Through the Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage program, Colaizzo held a reading of “Really Really” at the Kennedy Center in September 2009 — a reading he could not attend because, still working as an actor for bill-paying purposes, he was performing in the “High School Musical 2” tour.
Immediately after the reading, Matt Gardiner, who is directing the show at Signature, sent the script to Schaeffer.
“When I read the play, I just said, ‘This is so well-written,’ ” Schaeffer said. “I didn’t feel there were any untrue moments.”
Signature held a reading of the show before launching into a full production. At the end of the reading, Colaizzo remembered, “Eric said, ‘Everyone is afraid of this play, which is why we have to do it.’ ”
* * *
Maybe everyone has a reason to be afraid of this play. It occupies the intersection between violence and intimacy, perhaps the most terrifying crossroads imaginable. Which is exactly how the script describes the explicit scenes in the show, Gardiner said: It leaves out the specifics and includes only the adjectives, such as “terrifying.”
Gardiner, who is only one year older than Colaizzo, said that spending all this time in the heads of these characters is “doing a number on me and the way that I look at my own relationships. . . . This play is meant to and demands that this generation of people look at themselves and their actions. And so I find it very hard to separate these characters from my own reality.”
Blocking the scene of sexual aggression has been “emotionally draining. . . . [But] finding the physical language for the show is just as important for finding the actual words, [especially] for a show that’s so ambiguous. A lot of it is a mystery.”
Colaizzo’s plans after “Really Really” are also a mystery, at least until the name-brand organizations he’ll be working with give him the green light to spread the word. “Really Really” is the first play in Colaizzo’s “Want, Give, Get” trilogy, all of which focus on his generation. The other two works are “Little Gives,” written in 2009, which concerns faith and how young people deal with sacrificing to achieve desired ends, and “A Dog’s Tale (or The Thing About Getting),” written in 2010, about three friends who are linked by a traumatic childhood experience. Both have yet to be produced.
In the meantime, “Really Really” will get its world premiere at Signature through the end of March, possibly infuriating, scandalizing and offending audiences, though Colaizzo is prepared for any and all reactions.
“I’d say there are two kinds of theater: one you end with an answer, one you end with a question,” Colaizzo said. “This play does not give you the answer.”
through March 25, Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. Call 703-820-9771 or visit www.signature-theatre.org.