On another sweltering morning in Lubbock, a breath of fresh air blew into my life. Second year MFA Performance and Pedagogy Caleb Lowery approached, and similarly melted into the seat next to me to discuss the upcoming School production Doctor Love. "I'm a pretty good pick for this interview, I think," he opened sarcastically.
"So what is Doctor Love?" I asked. Caleb explained it sufficiently. "It's a devised work. That is, our director Dr. Marks has worked with us to create an adaptation of a Molière work. First, we broke the play down to its basic elements, (the characters and general plot), and from that we have devised a play through improvisation and group work.
"We never held a script," he elaborated. "At the table read, Dr. Marks delivered a live translation of Molière's play. Everything we created after that simply had to be funny and serve the purpose of the show. We all worked together to ensure that. It's unstuck in time and space. That is, there is no confirmed setting."
It already sounded crazy, but Caleb went more in-depth as to how unique this rehearsal process had been. Production of Doctor Love began this past spring. Over the summer, the cast and crew had a two and half month break from rehearsal. However, Caleb expressed how quickly everyone got back into the swing of things once the Fall semester started.
"I was secretly fearing a train wreck, but we picked up right where we left off and hit the ground running. Since then, it's been a singularly enlightening process."
A play with such a unique construction might lead to unforeseen issues among the cast. Luckily for this production, that doesn't seem to be the case.
"Everyone involved has been amazingly open to new ideas and suggestions and critiques. We'll find something that's funny and say, 'Oh, we like that. Keep that in there.' And then we build off of that. No single person is solely concerned with his or her own performance. Everyone is constantly working to make the entire show the best it can be. The style of this show encourages that and succeeds. Dr. Marks is the final word, but every member is a co-writer, co-director, and acting coach." He concluded, "We're all talented and quite funny, so we value and cherish notes from one another."
I showed surprise at how well the rehearsal process was going, and Caleb feigned exasperation. "Well, since you're so insistent that something must go wrong with the production," he countered, "then I suppose the problem has been too much comedy. At one point, the play was just too long. We've had to leave a lot of good stuff on the cutting room floor, but we're confident that what's left is what needs to be there."
I've learned from Caleb Lowery that Doctor Love has a little bit of everything and something for everyone. There are dance and musical numbers, improvisation, standup comedy, clowning, and "traditional theatre." "What's more," Caleb continued, "it married a lot my skills and interests as a performer. It's been quite the experience. No one has ever done this piece before, and no one will ever do this piece again."
I asked Caleb if there was one scene in particular that he was excited for people to see, and he responded just as I hoped he would. "The Turtle Joust." He laughed, "That's all I will say, can't give too much away."
Doctor Love will be the first production in the brand-new black box theatre. Caleb also hinted at the inclusion of secret cameos from unexpected participants. Caleb assures me, "You have no idea who will appear in the show... Maybe even you."