Only a few more days until our 4th and final reading in our Season 9 Welcome Mat series: A Good Ending, written by co-Artistic Director Chad Beckim and directed by Stephen Brackett. In anticipation of the reading, Chad and Stephen exchanged a few questions as collaborators and members of Partial Comfort. So without further ado, the interview exchange.
Part I: Chad Beckim interviews director Stephen Brackett
CHAD BECKIM: Tell me a little bit about your first impressions on A Good Ending.
STEPHEN BRACKETT: I was first struck by the way the main character’s story unfolds. There’s something classic in its construction, the way information is slowly revealed to illuminate the questions and motivations of the character – and I found this very compelling. I’m a sucker for a well-told story focused on the humanity of its characters, and part of what I think Chad has done so beautifully with this play is hone in on his portraits of his characters in a really moving and compassionate way.
CB: One of the things I've noticed in working with you is the patience you have with the text...can you speak to that at all?
SB: Yeah, I appreciate process and want to always allow room for people to have time with what they are working on – both writers and actors alike. There is a craft to what everyone does in a rehearsal room that can be fragile, and so I want to respect the work that everyone is doing while keeping the room focused and moving forward. I love the moment where someone shows me something unexpected and it works beautifully and I think creating an environment where that can happen is part of the job. I just keep reminding people of what is written on the page and try to orient my adjustments to the text.
CB: You're a new addition to the PCP family. What drew you to the group, and how did this come about?
SB: I’ve heard about the company for a while and have been impressed with the caliber of the work that they have been presenting. I’ve had the good fortune of working with a bunch of actors from the company, and when I met Chad through Ars Nova, I was pushy and basically was like “When am I going to work with your company?” So he graciously invited me on the summer retreat to work on a reading of his play, and I have to say I felt something click instantly with the company. There was something really lovely about the specific people assembled and the manner in which they were working so resolutely on the development of these new plays. It was the combination of the incredibly talented company’s curiosity about the play matched with Chad’s vigor in revisions (a new scene in one hour!) that had me hooked. I only spent a day there, but it is a day I will not soon forget.
CB: What's up next on the Stephen Brackett docket?
SB: So I’ve just finished a residency at Ars Nova and I’m really excited that a lot of what I’ve been working on with them is coming to fruition. I’m directing a workshop of a new performance piece for the burlesque duo Trixie and Monkey called “All or Nothing” penned by Kim Rosenstock – its March 3rd-12th and you who are reading this should totally come check it out. After that I’m traveling to the Wellfleet Actors Harbor Theater to workshop Ken Urban’s play The Absence of Weather, then coming back to Ars Nova to premier Bekah Brunstetter’s new play Be A Good Little Widow. This summer I will be working with The Woodshed Collective co-directing their new installation piece The Tenant written by Ms. Brunstetter, Sarah Burgess, Paul Cohen, Dylan Dawson, Steven Levenson and Tommy Smith.
Part II: Stephen Brackett interviews Chad Beckim
CB: I start with an idea and just kind of let it sit in the back of my mind. Sometimes it'll fade away, but if it lingers and latches on to something else, I know I'm onto something - I don't usually start until I have a strong beginning and solid sense of story. Sometimes, the play takes you in a direction you didn't expect, which was the case with this particular play, which morphed into something I didn't expect (I wrote the first thirty pages over three years ago and wrote the final fifty in three days last June).
SB: What aspects of A Good Ending are you still working on or developing?
CB: I wrote this really, really fast, so there's a lot of little stuff that needs attention - but I'm really interested in focusing on the brother/sister. She's more of a sketch right now than a fleshed out character (she actually started out as his mother and was more of a device than anything else), but I have a feeling she's going to prove really important to the finished product.
SB: What kind of theater do you wish you were seeing more of?
CB: I LOVED Blasted at SoHo Rep. Just fantastic, fantastic stuff. Ditto Once And For All, We're Gonna Tell You Who We Are So Shut Up and Listen, at the New Victory last year. Devised theater by European teens, and like nothing I've ever seen - one of my five favorite theater experiences. Anything that hits that rare trifecta of heart and teeth and claws.
Chad Beckim's A GOOD ENDING directed by Stephen Brackett, this Sunday at 7pm at The Wild Project. Free admission, no reservations required.