After a successful stint at Montana Rep, Carolyn Dunn's Frybread Queen returns to the Autry National Center for its final workshop before its world premiere in March. To get us back into the "frybread state of mind," I asked dramaturg Robert Caisley to share a bit of his experience working on the script in Montana and tell us what we can look forward to during next week's readings:
The experience of the Montana production was invaluable to the development of this play. There's not a single page of my "Production Draft" that isn't marked up beyond comprehension. The script underwent some radical transformations, some great tightening of dialogue, so much clarification of the stories of these four powerful characters. Carolyn took great advantage of being in the rehearsal studio with the actors and director, and there was hardly a day that went by without having a script meeting either before and, oftentimes, after each rehearsal. Even after Carolyn had to fly home and Jere and I kept rehearsing with the cast, I would speak with Carolyn on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis, keeping her up-to-date on moments that we had discovered, continuining to fine tune the dialogue and take care of trouble spots in the text. We actually began a process we now laughingly refer to as "dramaturgy by text." Jere would be working a scene and something might not be working quite right. He would turn to me as dramaturg and I would text Carolyn the page number, the character and line reference, and what the problem was. Usually within minutes, Carolyn would respond with a solution that I could immediately pass along to Jere to test out in rehearsal. It was an extremely efficient method and we were able to save so much rehearsal time this way.
Carolyn and I are now back into the script, working to polish the text for next week's readings. We're making some significant changes to the final scene and we're working through a very long list of notes from the Montana experience - things we simply would not have know without the benefit of that developmental production.
For those who last saw the show in 2009 during our Festival of New Plays, you'll be in for quite a treat as the script is much stronger and clearer then it's ever been. Of course, we still need your feedback so I certainly hope you're making plans to attend either our November 4th reading at 7p or our November 7th reading at 2p. If you RSVP for either day by 5p on Monday, November 1st, you will receive free admission to the Autry's American Indian Arts Marketplace which is being held all day on November 6 and 7. Please click here for more information. We hope to see you there!