Wednesday, May 31, 2006

so, this reviewer walks into a theatre...

The Creative Loafing Review has been released online, comments already accruing: Here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Come on in, We're OPEN!!!!

It's taken me a couple of days to process and i'm not sure that i'm actually there, but the show, The Perfect Prayer is open to it's world premiere!!

Overwhelmed is not the word... speechless is; which is why it's taken me awhile to return and post.

By the way? Speechless at the opening of your world premiere? Not a good way to be...*smile*
Perhaps I should take it as a very good sign that people want to hear more from me,though? *shrug* Who knows. I'm just glad I wasn't open-mouth breathing and drooling on myself... I could AT LEAST control that.

Opening night was attended by nearly every bit of love I have in this city and theatre community...and then some. A packed house stayed with every moment of the show. It was quite a ride... The cast was wonderful. It occurred to me that I'm not watching them work. ... especially Megan Hayes. You forget that she doesn't get to leave the stage except for intermission... she makes it look easy. *shaking head* Applause to her.
And Lisa Adler's direction of a non-stop show? Is unbelievable... This came from all of the people who watched this project grow through the last 2 workshops... people who have only been listening to the words and hearing the actions...
and finally, here it is...full blast. In their faces... and so seamlessly guided by the hand of Lisa...
The house graciously rose to its feet at the end of the show... *smile*

I've not returned and will not 'til next week... It'll be interesting to see a room full (hopefully!) of strangers with the show.

Audience comments received (and they're not even related!! *grin*) :

I loved The Perfect Prayer. And quite honestly, I was exhausted when I went and still loved it. So did my friends, who are 1 Jewish, 1 Lutheran, and 1 Greek Orthodox...made for great discussion.

Truly, it was awesome! VERY, VERY, VERY well written...I can just see it on Broadway -- in lights!... I think your audience couldn't WAIT to pop out of their seats to give you standing ovation -- you and your cast! And they were so perfectly cast!...
I am going to send an email to many of my friends and recommend that they see it.

What a funny, moving, and thought-provoking exploration of the meaning of family, culture, country, religion, race, relationships. Thank you so much. I am telling everyone I know to go see it.

....I laughed so hard yesterday that I had to use my asthma inhaler....Your play was fantastic!!!!!! It got me all jacked up, and for the first time in a very very long time I felt happy to be a Muslim...

During the intermission, I was approached by a Muslim man from Bosnia who immediately inquired about the dynamics of the family within the play. And he was also quick to say that some of the arabic (from the Qu'ran) wasn't correctly pronounced. Although his approach was sincere and quiet, I wasn't ready ...and reacted defensively to protect my cast (who had non-stop rehearsals and shows all week long) AND my script...

At the opening night party, he approached the actors themselves to let them know about the errors...
And, at first, I was a little angry... However, I realized i'd forgotten one important comment in the midst of his observations, "What you're doing here is very important."

And after a friend told me that he watched me act rather...non-charismatically... to the man (much to my embarrassment) and I remembered the comment? I awakened to the fact that this stranger is being just as protective of the work... it wasn't an attack. Just a critical piece of help to make sure his religion, faith are accurately represented. (have to watch the ego...*sigh*)

The hardest thing is, people want more. "What was true?" "Are you parents really like that?" "How did you...?"...
And i'm tired. *smile* Kindly and gratefully tired, but tired nonetheless. I understand the sincere curiousity and respect the compliment in wanting more... I just don't know that I have it give right now.

This script is not done yet (it is for this production) but there were so many things discovered that, had I not been here... one wonders...

Reviews come out this week. *deep breath*...Yep. *blink* *blink*...Yep. *sigh*

Deep thanks to all my friends(family) who made it (Julie who flew in from NYC), the board members who have watched this every step of the way; the strangers who only came because of the ads, the staff, the designers, the crew, the cast...and Lisa.

Oh. And God. Thank you, God.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


I also recently discovered that my mother posted a comment on the online article in the Creative Loafing.



Check please.

First preview audience last night. Benefit audience for the Genesis Shelter. Went really well. One comment received:

For the benefit of those on the list who were not at last night’s performance, treat yourself to a dose of culture. This one is worth your time. Funny, poignant, and thought-provoking with strong performances by each cast member. Further proof that not all good theater is limited to productions at the Alliance.

And with that, I say... there's still more work to do.

What's difficult to assess is, what works needs to be done now and what can wait to just be in an updated script? The cast, although magnificent in their adaptibility to ready to just have something concrete. After the invited dress rehearsal on Sunday night, though... there were some big changes that needed to be done and WERE incorporated into last night's show. AND, they pulled it off. But not without having had a some moments of worry and frustration.

