Jennifer Maisel wrote the play Eight Nights which was presented during this year’s New Works Festival.
When good playwright things happen I use the hashtag #luckyplaywright. In a business that’s mercurial, to say the least, when beautiful opportunities come my way it feels like the theatre gods are shining down on me. And now they have – with Florida sun – twice.
Five years ago I came to Naples for the first Gulfshore Playhouse New Works Festival with my play Out of Orbit that Kristen Coury directed. I had no idea what this experience was going to be like – how could I? It was the first. I was immediately taken in by the process, the actors willing to expose their souls so quickly to make our 9 hours of rehearsals powerful, Kristen’s insightful looks into the play and our deep discussions, long walks on the beach to get my thoughts straight in my head, and rewriting (and more rewriting) as the play became clearer on the page. I dove deep with two playwrights I hadn’t met before. I was thrilled by how engaged the audience was and the talkback that meant they were really listening. I told all my playwright friends – “Apply! You want to do this”.
This year Out of Orbit received its first two productions – and sitting in the theatre I remembered how all the development I did brought the play to the place it is now and what a lucky playwright I am to have been given the gifts of time and space and actors and directors and rehearsal rooms along the way to get to this moment in time – and hoping my newer play, Eight Nights would receive just as much love along the way.
And then the Florida sun beckoned again. Kristen emailed me to say she had no idea Eight Nights was my play until the names of the winners were revealed. Rehearsing the reading, I had the good fortune to again be bathed in the miraculous talents of an incredible cast and director (Christian Parker this time), I’ve gone back to my long morning thinking walks on the beach. I’ve listened to the actors bring the wealth of their experiences and emotions to the words and found a way to make moments in the play work with a different perspective. The actors took everything we talked about during our twelve hours of rehearsal and made it sing. And I’ve been in the company of two amazing playwrights who I know are going to be part of my life going forward.