WORLD PREMIERE! What if your gift was also your curse? Ashlyn has a special power - she can tell the romantic fate of any couple she sees, but cannot tell the same for herself. Enter a world of love and longing, humor and heartbreak, with a touch of magical realism. There is no fear we can't face in this world, because we are all gifted.
Performing in the Broadwater Black Box (Entrance at 6322 Santa Monica Blvd.)
"RECOMMENDED / TOP TEN... A skillfully developed plot and purposeful direction..." -Stage Raw
"...a feast for the eyes, ears, and the heart... Kacie Rogers absolutely shines..." -The Nerds of Color
"...undeniably diverting, with well-drawn characters, mordant humor and propulsive dialogue... fluid and imaginative staging... The linchpin of this talented cast, Rogers effectively underplays... It's a challenging role that she tackles without a hint of strain." -L.A. Times
"...a superhero story for people who like three-dimensional, realistic characters... Gifted is a powerful, heartening play and production, which reminds us all that even if we think our gifts are inconsequential, we matter." -Gia on the Move
Friday, January 31: DONATE WHAT YOU CAN. It's "Pay What You Can" with a twist! Half of all proceeds for this performance will be donated to Young Storytellers, who help young people tell their stories and see them performed in their communities. Purchase tickets now!
Ashlyn can tell the romantic fate of any couple she sees, so ask her a question and see what she reveals!
Kacie Rogers as Ash
Marc Forget as Bartender/Gary
Jason Jin as Sean/Thomas
Ross Philips as Randy
John Ellsworth Phillips as Matt
Madeleine Heil as Lisa
Alessandra Mañon as Beth
Libby Baker as Marla
Carrie Keranen as Charlotte
Sydney Hawes as Ash
Marc Antonio Pritchett as Bartender/Gary
J. Bailey Burcham as Sean/Thomas/Matt
Cameron Ley as Randy
Madeleine Hernandez as Lisa
Ellie Bensinger as Beth
Jennifer Christina DeRosa as Marla
Bree Pavey as Charlotte
Produced for Sacred Fools by Bruno Oliver
Associate Producers - Joe Hernandez-Kolski & J. Bailey Burcham
Stage Manager - Sofija Dutcher
Assistant Director - Nikki Muller
Lighting Designer - Matt Richter
Assistant Lighting Designer - Kaitlin Chang
Production Designer - Madilyn Sweeten Durrie
Set Builder - Esaú Morales
Choreographer - Tavi Stutz
Costume Designer - Jennifer Christina DeRosa
Sound Designer - Jaime Robledo
Show Photography - Jessica Sherman Photography
Key Art - FLuX
- Sacred Fools Company Member
RECOMMENDED / TOP TEN
It's often thought that if everyone is special, then nobody is. But what if we refuse to recognize our special gifts - or even choose to actively reject them? Convinced that her special gift - the ability to see the romantic fate of any couple she comes across - is her curse, Ash (Kacie Rogers) fights to overcome her own insecurities to reach a place of acceptance and understanding. Sacred Fools's new production of Bob DeRosa's Gifted explores what it is that makes us special through the cleverly crafted direction of Rebecca Larsen.
In the play, Ash recalls her visit to her hometown a year earlier. As Ash, Rogers needs to exhibit more vulnerability in intimate moments; on the other hand, she confidently leads us through the retelling of Ash's journey, in which "visions" of the couples' fates are illustrated through unique dances. Scenes flow from one to the next as the ensemble fluidly reconstructs the space with the simple shifting of metal frames and boxes.
All of the actors expertly transition from their roles as half of a random couple to customers in bookstores and cafes to members of Ash's newfound community of fellow gifted persons. They share amusing anecdotes about their special talents and how these have affected everyday interactions. The group maintains a lighthearted atmosphere, aided by Matt Richter's unique lighting. Richter has carefully constructed a distinctive design using uncommon lighting instruments such as neon bar signs and Moroccan lamps. Jaime Robledo's sound doesn't quite keep to the same rhythm throughout the production, but the show's familiar pop tunes, mixed with the instrumental interludes, don't detract from the action.
