For UA Writes: Student Written One-Acts, we asked the directors themselves, David Bolus and Raines Carr, to describe to us how each of their shows have come to life for them, their troubles in bringing each show to stage, and what it’s like bringing the words of someone else to stage.
David Bolus had this to say about his work with Laura Coby, and Meet the Bradleys itself:
Actors don’t get a Spring Break from their characters—once you’ve started a process, your character is with you until you close, and sometimes it holds on after that final show. That being said, my actors are four of the hardest-working people on this campus, so for the most part, they didn’t even get a Spring Break from school: they spent their break finishing projects, showcasing for agents in New York, and generally NOT taking a quick vaycay. With that in mind, our first week of rehearsal was far more improv-heavy than a “normal” process. We even had an art night, in character, to meet these characters and learn what it is to live in their bodies and minds in a variety of situations—so that, with this Spring “Break” interrupting our rehearsal process, we could spend time digesting this extensive trove of improv-determined information, then come back in and find triggers to rediscover the now-familiar feel of these characters’ shoes.
Laura Coby, who wrote Meet the Bradleys, is a joy to work with. She can sense what “works” and what needs more or less information as the actor puts life behind her lively words. Her sense of humor is incredibly charming. And her observances on today’s evolving family are deeply layered—what might seem at first to be a story of a Skinny Girl suburban mother pushed to an extreme turns out to be a very unapologetic look at what happens when the people we love change, but our expectations for them don’t.
The most wonderful thing about working with her, though, is her willingness to discuss and consider any and all of her crazy director’s ideas. THAT’s been the difference working with her as opposed to an “established playwright”—though, if you ask me, that’s a scary distinction to make! When you work with any play, you tackle the words in front of you, investigate given circumstances, try to glean motivations, and generally treat the text as infallible. We just happened to be lucky enough for our playwright to be within arm’s reach, tightening syntax, refining backstories, and even adding stage directions as we discovered physical moments in rehearsal!