Ellen, our playwright, returned to the room for our last few days of rehearsal. Considering Ellen has been with the play for some time, I could easily imagine a scenario in which she would be attached to certain bits of writing and resist change. On the contrary, she is incredibly flexible and continues to tinker with the text, ceaselessly striving to edit the unnecessary and clarify the unclear.
If anything, it is Henry who often has to persuade Ellen not to make changes or cuts. Often, Henry is interested in sitting with the text as is and forcing himself and the actors to try to work their way through the wonkiness rather than allowing Ellen to step in and write the actors (and Henry) out of a thorny or potentially confusing moment. At the end of the day, Ellen has final say on the words- and don't get me wrong, I've seen her reject ideas, cut suggestions, etc. without batting an eye. But I continue to be amazed by the wonderful spirit of collaboration between Ellen, Henry, and the cast in terms of refining the writing.
Jenny Mercein is the Assistant Director for Graceland.