Of course it helped that we had a wonderful director, Mark Finley, (2nd from the left) who wasn't afraid to strip the production down to its elemental ideas and images. He privileged the words and actors over set pieces and my (notoriously long) stage directions.
The party we had for opening night was the opposite of minimalist. It featured a cornucopia of soul food catered by Melba's on W114th Street www.melbasrestaurant.com which had the best chicken wings ever. Ultimately the food must have been magical because the cast sure was!
This is my very first experience having a second production of one of my plays by a new company! So at first it was a little difficult for me to re-imagine the characters with other actors in the roles. The company at New Conservatory Theatre did such an amazing job and were patient as I cut and pasted the thing together. They helped to crystallize the meaning of the play for me.
Before the new production started I did have the amazing input of one of my icons, Martin Sherman (BENT) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Sherman. who helped me re-imagine the ending. He basically said when the play begins we see Baldwin in a struggle with the ghost of his father; you need to resolve that struggle for Baldwin's growth to be dramatized. That totally changed the end of the play. The TOSOS production gave me the opportunity to see that new ending for the first time and Mr. Sherman was absolutely right. I'll hope I can remember that for the next and final play ("Unpacking in Provincetown") in this trilogy about African American artists in the first half of the 20th century.
Some favourite moments: Me ( the ultimate atheist) on the search for just the right bible to be used on stage. I was very specific about what it should look like and finally tracked one down at Strand Books. Or the audience member who wanted to talk to Robert, who played Jimmy's lover, Luc, in French since Robert's accent was so good. And seeing the joy on the face of James Baldwin's sister-in-law, Carole when gave me her blessing. Since her partner, David, Baldwin's brother, figures prominently in the piece, that could have been sticky! And of course the birthday party we had on Jimmy's birthday, August 2 where legendary performer, Andre De Shields www.andredeshields.com came to celebrate with us!
Because they work in the hometown of James Baldwin the TOSOS cast brought a different energy and viewpoint for which I'll be eternally grateful. So this is my chance to say more thank you to them for helping the play have a new and vibrant life. Here's hoping I see Michael Striano, Neil Dawson, Joy Sudduth, Jonathan Dewberry, Jordan J. Adams, Robert Jeffery, and Ken Simon in other works of mine or just anything!