The Tasty Space Between

Brian Dudley, Box Office Manager

I don’t like reading plays.

But wait! Before you start chasing me out of the box office with torches and pitchforks, please note that this does not mean I don’t like plays. On the contrary! I think plays are great. The play is such a unique narrative form in that the script, the actual words are just the skeleton, and the muscles and veins and lungs and eyes and ears all belong to someone else: an actor, a director, a designer, a member of the audience.

Therein, however, is my problem with just sitting and reading plays. All I know is that more often than not, when I curl up by the fire with a cup of tea to read a play1, I get a few pages in and then I go all cross eyed because my brain isn’t filling in the blank spaces between the dialogue and I’m unable to process the story being presented to me. When I look at a script, often I’m boggled by the white space between the lines. What the actors will look like. Will they have accents? Is he wearing a suit in this part, or is he dressed more casually? How will they transition from being in a crowded diner to a cramped bedroom? The questions never cease, and my poor fragile brain isn’t able to answer all of them at once. The white space is endless.

There’s so much not being said in The Temperamentals, so I’ll admit it to you here and now that when I first read the play, I closed the script and I didn’t quite know how to react. This was my first verbalized2 response, via a text message to a good friend of mine:

Screenshot of Messages Conversation between Brian Dudley and his friend Molly.  Brian: wait, okay, so, the temperamentals, what? Molly: so is it good?

The answer to her question was, “yes, I think so.”
Because, see, when I read the script of The Temperamentals, it’s like I’m scanning the list of ingredients for a cookie recipe. I see things like social justice and political awareness and men in suits and chocolate chips3, and it’s like when I read an actual cookie recipe and my mouth fills with drool imagining the plate of baked goods I will eventually be consuming. There are so many interesting, thought-provoking, and exciting things about the play, a lot of which lives in the white space, so as good as the words are, I look forward to hearing them once the whole production has been baking in the oven for a little while, and the smell of intelligent discourse and interpersonal relations waft through the theater.
You know, I think I got lost in the metaphor there. Excuse me while I go find some cookies.
And we’re back. At its core, The Temperamentals is a story about Harry Hay and his relationships, both romantic and platonic, with other men, and how they were created, influenced, and effected by the conception of one of the first successful gay rights organizations in this country. Anytime a playwright dips into history and recreates a real person, the opportunities for distinctive and exciting storytelling are everywhere, and nowhere more than in this script. This is a story I’m glad the Lyric will be telling, because I am so interested to see the way the characters interact with one another in “real life,” instead of on the page. I look forward to gauging their posture and gait and tone of voice; to the story really living and breathing along with these men.
So the short version of this is that I’m really excited to see this play. I’m excited that you’re going to see it too.4 And afterwards, you can come to the box office and tell me how well you think we filled in the spaces.

[1] I do not actually do this.
[2] In a manner of speaking – I was alone in public so I did not actually verbalize anything.
[3] I cannot promise there will actually be chocolate chips at the theater, but I encourage you to bring your own. I know I will. 
[4] What do you mean, you don’t have tickets yet? Call 617.585.5678 and talk to one of our charming box office representatives today. Is this a shameless promotion? Yes. Yes it is.