While many characters are charming and interesting - Ash's new boyfriend Randy (Ross Philips) and Lisa (Madeleine Heil), the cafe server who knows what everyone's going to order before they even look at the menu - others are not as developed. As the hostess of the gifted people salon, Libby Baker's Marla comes across as a one-dimensional TED talk speaker, whose sole purpose is to move the plot along. Carrie Keranen's Charlotte overextends, probing, in her own existential journey, for unattainable emotional depth.
An upbeat production, Gifted explores the gifts of ordinary people in everyday life. A skillfully developed plot and purposeful direction lead the audience to see that "the book is more interesting than the cover."
Ⓒ 2020 Stage Raw
What do you do when you're born with a superpower but it's really not that super? Especially if it's a power that can accurately pinpoint the success or failure of any romantic relationship? Gifted, which is currently playing at the Sacred Fools till February 29, explores this question in a world not at all too different from our own. Written by Bob DeRosa and directed by Rebecca Larsen, the play takes a somewhat absurd premise into a truly in-depth and touching story that is a feast for the eyes, ears, and the heart.
Utilizing a theatre-in-the-round stage in an extremely intimate setting, the audience is right in the game with the actors. As the play progressed, I felt a strong need to watch it again from across the room just so I could fully put together the other half of what I saw.
The set pieces were minimalist and pantomiming was used throughout the play, but it worked perfectly for the entirety of the show. It never felt like anything was missing. The creative uses of the sound effects helped fill in where a prop could have been easily used and instead felt like watching magic unfold.
Let's not forget about the music choices that flowed effortlessly throughout the performance. So wildly unexpected yet so perfectly orchestrated, from the moment you first stepped into the theatre to the dynamic and surprising dance numbers that suddenly exploded in front of us. The director was able to choreograph and visualize what would have otherwise been a boring scene in a way that took me completely by surprise. I'm still in amazement over some of the numbers I saw and what the actors were able to bring to the stage.
Kacie Rogers absolutely shines as the cursed-with-a-gift heroine, Ashlyn. Ups and downs, emotions unbridled, bringing the audience with her as she goes through the turmoil of having the weight of the world upon her shoulders but unable to share the experience with anyone else. She carries the play without once leaving the air stale and anchors us with grace and beauty.
But a play with this concept could not have been carried out without an equally stellar cast and everyone played their parts beautifully, transitioning from one character to another in the blink of an eye.
Ross Phillips plays Randy and serves as the kind of love interest that you can't help but root so strongly for with his effortless charm, goofiness, and an all around true good guy demeanor that truly loves and respects Ashlyn. The actor imbues the role with so many memorable quirks and mannerisms that are never forced but executed with a whimsical delight.
In every romantic story, there is always the best friend character and that part is hilariously delivered by a whirlwind of man-child energy and sincere heart by John Ellsworth Phillips as Matt. I appreciated that this best friend serves not only as a typical foil to the main lead in his zaniness but has a secret strength and resolve of his own that will have the audience instantly understand why these two characters have been best friends for all their lives and will continue to be so.
Throughout the play, Ashlyn will make another wonderful friend in addition to her childhood best friend and that part is played with such joy and adorable energy by Madeleine Heil as Lisa. With a combo team of John Ellsworth Phillips and Madeleine, they provide a much needed support system for the main lead.
A nod to Carrie Keranen as the illustriously romantic & raging alcoholic Charlotte, one of the gifted people, who starts off as a questionably curious character but then blows up into a whirlwind of anger and tears everyone around her into shreds in a truly mesmerizing monologue. You know you did a great job breaking hearts when audience members are wiping their eyes and dropping water bottles after your performance.
