2014-2015 Season, Featured, Interns, New Play Festival, New Play Program

Cheryl L. West Back in the House: The First Week of BasketCases Rehearsal

BasketCases team
The BasketCases team!

Written by Artistic Casting Intern, Hattie Claire Andres

I have the pleasure working on Cheryl L. West’s play BasketCases, which will have its first public reading during the upcoming New Play Festival. As our first week of rehearsal came to a close, I jotted down my top four favorite moments thus far, in no particular order:

1. The face of a playwright as they hear their words out loud for the first time…EVER! This is the first workshop for BasketCases, meaning that this is the first time Cheryl is working with actors and a director on the play. Watching her face light up with delight during our first read through as she heard her words read out loud for the first time was a beautiful experience. Kudos to Casting and Literary Associate, Kaytlin McIntyre, for putting together such a fantastic cast!

2. Examining different aspects of life. Cheryl’s play digs into the fascinating world of competitive high school basketball, particularly the (often questionable) changes in personality and morality that evolve and erupt in the gym. For many of us, this week was our first introduction into this world. Not only has the play opened my eyes to the extreme joys and challenges of engaging in athletics at such an elite level, our conversations also turned to wider discussions about race and class that often infiltrate the basketball court.

Donald Watts
UW Basketball alum Donald Watts (left) with Cleavant Derricks.

3. Research time: basketball edition! We had the amazing opportunity to spend an afternoon training with UW Basketball alum Donald Watts, complete with a visit from his father, the famed Sonics player Slick Watts. After spending all week in intense conversation around a table, it was ridiculous amounts of fun and a fantastic way to dig deeper into the world of the play. Watch out for those actors – they put up a mean shot!

4. Rewrite, rewrites, and more rewrites. Part of my job in these rehearsals is tracking all changes that Cheryl makes to the script. In our first three days, there were more than fifty revisions, ranging from crossing one word out of a sentence to entire new pages inserted. It’s a thrilling experience to watch a play grow and morph from day to day. Each person in the room is instrumental in developing and clarifying the story, characters, and world of the play. I can’t wait to see where we end up by our final performance!

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