Here We Go
Blog #1 by James Still

…I arrived in Chicago over the weekend, a few days after rehearsals with American Blues had begun for my new play ILLEGAL USE OF HANDS. I like getting in after everything has started, sort of like sneaking into the back of the room and voyeuristically watching the unfolding of something that began inside me as a flash of feeling. Now it’s in the hands of actors and director and designers and stage managers. I’m strangely a guest at my own party. I like it.

A kind of rigorous, sensual, muscular slug-fest that I’ve been engaged with privately is striking out on its own. Once just a bunch of scribbles and drafts and hauntings, ILLEGAL USE OF HANDS is now a strip-tease and promises. Just what the hell is this beast? The right actors and director help me see what I’ve really been writing all along. Watching the process of putting a play on its feet pushes me closer to the guts of the play, to the unique and peculiar ways it makes meaning. In a funny way, the writing of the play is a kind of fantasy. Rehearsing the play is a kind of reality. It’s a gray area. Maybe performance for an audience is both fantasy AND reality.

For me, rehearsals are profoundly defining. It’s where I rediscover the play. I almost forget I wrote it and experience it as a kind of living, breathing story in motion. Some of it is exactly as I had imagined it when I first faced the play’s blank pages and began the private task of writing. But some of what happens in rehearsals is so shockingly something else, something more – that it’s then, right then that I just say, “I love my job.”

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