• Learning

    By Ken Urban on July 31, 2009 at 8:21 PM
    Performances / Life

    I have learned so much from the SPF experience about my play. Things that you cannot learn from a reading. The problem with readings is that have a maximalist aesthetic: they require more. Since there are no visuals, they require more lines to communicate emotion and story. And since there is so little rehearsal for a reading, the actors cannot communicate that much non-verbally, especially not from behind those music stands. But plays in production have a minimalist aesthetic: so much is communicated from a look or a piece of blocking. What the SPF experience did is reconnect me to the play and to allow me to cut it down to its core. I see the play on stage again, not through the prism of a reading. As a result, I have a much better script and most important, I know now what I have. Now I just need someone to produce it. : )

  • The Week is Over

    By Ken Urban on July 26, 2009 at 9:30 PM
    Performances / Parties / Videos

    Some thoughts after the final performance of The Happy Sad:

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    Ken Urban (SPF 2009 Playwright) at THE HAPPY SAD closing.

  • Happy and Sad

    By Ken Urban on July 25, 2009 at 3:33 PM
    Performances / New York / Life

    Well, The Happy Sad is open and and I couldn't have predicted the overwhelming positive responses that the show has gotten. It was a crazy few days leading up to opening night. I did a major rewrite of a scene on Friday, the set threw us a few curveballs during tech, and Trip and I realized that The Happy Sad is a big big show. The shows keep getting better and like all of us SPF playwrights (I imagine) I am really hoping the show has a longer second life. I am been amazed at how much older audiences like the play. I also hear that subscribers are scared of sex and frank material. But the folks who have come to see Happy Sad have not had that reaction. I watch in the audience every night I can and see how engaged they are. I haven't seen the show for the past two nights because I had to go to Williamstown for a reading and to receive the Weissberger Prize (another big highlight of the summer). I can't wait for the final three shows. I know the actors will have grown even more confident in their roles. Right now, despite  the exhaustion and this summer cold from hell, I am very happy. Come Sunday after we close, I can tell I am going to be very sad. 

  • No New Pages

    By Ken Urban on July 9, 2009 at 1:50 PM

    One of the joys of being in rehearsals is not only getting to watch actors tackle the scenes, but also the chances to help me make the script better. We are keeping to our rule of No New Pages and I am finding that there are places where I can trim. What used to take five sentences now takes three words. The text gets sharper, the actions gets more focused. With such an amazing cast, I can hear exactly what is there and know when less is more.

  • Preparing for Rehearsals

    By Ken Urban on July 3, 2009 at 5:27 PM

    It is the week before rehearsals begin. For me, this week was all about making sure the script was ready. Usually, before I start rehearsing a new play, I identify a few “problem” areas: places in the script where I have questions or moments that I want to watch in rehearsal because I am not sure they work or not.  Given the extremely short rehearsal period for SPF shows – basically 12 rehearsals – I have decided instead to fix the script before rehearsals start, which will allow actors to begin getting off book even before we meet on Monday.


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