Backstage: What makes a play good?

Cindy Im, who plays Hanna in “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo,” is in her second season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Last year, she was in “Great Expectations” and “The Winter’s Tale.” We met at RAW on Main Street in Ashland.

EH: Was “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo” developed through the Ashland New Plays Festival?

CI: It had a development process through the Ashland New Plays Festival, but the process goes further back. This play has been in development for a number of years. In fact, I did one of the first readings of it, three or four years ago, in San Francisco. Just by happenstance, I got to do the world premier of it here.

EH: What is the process of developing plays with playwrights?

CI: It varies, depending on the chemistry in the room. Some playwrights just want to hear the words out loud; they have their own strong ideas about how it should go. It’s not so much about getting feedback from the actors, but about hearing it, and seeing how it bounces off the page. There are other playwrights that want feedback from actors: “What makes sense to you? What is more confusing?” Chemistry with the director will dictate how much feedback you give.

EH: How has “Hannah and the Dread Gazebo” changed since you first read it?

CI: The bones of the play have largely remained the same. Phrasing and word choices have changed, but the meat and purpose of it has remained. Continue reading Backstage: What makes a play good?