I first met actor and playwright Colman Domingo two years ago when he was one of a select few writers chosen for the 2011 Sundance Theatre Lab, which had temporarily relocated here for two weeks. He was working on a play called Wild With Happy, writing and workshopping it with a company of actors. In the time since then he’s appeared as an actor in films including 42 and Lincoln, acted in other films that will open this year, including The Butler (starring Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker), and he had Wild With Happy produced as part of the 2012 / 2013 season at New York’s Public Theater (he acted in it there too).
I met up with him again, in the Cardinal Studio here, where he was spending a week of intense writing time working on a new commission, The Brothers, for the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. I asked him about everything that had happened in those two years between trips to Banff.
“I finished my first draft here, and then it went on to its workshop circuit,” he told me. “After I did the reading here, I think it was the next day I sent the script off to some artistic directors to see if there was some interest in supporting its development and immediately some theatres came onboard, almost with neckbreaking speed. So I had four workshops that were pretty much lined up, and after Banff, it was about three months later that two theatres signed on for productions. So within a year and a half we had our first production, from first conceiving it. I write quickly, and I rewrite quickly, and I love the platform of workshops. I also know when to stop that, because you can live in the workshop forever.”
When Wild With Happy was in workshop at the Public, he invited artistic directors to come and see it. “I told them this would be their one and only time to see it, because I’m not interested in reading this forever. If you come to see this and you’re interested, then you’re onboard for the production journey. I didn’t want it to go into that no-man’s land. I’ve been an actor involved with new works for years, and I know how long that can last. People will read it to death. So it’s like ‘Do you want to commit to it or not? Do you want to commit to this relationship or not? Are we dating or are we getting married?’”