This play is also Jason Jin's first ever theatre performance in Los Angeles but he makes a great debut as multi-faceted characters, one of my favorites being one with no lines. The reaction he gave was all I needed. While he first comes on as Sean, he makes the strongest emotional impression as Thomas, one of the gifted people who delivers a story about his power that had surprising resonance.
The rest of the ensemble with Marc Forget as Bartender/Gary, Alessandra Mañon as Beth, and Libby Baker all provided fantastic turns with their characters and as such, Gifted has one of the strongest ensemble casts I've seen in Los Angeles theatre. Along with a beautifully realized dance concept that showcases the relationships aspect choreographed by Tavi Stutz, this play is an experience that highlights the strength of intimate theatre and the value in telling original stories.
Most of all, it is a piece that just happens to have a person of color as the main lead without the piece having to be a minority-specific oppression based or period piece story but simply a story about love, a little bit of superpowers, and a whole lot of confused and hurt people. It is here that I commend Sacred Fools for taking the chance on having Kacie Rogers be their main lead and I wish more white-based theatre companies could do the same thing without resorting to having the "minority play of the year" and say they fulfilled the diversity quota.
Because of this, the play is a must-see not only for that regard but because it is just a fantastic original piece of heartfelt work.
Gifted is a story about finding family when you least expect it. And those are the ones that are harder and so much more worth it in the end because there's no obligation to keep them. Forming kinships not through blood, but through shared experiences, mutual love, and respect. As a wise man once said:
"I don't have friends. I got family."
- Dominic Toretto
--Josephine Chang / co-written with Edward Hong
Ⓒ 2020 The Nerds of Color
The new play 'Gifted' conjures a psychic who can see everyone's romantic future
"Gifted," a Sacred Fools production having its premiere at the Broadwater Black Box, is a far-fetched play that occasionally diverges into the twee. But Bob DeRosa's modern-day fairy tale is undeniably diverting, with well-drawn characters, mordant humor and propulsive dialogue that skitters past the silliness of the plot.
The unlikely premise concerns Ash (Kacie Rogers), whose singular "gift" is her psychic ability to assess the romantic fate of any couple she sees, even in passing. As much a curse as a blessing, her powers doom her to a lonely life, haunted by visions of heartbreak, with only sporadic glimpses of true love.
Ash, whose premonitory capacities don't extend to her own relationships, appears to find an ideal new boyfriend, the charming Randy (Ross Philips). Things look up for Ash when she's invited to join a support group for similarly gifted individuals, each possessing some sort of psychic power. Most of the powers are innocuous (and somewhat ludicrous) in nature, such as the ability to ascertain the color of someone's underwear or suss out directions without looking at a map.
Ash, though, has spent her life facing the explosive consequences of her revelations, which once again seem likely to shatter her chances for true intimacy and lasting friendships.
If that sounds a bit over the top, it is. But director Rebecca Larsen and an energetic cast invest the proceedings with a naturalism that renders the most improbable situations comprehensible. Matt Richter's lighting and Jaime Robledo's sound are first-rate, while Tavi Stutz's choreography is indispensable to Larsen's fluid and imaginative staging, which uses dance to underscore emotional interchanges.
The linchpin of this talented cast, Rogers effectively underplays what could have been an off-the-wall caricature. It's a challenging role that she tackles without a hint of strain.
Although it sometimes strains credulity, "Gifted" succeeds as a theatrical curiosity that piques our interest - and our sense of whimsy.
--F. Kathleen Foley
Ⓒ 2020 L.A. Times
...a superhero story for people who like three-dimensional, realistic characters... Gifted is a powerful, heartening play and production, which reminds us all that even if we think our gifts are inconsequential, we matter.
Read the full review & interview at the link below.
Ⓒ 2020 Gia on the Move
The following is an interview with playwright Bob DeRosa and director Rebecca Larsen regarding their currently running production, Gifted, at the Sacred Fools Theater Company in Los Angeles, CA. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with DeRosa and Larsen about the inspiration behind the production, the creative process in working with the cast and crew, what they hope that audiences will take away from Gifted, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Your production, Gifted, recently launched its world premiere at the Sacred Fools Theater Company. For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the show's premise?
