Friday, August 10, 2012

Writers and Writing: Cyn Riley and Anne Bradford

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Collaborative Script Writing Brings Out the Best

Over the Edge V, Frack You is writing at its twisted best, not that the content is twisted… exactly, but the process of developing the script for the satirical outing is a process of birth by bits. Playwrights Cyn Riley and Anne Bradford spend a year getting ready from one production to the next.

Wait, that’s not right, Cyn said on Writer’s Block Tuesday they begin talking about writing the next one right after the current production ends, and then it’s November... January… February… March… about April they get down to business, over biscuits and tea.

It isn’t quite that way. Anne has ideas percolating in her head all year and throws them out to Cyn, who catches them on the fly and runs with them, crafting them into vignettes that will be played out this year on Por Que Fun Radio. There’s a bit of a send up on that as well, but I didn’t know that until I read the Optic front page story on Friday.

Over the Edge takes no prisoners. It’s topical, a trifle political (or is that an oxymoron), suggestive, satirical and just plain fun. 

Cyn and Anne not only wrote the show, they’re actively involved, Cyn as director and Anne doing “something,” she didn’t say what.

Script writing has its challenges. Cyn said you must visualize how the action is going to play out. It’s a matter of making the dialogue work in the framework of the play and the set. Recurring characters and newbies are woven into the story line, a factor that in the past has had audiences lining up for every performance.

Anne’s wacky since of the absurd makes her a perfect foil. “I just start thinking about how this or that would work out if this or that happened,” she said in her Brit accent. “I tell Cyn and she writes it up for the character who is most likely to speak those lines.”

Does it take a while to put the dialogue and scenes to paper? Cyn says she can knock it together in two days, once the idea is there. That doesn’t mean the script is cast in concrete. “We’re rewriting sometimes up to final rehearsals. If it’s not working we make it work.”

Over the Edge is meant to be funny. Audiences are ready and willing to laugh at the situations depicted on stage understanding fully that they are laughing at life and at themselves.

“That’s the chemistry that makes theater work,” Cyn said. “It’s different with each audience. The actors have learned to be ready for that. What got a laugh one night won’t get one the next. Or something one audience didn’t think was funny, another will laugh at.”

Script development is more than writing down words and collaboration has its own chemistry. The mix of Cyn and Anne continues to work because each contributes to the process in different ways. “The best part of writing the show is going to Anne’s for tea and biscuits,” Cyn said. They both laugh at this and then talk about what’s hard. There are a lot of ideas. Because of time constraints not all of them can be used. That’s part of the collaboration as well, pulling everything together into a seamless work. 

Over the Edge: Frack You, will be performed Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m., and at 3 p.m. on Sunday. All performances are at Sala de Madrid on the New Mexico Highlands University campus. Advance tickets are available at Tome on the Range and from ace ticket seller, Em Krall. General admission is $10, senior citizens $8, students with ID $5 and children under 12, $3.


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