We moved into the theater yesterday. 

I can’t begin to tell you how thrilling it is to see something that started in your imagination materialize in front of you.  I’ve only had this experience a few times, usually when actors sit down with a draft of something I’ve written at a reading.  Suddenly the characters you’ve written, who have lived only in your head or on the screen of your laptop for months and months, appear in front of you breathing and speaking.  The initial reading of my first full-length play home, sweet (the project that has brought me a little attention as a writer) was like this.  I had written the first draft while performing Romeo and Juliet in DC with Chris Grant (“You Only Live Twice”).  I had a fairly small role, and once the play was open I had my days free to write.  I often write characters specifically for people I know, and had written the central role of Jerry for Michael Stuhlbarg (“A Soft Spoken Serious Man”).  He agreed to do the reading, and I reserved a room at NYU Grad Acting, invited a small group of people to listen to the play, and then suddenly there in front of us were these people that had come from my mind.

(With designer Damon Pelletier, hanging the canvas, ©2010 Michael Heck)

Yesterday was a bit like that as well.  We moved the piano into the theater, hung the projector and the canvas, and everything started to come to life.  The canvas Damon has created for the projection surface is beautiful and subtle: a collage of notes and letters and pages of lyrics that brings to mind a Jasper Johns painting.  After most of the technical work had finished, Mike and I stayed in the theater to watch the interviews, to see what they would be like on a screen larger than our computers.  What we saw was that during moments where the screen is filled with white light, the images in the canvas pull forward.  For instance, during the interview of Gretchen and Freddy, the white walls of their apartment seemed to be collaged with the notes and letters on the canvas.  I couldn’t have been happier.

(Attempting to play along with the projections, ©2010 Michael Heck)

After watching the interviews with Mike and taking notes about length, continuity, and sound, I sat down at the piano to try and play the songs to the projections we have shot and edited.  This is something I’ll be practicing today as well when we get back into the theater.  I think it will work well, but it does take a certain amount of timing.  We edited the projections to demo mp3s of the songs, so to a certain extent I have to know when exactly to start playing, and then try to keep the same tempo.  I played through the portrait of Chris Grant a few times last night before getting it quite right.  I imagine I’ll have to do that with most of the songs.

So I’m pleased.  Also, a little surprised that I’ll be sharing this with an audience in a little more than 48 hours.  Trying not to think too much about that just yet.  That will become real soon enough.  Until then, here is another glimpse into what we’ve been working on: below is a link to the projections that accompany the portrait of Christine Mild, “After Apple Picking.”