Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chemistry... Noir!

Last night, I loaded up the recording equipment and went to the first and only rehearsal for "Chemistry... Noir!" a live radio play that I am producing on Friday down in Philadelphia. A friend of mine works for the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and when she and her colleagues heard the first adventure of Boson Higgs, Science Detective, they approached me to produce a new episode for them as a part of the First Friday series. I jumped at the chance, thrilled that someone was going to hire me to produce an audio drama.

As preparation for writing the script, I went down and met with reps from CHF, and I got a tour of the exhibits they are showing to see if anything would serve as a good basis for a story. There were a lot of cool ideas, but I attached myself quickly to the ideas of both poisoning and electroplating. A mystery started to form in my mind and I made notes and started working on the script. It proved to be slow-going, however, and two days before my draft was going to be due, I did a complete bait and switch on the mystery. Instead of a case of poisoning, it turned into a story about a theft in a museum.

The new script flew along really quickly, and I had the rough draft done in about a day. A few more days of editing and polishing, and then it was ready for our first rehearsal last night. With only one exception, all the actors had worked on the previous live show so we could fall right into a nice rhythm with the rehearsal. There were new jokes to work through and new science to explain, obviously, but it went very smoothly and we finished with time to spare.

I'm always delighted to work with very talented actors because they can really make the words on the page spring to life. Suddenly hearing it aloud, jokes were coming across really well, and they were even finding jokes that I hadn't intended to be jokes. And it was much more than just jokes - the actors found the relationships between characters that were only lightly suggested in the script. I love when that happens, because then I can tailor the script to support and reinforce what the actors bring to the table. That is one of my favorite aspects of writing, and it is even more amazing to be because it was completely unexpected when I started producing my radio series. It has been a natural discovery along the way, and it has been a fantastic one.

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