Boise Contemporary Theater (BCT) is selling tickets for a play that opens in April, but that play hasn’t yet been written. For the next few months, I’ll be following its progress as it goes from idea to rehearsal to an audience.
Here’s why: even in social media I try to keep my opinions to myself, but early this year I had a momentary slip. After seeing BCT’s A Nighttime Survival Guide, I wrote this on my Facebook page. "Great story, excellent production. Dwayne Blackaller proves he's one of Idaho's best actors and writers.”
That wasn’t entirely fair since Blackaller co-wrote that play with BCT artistic director Matthew Cameron Clark. It’s Blackaller and Clark who have teamed up again to write this new play called The Uncanny Valley. I was so impressed with Survival Guide I wanted to know how these two create and if they can recreate their last success. But The Uncanny Valley is very much a work in progress.
“With A Nighttime Survival Guide we went into rehearsal with maybe 25 or 30 pages written,” Blackaller says. “And this time we’re well over that and months out.” Blackaller estimates the play is about halfway done. The first act is in good shape he says but the rest is a mystery. “We’re pretty sure where we’re going to land in the end,” Blackaller says. “How we get there is the exciting part.”
The Uncanny Valley takes place in an artist’s retreat in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. It’s about the artist who has been commissioned to live and work there and her conflict with the family who owns the retreat. Oh, and robots.
Clark says this is a different play than Survival Guide which was a show for the whole family. The Uncanny Valley is for adults and deals with mature themes.
“It’s a more complicated story,” Clark says. “So we need to be more prepared because we have more balls in the air.”
Both agree working toward that April deadline is scary. “Every play we do is a personal risk because you put your love into it and you never know how it’s going to work,” Clark says. “But writing together we’ve learned that thinking about how it’s going to please everybody else is not a helpful route. We need to start by making sure it’s compelling, exciting, surprising and meaningful to the two of us. We want the audience to like it of course, but we have to love it first.”
Copyright 2013 Boise State Public Radio