Magazine article American Theatre

Working All the Angles

Magazine article American Theatre

Working All the Angles

Article excerpt

VENTURA, CALIF.

CAN WORKSHOPS AND READINGS ALTER A PLAYWRIGHT'S perception of her work? As Carey Crim's Conviction went through a series of these--at Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, Mich., Pasadena Playhouse in California, Primary Stages in New York City, Luna Stage in West Orange, N.J., the Asolo Repertory in Sarasota, Fla., and finally at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, Calif.--she had plenty of chances to rethink and revise. But she also wondered if she might lose what she set out to say along the way.

Her play, as it happens, is about perceptions and how public pressure can affect them. Conviction, which is scheduled to run at the Rubicon Sept. 3-28, is the story of a teacher students adore and parents admire--but who is convicted of a sexual encounter with a student he directed in the school play. Crim's play is not about whether or not the teacher is guilty but about changes in the way family and friends regard him as the question looms.

Crim says she was conscious of the possibility of "too much influence" at the readings, so she listened closely to audience reactions but not too closely to comments. She cut a character, changed the title (from 23.5 Honrs), and shortened and sharpened the play. "It ended up being wonderful for me," she said of the piece's long gestation.

When the script reached the Rubicon, the theatre's producing artistic director, Karyl Lynn Burns, said she loved Crim's "quirky comic-voice and the way the characters deflect their pain. …

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