`Shades of Blue': Credit Where Due


Interview with Ryan McGee '98 and

Sara D. Newbold '00 and Karin J.

Alexander '02

From So Many Shades of Blue

One likes to think of the Harvard theatre community as all-encompassing--an environment in which experienced actors and directors have the opportunity to refine their skills, while at the same time, novices are encouraged to jump right in. But can the same be said for aspiring playwrights?


Crimson Arts decided to probe the question by meeting with Ryan McGee '98 and Sara D. Newbold '00, authors of So Many Shades of Blue, a new production which will be running through October 24 at the Kronauer Space in Adams House. The play focuses on the episodic memories of a relationship between characters played by Christian P. Roulleau '01 and Karin J. Alexander '02. McGee, Newbold and Alexander were on hand to discuss specifics of the writing process--replete with revisions and re-revisions--as well as the general state of student-written theatre in the greater college community.

THC: Ryan and Sara, the two of you have been involved in a number of theatrical productions here at Harvard and have served in a number of different capacities. Why did you decide to take upon the roles of playwright and producer for this project?

RM: We didn't decide to be producers. That sort of happened of itself. When we started writing, we didn't ever consider production the end goal. There was more of a desire to work with each other since we respect one another's writing abilities.

THC: How had you gotten acquainted with one another's writing?

SN: Ryan hosted a poetry read where people could bring poetry and music--one or the other....And we both had written something and liked what [one an] other wrote. [Our] styles didn't necessarily match, but they sort of fit together, sort of blended.

THC: How did you decide on a topic for the script, and what sources did you draw upon?

RM: Actually, we decided to have absolutely no plot in mind when we started. We just wrote a series of e-mails back and forth. And that's why a lot of the imagery ties in so well, because we would take a...thought from one person's poem...and expand upon it in our own way. We didn't think of [what character] would say it, or what the situation was, but we ended up with 30 pages and distilled it to about 21.

THC: You've said that the play is written in "poetical dialogue." How did you decide on this format? Has it raised any issues during the course of production?

RM: The first play I directed here was Savage Love by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin which [used] the exact same model--a series of poems telling about moments in a relationship....For this show, we decided to take that form and see if we could do it ourselves, on our own. The result is that you're getting a dialogue on stage that you don't normally hear, I think. It has its own rules and its own rhythms that we had to figure out, especially during the rehearsal process.

SN: [Ryan] had a neat way of describing it--bringing emotions into words. I read a lot of poetry so this is a style that I'm comfortable with. Using images to try to tell things in an order that they have never been told in before.

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