Bob DeRosa: Gifted is a romantic dramedy with a magical twist. Ash is a young woman who can tell the romantic fate of any two people she sees, but can't tell the same for herself. It's romantic, funny, bittersweet, at times heartbreaking, and ultimately cathartic.
Rebecca Larsen: From my perspective, the show's premise hides this deeper truth that every person I know has an odd and inexplicable sense or skill. What drew me to the show in the first place is that as far as I can tell, almost all exceptional people struggle to incorporate the things that make them unique into their lives - it's as if we all see our greatest gifts as making us weird, dangerous, or bad. That is a topic of conversation that feels important and exciting to me.
BD: Bob, the genesis of Gifted has been one that is long in the making, starting as a screenplay nearly 20 years ago. What can you tell us about the story's evolution into its current form?
BDR: Back in the '90s, I was a struggling filmmaker living in Orlando, waiting tables at a family restaurant. If you ordered a side salad, most of the time I could guess what salad dressing you wanted before you said it. I wondered, what if this was my super power? I couldn't fight crime or anything. What a waste. Eventually, this idea morphed into a story about a girl with a gift who wants love but is so afraid of it. I first wrote Gifted as a screenplay that helped launch my screenwriting career when I moved to L.A. in 2001. It got me some work and was almost made a couple of times. I ended up writing two movies (Killers, The Air I Breathe) and worked in television (White Collar), but people always asked me whatever happened to Gifted. For most of my time in L.A., I've also written theater at Sacred Fools Theater Company in Hollywood. A few years ago, I adapted Gifted as a play with the guidance of the Sacred Fools New Works Development Program. Rebecca was one of the curators of that program, and she was so keyed into this story that I knew when the time came she was the only one who could direct it. We submitted the play version of Gifted for the current season at Sacred Fools and were accepted. And here we are!
BD: Rebecca, as the director, what can you share about your approach to bringing the story to life?
RL: I feel like every artist has an inner voice that is always right if you let it be. Mine is very, very bossy. Every time I read the play, my inner muse said, "Put it in the round," and every member of the production team (including me) tried to talk her out of it... but I think she was right. So, most of my process involved humbling myself to this tyrannically perfectionistic alien who lives in the back of my head, while acknowledging that every person in the room has one of these muses as well. And if we can get them all pointed at the same goal at the same time? Well, that's just magical.
BD: You have a tremendous cast and crew involved with the production. What can you share with us about the creative process of working with the team on stage and behind the scenes?
RL: At the first rehearsal, I told the cast, "I know exactly what this play feels like, if you need it. Otherwise, let's find it together." After that, I always felt like my biggest responsibility was to make sure that the audience was given something cohesive, and that we removed as many obstacles to understanding as possible. My personal aesthetic is "elegant simplicity" which is why you don't see a ton of extravagant set pieces, or flashy effects. It felt like this play wanted a straightforward and unapologetically theatrical aesthetic. All of the best acting moments came from the actors playing. All of the best technical elements came from the designers following their instincts. I just invited all of these elements to flow in roughly the same direction.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
BDR: When I tell someone what the show is about, usually, their voice gets low and they tell me about some gift they possess. I think this play shines a light on the fact that we're all gifted and connected by the struggle to know what to do with our gifts. I hope people go out afterwards (maybe next door to the Broadwater Plunge!) and have a nice long conversation about their gifts. And maybe that'll help them feel a little more connected to everyone in this crowded, crazy world.
RL: I think what an audience member gets from Gifted will depend on where they are. People who are in what I call "portal relationships," which is a relationship that may not be everlasting, but rather something you have to go through in order to discover yourself in a deeper way, might recognize themselves as ready to move on. People whose parents did not know how to love them properly might find a narrative jumping off place to reclaim the parts of themselves that were sacrificed early and often in an effort to avoid abandonment. People who are ready to let their most sacred freak flags fly might find themselves in the flag aisle at Home Depot with their new tribe.
