Lydia Diamond, writer of TONI STONE, has had two successful workshops of the play since its reading at the Door Kinetic Arts Festival last summer, the most recent being at the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City.
“It’s expanded so much,” says Diamond of the development of the play since its reading at DKAF, “it wasn’t even a full first draft, it was ¾’s of the way there. Being able to work with actors in such an intense way really helped me get over that first hurdle.”
Some actors from the reading have continued to work with Diamond in the development of the piece. Kenn E. Head, the actor playing Millie at DKAF, was flown out to New York for the reading at the Roundabout. “The role of Millie has really expanded,” Diamond remarks on her continued relationship with Head.
Diamond began writing TONI STONE a few years ago when commissioned by Samantha Barrie, Pam MacKinnon, and the Roundabout Theatre Company. After diving into research on Toni Stone’s life and biography, Diamond began to find the arc of what would be TONI STONE. “The characters help me find the story and its structure,” says Diamond of her process.
One question that has arisen in workshops is how to cast the show: with an ensemble of men and women or with Toni as the only female. Diamond has decided upon the latter, “the ensemble tells her story, and then Toni can just be Toni.” After numerous workshops and collaborations, Diamond feels ready for the next step; “it’s in a really good place for a production.”
Excerpts of TONI STONE will be presented at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard, and Diamond is working on upcoming collaborations involving music in theatre. “I had an amazing time,” says Diamond, reflecting on her experience at the Door Kinetic Arts Festival, “It’s such a gift when someone asks you to come somewhere beautiful and make your art.”
Interview conducted by Anya Kopischke, Social Media Manager at Door Kinetic Arts Festival