(Fremont County, WY) – A reading is one of the most important steps in the production process for any feature film or TV series. It offers an opportunity for the creative team to gather together, hear the script read out loud, and get feedback before moving forward with the process.
Communal Pancake Performing Arts teamed up with Connie O’Donahue and Joseph Fountain to bring you two readings of the Seattle CRU pilot “Hurricanes & Honeybees” on May 24 and 25 at 6:30 pm in Lander and Riverton, respectively. The readings will be at the Lander Art Center and Riverton Branch Library Community Room. Tickets are general admission with pricing options accessible for all – a portion of ticket sales will be going to a mental health organization.
Inspired by actual events
“Each year, 14 million Americans experience a mental health crisis. Too often, undertrained police officers are the first to respond to these incidents. This can lead to tragic outcomes, often involving deadly force. Across the country, efforts are underway to change the way mental illness and the resulting crises are handled – seeking a more effective and compassionate way to deliver help to those in need.
“Set in the high-stakes, high-octane world of crisis intervention, Seattle CRU follows a team of elite specialist officers working for the Seattle Police Department’s Crisis Response Unit, answering mental-health emergency calls. Inspired by actual events, the series is written by former Seattle Detective Sergeant T. Joseph Fountain and award-winning screenwriter Connie O’Donahue.”
Reality and changing stereotypes
Fountain, now a psychology professor at Central Wyoming College, and O’Donahue, now a full-time screenwriter, are delighted to present “Hurricanes & Honeybees” to the public next week.
Fountain shared he is most excited about two things with Seattle CRU: “One is presenting to the public in an entertainment environment some reality about mental illness. Both people with mental illness and police officers are very, very stereotyped in television, and certainly, there needs to be a component of entertainment to it. But I think one of the things that we’re really hoping to bring to this is that people who are suffering from mental illness are people. They are people, and that it’s not just a character in the show that you see them freaking out, and it entertains you or maybe you feel a little bit of sympathy. So we’re really hoping to humanize mental illness and I think future episodes that we have incorporated a lot of different kinds of people in different kinds of mental illness to really kind of normalize that and destigmatize it and also inform by way of entertainment; this is really what schizophrenia is, this is what everybody thinks schizophrenia is, what schizophrenia is, this is what it really means, and this is why it’s so tragic for the individuals involved. This is what major depression or persistent depressive disorder is like. So really humanizing that, while still keeping the story interesting and educating people even though they’re not being educated, having a better understanding of that. And then the same thing for me is true of police officers, people in law enforcement, especially on TV. I think about the way that police officers are presented, and I’m hoping, and I think that the characters that Connie and I have written really do a solid job of saying, ‘Yeah, these are people. This is their job and yeah, they do great things, but they’re also human beings. And this is how they approach that work.’ And so I like to think that what we’re doing is we’re changing a lot of those stereotypes and to be able to bring that to the TV market. It’s just super exciting for me.”
The writing process
The two have been working on Seattle CRU for nearly a year, which was inspired by the HBO documentary Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops.
“I was fascinated by the show, and we spoke about it because I knew he had a background in it,” O’Donahue shared. “We both thought that it was both timely and a really great concept right now with mental health being in the forefront of people’s minds. And we thought it’d be a good time to bring it to the public.”
Writing Seattle CRU together meant taking the story beats and piecing them together so that the story has an ebb and flow, so the tensions rise and fall, and each character has their own arc. They would then go off and write separately, either prose or dialogue or a mix of both, and then come back together and read through it and make adjustments, and then we send it to their manager, who gave them notes. They then started the second draft, which is the one they have now.
“We’re excited about doing the read, because it’s really important to get feedback on that,” O’Donahue continued. “Not only from the public, but from the actors who are portraying the characters.”
The readings are expected to be around an hour and ten minutes long, and there will be a talk back at the end with the writers.
The actors include: Cameron Michael Fehring, Teri Caldwell-Udell, Ed Novotny, Jeremy Crews, Drew Peregoy, Zedekiah Mills, Ruthanna Rearden and Lily Draper.
There is adult language, references to alcohol and mental health situations in the readings.
Seating is limited in both spaces, so get your tickets online now.
“Everybody is welcome,” O’Donahue said. “And the more people that come, the more exciting and engaging the experience will be.”
“Anybody that does attend will be able to say, ‘I saw this first,'” Fountain noted.
They are hoping it will get picked up and produced.
Based in California, their manager will take it out to producers and production companies interested in starting new television series.
“What I think she likes most about it is the authenticity that Joseph brings to it,” O’Donahue noted. “And she likes the characters a great deal. They are kind of quirky, with a quirky intelligence. So she’s very enthusiastic about the project. And she also recognized that it is a great concept for people to see right now. It’s very timely.”
In full disclosure, County 10’s Amanda Fehring is part of Communal Pancake Performing Arts.