First Rehearsal: Game of Getting Close

Hi it’s Emma! I have the good luck of being asked, last August, to do some writing for this dance workshop; and now I’m doing a lot of writing for this show. We had our first rehearsal with Lynne, Kelsey, Julia, and me, and it was the first rehearsal I’ve ever been to where I felt a certain filter removed that I hadn’t previously been aware of. Lynne, who acted in the August workshop and is acting again in the show, told me at the end of the rehearsal “you can trust us.” I’ve always felt afraid of people reading what I write out loud. I don’t want people to read it because I’m afraid of what it will turn into when it’s spoken, like a big scary monster is going to jump off the page and start smashing things. I never thought it would be a good idea to try to figure out why I felt this way, or to try to engage this monster in conversation.

Lynne, Julia, and Kelsey are good friends, wildly talented people who took the rambling text and made it into something interesting, who put up with my fumbling through pages, and, most importantly, who facilitated this rehearsal, deriving from the text a very necessary conversation about the issues in the show. They said things like “I know it’s weird between these two people, but I don’t think I totally know why” and “they are playing a game of getting close that they are really good at”…

… and, on the topic of BDSM in queer relationships, which is in the foreground of the play and which the characters tend to skirt around discussing: “there are two things in this show that audiences might confuse as being identical. those two things are bdsm and an actually nonconsensual relationship. how do we make it absolutely clear that bdsm/kink is not abuse? how do we show the difference? how do we show a relationship in which nonconsent masquerades as bdsm, and, in the same breath, show another relationship that involves bdsm play in which there is clear communication, and clear consent? how do we give these characters well-rounded, evolving identities that draw power from making traumatic experiences part of their identities?”

I realized these conversations are how this play is going to write itself. I felt artistically unfolded. I owe my friends for this.