Best known for his play A Walk in the Woods (nominated for Tony and Olivier Awards and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), Lee has written over 30 plays and will spend the next few weeks at the festival developing his latest work, Uncle. He hails from Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife Melanie Marnich, award-winning playwright and TV writer-producer.
How long have you been working on this script?
I've been working on this script for half a year or so. Did a cold, round-the-table reading of it here in L.A. in mid-May and then a minimally-rehearsed workshop/reading of it at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis in the last few days of May. Looking forward now to a longer and more-rehearsed process in Fayetteville.
Where did the idea come from?
I had a couple of very disparate ideas that I decided to put into a collision course with each other. The result is an unusual, meta-theatrical piece which I hope is rather funny and engaging.
How has it changed over time?
It's changing constantly. I'm revising the play feverishly as we approach the beginning of the process at TheatreSquared. Rearranging scenes, changing character motivations, introducing new events, etc. Some plays change very little in revision. This one changes a LOT.
What is your goal for this particular workshop - what would you like to see happen with your script during the weeks of working on it here?
I'd like to see the play coalesce around a clear central theme and dramatic action. And stay funny.
Why are development workshops important for new plays?
When you're working alone on a script, you lose the sense of how large numbers of people are going to react to the scenes that you yourself enjoy as you write them. So you need to get the play into the mouths of actors and in front of audiences. Only their response can tell you whether or not what you've got is truly communicating. This needs to happen of course well before a play is professionally produced & all that money is committed. Unlike baseball, a play usually only gets one strike. So workshops provide an affordable way to learn from audiences whether a play is working or not.
Two staged readings of Uncle will be held during the festival. Tickets and passes available for purchase, choose your performance date below: