Warren's first instincts were right. Six productions later, their working relationship, and friendship, has grown. "When you work this closely, this often, and with this many productions, the level of trust becomes so profound. Really there's nothing that I can't ask him, and nothing that I think he feels he can't say," Warren relates. "And to his relief, I think, Nicky realizes that he doesn't have to say many things. He'll look over at me taking a note and he'll smile, because he knows what I'm thinking."
Warren, who thinks his direction helps to "deepen the serious resonances and the emotional truths in Nicky's plays," notes that in general his vocabulary as a director has grown and been influenced from his close and continued work with Silver's plays. "I've learned so much about comedy from directing his plays. Having internalized his comic rhythms, I can spot them better in other writers," Warren explains. "I've also learned about trusting theatrical styles. Pterodactyls is pretty farce-like in the beginning, and then it becomes very dark and lyrical. And people would ask me all the time: How do you do that? I just did it because I trusted in the play. I learned that when a play is funny, to do it funny, and when the play is lyrical, to do it that way."
At Home at the Vineyard
The fact that Aibel also wanted to do Pterodactyls--as it was--remains a significant detail in the relationship of Nicky Silver to the Vineyard. "We feel very loyal to Doug because of the fact that he was the first artistic director who said 'I don't want it to be something else, I want to do it,'" Warren says.
Silver, who says he's had either a production or a workshop done every year for past six years at the Vineyard ("It does feel like he's here a lot..." Aibel says), explains his loyalty to the Vineyard in another way. "I've had offers from other theaters to do my plays, but I very much like the linear quality of not trying to get bigger. Because bigger isn't necessarily better."
Speaking from the theater before The Altruist's performance last Saturday, Silver explains, "I very, very much feel like a member of the family when I'm here, and it entitles me to special privileges, like sneaking in the odd cigarette in a no-smoking zone." He likened having a new play produced to going through childbirth (although he conceded to never having experienced that first-hand), saying, "It's a horribly, horribly physically draining experience, and so it is very nice that you can feel a part of the family while I'm here working on it."
"While I'm always committed to bringing new voice and new directors into the Vineyard, it's also a pleasure when you develop an ongoing vocabulary with a particular artist, so you're really not starting from scratch, you really understand one another, and so it makes the work process that much more pleasurable," says Aibel, who also has ongoing relationships with other artists, including writers Polly Pen and Craig Lucas, and directors Mark Brokaw, Tina Landau, and Michael Meyer.