Don’t Ask Alice

Don’t Ask Alice from Jared Axelrod on Vimeo.

So, I wrote a play this weekend. I wasn’t exactly planning to write a play – what I was planning to do was to play games. But plans changed, and at 7:30PM on Friday night I was at Plays and Players, picking a Directors name out of a hat. The  Directors name was Crystal, and one of the first things she said to me, right after the handshake, was that our play was going to be amazing.


We were assigned two actors, and then we all had a little conversation about experience, the things we liked about plays, how long they were willing to rehearse, how comfortable they were with different ideas, and then I went home and wrote a play. The play was due at 7:30AM, but I delivered 12 pages of edited, third draft script to my director, players and the 24 hour cram by 2:25AM, five full hours under deadline. You know why? Because I am good at writing really fast. Thanks, 365 Tomorrows experience! 

The play is about a woman named Alice and all the crazy things she thinks to herself that keep her up at night – like how she forgot to e-mail the boss, or if she left the garage door open, or if she got any e-mails in the past three house. It’s so great when I can find a way to make my basket of lemons (aka: neurosis) into delicious lemonade. Lemonade in the form of a 12 minute, two person play.

I am in so much awe of the actors here – they had a lot of lines to memorize and they nailed them. They worked all day on Saturday to memorize these lines and really make the whole thing smooth. Apparently, they walked around the park saying the lines to each other, over and over. And Crystal – the director? Oh, man, that lady has so much energy. She’s amazing. When I was around her, I felt like I was moving at a snails pace. She did such a great job. I feel like I really got lucky with my actors and director. They met so early and worked so hard.

One of the most satisfying things was, at the 7:30PM performance, hearing a full house laugh at the jokes in my play. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, listening to people take enjoyment out of my ideas, hearing my work be interpreted through other people, and actually become better because of it.  I wish I was a filmmaker, because I would totally make this into short. Jared also wrote a play on Friday night called "All Wear Top Hats", and I do have to say that having Jared’s support while we both wrote was amazing. His play is about the nature of performance and it’s funny and smart.

After the 7:30AM performance, I saw Jerry Rudasill hanging out in the bar next to the theater. He looked like he had just seen a violent crime take place, so I bought him a beer. Jerry is in the play Blasted, at the Luna theater, and Jared and I decided to go on Sunday night and see Jerry perform. This play has been getting astounding reviews, and after I saw it, I can see why. Jerry is amazing. He totally transformed for the role – since I met him, Jerry has always been in good shape, but when I put my arms around him for a hug on Saturday night, he was so slim that it was easy to buy that he was a starving solider on Sunday.  An actors ability to totally transform their body for a role is so impressive to me. But he not only changed his body, he changed his body language. The man that walks on stage for Blasted moves differently than the Jerry I know – it as if it is not Jerry, but a long lost brother.  The play is difficult to watch, and I think it would be very easy to do poorly – but the actors tackle this difficult play so well. It’s immerse and intimate.

It is not a play I would recommend for everyone. If there are some experiences that you might find triggering, then I would look up the synopsis of the play before going to see it.  But it is excellent. After I went home that night, I thought to myself – I get to role-play with that guy! I get to actually role-play with that amazing actor! Damn, I am lucky! One of the things the play made me think was how much acts of kindness are worth -that compassion is so vital, that, in fact, it may be the most important thing.