Bringing the Script to Life
Mark Evan Chimsky
I wrote the first draft of Swagger over the course of almost a year, from August 2016 to spring of 2017.
After completing several drafts, I needed to hear how it sounded so I invited a group of local actors from to read the script aloud and give me their input on everything from plot to motivation to its relevance to our world today.
My hometown of Portland, Maine has a thriving theater community and I was lucky to have access to a number of talented actors, thanks to the generous outreach of my fellow playwrights Janie Maxwell Downey and Brian Daly.
On Sunday, May 21, nine wonderful actors, including Jody McColman as Will, Khalil LeSaldo as Abdul Guahid, Amy Torrey as Queen Elizabeth I, and Christopher Holt as Robert Cecil, gathered around the dining room table and read the script aloud for about two hours.
I invited only two friends, Laurie Moore Skillings and Joan Rogers, to join me for the reading. We promised the actors pizza and desserts after the reading was done.
I was scheduled to move on May 31, so surrounded by a tumult of boxes and bags, this company of players brought Swagger to life for the first time.
It was a gratifying and enlightening reading, helping me to identify what was working as well as what needed a substantial amount of additional work.
I asked the actors for their feedback and we had a lively discussion about everything from word choices to motivation to how much exposition is needed to introduce Shakespeare’s back story to an audience.