The 3Ps Major: Day Father

Posted by Bare Bodkin on July 9, 2012 at 10:40 AM

If you're looking for a Bare Bodkin success story, look no further. Lindsay Carpenter, a rising senior at Tufts and Bodkin Board's very own Artistic Director, wrote a play called Day Father that went all the way up through the Bodkin ranks. I got the chance to ask her about her show and its relationship with Bare Bodkin, and here's some of what she shared with me.

Bare Bodkin: When did you start writing your show, Day Father?

Lindsay Carpenter: "I remember the day I started Day Father. It was 2008, I was in high school, and I was supposed to clean my room. Instead I wrote a scene. The scene is mostly the same scene as the current first scene, though the setting is different now. The first scene in Day Father is really a scene at the end, and the play goes back in time to explain the end.

The initial inspiration for Day Father was twofold. One was this character of Jason, who I had known for a while. My friend and I joked that the more sinister side of my mind was “Jason”, a man who seemed charming initially but could take your greatest flaw and drive it into you. The sort of person who you laughed with until you realized that really he was laughing at you. The character of Anna was inspired by a combination of me and my best friend who I had grown up with and played our own make believe games.

Day Father was the first play I’d ever tried to write; before I had only written novellas and bits of novels or sketches of characters. I’d acted in a number of plays up to that point and wanted to see what the theatre as a medium could offer that other genres couldn’t.

I should also mention that for a while I had it in my mind that there would be two parallel plots, one about Anna and one about a drug dealer (known as X) and somehow their lives would collide and result with Anna’s death. I am so glad I did not write that play.


BB: How would you describe the workshop process?

LC: Before I workshoped the play with Bare Bodkin, I actually started with an amazing theatre company in California. The company, Barnyard Theatre, holds a Nights of New Plays event in which the company workshops plays and the playwright gets the opportunity to hear audience feedback.

I first workshopped Day Father (at the time called Jason) when it was only about 4 pages long. The literary manager, Brian Oglesby, arranged for a director, Emily Henderson, to workshop the piece for about two hours. I was incredibly worried about the little piece, but the two hours were amazing. The director took the time to work through the piece moment by moment, capturing exactly what I had intended and bringing it to life. The small audience was intrigued by the story enough for me to really want to continue writing. I remember going out with friends after that first workshop and feeling exhilarated, excited for the work to come.

The next summer, Barnyard gave me the opportunity to workshop the play again. The draft still wasn’t complete, but it had progressed considerably. The same director workshopped the piece in an interactive workshop, staging it as an audience watched.

Finally, the following summer, the play was complete. Again, Barnyard asked me if I had made progress and wanted to workshop the play, by this time known as Lies in the Looking Glass. The workshop process that summer was different than before. We started with a reading of the play with the cast only, without an audience. We met in a park, read it and then the cast got a chance to impromptu act it so I could keep track of entrances and exits. I remember sitting there, listening, cringing as they read the play. I could hear what was wrong with it, I knew exactly what needed to be changed, but felt the play was awful as it was. I had a week before it would be read before an audience. I don’t think I touched it the whole week, I brooded and considered what needed to be changed, and didn’t write a thing. It was on the night that it was due, when I had until midnight, that I began to write.

That night remains one of the most ridiculous in my life, I deleted about 10 of about 60 total pages, and added about 10 new pages. I sent it in almost exactly at midnight, having edited as I wrote and really not sure what I had just sent in. I arrived at the workshop the next day and asked to see one of the printed scripts, still not sure what I had actually sent in. I remember thinking “oh man, this is going to be interesting.” It was fantastic. The play was fixed, not perfect, but I could see it. The major problems were gone. The workshop ended and the audience and cast remained to talk about my play. They asked questions and speculated and I listened, incredibly happy.

BB: How did Bare Bodkin get involved?

LC: At that point, the play was ready to submit to Bodkin. I got a workshop date, made some revisions and arrived not sure of what to expect. That was the workshop in which the play got its name, Day Father. I got the suggestion to work Lewis Carrol’s book Through the Looking Glass into the play in a more tangible way. Bare Bodkin, the group, was incredibly encouraging. They suggested I do another workshop and asked me about whether I had considered producing the play. I realized that I had the chance to get it onstage while I was still at Tufts.

Several revisions later I had the second workshop, and made a point to invite Cole Von Glahn, a member of Bodkin at the time, curious to see if he would be interested in directing the play. I remember staying after the workshop with several of the actors who had read the parts and listening to them discuss the implications of the play. The workshops have given me the opportunity to hear direct audience response in more depth than one tends to get when a play is produced. I have also gotten to hear from the actors who’ve played each role. I have heard how the actress playing Mother felt, or which sections the actor who played the Father wished were further developed.

From there, a few more conversations passed with Cole, I flew off to Dublin and when I returned the play had been passed by 3Ps. Now I get to sit and watch and see what happens.

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