BD: What makes Sacred Fools an ideal venue for Gifted?
RL: Most simply, Sacred Fools is willing to participate in the growth of our artists, and I could not be more thankful for that.
BDR: Sacred Fools has been my artistic home for over a decade now. They do fearless, engaging work that entertains and enlightens. I've written so much stuff there, but this is my first full two-act play, and I can't imagine a better home for it than Sacred Fools.
BD: The show will be appearing through February 29, 2020. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
BDR: No plans as of now. We've been putting all our hearts and souls into getting this run ready. It would be a dream for the show to play in other cities, but for the moment, I'm grateful that we get to play in a world-class theater amongst our friends.
RL: Oooohhhhh! GOOD IDEA!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for Gifted?
BDR: The show is open now and runs through February 29th. Tickets and more info can be found at Sacredfools.org. Come on out and bring a loved one!
Ⓒ 2020 Fabnbase Press
From Script to Screen to Stage: The 20-Year Journey To Make "Gifted"
Professional screenwriter Bob DeRosa shares his passion project, "Gifted," and the 20-year journey to bring his screenplay to life... as a stage play.
In my nearly 20-year career as a working screenwriter, I've written movies (Killers, The Air I Breathe), television (White Collar), an award-winning web-series (20 Seconds To Live) and even a narrative podcast (Video Palace). Everyone usually asks me the same questions: How long does it take to write a script? How do you get something made? How do you get an agent? The last question I usually have no way to answer, but the first two I can tackle, even though the answers vary wildly.
The truth is some stories come together pretty quickly, others take their time. And it's not really a question of quality. One of my favorite things I've ever written has taken nearly twenty years to finally become something people can see. This is the story of Gifted.
Back in the mid-90s, I was an aspiring writer/director living in my hometown of Orlando, Florida. I had a couple of award-winning short films under my belt, which meant I was living the good life waiting tables at a seafood restaurant called Shells. I'd gotten pretty good at my job, and if someone ordered a side salad, I could almost always predict their dressing of choice. I wasn't psychic, I just had an instinct for it (here's a hint: senior citizens always order Thousand Island). One day I thought, what if knowing someone's salad dressing order was my super power? That would be kinda lame. I couldn't fight crime with it or do much of anything really. What a waste.
A few years later, I quit that job and dove headfirst into a freelance life. I was booking acting jobs, doing corporate shows with my improv troupe, THEM, and working for a local casting director. I'd had a script optioned but not produced, and made a few bucks doing script rewrites. My most steady gig was as an assistant-programmer for the Florida Film Festival, and part of my job was traveling to Sundance and scouting movies. One year, I saw a panel of veteran screenwriters (including a young John Favreau), and I was so inspired that I immediately went to the cafe next door and took out a pen and some notebook paper (yes, notebook paper). A picture jumped into my head of my actress friend Mandi: post-punk with dyed hair and a nose-ring, smoking a cigarette, looking like she had a lot on her mind. And that's when I wrote a scene about a girl with a gift. Her name was Ash, and she could see the romantic fate of any couple, but not her own. What the hell? I wanted to write Tarantino-esque crime epics, why was I writing this? I put the pages away and trudged back into snowy Park City. But at some point, I remembered my ability to guess salad dressing orders, and I thought what if this gifted girl met a support group of other gifted people? What if they tried to find camaraderie in being special? What if her gift could hurt people? What if...?
I wrote Gifted as a feature screenplay in a feverish three weeks between improv shows and casting sessions. The script was romantic, funny, and bittersweet. I sent it to the only the person I knew working in Hollywood, a producer I'd worked with who had moved to L.A. and was working his way up the ladder as a manager. He called me, told me my script was great, and that I had to come visit L.A. I spent two weeks on his couch, driving around the city, seeing all my improv friends who'd moved out there. By the time I came home, I knew I was leaving Orlando.
