Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Really? Just One Year Ago?

It was just over a year ago that Canned Ham was first presented to an audience. It was not a performance, per se, it was a reading for my new friends on Saba, the island where I had spent the summer and where I had written the play. It was quite an exciting event for me. I was nearing the end of my stay in the Caribbean. The two months there had been perfection—I wouldn’t have changed a thing about the experience. The people I met and had come to know and love were quirky and colorful and simply wonderful. I was eager to share what I had written in their midst.

Of course, I didn’t really know what that was, having shown it to only a couple of close friends and never having heard it read aloud. The structure of the play is “eccentric” (as Charles Busch called it) and I wasn’t sure how it would play or if the jumping back and forth in time would be difficult to follow. Also, I would be reading it to people who were unaware of my existence two months prior, who were probably unfamiliar with many if not most of the cultural references in the script and for whom English was a second language.

Well, with script in hand and reading glasses on my nose it went over like gangbusters there in the dining pavilion at El Momo Cottages and gave me the first hint that—personal as the story is—there’s enough in the show that’s universal to appeal to a wider audience.

And so here I am a year later performing what is essentially the third version of the show. It’s this version Kevin Malony and I will be working from to go forward with the project. I won’t simply be restoring the cuts I made to bring the show down to an hour; performing the truncated version here in Provincetown has taught me much about what in the play can be expanded upon and what can remain gone. And we’ve got a few ideas for completely new things kicking around that we’re going to try out.

As the season goes along here on the Cape the audiences are growing in size and the terrific response to the show is really spurring me on to knuckle down and really beat the script in to shape.

Never, ever did I imagine Canned Ham would be a project I would spend so much time on. And derive so much satisfaction from.

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