That being said, spirits remain so strong and high.

The pieces that now need work are what I refer to as "kitchen drawer" pieces. You know, when you're moving? The big stuff is SO easy...but, it's the little stuff that begins to nag at you and seems to take forever until you finally just dump it all into a box that, in turn, when you arrive at your new home, you just dump it all into a drawer ...slowly recovering things over the YEARS.

i don't want years.

I want perfection now.
Ah. Well.

Opening is Friday.
Interesting audience tonight. It is another preview/benefit audience for the Baitul Network... a non-profit organization that provides shelter for battered and abused moslem women and their children.

Which means...this will be the first audience with Moslems in it.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


So far there has been one problem that has come up as we prepare for production.

I received a phone call from wonderfully sweet Ann at Horizon 2 days ago.

I was on my way in to pick up the newly printed fliers.
Ann calmly said, "Suehyla. I think there's something you should know before you see the fliers."


"Well. Despite the fact that we had 5 pairs of eyes double-checking everything on the final proof...All of us somehow missed the fact that... um... your name was misspelled."


*now. sidenote here... I completely let my ego step in on the following statement...*

"Are you F-IN KIDDING ME??!"

Now. To anyone who gets the pleasure of meeting Ann at Horizon... let me describe her: She's beautiful. She's classy. She's UBER-kind and extremely gentle.

And despite any stress she may have been under at that moment, she immediately took the position to be vented at, ready for the flogging, at your service, sir.

"Suehyla. I know you must be upset and I am here for you to vent and release anything you need to. I cannot tell you how sorry we are. But, know that I am willing and ready to listen to anything you have to say."

Here's the thing.
It's not even about me.
It's the Theatre Company. know what? This shit happens.
Maybe if i'm really good at this... these fliers will be collector's items. And if not... then, they can be recycled.

The fun i've had with everyone lately is... if you thought my name was difficult to say when correctly spelled...
try it now:

Sueyhla El-Attar

And, another thing? If that's the only problem we have...Thank you God.

"It looks like a real play!"

That would be all I kept saying yesterday during the 10 out of 12.

*shaking head* *smile* I couldn't help it...there's actors and costumes and lighting and music and's...

it's all real.

I stopped in a couple of times yesteray. Today there was a bit of finishing up with tech...then run-thrus.

It's hard fighting the urge to wonder if there's more I should be doing...

This is not something I can ever say I did alone, that's for sure. For all the congrats and sweeping comments that keep coming my way... I've gotta say, if it weren't for the numerous readings and the actors and Lisa's natural dramaturg tendency... there's no way in HELL i did this by myself. And to every playwright or writer who DOES do this by themselves and does it well? *bows deeply*

I'm having great fears that i've gotten all sorts of information incorrect. Panic is setting in to give me something to do.

I'm at a loss of exactly what i'm supposed to be doing today. In relation to my play. For the cast. For the director. For...the designers...



First real audience is Tuesday night (previews run through Thursday) and then onto opening on Friday.

The cast is wonderful. The director is relaxed. The designers have bonded on headsets...and the stage manager is a wonderful, cool breeze that calms everything down.

What more could a play ask for?

Besides a plot.
And an audience.

All I can keep saying is, "It looks like a real play..."


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Eve of Tech

Great rehearsal yesterday. Lisa was confirming blocking/choreography for a particular scene in the 2nd act.
Most elements were sketchily in place ....and there was this moment I fell in love with.
It's not a moment that I wrote...
but one created by the collaboration of acting, directing, lights, set, and sound...

Cleaned up one more scene yesterday as well...via writing.
It wasn't making sense, even for me...and I freakin' wrote the damn thing.


There is still a feeling of operating with my eyes closed because I can't see the whole, i can only see the piece...and until I get an audience in that theatre... i won't be able to see a thing. I was told that during preview week (which is next week) there is usually non-stop rewriting going on... There seems to have been non-stop rewrites going on as is. The cast has been great in keeping up, amazing in fact. We're not talking brand new scenes, rewrites...we're talking about "move this line here, and this now becomes three lines...insert pause...blah blah blah" ... just big enough to change the beat as needed, and just small enough to mess with the memory recall.

I, of course, would like to be done. I'd like to be finished. I'd like to say the play is perfect.
No more is needed.
And as long as i'm dreaming, i'd like a pony.

Check out my interview printed in this week's Creative Loafing.

I'd like to say that I am not so sure I agree with the first line of the article...
Nope. Not at all.
I have had people ask me if I feel that I'm getting more exposure since 9/11...
How would I know?
How can I know?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hop, Skip and a jump away.

I don't have much in me to write right now but felt it necessary to post.

