Yellow Brick RideMonday, September 26, 2011
Gina Yates
I became a member of The Group Rep in early 2010. Already, my experiences with the company have surpassed what I anticipated I would be doing as an artist.

A few years ago, I wrote a one-act play for an event at The Howard Fine Acting Studio, where I was training. The theme we were given was this: something had to be "missing." So, I created a sixteen-page scene about a man who travels to OZ, to ask The Wizard for testicles. Since dating his current girlfriend, his had gone missing. The man's obstacle in getting a replacement pair? The Wizard's bitter receptionist. A confrontation occurs, hilarity ensues.

This was my first attempt at writing anything for the stage, so when the one-act was surprisingly well-received, I decided to try my luck at turning it into a full-length play. It was an exciting process, and last summer, I had the pleasure of presenting the first draft of "Yellow Brick Ride" (originally called "Yellow Brick Road Trip") to my fellow members at The Group Rep, as a staged reading.

Fast forward a year. After some minor edits to the script, and attaching the very talented Drina Durazo as a director, we were given permission to bring "Yellow Brick Ride" to the GRT stage for a three-night run. We held auditions, assembled a cast and crew, and launched a Kickstarter project to help raise funds for costumes, props, set pieces and more. If you're not familiar with Kickstarter, it's a terrific fundraising website for artists. We set a goal of $500, which was met in less than 24-hours. In fact, we ended up raising almost twice our goal, which worked will since we spent quite a bit more than we'd anticipated.

"Yellow Brick Ride" - affectionately dubbed YBR - made it's public debut at The Group Repertory Theatre on September 13, 2011. We had terrific audiences for each performance, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

For me, the process has been both exhilarating and exasperating. Since this is my first original play, I have received numerous suggestions from well-meaning, talented individuals on how to "change," "improve" or "fix" it. So many, in fact, that I've felt at times as if my play is indeed broken, and that what I wrote is essentially a failed attempt at a play. However, what I've learned is that everyone is, as they say, a critic - myself included. None of us will be able to please everyone, every time. If I were to take each suggestion I've received and work it into my next rewrite, I would have a completely different play. A story that is not at all the one I set out to tell. Having seen my version of YBR on stage, I am confident that it does work. Not for everyone, but for me - and certainly for others, too. I have been an actor - reading plays and bringing characters to life - for nearly 30 years, and a professional writer in the entertainment industry for ten. This may be my first play, but I feel that these experiences qualify me to try my hand as a playwright. I'm not saying that YBR isn't still a work in progress - I do want to incorporate one or two of the great suggestions I've received into the final draft - but for the most part, I feel that it's solid. I didn't set out to write an award-winning piece, I set out to tell a story and have some fun. That's what I've done and I can honestly say that I'm proud of what I've created. As Shakespeare wrote, "This above all: to thine own self be true." Whether or not I'll try my hand at another play remains to be seen, but I've certainly learned a lot from this experience. I've also, for the first time in my life, finished a piece of fiction. I have half-written screenplays, short stories and even a novel filed away on various laptops. At last, I have something complete to show my mom. (She really likes it, btw! Although she is a bit biased.)

I am eternally grateful to The Group Repertory Theatre for allowing me to bring YBR to life. I am overwhelmed by the support I've received from my fellow members. I am thankful for those who came to see the show, and for those who donated their time and money to make it happen. I am in awe of Drina Durazo's talent and vision, and I am indebted to her, the rest of the crew and the enthusiastic cast for bringing everything together in such a short, hectic period of time. This experience has indeed been quite a "ride."

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