Sunday, February 18, 2007

Better Than Chocolate

Tokii really wanted me to see a play called "Better Than Chocolate," a production by the Second Year (Group 38) students in The Juilliard Drama Division. So I went back to Lincoln Center this afternoon to catch the 5 p.m. show. "The Greeks," in which Tokii portrays several roles, was showing again at 8 p.m. and she had already seen "Better Than Chocolate" this weekend so I attended alone.

"I really want you to see this play by the Second Years," she had said. "So try to make it."

She knows me. When she says I'll like something, I believe her. And I loved it.

She had just seen a play today in the 2007 Playwright Project Schedule by another group of Second Years at 1:30 p.m. called "Farragut North," and according to a text message I received as I was walking to the train: "... a juilliard playwright wrote it & now 2 big hollywood studios r fighting over the script. George Clooney and Leo DiCaprio want it bad! Not to mention they're tryn 2 get it done on b'way."

I am always blown away by the talent I am privileged to witness at The Juilliard School, but "Better Than Chocolate" was especially appealing to me. It was your typical love story cliche. A New Yorker in her late 20s searching for love, of course, and a man from New Jersey that she finds via a website in the genre. The conflict: how could a relationship survive with the Hudson River between them?

It was "Sex and the City" meets He Said, She Said in a Juilliard rehearsal project. And it was oddly parallel to the long distance relationships that both Tokii and I are living. Except that I want to remain a New Yorker; Tokii wants to trade the Manhattan high rises for the freeways of L.A. While her fiance - an overseas basketball player - plans to follow her there and take up permanent California residence in the off-season, my future with Terrence is still under deliberation.

He's a down-south Georgia boy raised in Atlanta; I'm a military brat transplant seeking long-term Big Apple residency and the authentic time-based New Yorker title. It will ultimately come down to what each of us is willing to give up, but we don't think about that now.

Rehearsal projects [in The Juilliard School Drama Division] are laboratory exercises for developing the actor's process and a yardstick for measuring their ability to apply and integrate what they've learned in their classes. These projects also challenge the students to practice putting all that work on themselves into something larger than themselves: the creation together of the world of the play and bringing other peoples' stories to life.

The third project of the Second Year breaks the class into three groups and give each of them the opportunity to work with and serve writers studying in the Playwrights Program, and with outside professional directors, in the development of new plays. It also give them a chance to learn their roles in bringing new plays to life.

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