I began the first draft of THE QUICKENING in earnest in 2013 and completed it in 2014. While working on it, I took a side trip to write a film treatment based on the play at the invitation of my friend, the actor Dylan Walsh whom you may know from TV's Nip/Tuck. I know him from U.Va. and performing together with the Heritage Repertory Theatre. He liked the treatment and passed it along to someone in the business. He also gave me the excellent advice to now: forget about it, don't waste time waiting for something to happen. And, although I was (more or less) able to bury my daydreams of a film option, I could not forget about writing the play. I think writing the treatment helped me explore and clarify the story, which helped me finish the play's first draft.
Writing the treatment was closer to prose in that I described not only what characters said and did but what they thought and felt. I could also dictate what an audience saw at any moment -- whereas in the play, I wrote only what could be seen and heard on a stage.
I was excited enough about the first draft to put together an in-house reading of it -- in our house. I can't think of a safer space in which to hear a new play read aloud. We invited actors and provided food and drink to thank them for their sharing their time and talent on a Saturday afternoon. At this point, two actors in the current TCT production joined the cast, truly originating their roles: Marianne Angelella as Rosemary and Debbie Bennett as Phil. Another notable thing about that reading was the reaction to the dog in the play. Buy me a drink sometime and ask me about that.
I kept working. During the summer of 2014, a new draft received a staged reading at the Sewanee Writers Conference which I attended as a Participating Playwright. The reading was followed by discussion with other conference playwrights both officially and casually. I also received notes from playwriting faculty Dan O'Brien and Daisy Foote and met with Daisy for a one-on-one discussion. I kept working.
In spring of 2015, I learned the play had won for me a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Playwriting, which included a staged reading during the 2015 Baltimore Book Fair. Later that year, the play was accepted by the Comparative Drama Conference and given a staged reading during their 2015 Conference. This opportunity gave me the chance to work on the play with Dramaturg Janna Segal and, in another stroke of luck, David Shoemaker joined the cast where he continues to play the part of Matt. In the fall of 2015, the play appeared as a staged reading presented by Dramatists Guild Baltimore Footlights Series at the Spotlighters Theatre in Baltimore. It was there that Anthony Hinkle and Steven Shriner from The Collaborative Theatre Company heard the play and expressed an interest. I kept working. In 2016, the play was a Finalist in the 5th Annual What If? Playwrights Festival and Competition in Charleston, South Carolina, where it received a staged reading, and was a Semi-Finalist in the 2016 Beverly Hills Theatre Guild Julie Harris Playwright Award Competition. I also learned that The Quickening had been selected to close FPTC's 2017-18 season as a co-production with TCT directed by Ann Turiano. As part of Anthony's vision, the production process was launched with workshops designed to share the process with interested audience members. The show now became very real with the creation of our production staff and the final casting in which we received the gift of Amanda Spellman in the pivotal role Beth.
So far, there have been seven drafts by my count on the way to this production. And there are several important voices who came aboard and stayed. One of whom was TCT's Anthony Hinkle who we tragically lost in the spring of 2017. But I believe his vision for the production process lives on. For all this, I am grateful and excited as we move ahead. All involved, artists and audience members alike, have been wonderful and I think we âre in a great place to be with the play -- as humbling as it is exciting. Having actors who have inhabited their parts for years over so many drafts is as rare as it is invaluable. Thanks to everyone involved, I think we âre ready for the next steps!