire just workshopping the script. I wish I had done a reading first -- it would've saved time on down the road!
One of the readers suggested something that could turn this cute, simple little play into more of an event: Multi-media. The main characters are involved in animation, and reference it quite a bit. There is room for animated projections in the play to further illustrate certain things that come up in the dialogue. It's an intriguing idea, and I'll be taking it up further with the bloke who originated it (the very talented animator/puppeteer/actor Ron Yavnielli.)
The "gimmick" that I mentioned in an earlier post (Sonny's parents taking over for him at certain moments) was very well-received. My commitment to what could have played out as a trite device paid off! If only I had committed more to the actual plot of the play . . .
Overall, I'm very happy with how things went yesterday. There is much work to do on the script, but I'm taking a few days off from it. Time to regroup, make sure I know what the hell I'm doing, and then hop back up on the horse.