Last week while Wendy and I were on vacation, we enjoyed a wonderful evening on the campus of the University of Missouri. Dr. David Crespy had invited me to present my script Ham Buns and Potato Salad at the Missouri Playwrights Workshop (Since we own a place in Missouri, I guess I’m technically grandfathered in as a Missouri playwright). We arrived in the early evening and were treated to dinner with Dr. Crespy and some of his graduate students at The Heidelberg.
The workshop is very simple. Each Tuesday night students, professors and the public are invited to gather at the Student Union, read a script together, and then discuss it. While Ham Buns has been through a couple of informal readings locally, I was excited to get feedback and critique from both the theatrical and academic community who aren’t as familiar with the rural Iowa Dutch small town culture which provides the setting of the play. Admittedly, there is always a bit of nervousness when you present a script in an open public forum like this.
The reading went really well, and I was very pleased with the quality of the feedback I received. It was enjoyable for me to experience the laughter of the participants and to sense that they were falling in love with the characters. I got a lot of positive feedback. The characters and the story were well received and I was assured that it was an enjoyable show. For some time Wendy and I had felt that there were some things that were not quite right with the script but we hadn’t been able to articulate exactly what they were. The best thing that came out of the workshop for me was the feedback which clearly defined some of the vague weaknesses we’d felt but had been unable to define.
The 90 minute drive back to the lake from Columbia flew by as Wendy helped me process all of the feedback I’d received. I now have a laundry list of things to edit and some fairly major structural changes I need to make. That’s good. The workshop gave me clarity of what I need to do and a renewed vision for where I need to go with the script, and I’m confident that the result will be an even better show for audiences to experience.
A special thank you to Dr. Crespy for his hospitality and to the students of the University of Missouri for their encouragement and feedback. Write on!