But what about Gifted? The Orlando Weekly had just named me Best Renaissance Man in their annual best-of issue (this is true), and in my mind the only thing I had yet to achieve in my hometown was the thing I'd always wanted to do: direct a feature film. So I decided to make Gifted as a low-budget indie and then move. Mandi was on board to star as Ash. My filmmaking buddy, Greg, agreed to produce. We put together an incredible cast and crew, got a digital video camera (so new at the time!), and with a few bucks and a meager two weeks, we shot a movie.
I was deep into editing when a friend in L.A. called and told me that an affordable place to stay had just opened up. I showed a 15-minute work-in-progress version of Gifted at the Florida Film Festival, then packed my bags and got on a plane. Another friend in L.A. owned a Final Cut rig and graciously allowed me to continue editing. I finished rendering the fine cut one night and went home, got an hour of sleep, and was woken up by a call from my manager telling me that 9/11 had happened. The days that followed were very, very gray.
I came out of it to a fistful of rejections from several film festivals. I was alone in a new city, broke and faced with a massive bill to finish the movie (this was before crowdfunding). Plus my manager's boss and some industry consultants (including the guy who discovered Kevin Smith) had all watched my movie, and the response was unanimous: my debut feature wasn't very good. My cast and crew were fantastic, but we hadn't had much money or time, and it showed. And maybe I wasn't as good a director as I was a writer. I was heartbroken. But my manager offered a silver lining: people really liked the script. I could use it to get work. Maybe even remake the movie someday. After much inner turmoil, I decided not to finish the film. To this day, it's the single biggest regret of my career. I'd spent ten years making movies and thinking of myself as a writer/director. But if directing a feature taught me anything, it's that I'm a writer first. That's where my heart is.
So, Gifted (the screenplay) made the rounds. A lot of young executives at bigger production companies read it and really liked the writing, but felt it was too small for them to make. It did lead to some work. I sold my first pitch to Revolution Studios and became a working screenwriter! An indie producer behind one of my absolute favorite movies eventually optioned Gifted and attached a fantastic director. He sent me his notes, and I rewrote the script. Nothing happened. In time, the rights came back to me. By then, my writing career was taking off. I co-wrote The Air I Breathe with director Jieho Lee, and then a spec script I wrote was picked up by Lionsgate. Killers, starring Ashton Kutcher and Katharine Heigl, didn't exactly set the world on fire, but it played all over the world and hey, I got to buy a house! Plus, it set me off on a path of writing fun, character-driven action scripts. But people always asked, whatever happened to Gifted? Years later, I finally have an answer.
Ever since my time in Orlando, I was always writing theater, mainly short plays that I could produce quickly. After I moved to L.A., I happened upon Sacred Fools Theater Company in Hollywood. It became my "writer's gym." I wrote often for their hit late-night show Crime Scene and then their next hit late-night show Serial Killers. Never made a buck, of course, but it was joyful work with friends who cared about making cool stuff. In 2013, my wife, Jen, and I became company members. I should mention that my wife is very wise, and deserves credit for many things. She actually played a small role in the film version of Gifted, years before we started dating. And it was she who pointed out that I wasn't really taking advantages of the perks of Sacred Fools membership, such as developing a play through their New Works Development Program. Much of the theatre I'd written for the Fools was blood-soaked silliness (with heart), but what if I wrote a real play, a two-act show about something meaningful? My mind drifted back to Gifted. I submitted it with a cover letter explaining the history of the story and how I wanted to see if it could become a play. I was accepted into the program, and sat down to meet with its curators: Jonas, Nathan, and a bright young woman named Rebecca.
