I’m adapting a play by Durham author Robert Wallace for a short film. The play is a set piece in a kitchen between a 68-year-old Mother, returning from her 50th high school reunion, and her Son, who has stayed home to babysit his Father (her Husband) who is in the early stages of dementia.
In the play, the “backstory” of the Son is implied but not developed. I felt the need to create more layers for the character of the Son. Added is a brief moment when the Son talks to the Father (who is really incapable of understanding) about the possibility of leaving town to follow a woman in his life, before the Mother comes home.
With that planted in the back of the audience’s mind, the Son’s reactions to the Mother’s thoughts about her life, her husband and the future, take on a slightly more interesting aspect. So far so good.
Last night we had a read-through of the play with the cast and - to put it simply - they pointed out another place where we need to allude to the Son’s situation. It made total sense and it’s being added to the rewrite.
I try not to be too proud to accept a good idea from someone, and this was a clear case of a good idea. It also underscores, for me, the range of the contribution that actors can make if they are allowed to. We are all trying to breath life into this story and any change that enhances that for the film is welcome, regardless of the source. I love the collaborative nature of this work.