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Photo by Ashley Tsai (

Dear Reader,

Last Thursday, CityShakes hosted a reading of Allison Volk’s feature film adaptation of Macbeth. I’ll be directing the film once we get on set, but for now I’m Allison’s writing facilitator. This means I take in feedback from readers, critical and glowing alike, pick out what resonates with me, and deliver it to Allison in a way she can work with. In other words, we are now in the process of taking a good screenplay and turning into the shooting script that will provide the blueprint for an unforgettable film.

That’s where the reading came in. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to create art. We invited friends, family, colleagues, and strangers to come listen to a group of generous, talented actors read the screenplay aloud for the first time. I asked that they then tell us what they really thought, so that we could go home and make it better.


Photo by Ashley Tsai (

I’d never been a part of a community collaboration quite like this one before. Here are three things I took away from the experience:

1)  Ask and you shall receive. We asked our community for help, and they answered! 10 actors showed up to read, and twice that came just to listen. On top of that, nearly every attendee stopped to give their two cents. It was truly heartening to be surrounded by so much generosity.

2) Openness begets openness. I tried my best to be open to the feedback, but I was still nervous! I was certain that I’d meet some ego-driven comments or less-than-constructive criticism. But I have to say, the more I chose vulnerability over defensiveness, the more generous and productive feedback I received. I found myself able to listen and take it in – and learned a ton!


Photo by Ashley Tsai (

3) You already know all you need to know. The screenplay existed even before Allison wrote it, just like what Michelangelo said about the sculpture already existing in the stone. There were many moments after the reading when someone would share an observation or give a suggestion that I had this “ding ding” moment, feeling the truth in it, as though the idea had already been integrated.

All of this is to say, I am filled from the crown to the toe top-full with gratitude: for Shakespeare and his story, for Allison and her writing, for the CityShakes community members and their generosity and wisdom.

Next stop, shooting script!


Photo by Ashley Tsai (

Photo by Ashley Tsai (


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