1, About "Portrait"
First I thought this was a play just to hail the personality of Alice Neel. That would have been a quite boring experience, because this character would not change during the play. But the drawing of her son being beaten by the husband gave the straight direction of the play (as it seemed in the beginning, when I watched it) an interesting and also dark twist.
Like Julia wrote in her post, I think the idea of using blank canvasses instead of in any way painted ones added much to the play. I would even say, it was necessary to do that. Because a, everyone could project his/ her thoughts, how the portraits looked like on them b, noone was distracted from the plot staged right in front of them without interruption (in both times the play is set in.)
2, About the "Idiot"
I think, one problematic thing was the direct transfer of the political ideas like anarchy, socialism into the play. The audience is introduced into a net of intertwined characters. Thus, to me the detailed and unprepared hints at these philosophical, abstract ideas were just distanced to far from that. I missed a kind of connection.
I think the actors did a good job though, especially the Prince Mushkin and Nastassya Felipovna. I was impressed how the scenes with MANY people on stage did not seem to be stark and static. I am speaking of the scenes at the beginning when Nastassya comes into Ganya's house and meets his mother, sister and the Prince and later Ragoshyn appears or the party at the end, which results in an epileptic fit of the Prince.
3, About the flashcards
It was impressive, how easy it is to create a plot's outline with some thoroughly thought through ideas. It is also a way to enhance phantasy and flexibility of the mind of a playwright, because you can play with the ideas. By moving one of your flashcards one or two steps up or down the chronological ranks, you can create a whole new play sometimes, at least in my opinion.
Another important thing I learned from this task: It is often better to keep the thoughts on the flashcards short and rather general. If you specify too many facts, the flexibility aforementioned might vanish and it is not possible to develop different ideas and play with the red ribbons possible.
4, Cutting and editing
Having worked as a journalist, I know about one tendency all authors or writing people in general have. It is the thought of the written piece as an entity which shall not be violated. But the reality looks different, as we say in Germany. The thing you have to do generally is to shorten, shorten, shorten your text.
Therefore I found it helpful to trim Jenny's 2-page Joe and Amy play. I think we have to go away from the thought of having finished any written piece as we set the last full stop dot. As time goes on, as audiences or authors change, as circumstances change - the play itself has to change, if it shall be sincerely adapted and adequate for the special point in time and place it is staged on that special occasion, whenever, wherever that may be.