Tag Archives: Orlando Shakespeare Theater

Interview with Reina Hardy

I met Reina at Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s 2010 PlayFest where she was doing a reading of her play Glassheart.

Playwright Reina Hardy

Brooke M. Haney (BMH): Tell me a little about your process as a playwright.

Reina Hardy (RH): Daydreams, cardio, private dance parties, insane typing sprints, sleep, slightly saner typing sprints, elaborate procedures to get rid of internet, readings, rewrites, despair, alcohol, solutions, rewrites, reading, alcohol, rewrites, despair.  Shake, repeat.

BH: For you as a Playwright, what is the most valuable part of the new works process? Reading, Workshop, or World Premiere? Why?

RH: Well, I can’t speak to Workshop, as I haven’t really had one.  I think that full productions are more valuable than Readings (assuming the play is ready for them) because you can live inside the play during the rehearsal period, and you can see it on its feet, as the beast it is.  You get more ideas that way.

BH: When you go into rehearsal for one of your shows in one of these capacities, what is the best thing and actor can do to help you?

RH: For readings: Keep the pace up and trust the text.  Even if the text isn’t working yet.  If you trust it instead of fixing it, I can see what’s wrong. For full productions: amaze me.  Do all the good stuff, and make all the discovery that you’d make with a classic play.

BH: How much does one of your plays tend to change from before a Reading to the World Premiere?

RH: I’ve only had one World Premiere, and that had already gone through two college level productions.  I made small but significant changes.  I had one other play that had a high school production (best workshop EVER).  That play changed significantly, and changed even more after the production.  I wasn’t allowed to switch up the script on the high schoolers as much as I wanted.

Glassheart at PlayFest

BH: What do you see as the actor’s role in developing new plays?

RH: Inspirations and collaborators. I think writers work best as part of an ensemble.  Actors should seek out new writers, and try to help them, for selfish reasons.  If a writer you admire expresses admiration for your work as an actor, volunteer your services for readings.  Actors who’ve been involved with my plays during the writing process have often hugely shaped the plays themselves, in a way that I think is magical.

Interview with Steve Yockey

I met Steve doing the workshop production of Heavier Than at Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s 2010 Playfest.

Playwright Steve Yockey

Playwright Steve Yockey

Brooke M. Haney (BMH): What do you like to see in an actor in a reading, workshop or World Premiere?

Steven Christpher Yockey (SCY): In any one of those environments, I’d want and actor to be willing to try things and to be willing to play. I’d also want them to be open to different interpretations of the text. But mostly, I think it is being willing to try different choices before locking anything down.

BMH: Does the role of the actor change at all from reading to workshop?

SCY: In readings and short workshops, actors need to be more open to accepting guidance and feedback because of time constraints. When you don’t have staging, there are things that as a Playwright you just need to have happen.

In a sustained workshop, that isn’t the case for me. Instead, the goal for me is creating the strongest possible version of the play. Then, I want actors who are more vocal in saying things like, “well, I’m not sure in how this connects to this.” I really love actors who can talk about things within their character’s journey rather than actors who say “I don’t think my character would say this.” Phrasing it in a way that relates to the arch of the character is much more useful.

Avery Clark, Melissa Fricke, Brooke M. Haney, and April Montgomery in the workshop of Heavier Than.

BMH: And, does this go further when you get to a World Premiere?

SCY: Absolutely. In rehearsals for production, it becomes exceptionally important that an actor speaks up, and I don’t mean becomes adversarial – and I’ve certainly seen that happen –  but rather, the actor should take more ownership of the role. In a play that hasn’t been done before, there is a certain ownership of the role, the actor becomes the keeper of that character. At this point, the actor almost surpasses you in understanding where that character fits into the world of the play, and they can help to hone in on small details. This is where the actor becomes really valuable.

Grant Jordan in the workshop of Heavier Than.

BMH: Are there any extra tips you have for the new works actor?

SCY: Pay attention to the things other characters say about your character, because your character doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

I want actors to be confident in their craft, who have a sense of play. There are all different kinds of actors, but if you have a good attitude and are willing to bring the best of what you have to the role, as opposed to the best of what you think the role should be, then it’s going to work. I really love actors who just kind of go for it and then are willing to fall on their face and not get defensive about changing choices.

Steve Yockey is a roaming member of Out of Hand Theater. His projects with the company include HELP! and Cartoon. In 2008, Actor’s Express Theatre in Atlanta, GA presented the world premiere of Octopus followed by an extended run in San Francisco, co-produced by Encore Theatre Company and Magic Theatre. He is a regular fixture at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company including the short play cycle Sleepy, a work written to inaugurate the second-stage series, and the adults-only Skin — both commissioned & directed by Kate Warner. Dad’s Garage and Berkeley’s Impact Theatre produced the co-world premiere Large Animal Games this season. Octopus, Cartoon and subculture (collected short plays) are available from Samuel French. Other plays include: Bellwether, Afterlife and Wonder. Steve is a Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Georgia and holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He recently completed a Coca-Cola Artist Residency teaching dramatic structure at Emory University in Atlanta, GA and currently lives/works in the San Francisco Bay Area as the National New Play Network playwright-in-residence at Marin Theatre Company.