Rehearsals are going well.

Top of Act II has been driving me crazy and I finally started it off in the most random way, only to discover...I may have found the scene I needed.

Then again, It's okay to love the just not be a scene for this particular play. *shrug* Who knows?
That's another thing about the process: I can write a scene or rewrite a scene...and find that it works but that doesn't necessarily mean it works for the whole play. *sigh*

Perhaps that's common sense...and i'm just now uncovering it.
Hey. At least I found it.

Had a television interview on A Woman's Place on the AIB Network.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Just around the corner

It dawned on me while watching the run-through yesterday (for the designers) that preview week is one week away.

I've tampered and added and cut and touched and worn out the script.

Watching the run-through yesterday, i'm mainly worried about one scene in Act II. And I will be done 'til preview week.
The actors have been amazingly patient and adaptable...but as a writer friend of mine said today, "Leave them alone. Let them relax. Lock it down and let them get comfortable."

Right. *sigh*
I knew better anyway...

Oh! Speaking of desingers:

Mimi Epstein - Sound Design
Laurie Price - Props Design
Kim Schnormeier - Costume Design
Jeff Weiss - Lighting Design
John Williamson - Set Design

Here's a look at a model of the set:

Little short on words today. So, i'll just leave you with a picture of rehearsal, yesterday...

Monday, May 08, 2006

3rd week, and still going...

3rd week began today.
Saw a complete run of the show in it's current existence *smile* this past Saturday.

I sat through the first act, trying to see if I cared about what was happening...trying to make sure the through-lines of the characters were there... and the story.

I know there was moment when I forgot to look at the actors by their names and only saw them as their characters, had to. HAVE to be able to see that to see if i can hear the story.
Don't know that i did. I literally jumped with each line to that current line existing only within it as it was being said. Have to watch it again.

At the end of the 1st act, the director and stage manager applauded, while I sat there in silence, consumed in my own concerns of mistakes, future changes,etc.
I then realized I wasn't applauding. I wasn't doing anything, in fact. And well, that's REALLY not a good sign to the cast or director that have been busting their butts for the past 2 weeks, with rewrites flying at them left and right...

So, I immediately applauded...
I know the cast is strong because I had the opportunity to step back and really take a look at structure...and not be distracted by anything else. I'm getting a chance to look at the play, play. That's what I need. It's not just about listening but watching it happen, now.
IS it the question.
The first act is literally a non-stop force, not allowing the main character, Hadia, to leave the stage for an hour.
while everyone else is revolving around her. I have to see it again. to see if it is telling a story.
2nd act is still missing something.
I've been going through earlier drafts to find it. There's a missing moment, beat. Hmm...

Had the first production meeting last week.
Met with all designers. Due to the lack of scene breaks, both costume and sound design...had "a couple" of questions for me. *smile*

Will have designers and photo of set model posted soon.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

1160 AM radio interview

This is an interview I did last week that aired this past Saturday morning at 9:30am on 1160 AM.

Friday, May 05, 2006

2nd week - staying away

I've stayed away from rehearsals this week as much as possible. When I say this, I don't mean that I can't keep myself away from rehearsals, I mean that I go ONLY when I have to....which is just fine by me.

Last Friday began the actual get-up-from-the-table work. Emotional and physical processing of the characters. I was there for the first 10 minutes of it and then realized...Yep. I'm gonna go crazy if I sit and watch this.

It's not that the actors are getting anything wrong. It's just...
I've been listening to the play so much now, it's like hearing a word over and over and over again... after awhile it begins to sound distorted.

My focus has been touch ups to ACT I this week and major face lifts on ACT II.
Had one moment of major restructuring of a scene in ACT I (remember, Suehyla? Doesn't play well alone). I took it in and Lisa asked, "Why did you change this scene?"

And I didn't have an answer.

Yep. Need to get out more. Most definately.

The great moment of those 10 minutes of directing that I saw by Lisa was the day after...
I'll tell you this:
As Lisa began to direct the first scene of the first act, I thought...this isn't how I picture it, not that I pictured it too solidly but that...THIS, what's going on...isn't working for me. I need to leave.

And so I did.

I returned the next day and Lisa asks, Would you like to see what we've done so far?

And I say, Yes.

And they begin.

And it's exaclty what I felt i'd written.
Funny how that happens.

So. Yes. I've been having a blast NOT going to rehearsals. Because I'm excited about what i'm not watching happen...
so i can just see what happens.

It's a little odd, anyway, switching hats: sitting at a table of actors, i'm accustomed to being WITH the cast.
AND...i'm a talker. So. *smile* Sometimes a director, too.

Yeah. Better that i'm not there. *grin*