Plays are often described as labors of love. TITLE AND DEED was a labor of love, sweat, endurance and understanding. Four years ago, after the play's bravura entrance onto the New York stage (from Ireland where Will Eno created it with Irish actor Conor Lovett and his wife, director Julie Hagerty Lovett), (and six years after performing Ego's THOMPAIN), I read the script, was bowled over by it, and started the application for rights process.
And thus began four years of applying and being turned down. My regular contact with Samuel French did gain some explanations – Eno was reworking the script, they were thinking of another NY run.
Then in Fall, 2016, I applied once more, with the longest lead time I'd requested – a June, 2017 run. Not sure if that had anything to do with it, but the response this time was "Yes. And Mr. Eno wants to talk with you."
And thus began the process – with months of lead time, a slow steady dive into the script; an assembly of the small but mighty design team and appropriate playing space; and, happily, conversations with the playwright.
The phone calls with Mr. Eno were encouraging, enlightening, and very, very valuable to the work. One imagines that most playwrights are well represented, personally, by their work, and Will is just that – sensitive, modest, and unfailingly perceptive. The opportunity to talk with him will remain a theatrical highlight for me. His response to our work and its results were consistently positive.
As Director Sarah Whitney (who had lived with the script as long as I had) and I readied the performance, Bess Moynihan (who'd seen the 2016 revival of THOMPAIN and fell in love with it) pitched in with a beautiful lighting treatment, based on variations of a piece of art by Tom Friedman at the St. Louis Art Museum that Sarah had spotted, and felt perfect for TITLE AND DEED. And an elegiac curtain song was added, arranged by friend Amy Greenhalgh (who sat it one night for Will Bonifiglio for our LITTLE THING BIG THING show) and played by Amy and Jeff Hoard.
Our space was perfect for the show. Avatar Studios welcomed us once again, and the infinite sweep of their sound stage housed this great work.
The run of the show was good. Very appreciative audiences and critics. Small numbers in the audience, but that is the risk with producing a show in the summer in St. Louis – a town which busies itself with baseball, BBQ and movies during that time – but also with producing a show now anytime here – 40-50 theatre companies and seemingly a new one every other week are siphoning off the relatively small theatre aficionados in town.