I have adapted two of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories—"The Case of the Blue Carbuncle" and "The Case of the Dying Detective"—into a pair of one act plays with the umbrella title of "Holmes for the Holidays". The scripts received a successful set of staged readings this spring and now I have a chance to fully stage them this December. One play takes place at Christmas, the other at the New Year and both celebrate the friendship of Holmes and Watson. A show of Christmas spirit with a bit of larceny and a minimum of treacle.
I am Kickstarting for funds to pay a Stage Manager and Crew, to pay for print and radio advertising to promote the show and to rent/buy appropriate Victorian costuming.
My hope is to eventually e-publish "Holmes for the Holidays" for production by other performers but my passion is to see "Holmes for the Holidays" successfully thru its world premiere this winter.
Who Am I?
My name is Cindy Womack and if my name is familiar I may have backed your Kickstarter! To date, I have backed over 500 projects ,in nearly every category, for a range of amounts. I was even quoted in a New York Times article about Kickstarter.
While I have backed comic books, industrial designs, installation artworks, RPGs, dance shows, and even a new, improved shoelace, the biggest wedge of my "Donated to" pie chart is "Theater".
I got involved with theater when I was 16. Having spent the 25 years since acting, stage managing, improvising, directing, and now being a Box Office Manager for a professional company I feel ready to see a show from conception, to the first read-thru all the way to the final curtain of closing night.
In 2013 a confluence of events hinted that not only was it time to initiate my first Kickstarter project, but pointed me toward just what it would be. Firstly, I turned 40 and came to realize that after all these years in theater I had yet to Produce a play. This seemed in need of rectifying, but what show to put on?
Months later, I learned something new about one of my favorite castmates, Jeffrey Heyer. A fine actor in any role, he is also the quintessential Sherlock Holmes (Gillette, Rathbone, Cushing, Barrymore, Brett, Downey, Cumberbatch, and Miller not withstanding). I had seen him in the role twice and knew him to be a scholar of "the canon." However, those two appearances (and several more he had undertaken as Holmes) were in parodies or shows based on non-canonical cases. Nine times in his storied career, Jeff had the chance to play Sherlock in a "straight" adaptation of one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories, but all nine times it was not to be.
With Jeff's birthday approaching I decided to adapt one of the tales for him. I selected the Holmes story which has the candy all actors crave: a death scene. Indeed, it has a forty-five minute death scene as Holmes seems to suffer the effects of a rare tropical disease. I gave him the script as a gift with the thought that some actor friends could gather for an informal "living room" reading. After all, I had never produced a show and gaining the permission of the Arthur Conan Doyle estate seemed difficult at best.
My gift was well-received and now that I had started reading the canon again I decided to adapt "Blue Carbuncle" as a writing exercise. I started comparing the two: "Blue Carbuncle" is a whimsical Christmas tale where Holmes and the now-married Watson reunite for the holiday and Holmes powers of deduction are in fine show, "Dying Detective" ,now set at New Year, is a tribute to Watson and Holmes's unique friendship (and the infinite patience of Mrs. Hudson) as Watson struggles to help a mentally fading Holmes. With my love of bad puns, I started calling the two plays "Holmes for the Holidays".
Meanwhile, there was the conclusion of a court case far more intriguing than any involving the villains Holmes had caught. In the year that followed, judgments were avidly followed by Sherlockians the world over, particularly those in the United States.
Sherlock Holmes was now in the Public Domain!
The proverbial "third pipe" that put everything in place? That came with a call I made in March 2015. I was to take part in a staged reading of a new work by the Actor's Collective Media Entertainment. With only a month to the advertised dates I called the Collective to check on the rehearsal schedule. "That play's fallen through, we need to find another." Thinking off the top of my head I suggested some public domain chestnuts, maybe a couple Shakespeare scenes. Neither went over well. Stymied, I blithely suggested, tongue firmly in cheek "Well, I never have heard the 'Holmes for the Holidays' scripts performed aloud." I was speaking to one of the founders of the Actor's Collective, who better to appreciate the joke than Jeffrey Heyer? We hung up with him assuring me "We'll come up with something." Apparently he and other ACME founder Nina Capriola did, for a couple days later I saw a press release announcing in one month ACME would have a staged reading debut of "Holmes for the Holidays" directed by its adapter Cindy Womack!
After a harried month of rewrites, rehearsals, prop gathering, and cue building, "Holmes for the Holidays" debuted with two staged readings at the Western Stage in Salinas. The audience enjoyed the shows and had useful feedback for me. Good preparation for the 4 staged readings ACME was invited to perform at the Carl Cherry Center for the Arts a mere 2 weeks later with a few scant rehersals.
The hard work by the cast and crew and a good turn out by friends, family and fans has lead us here. The Carl Cherry Center has invited the Actor's Collective to fully stage "Holmes for the Holidays" for six dates in the far more apropos month of December.
With most of the props, furniture and cast still available from the reading I'm finally asking on Kickstarter as opposed to giving so that I might hire the invaluable help of a Stage Manager,costume the actors in Victorian finery and promote the show. We plan on making full use of social media (with Kickstarter exclusive updates for our generous backers of course) but in the demographic of Carmel-by-the-Sea a print campaign and sponsored spot on the local NPR station is vital.
Risks and challenges
In theater there is every possibility of failure; staging a show is the equivalent of balancing a complete tea service on your head while riding a unicycle... blindfolded! The technical requirements, tight scheduling, and Act of God variables make the prospect of ANY house lights going down, curtains rising up, and first lines being said nothing short of a small miracle.
However, I am sure I have the foresight to anticipate most of the problems and the experience, as well as enough colleagues and friends to keep the sugar bowl, the creamer and the teapot aloft! I'm already well versed in working with tight budgets and short deadlines and plan to surround the project with the kind of Cast and Crew that can help with these obstacles, not hinder.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)