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23 September 11
Last night our script Pregnant Pause was performed as a rehearsed reading at the New York Television Festival and afterwards we had a Q&A with Phil Rosenthal.
During the day, the actors had 2 hours to rehearse each script. First, Mayflower Investigations by Thomas Phipps & Peter Bowden, followed by a quick break and rehearsals for An American Dream by Greg De Roeck. Then after lunch they cracked straight on with rehearsals for Pregnant Pause. We writers got to sit in on the rehearsals for our own scripts and as Pregnant Pause was the last to be rehearsed, I felt a bit like the new girl at school. All the actors had the script in their hands and my mind was racing… Did they like it? Did they think it was funny? Should I just get a flight back to the UK right now?
However I needn’t have worried – the actors and director Susan Jacobson, did a marvellous job and it was great to hear the words that Charity & I had agonised over finally being given an actual voice. We’d known that the script would be performed by American actors, and although I thought that might jar slightly, it worked well and just emphasised that the characters and subject are universal. Admittedly Charity & I had made some last minute changes to cultural references in the script…so with the help of my pal who now lives in the US (thanks, Emma!) Anna Ryder Richardson became Meredith Viera (sorry Anna!) and Glastonbury became Lollapalooza (which is now our new favourite word!)
After three run-throughs the actors were starting to comfortably inhabit the roles we’d created and I was beginning to think that I wouldn’t need that early flight back to the UK after all. So we all headed over to 92Y at Tribeca, a great venue that would be our home for the evening.
The next hour whizzed by with a technical rehearsal where I finally got to see the specially commissioned artwork that was our Pregnant Pause backdrop plus hear the music that had been specifically written for the script. Both were fantastic and really helped to set a modern and upbeat intro for our script.
Before the venue opened to the public we finally got to meet the man himself…Phil Rosenthal, Creator and Executive Producer of Everybody Loves Raymond (and although I was sure he’d heard it a million times before I couldn’t help myself…I had to tell him that I was a fan!)
Before we knew it, it was time for the show to begin! Tom, Pete, Greg and I sat in the 2nd row looking a vile shade of pale green, which unfortunately was nothing to do with the lighting! However Susan assured us that it was good to be nervous. Mayflower Investigations and An American Dream were performed first and received a positive response from both the audience and Phil. And it was great for me to finally see their work - I’d already suspected they were incredibly funny (and a little perverse!) and now I had proof!
Then it was time for Pregnant Pause, and the actors again did a fantastic job of bringing the script to life. My only reservation was that the pace was slightly slower in places than I would have liked, however pacing is always tricky in a staged reading compared to the quick edits that can be achieved for TV. Overall I was really pleased and although I was nervous, I was suddenly looking forward to the Q&A with Phil Rosenthal and the audience. Once again they were very positive about the script and specific advice included interweaving the main characters’ stories more and emphasising more physical comedy. Both of these were valid points and something that Charity & I have included for the filmed version of the script, but it was interesting to discover that we can push this even further as we develop the series.
Afterwards it was to the bar for more feedback, this time with drinks and nibbles (hurray!). I was bowled over by the positive responses we received in this more informal setting – particularly by the number of women who came up afterwards saying they empathised with the character of frazzled new mum, Fran. One lady said she thought it made perfect sense for Fran to tidy up by putting absolutely everything outside! And that it reminded her of when she’d had three kids under the age of four (for which I had to congratulate her!) And it wasn’t only the comedy that was commented on…another person liked the realistic tenderness between Fran and her hubbie, Dan.
Charity and I wrote a script that we feel is full of truth and that we would enjoy watching. To hear that an audience can relate to our characters and believe in their stories makes us incredibly happy and proud. This event proved to us that we do have a great idea on our hands and we’re going to work really hard to try and get it made. We also had very positive feedback from producers and agents who came to see our work, so who knows what’s next…watch this space!!!