Over the summer I attended an early reading of "The Timekeepers" at The Barrow Group. Although there was not enough time to do everything I needed to do to get a presentation going up here, and even though the Rosenthal JCC Theatre was going to be undergoing renovations, I asked The Barrow Group if they would consider coming up to Westchester for a presentation...impulsive, perhaps, but the reading was very exciting to see. The level of energy and commitment in the room, and the intensity of the story pressed me forward. So I have spent a harried summer getting everything together and am very much looking forward to sharing this presentation with our audience.
I asked the playwright, Dan Clancy, a few questions about the play and his intriguing answers are below. I hope to see you at the theatre where, after the performance, you will be able to ask Dan, the cast, or director, any questions of your own.
Anna Becker (AB): How did you get the idea to write The Timekeepers?
Dan Clancy (DC): My usual way of working is that I get an idea for a play, and as my Irish grandfather would say, "Walk the land with it." The actual writing of the play is the last part of the process. This didn't happen with The Timekeepers. I sat down to write another play that I had been walking with, and this one appeared from somewhere - not sure where - and have never wondered about its source. Just grateful.
AB: What to you is the most compelling or urgent "message" in the play in terms of both the play's historical context and contemporary society?
DC: I think the play questions the concept of communities - social, religious, racial, or sexual. They often provide support for their members. But the walls which contain this support can also prevent the community's members from seeing other people's humanity.
AB: Have you re-worked the play at all with The Barrow Group?
DC: Rewriting is a difficult process. The wonderful thing about theater is that you do not have to do it alone; the actors and director play an integral part in tweaking a play where necessary. I was never fully satisfied with the ending of this peice, and when Lee Brock (the director) suggested that I add another beat to the ending, it opened up the possibility of change for me. The ending that will be played at your theater is that reworking.
AB: What do you think will be different about the play with an American cast?
DC: With the American cast, I hear basically a different rhythm which is more to what I heard when writing the piece. Also, the actors in this production have a long history of working together, adn this greatly enhances its power.
AB: I am curious about how you were able to weave in the rich humor of the play while dealing with such tragic subject matter. Did that come later in the process, or was it there from the beginning?
DC: When I think of terribly difficult times in my life, I recall moments within the pain that were also quiet humorous. We can all recall eulogies in which our tears of laughter and sorrow mixed. I don't think of "funny" or "not funny" when writing. Emotions can be sometimes so jumbled together - and that's how they came out in the writing of the piece.
AB: What are you working on now?
DC: I've just completed some rewrites for a musical, "108 Waverly," which opens in February at the Actor's Playhouse in New York City. My latest work, "Our Time" - also a musical - is about three women who are lost somewhere in their 50's.
AB: What theatre have you seen lately that you found particularly interesting or exciting?
DC: I got to theatre often, and am constantly amazed at the number of truly brilliant playwrights we have. The play that has stayed with me the most is The Lieutenant of Inishmore [by the Atlantic Theater Company]. It makes you aware of the absurdity of the unnecessary violence that has now permeated our world.
DC: I want to thank you, Anna, and The Deep End Productions for giving me the chance to have The Timekeepers seen in Westchester. It is a great luxury for a playwright to see his work performed with an audience before its scheduled run. After your presentation on September 30th, we have eleven days to work on any changes we might think necessary before it begins previews at The Barrow Group in New York City.