Hello. My name is K. Frithjof (pronounced Freet’-yof) Peterson, and I’m the playwright for A Scientist’s Guide to Love and Poetry. I’m going to use these blog updates to give you a little insight into the process of a playwright who’s been commissioned to draft a play for a specific theatre. Hopefully, we’ll get to know each other a little bit along the way before I get the pleasure of meeting some of you in person at the reading.
In some respects the writing process itself is fairly similar. I write at the same time every day. I usually start the session off with some research. Read a few lead up scenes to get back into the rhythm and language of the world. Start tackling the scene I had outlined for the day. Band out at least one draft or version of a potential scene. Grab some lunch. Work on another potential scene. (Lots of my writing never makes the actual first draft. I have close to 700 pages written for my last day. Currently only 88 of those are in the play.) Outline the research and writing I have planned for the next day. And then hit happy hour. It works for me.
The coolest part about working with a specific theatre on a play from day one is that it introduces the collaboration earlier into the writing process. And since the collaboration is why I prefer playwriting to any other medium, this is a huge bonus. Normally, I’m pretty much stuck by myself with my thoughts and pages until the first reading. It’s a lonely, scary time.
Fox Valley has put me in touch with a scientist Bruce Worthel and a director John Gawlik who have made themselves available for me to bounce ideas off. John’s been great about facilitating discussions between myself and Bruce, and helping me refine the central notion of what this play is about.
So what is the play about? It’s about two very different notions and experiences of love and examining the places where those ideas collide and diverge. It’s about poetic and scientific beauty. It’s about two young kids confronting the workings of the heart and the fundamental interactions of physics.
I imagined my conversations with Bruce would go something like, “Hey, Bruce. I wanna do a brief Laurel and Hardy-essque interlude about electromagnetism. What do you find really cool about electromagnetism, and how might that work with tropes like characters who have trouble negotiating physical space?” Instead, they looked more like this, “Bruce where do you see beauty in science?” And Bruce replies with his own thoughts and thoughts of his colleagues as well as supplemental research that I can delve into. Or like this, “Hey, Bruce. I found this contemporary poem about love and zero vector algebra. Your thoughts and reactions on the poem and or any further ideas you may have about zero vector, please.” It rocks having Bruce.
I’m a little over a third of the way through the first draft and the play’s still unfolding in exciting ways. Between Bruce and a good poet friend of mine, Adam Clay, I’ve got plenty of research to get through every day. This is always the most exciting part of the preliminary writing. The play is still finding its shape, its language. It’s still negotiating the rules of its world. And every line stage direction or line of dialogue still holds the power to surprise.
-K. Frithjof Peterson, Collider Playwright
Collider New Play Project is a part of the St. Charles Summer Theater Festival (July 14-31, 2011).
Each month, FVR Performing Arts Academy selects an outstanding student to be featured in the Student Spotlight of the Month. The selected student is featured in the FVR Playbill and on the blog. Our current Student Spotlight recipient is Sydney Poss!
Sydney Poss is an 8 1/2 year old third grader at Fearn Elementary School. In just one year with the Fox Valley Rep Performing Arts Academy, she has taken her teachers and fellow students by storm with her amazing talent at such a young age.
Sydney’s first performance on the Pheasant Run Mainstage was in the FVR Academy’s kids musical performance of Sleeping Beauty. Playing the wicked role of “Malificent” was memorable for her.
“I really enjoyed the first time I walked out on stage,” sayd Sydney. “I was so excited when I realzed that I was entertaining people!” Sydney adds, “Right before Sleeping Beauty started, me and my friends were excited and nervous, so we did jumping jacks backstage! We laughed and helped each other get ready to go on stage and have fun.”
This winter, Sydney landed the lead role as “Snow White” in FVR Academy’s kids musical performance of Snow White and the Seen Dwarfs. She plans on taking more academy classes this spring with Instructor and Education Manager Tracy Whiteside.
“I have learned so much about acting from Tracy Whiteside. It is also so fun to ave friends who enjoy theater the way I do,” says Sydney.
Though this is her first year with the FVR Acadey, she is no stranger to the arts. Sydney placed in her school talent show three years in a row. She also sang and won third place in the 2010 Kane County Fair talent show. ANd as a result, this summer she performed “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid on the mainstage at the Kane County Fair. Sydney is a member of the Swedish American Children’s Choir, performing at a variety of local venues including Geneva’s Swedish Days.
“Sydney is such a great 3rd grader! She bring the same enthusiasm and hard work to the classroom a she does to the stage,” says Ms. York, Sydney’s third grade teacher at Fearn Elementary School in North Aurora. “It truly amazes me how committed she is to learning in the classroom and performing outside of school. I know she will go far in her future!”
When asked about her future goals, she will tell you that she wants to continue performing in musicals here at Fox Valley Rep and eventually become a professional singer. And since Sydney was invited by Fox Valley Rep to perform as a feature soloist at their inaugural Masquerade Ball and Ribbon Cutting Event (and was congratulated for her talents by St. Charles Mayor Dewitte), she is well on the way to becoming an accomplished performer.
My name is Kevin Chlapecka and I play the Cat In The Hat in the Youth Ensemble show Seussical, Jr coming this weekend to Fox Valley Rep! I’ve done multiple shows at FVR in the past, such as Once Upon a Mattress, Godspell, HSM2 and Beauty and the Beast! I played LeFou in Beauty and the Beast. It was an interesting role because Alex Adams (Gaston) got to beat me up! (but we all know that wouldn’t happen in real life!)
It’s fun to play a lead role such as the Cat in the Hat because I get to create my own world! The Cat In The Hat is actually a lot like me in real life so it’s easy for me to get in character. And yes, I do own Dr. Seuss Converse. I saw the ad on Facebook and was determined to get them. My favorite song and scene in the show is the opening number! “Oh the thinks you can think!” The Cat In The Hat creates the world for “the boy” in this number and everyone is introduced to all the characters. Overall, this has been a great experience and I can’t wait for the performances! Break a Leg cast!