First produced in 2015, Anne Washburn’s 10 Out of 12 is a contemporary play that takes up one of the very old problems of the theatre: how to actually go about making theatre. That is, how do theatre artists begin (and find the inspiration to continue) with the seemingly impossible work of constructing a new world inhabited by real people in front of a live audience? The play addresses this question in funny and often strange ways, highlighting the awkward, silly, and deeply heartfelt labor of creating theatre.
Washburn wrote 10 Out of 12 by drawing on notes she took at technical rehearsals throughout her career. The audience is immersed in the rehearsal process and invited to listen over headsets to the work (and gossip) of technicians and designers. As we see and hear, tech week can be uniquely exciting and exhausting as cues are set, lights adjusted, and other details of the performance are refined.
We never learn the name of the peculiar play-within-the-play that our characters are so committed to staging. We know it is a new play, that it has some fantastical elements, and that tension is bubbling under the surface of every interaction. Despite the oddities of the play-within-the-play, the actors are committed (perhaps too committed), the designers are focused, the director is trying to keep things from falling apart, and stage management is actually holding it all together.
Working on this play has found us rehearsing a rehearsal. In this regard, we have been in tech week for weeks now. I am incredibly lucky to work with such talented and creative actors, technicians, and designers. Alison d’Amato arranged music and Ariel Nereson choreographed movement, both enriching the production and our process. This play is about the love of theatre, the absurdity of attempting the impossible, and the bizarre comedy of becoming something we’re not.