Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Studio Series Experience: Performing Outside Your Comfort Zone by Karen Polinsky

Surely, you’ve experienced that dream: The orchestra tunes up, the curtains part, and there YOU are, the prima ballerina in a tutu of pale pink chiffon. Happily, I can personally attest, being part of the Incubator Studio Series is nothing like this archetypal Jungian nightmare. Though it does mean taking a risk, your creativity and hard work is guaranteed to please the audience and teach you more than you ever imagined.

This is my second year as a playwright in the Incubator Studio Series. Last winter I was so terrified I nearly quit before I started. I had no mentor, no director, no actors and no experience staging a play. Six weeks later I was in the Rendezvous Room toasting the exhilarating success of a hilarious one-act called “Every Place Is No Place,” with a merry band of strangers who had somehow turned into a magical theatrical troupe. My new one-act “The Birdhouse Paradox” – though with only one week left, I confess I have the jitters – is every bit as promising.

My favorite part of this process is when the actors interrogate me about the back stories and the quirks of the fictional people I have created. Each and every time I discover these characters have not been fully-realized. Together, we explore who they are, what they fear, and how they react under pressure. In the process we end up revealing parts of ourselves that could not be shared in any other way.

The Incubator Studio Series offers fledgling-to-professional writers, actors, choreographers and directors the chance to perform outside of their comfort zone. The Project Lead defines the challenge. With feedback from the mentor Elizabeth Heffron, and director Rebecca Tourino, fourteen vague pages turned into seven pages of witty, insightful dialog. This year, the critique is aimed at helping all of us to learn together. Designing your project to address the next phase of your development is just one of the incalculable joys of the Incubator Studio Series.

I may never dance Swan Lake, however, after two seasons in the Incubator Studio Series I can say that I am a playwright. The opportunity to stage an original work in the Freehold Blackbox may not have realized all of my dreams, but it has changed my life.

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