One of my pet peeves in L.A. theater (and most people's to be honest) is seeing a play that's obviously just a staged screenplay. I wanted to make Gifted a true play. The team gave me notes, and I went off to write. After my first draft, they put together a reading so I could hear it out loud and get some feedback. It was a great experience and the results were obvious: it was a screenplay put on stage. I'd made some progress, but it still wasn't a show. Part of the problem was that a crucial element that made the script work was voice-over from Ash that really drew us into her heart and mind. But distilling that voice-over into show monologues just wasn't the same thing. I realized I was going to have to tear the show apart, pull out the monologues, and start from scratch. I got some great notes from my team and then put the show aside for two years, not knowing when or if I would find the heart to tear my baby to pieces before putting it back together. But there's nothing like a deadline to turn up the heat sometimes.
Late last year, the artistic directors of Sacred Fools set a deadline of Dec 31 for show proposals for our company's 23rd season. I was set to finish up a new spec screenplay at the beginning of December and had nothing set for the rest of the month. I realized this was my chance to finish Gifted. I went "back to the board" which is screenwriting lingo I use for breaking down an existing script into note cards, putting them on a corkboard, and seeing what works and what doesn't. I wasn't sure if the play Gifted would work without the crucial voice-over, but I knew I had to start there. Also, I had to compress the amount of locations and characters, really make this producible on stage. And thanks to my constant conversations with Rebecca, I realized I had to dig deeply into the themes of this story and really wrap my head around what I was trying to say. With that pre-writing done, I set to work. I removed all those monologues and found organic ways to incorporate those lines into the dialogue. Two major supporting characters were combined into one. And after three weeks, I had a solid draft. But I knew for my proposal to have a shot, I needed one more important ingredient... a director.
Rebecca is a fantastic actress and had directed a couple of smaller things at Sacred Fools but never a mainstage show. Through our conversations about Gifted, I knew there was no one who understood the story better. Seriously, every time I talked with her, I learned something new about my own show. I sent her the script and asked if she wanted to propose it to the theater, with herself attached as director. She said yes, we put together our proposal, and got it in just under the wire.
I knew the odds were tough, but time passed, and I got the call from Rebecca: Gifted would have its world premiere at Sacred Fools in January 2020. I was beyond excited! Then reality hit: we had to make a show. Fortunately, we had several months before casting and rehearsals would begin, which gave Rebecca and I time to really dig into the script. We held a private reading and a two-day workshop. We attacked the story, deepening it, fleshing out the world in a way I had never done before. I realize after my failed attempt to direct this story that what I really needed all along was an ally, a director with a vision, another storyteller who would challenge me and push me to write as deeply as I ever have. Rebecca was that ally, and I'm eternally grateful for our creative partnership.
The next chunk of time was a whirlwind of casting, rehearsing, filling out the design team, and actually making the show. Artwork was commissioned. Press releases were sent out. My wife Jen jumped in to design costumes, as well as understudy one of the lead roles. My personal journey to tell this story had become a family journey.
Gifted opened on January 24 to a sold-out house and a standing ovation. Seeing this story finally come to life was a dream come true. The cast is astonishing. The design of the show is elegant and warm. And Rebecca's vision is fully realized in all its emotional, magical wonder. Mandi (who lives in L.A. now) was there opening night and watching her take it all in was a show just for me. Afterwards, Mandi met Kacie Rogers, who stars as Ash in the play. Seeing them together was like twenty years of my life crashing together in an instant. I couldn't help but cry.
I owe so much to Gifted. It helped launch my career. It taught me so much about myself and the artist I truly want to be. It led to a great friendship and creative collaboration. It pushed me to be a better writer. And most importantly, it's already affecting people. Whenever I tell someone what it's about, they usually answer with "Oh, it's my life story!" Or their voice gets quiet and they tell me about the gift they possess. Gifted touches something in people. I really do believe we all have secret talents. Our super-powers may not help us fight crime or do much of anything, but we are all special And hopefully people who see the show, after spending time with Ash, this gifted girl who badly wants to be loved but is so afraid of it, maybe they'll see themselves in her and realize they're not alone. We're all connected. We are all gifted.
Ⓒ 2020 Script Magazine