Next July (2020), Ann Gallo of UBU Theater (https://ubutheater.org/about), based in Tyringham, Mass., will direct Women of Tyringham, a play based on 32 oral history interviews that she conducted. Ann lives in Tyringham, and has directed community based theater in her town.
But this is her first play based on oral history, and so she has been working on this project for many months. Imagine 32 interviews. Transcriptions…..
I asked her about her process. How does she sort through so much material? It’s not easy.
First, she combed through all of the transcripts. Then, she pulled out parts that might be useful to her and her co-writer Rachel Urquhart (http://rachelurquhartwriter.com/).
“I went through every single transcript and pulled out any potential material.”
Stories came out: “childhood stories, like falling off the ladder in the barn. Favorite places, like the Cobble. People had very specific favorite places.”
She thought about characters. There will be two or three named characters and several others in the play. Then, she and Rachel got together, and over the course of 3 weeks, in 4-hour sessions, they read aloud to one another.
Finally they met to put pen to paper.
“I picked out four or five specific stories and gave her a pile and myself a pile.”
For a half hour they sat and separately wrote a scene. All the work was worth it:
“To hear these words brought to life was kind of astonishing.”
Then, she divided up the five piles of stories and scenes, etc., and made it into 20 piles: childhood, marriage, fires, death, hunting, mothers, surrogate families, driving, blueberry picking, farming, work…
“All of the categories came out of the material.”
Now, the two co-writers will go off on their own for a while, and write.
We will keep you posted as soon as there is a date for the production, and so will Ann.
(Graphic above, Adriana Gallo)