NY Director, Nic Adams, on Holy Name
I worked with Michael Eichler on a staged reading of his play, Holy Name, at the 13th Street Repertory Theatre in New York City. It was the most deeply felt, high-stakes, well-paced script I had read all year, and the superb quality of writing attracted some of the best acting talent I had worked with in the city. Sometimes when a playwright asks to be present at all rehearsals, it can feel like an invasion to the director, but Michael's subtle approach and respect for the rehearsal process put everyone at ease. He answered questions about the text directly, provided personal and historical context when appropriate, and even taught us how to play a card game for inclusion in the staging. Michael was willing to share control of the piece. Michael was there to help. The subject matter of the play was very personal to Michael, and I was a bit anxious to approach him about a risky staging idea I'd had for the end of the play. I should explain that Holy Name ends in successive monologues from all the characters informing the audience about how their lives turned out after the events of the play. My big idea was to have the characters enter into the audience and inform a small group of them about their story while other characters do the same simultaneously elsewhere in the house. The idea was not implicit in the text nor in the stage directions, but Michael listened to my arguments about how the scene broke from the preceding Naturalistic form, how it may have forced an audience to come together after the play to discuss what they'd heard, and transfer the story from the characters to the audience in a direct way. He let me take the risk, and the idea was well-received by the audience in a post-show discussion. This sort of support is not common from most playwrights. It is exceptional. Michael's trust and cooperation on this aspect of the creative process spoke volumes to me about his character. Michael is a unique playwright in the American theatre. His generosity of spirit, intelligence, talent, and trust in his collaborators make him a joy to work with.
- Nic Adams, director based in NYC