A Magical Day Chapel Street Theater

Art and magic are strange things; they pop up when they want.

The two muses showed Saturday at the Chapel Street Player (CSP) playhouse in Newark Delaware.

Actress Susie Moak works on the community play at the CSP Saturday morning. Actors are encouraged to come out and play. There’s donuts sometimes
Actress Susie Moak works on the community play at the CSP Saturday morning. Actors are encouraged to come out and play. There’s donuts sometimes

I was stunned and delighted.

I won’t delay too long, but I need to give some background

My friend Lyn Anderson and I are part of the CSP NEXT playwriting group, which meets every third Saturday to read “under construction” plays, but lately we’ve been thinking we need to do something to make it more fun for the actors who so kindly give their time.

We came up with this idea, why not work with the actors to develop a true community play? The idea is to give the actors a setting with potential conflict, some characters, and turn them loose in a quasi-improv.

Playwright George Cope looks on as Allen Harbaugh breathes life into a play Saturday.
Playwright George Cope looks on as Allen Harbaugh breathes life into a play Saturday.

Saturday was a weird day — full of confluence — snow threatened, the heater in the theater wasn’t working, and the box of coffee bought at the local coffee house was quickly getting cold.

It was so cold that one of the actors threw on a costume fox stole and shivered – a real trooper. The rest of us were so bundled up, we look like a rag-tag assortment of hole-in-the-wall rejects.

We read a couple of half-done plays – Lyn’s was the best by far.

As we got ready to leave, someone of asked, I’m not sure if it was Lyn or I, did we want to do the improv? Remarkably, through chattering teeth and face scarves, everyone said yes.

And this is where it happened.

I divvied up the roles between Susie Moak, Allen Harbaugh, Brooks Black, and Judy David. Lyn figured out how to use her cell phone as a voice recorder I fiddled with my phone got a snippet here and there, and off we went.

Both Lyn and I paced around like caged cats, but the actors, the actors turned that cold basement into a special place for those 15 or 20 minutes.

They dug into a well, or tapped into a vein of storytelling and conflict that was so unexpected Lyn and I were stunned. They took our outline to places we had never considered.

It was – frankly – so, so, so (fill in the blank) _______ and the actors so committed, I could tell something special was happening. To use a cliché, we had captured some lightning.

I was so taken aback, I kept reaching into my pocket and counting and recounting seven dollars in one-dollar bills. Who knows why?

It was magical, ephemeral, and inspirational.

Back to the mundane.

Lyn has transcribed everything they did. She and I are going to meet and give the outline a bit more flesh and direction based on the actors first run andhit again the next NEXt meeting.

If you are an actor and want to help capture some lightning, or writer who wants to give it a shot, we will meet again, Saturday March 21, 2015 at 10 a.m. We want more actors and more writers to help craft this insanely wonderful community play.

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4 thoughts on “A Magical Day Chapel Street Theater

  1. And it should be noted that Bill presented a charming “ready-for-production’ one-act that was a lot of fun to do and took an interesting view of ol’ Jacob Marley!

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  2. It was a special experience for sure. Left me breathless with my teeth chattering– and not from the busted furnace! Great beginning, all– to a haunting community production. BTW, Lyn and Bill have finished an excellent rough edit of scene 1. We’ll be meeting on 3/17 to get it in shape to prepare us for Scene 2 on Saturday 3/21. This time with the furnace working I’ll bet

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