The following are some general guidelines discovered over the course of the monthly FBNs which should prove helpful in facilitating this process/product/community. They are what we have learned as producers, participants (acting, directing and writing) and audience members. While they will not hold true for everyone at all times, they are intended to minimize frustration and unnecessary trial and error learning.
Once the ensembles are in place on Friday night, each should spend some time to get to know each other.
- Before conceiving and writing your 10-minute scripts, get to know your actors and director as best you can. Ask some pointed questions. Find out their experience levels, what they will/won't do (if you have some inkling already of what you want to explore), what they have always wanted to do, what they consider themselves good at doing, etc.
- Then write for the actors you have that night and use your noun and verb – prominently if you can, as audiences love it when you do.
- Be conscious of the process; for example, if you write a hard-to-memorize, wordy script, just know that and adjust your expectations accordingly.
- Know thyself. Be honest with your playwright and directors about your level of experience and any strong feelings you have about what you will and won't do, what you'd love to do, places you don't feel comfortable exploring, etc.
- Ultimately, like in all theater, the buck stops with you. So work as hard as you can all day, try your best to do the playwright’s script as written, and be ready to perform (not just act) at showtime, no matter where the process is at. Much of the fun for audience and participants alike comes from the sheer fun of seeing a performer’s whole-hog commitment on stage.
- Don't use FBNs as acting classes. There isn't time. Realize that the best productions are NOT the ones with the best writing, acting or direction. The most successful productions are the ones where the actors on stage at showtime feel comfortable enough to play and have fun. This usually means feeling comfortable with lines. Tie your creative and conceptual take on the play directly into making this happen.
In summary to all artists: In a poker hand, the lowly deuce in and of itself means nothing. Neither does an ace. You need all 5 cards to tell what kind of hand you've got. That part is the luck of the draw. But even after the cards are dealt, you still have to play the hand gracefully, aggressively and with confidence. In other words, you may or may not find yourself in a group with a great script, great actors and a great director, but regardless, it is the intense and compact 24-hour process that needs to be played well. That is the real make-or-break challenge for one and all.
We should keep learning from this unique process. To that end, if at all possible, each temporary little ensemble should talk to each other after the production (in person or in email). Tell each other what worked for you and what didn't.